Upon entering Meribel, one is immediately struck by the beauty of the resort. Here we have a French ski village that has retained charm, tradition, and atmosphere. Why? Because until 2000 it was British developed, owned, and run.......and they refused to develop it the way so many French resorts expanded in the late 60s and 70s such as Flaine, Les Menuires, Les Arcs, etc. Architectural sympathy and low rise construction using local slate, stones, and timbers are the order of the day. This does mean that the resort has widely spread out rather than upwards and so it is fairly hard to find slopeside accommodation. Many of the chalets are around a 12-15 minute walk from the centre, however, this is easily overcome by the regular free resort bus and also many of the chalets now offer complimentary bespoke minibus services to and from the slopes to make your ski day hassle free. The other great feature of Meribel is that it is nestled in a pine forest so trees are abundant in contrast to the stark resorts over 2000m with their lunar landscapes. There are more catered chalets here than in the whole of Austria and Italy put together - it is a huge part of the resort's success and hence at least one member of the Snowfinders staff will visit the resort every year. Oh, and please don't call the resort "Mirra-bell", as many Brits do, it is "Merry-bell".
Meribel sits perfectly placed in the central valley of the world's largest interconnected ski area covering over 600kms of piste. You will not get bored of skiing here for a full season let alone a week. The snow coverage is good and generally the ski season will start in early December and end at the end of April. The lift system is one of the best and most efficient in the Alps and even an the height of the season queues are dispersed very quickly indeed. Whether you are a beginner or expert, skier or boarder then Meribel will be a perfect resort for your next winter ski holiday.
Beginners have some great facilities at their disposal and a huge selection of independent quality ski schools. Snowfinders love the the beginners area at the altiport with its magic carpet and gentle tree lined runs which is ideal for children to learn in a safe and confidence building environment. Here you will find the Chalet Hotel Alba, a family friendly hotel with childcare and dove-tailed ski school that meets outside the front door!
Intermediates can travel for a full two weeks in the three valleys and never have to do the same run twice. This area is pure heaven with a great selection of blues, reds, and blacks. Snowfinders recommends taking the quieter Tougnete I and II to the ridge that overlooks St Martin de Belleville. This whole area is far less crowded and both directions (either back to Meribel or into St Martin) are varied and enjoyable. The Jerusalem run into St Martin is one of our favourites and there are a great selection of restaurants in St Martin for a lunchtime stop.
Experts are in true heaven here with some amazing descents and off-piste from the top of the the Mont Vallon, Saulire, Aiguille du Fruit. Try the Grand Couloir for a great experience. In truth, we could write a book about the black and off-piste terrain but that's a job for the journalists, Suffice to say that the Three Valleys is a mecca for advanced and expert skiers and boarders alike.
Boarders will love the area as it has few drag lifts and great all round terrain. The Moonride and moon park area is a must go area for Snowfinders' boarder, Hayley.
Cross-country skiers have over 33km of prepared tracks at their disposal with some wonderful scenery and the predominant area entails a magical route through a scenic forest.
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- Efficient lift system
- Well groomed slopes
- Pretty chalet styled resort
- Centre of the three valleys
- Great nightlife
- Prices are not the cheapest
- Very few piste side chalets
- Sometimes busy at peak season
Meribel offers a plethora of non-ski activities. One of the main draws for non-skiers is the Olympic Centre which encompasses an ice rink, used in 1992 for the Albertville Winter Olympic events. There is also a bowling alley, climbing wall, and a huge heated indoor swimming pool. Very recently a brand new spa facility was included which has been a great success. Walkers benefit from their own pass which enables use of all the gondolas, cable cars, and buses in the Meribel & Courchevel valleys. This facilitates skiers and non-skiers alike to meet for lunches in one of the numerous mountain restaurants. The prepared trails and routes for walkers are many and varied. The resort itself has a weekly market and the tourist office has a programme of organised activities and events.
Apres Ski is a huge pull for Meribel. Immediately after skiing the Rond Point (Ronnys or The Ronny) is a focal point for much joviality and bragging of the days exploits as it the The Meribar (formerly The Cactus Cafe). Later on the nightlife spreads to Le Pub (under the Hotel Doran), Scottys, Evolution, Barometer, 50/50, Jack's, Bar Kiki, Le Taverne, La Poste, The new Den, Refuge, St Amour.........and of course for clubbing The famous Dick's Tea Bar or Les Saint Peres.
Picturesque traditional village with access to one of the largest ski areas in the world. A great ski area and one of the world's best apres ski scenes.