Méribel is located in the heart of the Three Valleys, France’s most popular ski region and ski vacation destination in the world. With its tree-lined ski routes and charming community, it is perhaps one of France’s most appealing ski resorts.
A Méribel skiing vacation will allow you to discover the 600km of completely connected piste that the Three Valleys has to offer, connecting Meribel to the ski resorts of Courchevel and Val Thorens.
The lift system is ultramodern (queues are nearly unheard of here), and there is plenty of skiing at Méribel for all levels, including unlimited off-piste options.
The local lines are largely for intermediates, and the resort has a reputation for being “piste basher nirvana,” although there are some obstacles for expert skiers as well, especially off the piste. It’s also a great spot to learn to ski, and beginners will appreciate the obvious signs, superb piste grooming, and the ability to ski from Meribel into both neighboring valleys and return fully on green and blue slopes.
And, in general, if Meribel lacks anything, it can typically be obtained and readily accessible elsewhere in the Three Valleys. There are no lifts that rise beyond 3000 meters in the Meribel valley, for example (although Mont Vallon comes close), but there are numerous in Val Thorens. There isn’t much tree skiing in the area, but there is plenty at Le Praz and La Tania. The black runs in Meribel aren’t very steep, but the Grande Couloir in Courchevel, right over the Saulire ridge, is.
Meribel, as a hamlet, is unlike any other purpose-built resort in France. The original low-rise chalet style, as well as the British heritage, have been retained. Colonel Peter Lindsay created Meribel in 1938, and now, more than a third of winter tourists come from the United Kingdom. The main village is also relatively low (about 1400m) and spread out – some of the lodging is pretty far from the major lifts. For true slope-side convenience, you must stay up the valley in the satellite village of Meribel Mottaret, which has the best skiing location in the Three Valleys but less charm and nightlife than the main resort.
Meribel info card
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Méribel Ski and Snowboard Terrain
Meribel Resort is massive, with 41 lifts, 64 defined lines totaling around 150km of piste ranging in height from 1,100 to 2,952m (1,852m vertical), and two terrain parks. The runs are usually spacious and well-kept. Meribel skiing and snowboarding (as well as Les Trois Vallees) is suitable for intermediates who like cruising for kilometers to the next pit stop. Skiable vertical descents of up to 1300m are conceivable.
Meribel is a great place to start if you’re new to skiing. Despite the fact that some of the green slopes are a touch pitchy, more than half of the piste terrain is classified ‘easy’ or’very easy.’ Bump runs (if you like bumps!) are offered for expert riders. While professionals may bemoan the lack of steep terrain, there are still difficult steeps to be discovered, especially if you have a guide.
Purchasing a 3 Vallees lift pass grants access to over 600km of pistes on around 328 tracks, including the high altitude glaciers of Val Thorens ski resort.
Meribel Beginner Skiing
Despite the fact that its great nursery slope is significantly far from the resort base, Meribel is the finest base for novices.
All of the Three Valleys can be skied on green slopes, and although some of the blue routes may seem intimidating at first, their sheer width and the quality of the grooming ensures that much of the ski area will rapidly open up to novices.
The Foret green is the finest spot to begin since it has the most moderate slope of the lot; it may frequently be so flat that you have to schuss or pole along.
The Blanchot green, which can be reached by taking the Rhodos gondola from the Chaudanne, is equally level and winds well through woods in spots, giving newcomers the sense that they are traveling someplace, but at a very leisurely speed. If things become too challenging, there’s a restaurant halfway down with a nice patio.
In the summer, Altiport, a golf course, is seldom frozen, broad, and tree-lined. It is also fortunate to have relatively little through traffic. It is also possible to reach the blues somewhat further up the mountain from here, making it an ideal site to learn or develop from the Blanchot slopes.
Those stationed at Meribel-Mottaret must depend on the Truite green, which flows along the Chaudanne in Meribel proper.
The Rhodos green is the most difficult of Meribel’s beginning slopes. If you can manage the Rhodos, you should be able to handle the Geai, Biche, and Belette blue areas of Saluire, as well as the Choucas, Escargot, Grive, and Faonblues in Plattieres.
Meribel Intermediate Skiing
The Three Valleys is the spot to rack up the miles, and Meribel is the excellent starting point.
All of the runs to the right of the Tougnete bubble and drag, especially the Blaireau red, are fantastic. It is also worthwhile to pursue the trail along the ridge line to the blue Choucas, whose undulating slopes may be ridden as if on rails. The walk down to Chaudanne via Gelinotte runs through the woods but may get ice. The reds Pramint and Jerusalem, which go down to St Martin de Belleville, are maybe two of the nicest red runs in the Three Valleys, especially first thing in the morning. They’re also not too horrible on the walk down to lunch.
The runs from the top of Saulire are all broad cruisers (once you have navigated the sometimes rutted and always icy path around the headland to the runs leading down to Meribel). The reds of Niverolle and Aigle mix for a lengthy ski down to Meribel Mottaret.
The Chamois red has a wonderful steep climb to begin with, but if the snow is good enough, don’t pass up the chance to ski the Mauduit red from top to bottom; it is about 1,300m of vertical. The majority of the blues are quite simple.
The twisting reds that descend Mont du Vallon, Combe Vallon, and Compagnol will appeal to intermediates. Mouflon is a magnificent red run in the sun, but it may become cold and hardpacked in the shadow and flat light. Lagopede, accessible via the Roc de Tougne drag, offers outstanding pitch and camber and can be extended by taking either Fouine or Coqs down to Mottaret, which are also the best runs into the resort center.
The Venturon and Lac de La Chambre reds off the Cote Brune are also great intermediate challenges.
Meribel Advanced & Expert Skiing
Meribel might not have the most difficult terrain in the Three Valleys, but there is plenty to keep professional skiers interested, both on and off the slopes. Because of Meribel’s strategic position, skilled skiers based there can rapidly reach the difficulties in the neighboring valleys.
The blacks of Bartavelle (which usually has decent snow) and Bosses (which usually does not) in the Tougnete region are ideal for bumps, however most of the pisted slopes are mogul-free.
Tetras suffers with snow and is nearly always a mogul field, while Le Face (the women’s Olympic downhill) may be magnificent in untracked powder or a big adrenaline rush on newly pisted corduroy. Combe Tougnete is a good rapid run with a very steep first hundred metres. Grande Rosiere and Sanglier are unimpressive yet demanding and pleasant, while Combe Tougnete is a nice quick run with a very steep first hundred metres.
Skiers interested in experiencing the valley’s off-piste difficulties should travel to Mont Vallon and check the region between the Combe de Vallon and Campagnol pistes from the safety of the lift. But be cautious: there are hazards here, and once you leave the piste markers, you’re on your own – so make sure you have the proper equipment and, if in doubt, hire a guide.
Strong skiers, on the other hand, will not want to spend all of their time in the Meribel valley. Because Meribel is located in the heart of the world’s biggest lift-connected ski region, they have access to a wide selection of expert skiing in Courchevel, Les Menuires, and Val Thorens. As long as you get an early start, don’t do too much exploration along the way, and avoid accidents, you can reach, ski, and return from any slope on the Les 3 Vallees map well before the lifts shut. However, keep a look out for unannounced lift closures, especially in poor weather – there are interactive maps indicating what is open and what is closed at all of the main stations, and most excursions have more than one way back. The travel from Meribel to Val Thorens by lift and piste may be relatively swift and enjoyable, but the same cannot be said for the forced return by road, and if you must take a cab (transport links between the Three Valleys are few and far between), the fee paid will reflect this.
Meribel has two main snow parks, one of which is totally fenced for novices.
The Plattieres Snowpark has recently been renovated and now offers a totally covered section where novices may progress without feeling scared. There are 17 acres of terrain, two half-pipes, jumps, whoops, and banks.
The Moon Park in Meribel offers a significant vertical drop, one competition class half pipe, another for beginners, and a kilometer-long boardercross.
For those who like things to be more natural, right before reaching the summit, there is a massive wall underneath the Adret chair. The wall may be reached by the Marmotte or Geai blues. It climbs roughly two metres at its sharpest point, although it levels off as you approach it to the right. For comfort, the landing is a touch too flat.
The Ours blue from the foot of Mont Vallon and Lac de La Chambre from the top of Cote Brune to the bottom of Mont Vallon are two runs that boarders should avoid owing to their flat nature. The last section is quite flat. The Boulevard de La Loze from Loze to Saulire is fairly flat, while the Perdrix green from the Tougnete into Mottaret is very flat at the bottom – make sure you get some speed up.
Meribel Off-Piste Skiing
Because it is such a popular resort, most of the new snow gets tracked out rapidly. After a good snowfall at Meribel, you’ll be lucky if there’s still a lot remaining after two or three days.
Much of Meribel’s off-piste is fairly accessible, with few treks or trips required to get there. As a consequence, especially owing to the sheer amount of people in resort, powder gets tracked out rapidly, but if you make the effort and avoid the more apparent locations, you should be able to find some fresh powder.
Much of the off-piste in and around Saulire focuses on couloirs that go towards Courchevel and a handful that return to Meribel. The Courchevel guide covers the couloirs that plunge into Couchevel.
Most skiers continue to the left when they exit the Saulire gondola. Those seeking access to the couloirs heading into Meribel must take a right. The ladder seen on the right leads to the Couloir L’Echelle, often known as ‘Death Couloir’ to English speakers. The Couloir L’Echelle is the first gully you come to, whereas the Couloire de L’Antenne is farther down the ridge. Neither is really pleasurable, with Death Couloir being particularly rough and exposed to the heat, but it is a must for the macho.
There is some nice off-piste to be discovered on the way down to Mottaret from the Niverolle red and Grand Rosiere black, which lead you down to Mottaret via the Aigle red.
Between the Dent Burgin chairlift and the Loze chairlift, there is enough of terrain for inexperienced off-piste skiers to explore, especially close to the Dent Burgin since the closer you go to Loze, the more avalanche prone the region gets.
In good snow, the area to the east of the Loze chair may give excellent off-piste through the forest, connecting with the cross-country trails and Altiport below.
The off-piste section surrounding the Roc de Tougne on the Tougnete side of the mountain is highly prone to avalanche and should only be considered with a guiding. It’s a pity, considering the region offers a wonderful variety of terrain.
Check out the bowl and face beneath the Olympic chair on the west side of the valley, where you can also take many routes down through the forests to the mediaeval towns of Le Raffort and Les Allues. However, you’ll need a lot of snow, and it’s one of the valley’s most avalanche-prone spots.
The finest off-piste is at the back of the Olympic chairlift, towards St Martin de Belleville. It is one of the valley’s iconic off-piste routes, but it is also one of the least utilized. It has an excellent combination of terrain and never-ending ways to snake your way down.
Those who are uncertain about their off-piste abilities might look at the region behind the Plan des Mains chairlift, which goes to the bottom of Mont Vallon.
Mont du Vallon
Mont du Vallon includes some steep off-piste both underneath the lift and falling over the ridge into the legendary red slope of Combe Vallon, as well as a traditional route around the back of the mountain that opens up to the left if you go along the ridge line. There is also a fantastic backcountry route on your left as you exit the gondola. You go through a gap in the mountain to ski down to catch up with the Campagnol red.
One of the valley’s greatest descents is only accessible through the 3 Vallees 2 chairlift from Val Thorens. From here, take the back road and stick to the right until plunging down into the magnificent red of Lac de la Chambre.
Be aware that the valley’s south-eastern section, from just past the Combe Vallon to the Grand Rosiere dark, is a natural reserve. This region is often monitored by pisteurs, who have a negative attitude toward skiers who find themselves in this area.
Following the Venturon slope until it descends into the valley, remain left and as high as possible, from whence it is a short trek behind the rocky peak to a natural gunbarrel and a steep powder face. Stay just under the Cote Brune chairlift for the finest bumps in the valley.
Snow conditions in Meribel
Snow is seldom an issue in Méribel, because to the increased usage of snowmaking equipment. Because of the afternoon light, some of the west-facing runs might get slushy; this is something to keep in mind if planning a late-season vacation. It is advised to avoid the west side in the morning since it becomes uncomfortably frozen overnight. Because of its high altitude, the 3 Valleys has a spectacular snow record. 85 percent of the region is over 1800 meters, with ten peaks above 2500 meters and six glaciers. To boost coverage, 2007 snow cannons have been installed across the ski area.
Accommodation in Meribel
Meribel has a wide range of ski cabins that sleep from 6 to 30, and even 120 guests in a chalet hotel. If you want a homey and pleasant setting for your ski vacation in Meribel, a chalet is the ideal option. Meribel has a variety of hotels, ranging from budget-friendly B&Bs to uber-luxurious all-inclusive resorts.
Apartments in Meribel are an excellent choice for groups of friends or families seeking a more personalized and flexible ski vacation. These hotels are conveniently located near the slopes and the resort center.
Family skiing in Meribel
Meribel is a lovely resort that is ideal for a winter wonderland-family ski vacation. There is so much for kids to do in Meribel away from the slopes, from ice skating to swimming to shopping to indoor climbing. Meribel is ideal for families since the skiing is excellent, the town is huge, and the ski schools are excellent for youngsters and novices.
Après-ski, restaurants and activities in Meribel
Après ski in Méribel is great, with several bars and entertainment venues. Try the Rond-Point (‘Ronnie’) at apres for live music and the enormous sun deck from 5-7pm. Other pubs with outstanding après include: Evolution Bar, La Taverne, and Doron Le Pub, which is situated at the foot of the slope. Méribel has a wonderful selection of restaurants, ranging from informal pizza and pasta joints to sophisticated French and Savoyard cuisine.