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.
Why the 3 Valleys lift pass is good value for money.
Next winter the 3 Valleys lift pass will cost €285 for an adult for 6 days and is outstanding value for money. There are are a reported 4.5 million skiers that visit The 3 Valleys each year giving the area plenty of funds to reinvest.
The constant investment ensures it remains great value for money and the best place to ski in the world.Find our how The 3 Valleys spend their money and give skiers the best possible experience.
For your money you get 600km of piste to play on and to put that into perspective all of the ski areas in America could fit into the 3 Valleys. If you then break that down into Euros per kilometre you get 2.1 km for every Euro you spend on your lift pass. The next best value for money resort is neighbouring La Plagne where you get just 1.5 km per euro.
Despite the vast area, 85% of runs are above the magic 1800m with the highest peak of 3230m in Val Thorens. This impressive altitude guarantees snow and there is an average base of 80cm and annual snowfall of 155cm. All these stats are the reason that the 3 Valleys features in all snow-sure ski area lists.
Snow Making in the Three Valleys
Being British we know the weather can be unpredictable and maybe this has rubbed off on our colleagues in charge of The 3 Valleys ski area and help them come to the decision to invest heavily in snowmaking. There are currently 2200 snow cannons that can make 5,280,000 cubic meters of snow per day across the area.
In Méribel, there is the DC Area park that features big kickers, a half pipe and is flanked by a boarder cross course. You can also find the slightly tamer Moon park in the same valley. Courchevel has a family park that is suitable for all and has an air bag to help you improve your tricks.
Val Thorens has invested in an expert and beginner slopestyle park that is popular with local riders and there is also FIS standard ski cross course. And finally, there is the BK Park in Les Menuires full of rail and bumps for all abilities.
Three Valleys staff
For many business one of the biggest outgoings is the wage bill and the 3 Valleys is no different. The area employs 1200 people just to operate the lifts on top of this there are security staff, pisteurs, resort staff, bus drivers and maintenance teams. If they were on minimum wages the monthly bill just for lifties would be €1,740,000.
How much does The Three Valleys Invest
We often speak to the management directly responsible for the infrastructure and they always talk in big numbers and they know that it is the continual reinvestment and development that keeps people coming back year after year.
Before last season started at least €50m was spent on improvements and new infrastructure. This included 3 new chairs in Val Thorens, a new chair and multiple piste improvements in Courchevel & Méribel, across the board snowpark improvements, indoor picnic areas, family entertainment, night skiing, wifi and selfie machines.
The Three Valleys is environmentally friendly
There is also investment in what you can’t see such as drainage, waste and reducing environmental impact. The resorts of The 3 Valleys come in the top 20 of environmentally friendly ski resorts in Europe and that is down to its investment in renewable energy to power the lifts.
All the resorts are committed to minimising the traffic and reliance of cars in resort which is combated by providing free bus services at an estimated cost of €5m per season.
What else can you get for the money
For €285 euros you can get a weeks lift pass and go skiing in The 3 Valleys or you could get…
1 day at Alton Towers for a family of 4 plus £50 spending money.
9 hours indoor skiing.
8 hours Wakeboarding.
68 bottle of alcohol free red wine.
685 All Butter Croissants from Lidl
So there you have it The 3 Vallyes lift pass is great value unless you like croissants more.
Oh and one last thing..
Is its cheaper to do 6 half day passes?
We get asked if there is a cheaper way to buy a 3 valleys lift passes, such as 6 half day passes. If you were to buy 6 half day passes you would in fact spend €42 more. A day pass can be bought for €61 and would get you 4.5 ski days for the same cost as a 6 day.
If you want more information an skiing in the 3 Valleys or want to find out about our catered ski chalets then please give us a call on 01273 466 535 or check out our website alpineaction.co.uk.
It is a long wait between ski seasons in Europe. The wait is almost bearable if you’re are a resort worker. But for most of us who can only fit in a one-week holiday, it is 51 long weeks. So what can you do to get your skiing fix during the long hot summer months?
1. Indoor and Dry Slopes
There are 100’s of these dotted around the UK, some big and some very small. You can find a full list of slopes on the Ski Club of Great Britain web site. There will be one close to you and they should have a small range of ski hire equipment too. In fact, why you are at it, you may as well take some non-skiing friends along and try and tempt them into taking it.
If you can convince them to come on your next holiday you will benefit from amazinggroup discount, which is time well spent.
2. Water Skiing and Wakeboarding
Admittedly it isn’t the same. For a novice, it can be a bit like spending time on a slushy drag lift and it can work out costing a lot more than a week’s skiing. You will also get wet. But if all that doesn’t put you off then it is a great way to feel that comforting leg burn that you get after a good day hooning around the slopes.
You could probably fit the whole of Australia’s and New Zealand’s ski runs into the Three Valleys or even the Meribel Valley, (not an actual fact). Sadly we don’t offer catered ski holidays there and there is a long flight to consider. But that shouldn’t put you off. The skiing is actually very good in both countries.
What more could you want from a bit of summer skiing than to be carving down Kangaroo Ridge with a tinny instead of a demis.
5. Find a Glacier in Europe to go skiing on this Summer
There are some wonderful glaciers that are open for skiing during the summer. You could even pop over for the weekend. Our favorite is located just down the road from our spiritual home of Meribel, in Tignes. There is also a great one in Zermatt although it will take you about an hour to get to it from the resort.
Woodsy started out on Sheffield Dry Ski Slope as a teenager and has quickly taken himself to the top of his game. On the way, he has won FIS medals, finished 5th in slopestyle at the Winter Olympics in Sochi and has legions of fans across the world.
When Eliose caught up with Woodsy at the Méribel Planks Clothing store she didn’t waste the opportunity and got him to share his top tips on perfecting tricks in the park.
1. Look where you are going & let your eyes do the trick:
Wherever the eyes go the body follows, looking where you are going and spotting your landing is the most important thing when setting out to do a trick.
2. Finger guns:
Point your fingers out in front of you as if you are going to shoot something – this is where your hands should be.
3. Hold the box:
Imagine you are holding the corners of a box in front of you, this helps to keep your shoulders and body open.
4. Z legs:
Your legs need to be z-shaped, pushing your shins into the front of your boots.
5. Imagine you’re an apple:
When you throw an apple it doesn’t change its rotation mid-air. You should do the same, imagine you are an apple and continue your rotation.
6. If landing switch look back up the hill:
When landing backwards it is easy to be nervous and land at an angle, spot your landing then immediately look back up the hill to straighten out the landing so you are on both feet.
Quick Guide to Méribel Snow Parks
Meribel is home to one of the best Freestyle Snow Parks in Europe…DC Area 43.
DC Area 43 currently has something for everyone, with a mini-pipe, super-pipe, side hips, rails, boxes and kickers (jumps) for intermediate – advanced park skier/boarders. The main drop into the park has a choice of 4 courses, on the left beginner/intermediate boxes, next blue and red kickers and sectioned off on the right a pro-line set up with multiple features. This truly is a park for all standards.
We missed Méribel when we went skiing somewhere different
As you probably know we love Méribel and we love skiing in Les 3 Valleys. During the 25 years of operating in the area, we have witnessed the resort and slopes evolve into the incredible ski experience they are today.
But that doesn’t stop us venturing to other resorts for a ski day or even a holiday. Over the last few years, we have visited the Espace Killy, Chamonix, Ischgl, Borovets and recently La Clusaz. It was this last one that made us realise how amazing The 3 Valleys are!
We are not about to character assassinate another resort and the truth is we had a lovely holiday skiing in a different place. Nor do we want to be the sort of people that say “why would you want to go anywhere else?”.
We understand that we all need to try something different, but we also know how good it feels to return to the familiar especially when it has the added bonus of being the best!
Our spring trip to La Clusaz was great, the resort was lovely, and the scenery stunning. In short, we had a great time. However, when you come from one of the best resorts in the world you do start to miss things.
By going skiing at the extremities of the season there is always the risk that the snow conditions won’t be at their best. Our trip was in spring and the snow cover across the alps wasn’t outstanding.
The 3 valleys have over 2000 snow cannons across ⅓ of the ski area, in our spring destination there were just 200 and many of them were not in use due to the temperature and low altitude.
We can all have an opinion on what is good and bad skiing. What you can’t argue with is that the 3 Valleys is the largest ski area in the world and offers terrain and runs for every skier. Yes in a small resort it is harder to get lost and in this case it was a great way for a mixed group to easily split up and hangout at the same time.
But if you consider that we occasionally discover a run that we haven’t skied for 10 years in the 3 valleys you can forgive us for not being satisfied with the amount of skiing on offer in other resorts.
Like the 3 Valleys the Annecy Ski area is many small areas linked. During my weeks stay none of the links were skiable, no runs were open into the resort and we relied on a car to get between ski areas. During the same week over in Méribel all the links were open and there was a plenty of runs open and runs back to resort were kept open.
During the same week over in Méribel all the links were open and there was a plenty of runs open and runs back to resort were kept open.
The next thing I started to miss was the quality of the infrastructure found in Les 3 Valleys. Every year there are new lift developments in the 3 Valleys and there has been clear progress in upgrading old lifts. So it is easy to tell when you’re in a resort that hasn’t had seen heavy lift investment.
So it is easy to tell when you’re in a resort that hasn’t had seen heavy lift investment. Many of La Cluzas lifts were old and none were covered, there was also a reliance on draglifts to access many of the ski areas.
One of the charms of La Cluzas is how it has retained its original charm and very much remains a French ski resort. This has also meant that it isn’t quite up to scratch when it comes to Apres time! There is nothing to rival the Folie or the Ronnie and the bars in town are a more subdued affair.
Also after a recent Austrian ski trip and experiencing the whole Europop, Flulgle , dancing on the table madness I realised how well balanced the Apres ski scene in Meribel feels.
As we live in Meribel for half the year we can sometimes get complacent so a trip to another resort is good for us to realise how lucky we are to have the 600km of piste that we do.
Keen British skiers flock to France each winter for the country’s spectacular ski slopes, vibrant après ski, wonderful family facilities and catered chalet holidays.
But there’s one more thing which keeps us coming back for more each year, the food! Not just in the chalets but on the slopes and in the resort restaurants.
History of Savoie Food
A large part of the French Alps sits across the Savoie region, and like any other region or départment in France, the Savoie has its own unique cultural, historical, political and social background.
A hugely varied terrain, much of the Savoie is covered by high-altitude mountain plateaux, steep gradients, deep river valleys, farmland and lakes, plus of course huge swathes of the land are covered in snow for half the year, so the people who historically lived and travelled here were very hardy folk.
Food sources had to be readily available and that meant their diet largely consisted of hardy vegetables, cheeses and cured meats.
Since the turn of the twentieth century, the Savoie has changed from a largely agricultural terrain to an area more readily associated with tourism and skiing, but the cuisine of the area is inextricably linked to the Savoie itself and over the years has proven hugely popular amongst skiing visitors from all corners of the globe – so much so that for many people the Savoie food is now a major reason to return to France for the annual ski trip!
Savoyarde cooking relies exclusively on products and ingredients from the area and, because of this, is unmistakably authentic. Staple ingredients include potatoes, which were grown over the summer and stored during harsh winters, and cheeses.
Of course, being an Alpine territory cheese making has always been a hugely popular pursuit in the Savoie and abondance, Beaufort, Tome and of course Reblochon cheeses all work wonderfully well with traditional Savoyarde fare. Cured meats also form a large part of the Savoyarde dishes we enjoy today, and they feature in a number of traditional recipes.
Perhaps the most instantly recognisable of all the Savoyard dishes, fondue is like no other meal! Wonderfully convivial and great fun to enjoy with friends, eating fondue involves placing hard bits of bread onto a skewer and dipping it into a pot of melted cheese.
There are two schools of thought on the history of the meal, one a lot more fun and interesting than the other. The traditional view is that fondue came about when poor mountain farming communities had experienced lean times and were forced to make meals out of nothing more than stale bread and hard cheese, so they melted the cheese down and ate it with the tough bread as a warm and hearty meal. The truth of the matter, if you believe the nay-sayers, is a lot less intriguing… fondue came about as little more than a marketing ploy to get punters
The truth of the matter, if you believe the nay-sayers, is a lot less intriguing… fondue came about as little more than a marketing ploy to get punters into restaurants when skiing because popular in the Alps. I know which one I’m happier believing!
Named after the cheese it’s made with, raclette is another wonderfully convivial dining experience – there are more flavours at play than with the fondue as well, and it’s a complete meal.
Potatoes are cooked in a pan of boiling water with the skins on, and placed on a plate alongside pickled gherkins, picked onions and a selection of dried meats.
Then diners take melted slices of raclette cheese and pour them over the dish before tucking in. It’s a hearty meal and leaves you fit to burst!
For a dish with as much flavour as tartiflette, it’s surprisingly simple to make. Butter is melted in a frying pan then finely chopped onions, bacon bits and thinly sliced potatoes are added.
Once the potatoes are nearly cooked you put them in an oven proof dish, layered with the bacon bits and onions. Then you cover the dish in strips of reblochon cheese and bake until melted and browned.
Tartiflette is a very old and very traditional Savoyarde recipe, but it’s one that anybody can try. Wonderfully simple to prepare, it tastes amazing and goes well with a crisp Savoyarde white wine.
These Savoyarde dishes are all wonderful in their own ways, and although no trip to the Alps is complete without one they are also perfectly simple to make and enjoy at home.
It’s all pretty carbohydrate-heavy though, but if you’re feeling too full after one of these dishes a shot or two of Genepi, the Savoie’s own digestif spirit, will sort you out in no time at all!
A great place to taste all these delicious dishes is the 3 Valleys. We have catered accommodation in Méribel and La Tania.
As the season comes to an end we really are going to miss our Chalet cakes. There is nothing better than coming back from a day on the mountain to the smell baking. A long standing Alpine Action favourite is our “Apple and Almond” cake. This mouth watering goodness, has a crisp outside and soft spongy middle. It lasts for ages if stored in a cake tin and if you like it as much as we do, you can even heat it up and serve it with a little cream for dessert.
Apple and Almond Cake
Preparation time 10 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
50g of almond flakes (plus some extra for decoration)
1 tsp cinnamon
300g raising flour
pinch of salt
375g brown sugar
Icing sugar (optional for decoration)
Method: 1. Peel, core and slice apples.
2. Sift flour, cinnamon and salt into a bowl.
3. Stir in the brown sugar, raisins, eggs, almonds, melted butter, milk and apples.
4. Mix until smooth and pour into a greased and floured cake tin.
5. Cook for 45 minutes in a moderate oven (180ºC).
6. Stick a knife in the centre of the cake to check it is done, its should come out clean when removed.
7. Decorate with Almond flakes and a light dusting of icing sugar, or with almond icing, like Carmen in Chalet Telekie.
Find out how Méribel reduces its environmental impact
You may be surprised to discover that Méribel is, environmentally speaking, considered a very green ski resort. Unlike the green runs which only accounts for 9% of the resort’s pistes. The Ski Club of Great Britain has identified 7 initiatives that ski resorts should be implementing for it to be considered an environmental friendly ski resort.
Only 2 resorts in Europe have the full 7 in place, and only 11 in France are implementing 6 green initiatives. Méribel is one of the 11 and is well on the way to having all 7 initiatives in place, making it the greenest resort in the 3 Valleys, although Courchevel has more green runs.
Why is Méribel so green
The resort, along with the whole of the 3 valleys, source the energy needed to power the lifts and cannons from renewable sources in the form of hydro electric dams that are located throughout the local area. Local water is also used to create the snow made by the cannons and comes from the nearby Ariondaz dam.
The ski area also uses solar energy to power all radio communications that keep the slopes safe and maintained. There are also plans to ensure the ice rink and swimming pool are powered by renewable energy.
As part of its green plan Méribel encourages people to walk. Which may seem a simple solution but it makes a big difference in reducing the traffic in the valleys villages. The town has invested lots of money into ensuring there are safe walkways and that they are maintained throughout the winter.
Where it is clear that walking would be a bit to much the resort lays on a free bus service at a cost of 1 Million euros per season but it helps to reduce the need for private cars and local emissions so it is a worth while investment. The resort also has a policy of free open air parking or affordable underground parking.
Rubbish and Recycling
Litter has always been an issue in ski resorts and we have all heard stories about the amount of rubbish and cigarette butts that appear under chairlifts as the snow melts in the spring.
Méribel is very proactive in discouraging skiers and boarders from littering and educating them about the impact throwing rubbish of chairlifts has. Despite all this there still needs to be organised mountain cleans at the end of every season.
The town has always had a recycling policy, just ask your chalet host how much time they spend ensuring the waste that the chalet generates gets put into the correct bin.
One of the joys of Méribel is the architecture. There are no hideous high-rises and modern monstrosities that you find in many nearby ski resorts, this is down to the strict 80 year old building code of the town
It was’t probably introduced for environmental reasons but the policy of only using stone, wood and slate for building as well as strict height restrictions has minimised the environmental impact the development of the resort had had on the mountain.
Can Méribel It be greener?
Of course it could be more environmentally friendly, which ski resort couldn’t be. However, Méribel is working towards it. They are close to complying with the ISO 14001 which is an international standard of environmental management. Take a look at the ISO website if you want to find out more about the ISO 14001, but in short it is good for our planet and good for Méribel.
If you want to book a ski holiday to one of Europe greenest ski resorts take a look at our chalets in Méribel.