Meribel was designed by a skier, and it shows. Peter Lindsay created the chocolate box resort of Meribel in the 1930s and 40s in the perfect position for easy access skiing – at the bottom and side of the main U shaped valley of the resort. Whether you’re a seasoned mogul addict or a novice who is strapping on for the first time, Meribel is perfect.
Beginners will find themselves at ease on the gently undulating green and blue runs around the Meribel Altiport area, a short gondola ride from the main lift area of Meribel. A “Minipass” which covers this area is available for a day or half-day at a time at a reduced rate so perfect for practising. And don’t forget the well deserved hot chocolate at Le Rond Point on the way down!
At the other end of the scale, if you’re looking to hone those piste bashing skills, try the established mogul fields off the side of the runs down from the “Dent de Burgin” chairlift above the Altiport. Alternatively ski over the hill to Val Thorens for some challenging glacier skiing, or down the feared “Combes de Saulire” just into Courchevel if you’re after an adrenaline rush to remember.
If you prefer to seek out fresh powder then head to the top of Mont Vallon to ski down the unpisted side. Mont Vallon is the biggest mountain of the Meribel Valley and stands at almost 3000 meters tall. The way down from the top is over 5km long and certainly an exhilarating ride. If you’re prepared to hike over from the gondola top a short way there will often be the bonus of some lovely untracked powder around this area.
But be careful. Avalanches can be a particular risk around Mont Vallon as the snow starts to thaw especially later on in the season, so the pisteurs sometimes let off controlled avalanches. These sound alarmingly like gunshots to the untrained ear!
Le Grand Duc at the top of the “Olympic” chairlift is a black well worth experiencing. Sometimes it is pisted and sometimes not, either way it is a nice but challenging run and is going to host one of the World Cup races in 2015, and deservedly so.
If you’re a good skier and want to head further afield, some nice off-piste areas also exist at the top of Val Thorens. Catch the “Caron” gondola up and ski down the right hand side of the mountains for a good chance of some nice untracked snow. The next valley, often named the ‘hidden valley’,of “Orelle” is also a fantastic place to try out a bit of freeriding, with long runs down into the basin in relatively uncrowded territory.
And there you have it – a wonderfully safe beginners area along the valley floor that is still at altitude, while, even higher up, everything the advanced skier could wish for. Meribel and the Three Valleys will appeal to all types of skiers – over 600km of pistes, and definitely a run for everyone!