Over the last few years, December has been a bit of a dud month in terms of snow. Not that matters too much in the 3 Valleys as it has one of the biggest snowmaking networks in the world, 2383 snow cannons across 50% of the slopes.
The 2017/18 winter has started with a bang. 170 cm of snow has fallen in December and when you add Novembers snowfall of 48cm you get the same amount of snow that fell during each of the last two winter seasons. That much snow has set this winter up to be one of the best in the last 10 years.
Some resorts are claiming that it is the best December in the last decade and for many it is. Here in Meribel, the record goes to the winter of 2012/13 when there was a massive 267cm of snow in December alone and 700cm during the entire season. 2017/18 has quite a long way to go to beat that record.
2018 has started with storms and snow. No sooner had the bells welcomed in the New Year it started to snow. As of the 3rd of January, the snowfall for the year was already at 30cm and on the 3rd day of the month a massive storm bringing high winds and more snow closed most of the lifts and runs in the area.
January Snow Forecast
The forecast suggests that the snowfall won’t be letting up anytime soon. The 14-day prediction is that there should be another 100cm before the middle of January. There are also plenty of sunny days in the snow report to give us ample opportunities to enjoy the amazing conditions.
Where to Ski
The slopes across the 3 Valleys should be in great shape for weeks to come. Some of the more exposed slopes may initially have a thinner base after the storm where the wind blows away the looser snow but expect this to remedied by the resorts piste grooming team.
While the snow passes and the visibility is poor head to the lower altitude tree areas in La Tania, Le Praz and the Altiport area in Meribel. Once the snow slows there will be a lot of work for the mountain security team to do which may restrict access to the steep higher slopes. But don’t worry about that go and play on the slopes of Courchevel – Moriond 1650 and the runs into Saint Martin de Belleville.
Once the whole area is open and the snow has settled down head up high and enjoy the runs of Mont Vallon or one of our favourites after a fresh dump is to head to the Col de Chanrossa where there is some great off-piste to play with.
You have probably heard about all the snow this season but if you haven’t here is everything you need to know about the conditions in the Three Valleys.
Since the colder months arrived the Three Valleys has officially received around 135cm of snow and there is more to come over the next few week.
UPDATE – FRIDAY 8TH DECEMEBR
Opening dates and prices
Val Thorens opened for the season on the 25th of November and due to the conditions, Courchevel opened up for a day of free skiing on Wednesday the 22nd of November.
The season truly gets underway on the 9th of December when Meribel and Courchevel start the lifts up and all the links open. La Tania opens a week later on the 16th of December in time for a white Christmas.
Lift Pass Prices
How good is good
Currently, the base level at altitude is between 80 and 100 cm which is the average for a whole season. Ski runs back into Meribel have a respectable 30cm coverage.
We have said the snowfall has been impressive this season but how impressive is it? The first snow fell on the 30th of October, since then we have received 7 more significant snow days, with the best being 40cm on the 20th of November.
Last winter 80cm of snow fell in November but crucially the temperatures were unusually high causing the snow to melt at lower altitudes which made the beginning of the season feel a bit like spring. This year the temperatures have remained low and have stayed in the minus figure since the first snow fell.
The amount of snow that has fallen places it in the top 3 best starts to a winter season since 2006, only being beaten by 2008 and 2012, but this could change over the weekend.
Looking ahead there is another 50cm of snow predicted to fall before the lifts open on Saturday and the snow won’t be stopping for most of the week with a total of 176cm set to fall on the higher slopes by Friday the 15th. The snow may continue into Christmas week as there is another half a meter appearing on the longterm forecast.
Do you always find an excuse to not ski at Christmas?
You have probably thought about going skiing at Christmas every year but something has put you off and you have always found an excuse. We have spent many Christmases in the 3 Valleys and we can confirm it is the most wonderful time of the year. You also get an extra thrill when you suddenly realise that it’s Christmas Day and you are on the slopes and having great time.
Whatever your reason for not going in the past here are a few excuses you can use this year.
#1 You just love skiing
Maybe not an excuse and more just a fact but if you love skiing then what could be a better present to you and your family that the gift of a ski trip. It also means that you get to try out that new pair of skis that you will have been bought for Christmas.
#2 Christmas is on offer
A week skiing during Christmas has never been so reasonably priced with all tour operators offering big savings, making the cost similar to off peak weeks. Our prices are starting at £599 pp for the festive week and there are savings of up to £350 pp on our best properties. So if you have always put off a Christmas ski trip due to price now is your chance.
#3 White Christmas
Every single year Bing Crosby sings “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas”. He is right to do so. If you look at the facts you notice that the UK hasn’t had widespread snow on the ground during Christmas since 2010 and before that it was 2004. So to combat this you could head to the 3 Valleys where they pretty much can guarantee you a White Christmas.
#4 Be looked after
The demands of Christmas day for those hosting can be huge, will Aunt Janet get too drunk, will the turkey be cooked in time, have you peeled enough potatoes? Why not avoid this and go on a catered ski chalet holiday and let them look after you? All you will need to do is go skiing and relax… unless you bring Aunt Janet with you.
#5 One for the humbugs
Spending Christmas in a skiing is a great compromise as in a way it always feels a bit like Christmas in a ski resort. But at the same time it doesn’t as everything is open and everyone is either working or skiing or both. This makes it a perfect place to spend Christmas for families of mixed festive spirit.
At the beginning of November, the ground was looking a bit brown with small patches of snow from previous snow flurries and snow cannons. Now the whole ski area is cover in the glorious white stuff! Here is a look at all the photos and videos from the last few days.
Latest webcam round up
Val Thorens capture the first few flakes of snow on the 5th.
One of the best parts of my job is being able to share my own knowledge of the ski resort, passing on tips and suggestions of which pistes to try, where to find the best conditions and how to get the most out of a week skiing in the three valleys.
As befits the largest ski area in the world, there are hundreds of kilometres of pistes to enjoy for skiers and boarders of every level. However, for experienced skiers, there is a world of fun to be had beyond the marked and bashed runs.
Before saying any more, we need to be totally clear that skiing off-piste can be extremely dangerous. It should only be considered by experienced and confident skiers. As minimum safety precautions you should always look to go in small groups – 3 or 4 is ideal – and never alone. Be aware of the published avalanche risk, but be aware that snow conditions can change rapidly. An hour in the sun can turn safe routes into an unacceptable risk in less than an hour.
Before setting off, you should ensure your insurance covers you for going off-piste and carry and know how to use the relevant safety equipment of a transceiver, shovel and probe. We would strongly recommend engaging an instructor or a guide, and it is always worth checking with the pisteurs for their views on where is safe to go. Always remember that skiing off-piste poses a risk not just to yourself, but also to those who on the mountain around you, such as other skiers on the same slopes, or the secouristes who would conduct a rescue operation if anything went wrong. If you are at all unsure, you should not go.
With the proper precautions however, off- piste skiing can be one of the great highlights of a skiing holiday in the Alps, so where are some of the best routes in Meribel?
My advice would be to head to the Vallon and Cote Brune sectors. On the Vallon gondola you will most likely see plenty of tracks underneath the lift, which can be accessed from the corner at the top of the Combe de Vallon piste. While this is one of the more recognised and accessible off-piste routes, beware of partially covered rocks.
For those looking to go further into the backcountry, head through the gap in the rock on your left as you come out of the Vallon bubble. There is another reasonably established route straight down hereto the side of the piste, but if you keep left, a small 10 minute walk and a short traverse lead you out to some powder field coming down from the ridge. Check with the pisteurs before attempting this route as the snowpack can be unstable above you, but in the right conditions the fluffy powder, comfortable gradient and spectacular views can make this route a showstopping highlight.
A final route to try is accessed from the top of the Becca lift. In the snowbank opposite the lift you will most likely see tracks leading diagonally up to the ridge line. The top offers a spectacular view both down to Les Menuires one way and across to the Mont Vallon summit the other. Be careful of the entry point here. Traverse across the slope to the centre of the chute to avoid the treacherous rocky drops immediately below where the track up reaches the ridgeline.
The descent down from here looks clear enough but boarders in particular will want to avoid keeping too far left as they will risk being caught out by a flat section right at the bottom before regaining the piste. Equally however, head too far right and you risk being blocked by another few rocky drops, or finding yourself underneath a particularly steep section of the slope where the risk of avalanche is higher. Keep to a conservative line though and you should have a fabulous descent, with the added bonus of being able to admire your track as you head back up the Cote Brune lift.
Find out what is new in the 3 Valley this winter 17/18
The winter is not very far away now! Skiers will be on the slopes of Val Thorens on the 18th of November followed by Meribel and Courchevel on the 9th of December. As always the companies behind the 3 Valleys lifts and pistes have been working hard over the summer to introduce new or improved facilities for its customers!
New Lifts in the 3 Valleys
Loupit – Rond Pont – Covered magic carpet
The beginner’s area located by the Rond Point in Meribel will have new Covered Magic carpet similar to the one found in Mottaret. The learner zone alongside it will also be developed into a safer space for skiers to master the basics away from the busier slopes.
Ariondaz Gondola – Courchevel 1650 -Moriond
Over in Courchevel 1650 the old Ariondaz gondola that takes skiers and boarder out of the resort has been replaced by an 8 seater lift that can carry double the amount of passenger up the hill.
Moraine – 10 seater Gondola – Val Thorens
€14m has been spent on installing a new gondola in Val Thorens. The 10 seater lift is 2.5 km long and carries skiers up to the foot of the Glacier de Thorens.
Roc de Tougnete – 6 seater – Meribel
For many years there has been 2 drag lifts that served this area and for that reason it often goes unexplored by many. The arrival of this new lift will change all that and make the Lagopède and Bartavelle pistes a lot more accessible.
New Pistes in the 3 Valleys
Lac de la Chambre – Meribel
Previously a red run the Lac de la Chambre that started at the Col de la Chambre has been given a new course down the mountain to make it into a easier blue. The run is a great way to get back from Val Thorens into Mottaret and Meribel.
Croix d’Antide – Val Thorens
High up above the Orelle valley there is a new blue run called the Croix d’Antide it can be found under the Peyron chair and runs parallel to a piste of the same name.
Corniche – Val Thorens
Another new blue piste in Val Thorens. This one runs from the Folie Douce and joins up with the stade to make an easy run back to the resort.
New Luge run
A new 3 km luge run has opened up in 1650 and can be accessed by the new Arinodaz lift. This means that there are now loads of sledging opportunities in the 3 Valleys to complement the original and best one in Courchevel that runs from 1850 to 1550.
4 hours ski pass
This season sees the end of the half day pass as the 3 valleys will introduce a 4-hour pass that can be used at any point during the day and will cost €54.5 . It is worth noting that it is still better value to buy a 6 day pass at €300 if you are going to ski all week!
This year we are celebrating providing catered ski chalet holidays in Méribel & La Tania for 25 years.
We wouldn’t be where we are today without our amazing guest and wonderful staff. To celebrate we are collecting as many photos from everyone who has been involved in our 25 year journey and building this archive of memories.
A lot has changed in skiing over the 25 years we have been making skiing holidays in the 3 Valleys!
Alpine Action started providing catered ski holidays to the Three Valleys in 1993 and over those 25 years the world of skiing has changed a lot. We thought we would take a look at some of the things that have fallen by the wayside since Dennis welcomed our fisrts guests back in the 90’s.
1. Straight Skis
It is hard to believe but people were still predominantly using straight skis in the early 90’s and it wasn’t 1993 that carving skis were put on mass sale by Elan skis.
2. Chalet Maids
1000’s of people are employed each year across the Alps each year as chalet hosts to work in chalets and look after guests. It is hard to pin point exactly when it stopped but female staff were originally referred to as chalet maids. We are glad that it moved on.
3. Making Cow Noises in Cable Cars
Back in the late 90’s early 00’s it wasn’t uncommon for a busy ride up the Saulire cable car to be accompanied by a chorus of moo’s created by the passengers, this was sketch recreated in crowded téléfériques around the world. It seems that this comedy routine has faded and is no longer performed but like all comedy acts it could well make a comeback.
4.Rear Entry Boots
In the 90’s the design race of the ski boot was coming to an end. At one point the rear-entry boot seemed to be winning with its comfort and how easy they were to put on. In the end, performance won and we all switched to the more responsive front entry boot… well except that mate of your dad who you only ever meet on the annual family ski trip.
OK so we still see them now but they now are no longer a fashion statement and more of a sign that you are incompetent at applying sun cream.
Ski hire had a bad reputation for years. Do you remember how you feared turning up to the hire shop knowing that you would be presented with 3 year old boots and skis with zero edges? Today you can be confident that you will receive comfy fitting boots with a set of sticks that are new that season and have been serviced in-between customers.
One of skiing’s greatest losses was the unironic wearing of the all-in-one. Not only were they warm and comfy they all so came in such an array of bad designs guaranteed to offend the eyes.
9. The division between skiers and snowboarders
It could be one of the worlds most pointless feuds that for us, reached a crescendo when each party tried to blame each other for the creation of moguls. Fortunately we have moved on and share the mountain in relative harmony and leave pointless feuding to the likes of Kim Kardashian & Taylor Swift.
10. Spag Bol AKA Terrible Chalet Food
When you have been out in the mountain air all day you look forward to dinner. These days you will return to the chalet and be fed a 4-course meal designed by experienced chefs accompanied with a selection of wines. Long ago it was deemed acceptable to plonk down a pan of spaghetti bolognese and a bowl of angel delight!
11. The Lift Pass Holder
The fumble fumble of the old photo pass attached to a mini retractable washing line has been replaced by the efficient beep beep clunk of the modern electronic pass that can remain in your pocket. It has also helped reduce queuing time.
12. Novelty Hats
This may depend on your definition of novelty. We are mainly talking about the long and spikey hats made from synthetic fleece and came in a variety of horrendous colours.
13. Long Drag Lifts
There is still a place for the humble button lift. However, the place isn’t over 1ooo vertical meters of tough, steep, icy terrain. Fortunately, they have stopped being installed and most are slowly being replaced. Goodbye thigh burn.
14. Knees together
As the years have gone by the skier’s stance has got wider. At one point a requirement to become a ski instructor was to prove yourself by skiing with a hanky held between the knees. A wider more balanced stance has now been adopted.
15. Head Bands
Since we started operating another type of headwear has disappeared from the slopes, the headband. Once they were the height of fashion driven by floppy hairstyles and non-breathable clothing. Now they have been resigned to the poubelle.
16. The Jump
For 4 years this has been one of our favourite programs on TV. The show featured celebrities learning a variety of snow sports, ski jumping and generally getting injured. Recently Channel 4 announced it was resting the show and we all know what happens when we sit down.
17. UK Ski Shows
There was a time when it felt like there was a ski show in every city from Glasgow to Brighton with Birmingham in-between. This year there is just one survivor left, The London Ski Show.
18. Smoking in Bar
Of course, this isn’t just a ski thing but it always seemed that even more smoking was done in the bars of ski resorts as well as the lifts and shuttle buses.
19. The Courchevel Eggs
For a while it felt like the out dated but iconic egg looking lifts of Courchevel from Le Paraz would never be replaced. But then they were and no one has missed them since!
Seriously when was the last time you saw someone on one except in a novelty competition?
21. Lack of UK Success on snow in the Winter Olympics
In 2014 Jenny Jones took bronze in the Snowboard Slopestyle comp, securing the UK’s first Winter Olympic Medal. Since then a large amount of funding has been pumped into the GB ski and board team and there are high hopes for the 2018 games.
22. Bunny Ears
Putting skis poles to your head is over as people realise it is no longer an efficient way of attracting attention on the slopes or looking cool in holiday snaps!
23. Being Disconnected
Along with Cornwall, the mountains used to be one of the few places left in the world where a mobile phone signal was virtually impossible to get. Today people are on their phones even while skiing down the mountain.
24. Slope Side Photographers
The upside to everyone having a smart phone in their pocket is that we no longer get hassled by photographers when we get off the lift or while skiing down the easy green into the resort.
25. Slopes Without Snow
Snow wasn’t always guaranteed. With the development and investment of snow making facilities, mega resorts like The 3 Valleys can guarantee there will be snow cover on 80% of the slopes for the entire season!
To book a ski holiday with us or find more about our service got to our website.
Exciting news! The good people at Eurostar have just released their Ski Train prices for the forthcoming winter ski season! The service runs from December through until April and offers swift and hassle free access to Meribel and other resorts in the 3 Valleys.
Why catch the ski train to Meribel?
Anybody looking to save money on travel, make the most of their time on the snow and benefit from free ski carriage would be well advised to give the train serious thought.
Plus of course with the recent increase in media coverage, skiers these days seem more aware than ever of the ‘carbon footprint’ they leave behind them during their week on the slopes – taking the ski train is a great way to reduce yours.
The first advantage that Ski Train advocates will tell you is how you can use the timetable to your advantage to get an extra day on the slopes. By leaving on Friday night and arriving early on the Saturday, you can be on the slopes by mid morning!
Equally, return travel can be booked for the following Sunday evening, giving you another extra day’s skiing and bringing you back into London for work or onward travel Monday morning.
Where to catch the ski train from
Train travellers to the Alps can either start their outward journey at London’s St Pancras International station, or Ashford or Ebbsfleet in Kent, before onward travel to a range of Alpine stations including Aime la Plagne, Bourg St Maurice or to access Meribel or otheer resorts in the 3 Valleys alight in Moutiers.
Perhaps most importantly, the range of resorts serviced by the Ski Train is superb! Highlights in France include iconic resorts such as Meribel, Courchevel, Tignes, Val Thorens, les Arcs and Val d’Isere and over in Switzerland ski trainers have easy access to stunning resorts like Zermatt, Saas Fee and Verbier.
With a small connection at places like Aigle and Martigny you can also branch off to resorts like Chatel, les Gets, Morzine and Chamonix.
The choice is seemingly endless! Moutiers train station, for example, is spectacularly well located for access to the resorts of the Three Valleys. Upon arrival into Moutiers it’s an onward drive of approximately half an hour up the mountain road to Courchevel le Praz and the upper Courchevel resorts, plus la Tania and Meribel too.
How to book the ski train to Meribel
With direct services to the French Alps starting at £150 return and connecting services also available, the Ski Train remains the modus operandi of choice for thousands of keen skiers each year.
We have done the journey to the alps many, many times and we are big fans of driving out to the Alps and we drive out to Méribel at least once a year.
Driving can have some great perks as well as some serious financial benefits, coupled with the fact that it doesn’t really take much longer and you can make the journey part of the adventure.
When Driving to Méribel should you take the Ferry or Tunnel?
The first decision you need to make is Ferry or Tunnel. No matter where you live in the UK the best place to cross the channel is Dover as you will still need to cover similar distance once you’re in France. If you went from further west crossings are also cheaper at Dover and at least every 30 min 24 hours a day.
The Eurotunnel is the fastest way to cross at 35 minutes compared to the 90 minutes on a Ferry. Speed comes at a premium with tickets starting at £79 one way compared to £39 for a more leisurely pace.
If you are travelling a long distance before arriving in Dover the Ferry is a good opportunity to have walk around and take a break.
Both routes offer a flexi ticket for a bit extra , which is great if you’re rubbish at being on time but we have found that if you arrive early for either you generally get put on the next available crossing.
Take the toll roads when driving to Méribel
There is a lot of debate surrounding this. The cost of tolls from Calais to Méribel is around £80 each way which is quite a large amount of money but is it worth the saving?
The drive time on tolls from Calais to the alps is around 9 hours and there is less chance of being caught in traffic. A journey on lesser roads is about the 13 hour mark and that comes with a high risk of traffic jams and unforeseen hold ups.
Do you drive during the day or at night?
If you can split the driving and can stay awake driving through the night is a good option as you are guaranteed a clear run on the roads and if you are doing a week’s holiday you can extend your mountain time by 2 days.
If you want to drive in the daylight stick to the tolls as you will get clearer roads through the day. But avoid non toll roads as you will be caught in traffic as you will be passing through towns and driving on single lanes for a lot of the time.
What about the coach instead of driving to Méribel?
You could always get the coach out there and with prices starting at £65 it can be a way to keep cost lower. You also get many of the benefits that you get by driving.
However it is probably the longest journey you can make. Always research the coach company and route as you can end up in a car-park waiting for connecting coaches for hours.
Driving is environmentally friendly
If you are looking at reducing your carbon footprint then hitting the road instead of flying is a good start at reducing your impact.
Carbon emission in kg per journey to the alps
Full car 67.8kg
Large car 90.8 kg
*not including transfer
Save money by driving
A rough total cost of driving out a car with an MPG of 40 including tolls etc can be as little as £450. Many tour operators, including us, offer an independent travel discount at around £120pp and if you factor in ski carriage, airport parking etc there can be considerable savings especially if you can seat more than 4.