Bonjour from a windy and wild Meribel and La Tania! The snow is falling, the clouds have come in and visibility is low but we are still out there enjoying the fresh powder and a good few vin chaud stops throughout the day. In the last week we have had just about every kind of weather thrown our way; rain, snow, sleet, wind and even some blue skies poking through! The weather has changed every 5 minutes so we’ve been carrying around a whole load of extra layers just in case.
Right now the snow is hurtling down at resort level, we have had over 20cm in the last couple of days. Up on the mountain this has resulted in a lovely fresh layer of powder to top up the mixed snow conditions from last week. Visibility has been as mixed as the weather this week, we have had moments of the clouds breaking and blue skies poking through but eventually the clouds have rolled back in and more snow is pouring down!
In the next 5 days we are expecting snow every day! Over half a metre of fresh powder is anticipated which will make for fantastic half term skiing, the heaviest snow is expected for Saturday with some breaks in the cloud on Thursday and Friday. Our best advice for low visibility skiing is to stick to the tree-lined runs, there are plenty of options around Courchevel and La Tania, and be aware of lift openings as you don’t want to end up stuck in the wrong valley with a very expensive taxi bill!
With half term just around the corner the Meribel and La Tania are going to full of smaller skiers and there are plenty of activities for families to get up to on and off the slopes! The family friendly areas such as the Inuit piste in the Altiport sector and the Yeti Park in Meribel Mottaret have a range of fun and games including meeting huskies so stop by and check it out!
It has definitely been a mixed-bag of a week in Méribel and La Tania! We have gone from blue skies and springtime warmth to resort-level rain and back again in a matter of days. The weather doesn’t seem to be making its mind up anytime soon, so be prepared for all conditions out on the slopes!
Temperatures have been unseasonably mild in the last week and as the snow clouds have rolled in it’s been falling a little damper than we prefer in resort and on lower runs however we have had 30cm of fresh snow at the top of the lifts. When the clouds have cleared the weather is almost March-like with us ditching our mid-layers, and even jackets at some points!
Taken – Wednesday 3rd Feb
The snow conditions are just as mixed as the weather, we’ve got a bit of ice, a bit of slush and everything in between. Up on the higher runs the snow is still in good condition so our advice would be go high and stay there! We skied the higher runs in and out of St Martin and Les Menuires this afternoon and they were really good!
Taken -Thursday 4th of Feb 2016
We are expecting a drop in temperatures and snowy showers later in the week, which should top up the mountain nicely, and then more blue skies as we head towards the weekend. Next week is looking great with fresh snow and colder temperatures so we can put out t-shirts away!
It hasn’t stopped snowing since our last snow report! We are a week in to heavy snowfall with it set to continue until early next week so there has never been a better time for a visit to Méribel! Weather this week has been hit and miss, with lovely fresh snow comes clouds and even some rain in resort and on lower pistes. However this hasn’t put us off, nothing a vin chaud by the fire couldn’t fix, and is worth it for the mounds of untouched powder we have been greeted by on a daily basis!
This week the temperatures have dropped significantly so another layer was very much needed out on the slopes, the start of the week was milder with the snow falling a little wetter than we prefer. This has all changed now and the snow is falling thick, fast and fluffy!
The snow is amazing! Some runs have only been pisted down one side leaving the rest pure powder, our chalet manager Eloise (who has worked 4 seasons and skied A LOT) described the champagne powder as the best she has ever skied on, and that’s saying something. The snow pack is over 2 metres deep at the top of the runs and 75cm on the bottom and this is only going to increase over the next few days. As incredible as the powder is the avalanche warning in resort is very high so off piste skiing is not advised at this moment in time.
The good weather is set to continue with snow expected until Tuesday with some blue skies poking through on Sunday which is set to be spectacular! Temperatures will continue to be low so wrap up warm and layer up on the mountain.
For the time being we have a lot of snow clearing to be doing, not a bad thing at all!
The snow has finally arrived and it’s not stopping anytime soon! In the last week the 3 Valleys have been completely transformed with over a metre of snow having fallen and more is on the way. We have been out with our shovels on a daily basis clearing snow from our drives for it to reappear only hours later- not that we are complaining!
The weather has been mixed this week, with heavy snow comes poor visibility and we have had some strong winds as well. For a couple of days we have had the holy grail of fresh powder combined with blue skies and beautiful sunshine but even in the poor visibility the snow has been so amazing it’s definitely a fair trade. The temperatures have dropped slightly this week and an extra layer of clothing has been needed on the slopes, especially when you get to the higher points of the mountain.
The snow conditions have been incredible with fresh powder on top of groomed pistes almost every morning this week. There are a few bumps and moguls around which has been great fun, even for those of us who have taken a couple of tumbles while trying to perfect our mogul technique! We asked a few of this week’s guests to describe the snow conditions in one word and this is what we got, “cracking”, “incredible” and we are slightly unsure of this one, but get the gist, “POWDERFUL”!
The slopes are unrecognisable from a mere week ago and things are only going to get better as more snow drops over the next week. Over the next 5 days we are anticipating another metre of snow to drop on the 3 Valleys so there are plenty more powder days on the horizon! The temperatures will continue to drop to around -10°C so if you are coming out remember to pack your thermals.
Once again the 3 Valleys has delivered when it comes to sunshine! This week has been sunny with blue skies every day and the perfect weather to hit the slopes. We have had a sprinkling of snow this week that has topped up the higher runs but we are still waiting for a dump! With Christmas just around the corner we are all feeling very festive in Meribel and La Tania with vin chaud, mince pies and questionable Christmas knitwear to be enjoyed over the next week!
The snow conditions are generally good although the warm weather has left the lower runs a bit slushy. The lower you get the thinner the snow cover, there are a few patches of ice and some rocks around so slowing your speed is advised. There is plenty of good snow to be had throughout the 3 Valleys and you can ski into every resort. Most runs and lifts have opened up this week, a few are still waiting for a bit more snow (it’s coming we promise!) but as the biggest ski area in the world we still have plenty to choose from.
Advice from the ski schools is to pick your runs carefully, check your speed and just ski with a little caution when it comes to lower and busier runs. Of course over the Christmas break the slopes do get a little busier but there is plenty of pistes for all ages and abilities.
Over the next week the blue skies are set to continue with glorious sunshine expected on Christmas day. You may have to jump on a lift to get your white Christmas but you will definitely have one! We are not expecting any major snowfall in the next week but the amazing cultured snow system in the 3 Valleys will be working hard to top up the pistes. Temperatures will stay relatively high for the time of year, between 1 and 4 °C throughout the day so don’t put on too many layers!
There is all sorts on in the 3 Valleys this week for the whole family. There are carol services, torchlight descents, live music and even a few visits from the big man himself. There is no better place to spend the festive season than with us in Meribel and La Tania!
Your ski jacket and snowboard pants have lots of pockets for a reason and it isn’t to help you warm up as you pat everyone of them looking for your lift pass in the morning. The pockets are there to keep stuff in and in many cases they are designed for specific things like your iPod, lift pass or even your keys, it also means that you can carry the essential and you won’t have to ski or board with a cumbersome bag. But what should you take with you? Here is our list of five essential things that you should pack in your pockets.
Many of us seem to think that we are immune to dehydration and that if we do get thirsty we can just suck on an icicle. These things simply aren’t true, eating snow can increase dehydration due to the amount of heat your body will generate to melt it. That is why we recommend carrying a bottle of water to help you stay hydrated. You can always fill it with snow and ice when it is empty and by keeping it in you pocket your body heat will naturally melt it.
2. A tool
You can get really small tool kits for your hardware theses days, so it is worth making sure at least one person in the group has tool in their pocket (ahem). We suggest this as there is nothing worse than a loose binding half way down a slope that could have be fixed there and then. If your lucky there maybe a tool point at the next lift, but don’t count on it.
3. Sun cream
Every 1000ft above sea level you go there is a 4% increase in the levels of UV that you are exposed to. This means that the chances of sunburn in the mountains is much greater than at the beach in Devon, also the exposed parts of your body will be in the sun for most of the day. That is why you should carry sun cream on you at all times. One thing that is even more important than having it in your pocket is applying it!
4. Fresh Socks
This might seem a bit of a luxury item but your feet will be grateful if you get them wet and cold during the day. There is also some other practical applications for socks such as: An emergency Ice pack (just fill with snow); Gloves (your feet might not have got cold but your hands could have); Dusting (sometimes the ski lift just isn’t clean enough).
5. First Aid Kit
You can get an small one that will fit in your pocket. You never know when someone might need first aid and if you have the kit then you get to play the hero, they might even buy you a beer in exchange for that plaster!
What do you carry in your pocket? Let us now by posting on our Facebook page.
This is our round up of what is new in Méribel this winter.
This winter Méribel is making learning to ski a nicer experience by expanding its safe haven areas for children and beginners. The Altiport area has a designated “Ski Cool” zone that is for gentle and peaceful skiing it is also the home of the piste des Inuits, a nursery slope. On the other side of the valley is the “Zen Zone” and Yeti park, located on the Little Himalaya piste and is also billed as safe haven for people new to skiing and snowboarding.
The new lift is the extension of the Combes, which runs from Meribel Mottaret up towards Les Menuires. This lift now has a mid station allowing beginners to get off and access the Himalaya “Zen” area. It will also shorten the time it takes for skiers to get over to the next valley and onto the runs down to Saint Martin de Belleveille. The lift also boasts magnets as increased saftey for children wearing a special bib.
Take a virtual tour of the new lifts and runs!
Méribel has introduced free on piste Wifi. You can find out more about it and the locations in this article.
For many years the neighbouring resort of Courchvele has had an epic Toboggan run, this year Méribel is introducing not one but two! One run is located in up the Altiport are and the other is next to the Rhodos lift down by the Chaudanne. Sadly neither will be as epic as the one over in Courchevel, which you can watch in the video below.
There will be added photo opportunities this winter as Méribel will be installing a selection of giant photo frames arround the resort for you to have your photo taken with, as soon as we know the locations of these we will let you know.
The Alpine Legends Ski Pass
We wrote about the Alpine Legends pass a few weeks ago. It is a pass that allows you to ski the 3 Valleys, Espace Killy and Paradiski for one price. In the past there was always the option to “upgrade” for a day but this pass allows unlimited skiing in every resort, there is a challenge waiting for some adventurous people to invent, 9 Valley Rally anyone?
Click here if you want to get in contact and talk to us about booking a ski chalet holiday to Meribel.
A ski instructor is a highly skilled, highly trained and highly qualified individual they don’t just get dropped of by the ski stork pre-packaged in their instructors uniform. To become an instructor the individual must be highly motivate and incredibly committed as the cost of the training can be similar to the costs of attending university and getting a degree. As we all know there are international qualifications and there is the “French” qualification. As many of us ski and have lessons in France we have written this guide on the difference between the two systems and the route an instructor takes.
Ski Instructors from Most of the World
It may seem an oversimplification to lump everyone together but in general the qualifications follow a standard structure such as in Canada and New Zealand but for ease we will look at the UK system. The British qualification comes from the British Association of Snowsports Instructors (BASI), and fortunately the qualification can be obtained in other country’s. Many ski instructors holding a BASI qualification will have gained their qualifications in Scotland or in a European ski resort with many wannabe instructors opting to spend whole season training on residential ski instructor courses with companies like Basecamp, who run theirs out of Meribel.
There are generally 4 levels of instructor qualification to obtain. It should be noted that each course requires a level of skiing competence to be accepted on to the program. Also each course covers elements of first aid and emergency procedure that is appropriate to level of instruction they will be qualified in.
Level 1 – This can take three weeks and the end the instructor will be qualified to teach on indoor or dry slopes, children up to the age of 12 as part of a ski school as well as run ski racing training sessions for more serious skiers.
Level 2 – This is a 7 week course and as you can imagine requires more in-depth training and focuses more on technical aspects of ski racing as well as developing the skills of the instructors on piste coaching.
Level 3 – Is where it gets tough and moves in to international territory and the qualification needed can an be obtained from the ISIA . Before an instructor can move to level 3 they must have completed 200 hours of teaching, have a second language and passed a level 1 in a second discipline such as snowboarding. During the course they will have train in mountain safety, performance training and a common theory course and exam. All the hard work means that they can teach most mountain styles and techniques as well as being able to take clients off piste.
Level 4 – Requires a further 200 hours teaching and 6 days of ski touring achieved before they can start the course. They are also required to take the following: Euro Speed test, a written project, endless theory courses, Level 2 in a second discipline and be subjected to a interview. But all this hard work makes them able to teach anything to anyone and go anywhere on the mountain, the dream job.
Instructors are required to take a refresher courses every three years, to make sure they are up to date with safety, first aid and technique developments.
Despite what your are lead to believe being an instructor in France isn’t exclusive to the French, it just requires a bit more work as they have a different route to become a ski instructor and is similar to the systems of Italy and Austria. In France a individual wanting to be a ski instructor must first get into a ski school registered to train, get a first aid certificate, complete a two week residential and pass the notorious Test Technique, which requires an instructor to complete a slalom course within a set time. This first step is the equivalent of Level 1 and the progress is very similar from there on with instructors to pass different levels of competence and complete 100’s of teaching hours to move up the qualifications. Once an Instrcutor has.reached the highest level then can then leave the umbrella of the ESF and set up independent ski schools such as Magic in Motion. It is possible for people from outside of France to enter the system at any stage but the Test Technique is an essential requirement as is speaking French.
This is just a summary of the levels of training an instructor has to go through just to make sure we aren’t dragging out inside edge when turning. If you are interested in finding out more about how people become ski instructors the take a look at these websites Basi.org.uk, Baseampgroup.com, isiaski.org and esf-uk.co.uk
Our guide to why Méribel is the best resort in the 3 Valleys.
The resort of Méribel sits in the Tarentaise valley of the French Alps. It’s a vibrant ski resort with an international following, popular across the winter ski season as well as the more relaxing summer climbing and hiking months. But with two such illustrious neighbours as Courchevel to the east and Val Thorens to the west sharing the mighty Three Valleys ski area, we got to wondering what puts Méribel so far ahead of the competition! Well, we’ve made a list of exactly why Méribel beats Courchevel and Val Thorens.
Méribel takes pride of place in the centre of the Three Valleys and no other resort in the area offers such easy access to all corners of the ski area. With the Saulire gondola swinging rapidly up to its namesake peak for skiing over in Courchevel, and the Tougnete lift winging people swiftly up towards les Menuires and beyond, Méribel wins hands down in this category. You could argue that Méribel-Mottaret is the actual winner here, being closest to the true centre of the Three Valleys, but Mottaret is part of the Méribel Valley!
#2 Best après ski
Méribel’s après ski scene used to be good. Now it’s excellent. The Rond Point has been a favourite amongst seasonnaires and visitors for years and remains a wonderfully popular venue. As the Méribel Folie Douce grows in popularity it means we have two epic venues to choose from and puts Méribel firmly at the top of the après ski tree in the Three Valleys.
#3 Best beginners’ area
Anybody mastering their first turns on the snow, whether on skis, board or blades, needs to head to one of two spots in the Méribel valley that are dedicated to families and beginners. The first is the Altiport a long, rolling, green run that is simply ideal for learners and has trees on either side sheltering skiers from the elements. The other is the Yeti park located around Mottaret. It is comprised of a gentle blue run called Yooni and a green run named Himalaya. The Yeti park area discourages the more adventurous skier leaving you safe to enjoy the wide runs, obstacles and entertainment.
#4 Best nightlife
Whilst it’s true that Courchevel Moriond and Val Thorens have good nightlife, neither of them can compete with the proximity of great bars to be found in Méribel town centre such as Jack’s Bar, famous for its live music and comedy and Barometer to name a few. And when they close, O’ Sullivans down the road is on hand to welcome revellers into the wee small hours. Val Thorens’ Malaysia nightclub offers strong competition but the overall winner has to be Méribel!
This is really a two horse race between Courchevel and Méribel – Val Thorens doesn’t get a look in here. Courchevel 1850 is pretty enough, and so are Moriond and le Praz, but none of them match the lovely Savoyard wood and stone to be found across Méribel, and charming, traditional villages in the Méribel valley such as Les Allues complete the picture.
#6 Best range of accommodation quality/price
Courchevel dominates the luxury market and Val Thorens is often a great resort choice for the budget conscious, especially in the last minute market, but none of them offer such a spectacular range of catered ski chalets, hotels and apartments from basic 2* properties all the way up to top-end 6* opulence. Again, Méribel trumps the competition.
#7 Best ski schools
This category is open to debate, because many of Méribel’s best ski schools also operate in Courchevel and some in Val Thorens as well. But the fact remains that Méribel offers some of the finest tuition of any resort in Europe, with classes, courses and clinics for every pursuit and every level imaginable. Alongside the established ESF are some great independent schools such as Magic in Motion, Marmalade and Parallel Lines.
With the same range of basic burger joints as you’ll find in Val Thorens and the same quality (although perhaps not quantity) of Michelin starred restaurants as Courchevel, Méribel really is a foodie’s paradise. The resort offers cuisine to suit all tastes and budgets, from fine dinning in Le Blanchot over in the Altiport area to amazing pizza in La Refuge, located in the centre of town. Although prices can be high, the quality of the restaurants in Méribel means value for money is very good.
#10 Best off piste
This is another contentious point as both Courchevel and Val Thorens boast spectacular off piste in the right conditions. But with so many lines to choose from running down from the Saulire peak into Méribel Mottaret as well as the open powder fields to be found on Mont Vallon, to name but two, Méribel is the best part of the Three Valleys to find yourself in when the skies have opened and fresh powder has fallen.
Of course this is all hugely subjective and Courchevel and Val Thorens have just as many die-hard fans as Méribel does, and with good reason. One of the most wonderful things about the Three Valleys is the range and variety of the resorts, pistes and amenities found therein. That said, Méribel is still the best…!