There are some people that have never been to Méribel, there are many that just miss being there and there are the obsessed that just love Méribel so much that they can’t get enough of it. To help all these people out we have put together a virtual tour of Méribel using a collection of videos. Hopefully it will help the people that have never been want to come, those that miss it feel like they are back there and those that love Méribel can get quick top up.
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.
In the last 25 years, ski fashion has changed a lot!
Since we started up 25 years ago we have witnessed a wide range of ski fashion on the slopes from the death of the onesie to its rebirth there have been a lot of styles.
We thought that while we are reflecting on 25 years of making ski holidays we should look back at some of the clothes we probably wore but have since binned and erased all evidence of.
Ski fashion in the 1990’s
The 90’s witnessed the transition from the bright clothing of the 80’s to day-glow and pastel colours. But it didn’t mean goodbye to the onesie as that iconic piece of clothing manages to hang around almost until the turn of the century. It was also a when the ski bib arrived on the slopes. Essentially it was just the top part of an all in one suite and often came with a belt located around the midriff and kangaroo type pocket pouches.
It was also a when the ski bib arrived on the slopes. Essentially it was just the top part of an all in one suite and often came with a belt located around the midriff and kangaroo type pocket pouches.
Headbands were still part of the trend for our heads and for some reason wearing a baseball cap on the slopes was becoming a thing! Towards the end of the decade, synthetic fleece material was starting to be used and dictate a lot of the new styles as well as the development of gore-tex inspired materials. Wearing a one-piece was a thing of the past and the two piece with the dungaree style salopettes was starting to emerge.
Ski Fashion in the Noughties
Colour was starting to become a bit more muted on the pistes of the early 00’s with greys, greens and blues becoming popular and there was an assumption that if you wore something bright that you were a good rider. Padded jackets also became a must-have look despite the lack of movement it offered the skier, combine this with the microfleece layer and we all started to look like all we ate was fondue.
Snowboarding was at its peak of popularity in the double O’s and by the middle of the decade was starting to have an influence on winter ski fashion. Snowboarding trends were influenced by the baggy clothing of the skateboarding scene. The desire for baggy low cut trousers aided the demise of the traditional salopettes and the need for upper body movement encouraged the development of looser lightweight jackets. And as time went by the ski world started to adopt the styles and fashions of the “cooler” snowboarding scene.
Ski Fashion in from 2010
By the time we headed into the second decade of the century colour was back, the rivalry between skiing and snowboarding was just a murmur and rock star winter sports icons like Shaun White and Lindsay Vonn had emerged. Ski clothing was now practical, well designed, trendy and affordable. The main trend has been for technical clothing that performs well for its intended use, with clothing designed for different disciplines. The baggy look has been overtaken in both sports in favour of a return to a more fitted look.
The main trend has been for technical clothing that performs well for its intended use, with clothing designed for different disciplines. The baggy look has been overtaken in both sports in favour of a return to a more fitted look.
One of the most important fashion developments to happen was the styling of helmets. Originally these were cumbersome and unattractive, they were practical but not very cool with a one option fits all. Today the majority of piste users wear them and they have evolved to match your look. The protection of your head is well and truly in vogue.
We have also seen a growth in retro looks on the slopes. Originally there was a wave of ironic 80’s clothing being worn on the slopes which was aided by the arrival of online companies renting out retro ski outfits. Slowly this has become adopted into the wider mountain fashion but there are also companies making redesigned onesies that look pretty cool!
Convert your non-skiing friends! Send this post to them!
Skiing. It’s not a closed-group thing, quite the opposite actually, but if you’re a non skier it can be a little off putting coming into conversation with a bunch of regular skiers or snowboarders. “You’ve never been skiing? What do you mean you’ve never been skiing?!!” You end up either with the opinion that skiers are a bunch of incredulous idiots, or that skiing is actually worth a bash… perhaps you’ll get round to it one day…
But there are many good reasons for this wall of disbelief! Skiing is a joy, a buzz, a real thrill, and these days it’s nowhere near as pricey as it once was. So what do you mean you’ve never been skiing?!
1. Skiing is a wonderfully challenging and rewarding sport to undertake
Whether you’re a complete beginner mastering the intricacies of the snowplough turn or a seasoned expert well used to high speeds and big air jumps, there’s always somewhere to push yourself to improve. In Europe, for instance, the pistes are divided up into four colours representing their gradient; green, blue, red and black. The sense of satisfaction you experience when graduating to steeper terrain as you progress in the sport is fantastic, and really spurs you on to improve further. Equally for more advanced skiers, the buzz of landing a new jump or discovering and nailing a fresh powder field never really wears off.
2. The Great Outdoors!
The special blend of clean, fresh air and magnificent Alpine peaks is a massive draw. Ski resorts today are mountain playgrounds and it’s easy to forget how remote you actually are. But stop and think – two thousand metres up with crisp white snow all around – these are scenes of rare beauty! Drink it in!
3. Wonderfully hobby
Gathering a group of like minded friends for a week of challenging skiing, boozy après ski and lively banter is what some of the best memories are made of! It’s the joy of shared experiences… amazing fun with a group of mates. It’s also a great way to widen the social circle, because organising a large group of skiers almost invariably involves fresh introductions at the start of the week. Before you know it, you’re enjoying banter and laughs with friends old and new over a few refreshing après ski beers… joy!
4. Great travel opportunities
It’s an easily overlooked point, but skiing is also a great way to see parts of the world you’d never otherwise get to visit. Despite the British bars and boozy après ski which prevails in many resorts it’s perfectly possible to step off the beaten track, make an effort with the lingo and enjoy genuine cultural enrichment. Of course, such experiences are perhaps more fulfilling in the smaller, traditional ski resorts… Woe betide the poor sap who tries to order une grande biere s’il vous plait in Jack’s Bar. But there are myriad chocolatiers, patissiers and the like in resorts across Europe who would welcome your efforts. And quite apart from any linguistic foray you may make, exploring ski resorts in different countries is also a great way to try new cuisine. Savoyarde specialities such as tartiflette and foldue are well known classics, but there are plenty more where they came from.
In short, not only is skiing a fantastically challenging and rewarding pursuit, but it’s also amazing fun! Push your boundaries and test your mettle in spectacular scenery, live to tell the tale then gather the gang, save a few quid up and do it all again next winter!
The end of March and the start of April were once times that dedicated skiers would try and avoid the slopes. But over the last few years these 6 weeks have seen an increase in big fresh dumps of snow. The snow that falls in spring may not stay around as long but when it falls it is light, fluffy and often accompanied by blue skies.
Outrageous tan lines
A goggle mark has always been more of a statement rather than a lax approach to sunscreen application. And the best time to get yours is during the spring months. But why stop at a goggle mark when there are T-shirt lines to collect on your arms, neck and rear.
The sighting of Marmots
To some these are mythical creatures that only exist in souvenir shops or name of the piste where you were meant to meet your partner after their ski lesson. To others the appearance of these giant rodents is a sign that spring is here and the summer is on it’s way.
The alpine festival is a growing trend, Méribel alone can boast of the Ronnie Loves Music Festival, the Piste Basher Festival and the 3 Valleys Charity Day (festival). Once the posters for these start to go up we know that we are in for a good time and that spring has arrived.
Rocks are a part of the spring experence and other than the petex manafacures, no one enjouys their appearence. First the big ones that form the landscape start to appear then slowly smaller ones start to popup on the lowere slopes and busy intersections. By the final week of the season, (if its hasn’t dumped), part of the game is to dodge the rocks.
An iconic image of a ski resort in spring is the sunbathing liftie. Over the years the resorts have become more customer focused and the role of the lift operator more responsible this sight happens less and less. But when it does you can’t but think…. “ I’d quite like that job”.
Puddles to skim
You know the drill, you spot a puddle or melted pond, you point it out to your group, then you watch someone effortly skim across it on skis. The challenge is on. One of your group heads back the chalet early to dry off. In some resorts this is now a major event, don’t let your mate enter!
After a great week of skiing, delicious food in your catered chalet and little bit of aprés it is hard not to feel a little blue on the run back to the airport. There isn’t a 100% cure to the glumness inside but there are ways you can make yourself feel a bit better…
Talk about buying a place in the alps
“Maybe we should all chip in and buy a place in the alps” is how the conversation starts. You all know deep down that it won’t actually happen but that doesn’t stop anyone. Before the coach has arrived at the airport you have started a WhatsApp group and are sharing links to wildly unaffordable properties. One member of the group provides a spreadsheet breaking down costs that unlike your home has zero outgoings. In the arrivals hall while waiting for your luggage you all agree to look at how much you can afford to “put in” and promise to meet up soon to discuss it. You all leave happy and dreaming about the chalet you will never buy.
Consider a job as a chalet host
To avoid the post-ski holiday blues you could look into getting a job in the Alps next winter. Start by asking your host/driver/rep on that last day if they are enjoying their season. Undoubtedly they will say yes and stir up your desire even more. You can then spend the next few days after your trip applying for jobs and imagining how good you will be at skiing by the end of next season.
Book your next ski holiday
Beating the blues is all about having the next thing to look forward to. If you are out early in the season you could always book another ski holiday that season. Or you can start planning next winter’s ski trip and maybe go all out and put the deposit down. As they say booking a holiday is almost as exciting as going on one. It is worth noting that booking a ski holiday a season in advance can often be cheaper as many tour operators will honour the current season price.
Concoct an epic ski trip
Why stop at dreaming about your next ski holiday. Why not plan an epic snow chasing adventure like Travis Rice in The Fourth Phase in an attempt to abolish the sadness. You could keep it local and plan to ride every dry slope in the UK. Or maybe dream of riding a mountain on every continent, just imagine ticking off Antartica.
Buy some new ski kit.
For instant gratification get online and buy some stuff. During your holiday you will have decided that something needs replacing, maybe your jacket is a bit drafty or your goggles are scratched. It could be that you are still skiing in rear entry boots. A post ski holiday spending binge is the perfect way to cheer yourself up. Plus you get the 2nd tier of excitement when they arrive in the post and a 3rd wave of joy when after 10 months of never actually using whatever you ordered you discover it just before your next trip.
Start eating mountain style at home
They say food invokes memories so why not spend the week after your trip trying to recreate that meal you fell in love with that your chalet host cooked. Or maybe if you want more cheese and cream google a recipe for Tartiflette and indulge in some traditional Savoie food. You could even dig out the fondue kit that you found in the house when you moved in. Then get the ingredient from the supermarket and invite some friends round to indulge in melted fromage and ski stories.
Watch a ski or snowboard movie
Your final option is to wallow a bit longer, pull on your PJ’s, crack open a bottle of wine and stick a pizza in the oven. Then choose your favourite winter sports movie, snuggle up on the sofa, reminisce about the fun you had during your trip and dream of next time.
If you need some help getting over this year’s trip by planning for next year then take a look at our catered ski chalets in La Tania and Méribel. Or give us a call on 01273 466535.
We can’t promise you endless bluebird powder days in spring but more snow fall in the spring than you think. We looked at the snowfall for the 6 week spring period in the alps over the last five years and found that on average 49cm of snow fell in the period. Spring snow accounts for 14% of all the season’s snowfall. This can easily match the snowfall recorded during December in the same seasons.
When we looked at the base depths on the piste in spring they compared almost like for like with the depths of December. Naturally the snow is starting to melt as spring settles in and it is often the case that at the very end of April the charts start to tail off. However, for many of the season we looked at spring starts when the snow depth is at its peak.
Simply put skiing in spring is as fun and varied as the rest of the season only a little bit warmer.
During the spring the average temperatures is around 11° which is a lot warmer than you can expect in January when the average is just above freezing at 2°.
In the middle of winter in Méribel there is around 75 hours of sunshine over 28 days. Once spring arrives there is in excess of 175 hours of sunshine throughout the month.
It is during these months that the sun terraces start jumping into action with more outside gigs starting happen, BBQ’s appear and of course there is loads more sunbathing to be done.
In Spring Méribel gears itself up for some great outdoor parties including the Ronnie Loves Music Festival with Norman Jay MBE, The Sunset Sons and Craig Charles.. There is also the amazing Three Valleys Charity day hosted by the LDV’s in Méribel Village.
How I entertained my children when we weren’t skiing.
When you plan a holiday “relaxing” would probably appear in capital letters and a bold font in your word cloud. Another highlighted word will be your choice of activity, my guess is that for many people it would be “beach”. My choice is skiing. With its hot tubs, after exercise socialising and tranquil scenery this “extreme sport” holiday is a very relaxing way to spend a week, that is until you invite your young children along for the first time.
The first few days of my holiday had already involved missed flights and manic rushes to ski school, allowing me to tick off the extreme part of my vacation checklist before I had even hit the slopes. I spent some time skiing with my wife, drinking wine and eating delicious food. Relaxing box ticked. This left me with only one part of the holiday brief left to fill, “Spending time with the Family”. Luckily in Méribel there is plenty to do to entertain the children.
In my head sledging involved me standing around watching my 2 and 4 year old children slide down and then gleefully running back up with the sled in tow, repeatedly until exhausted. In reality it involved an argument over the sledge colour, me towing a convoy of child laden sledges across a variety of terrain followed by the children gleefully sliding down and me running back with a full sled in tow repeatedly until exhausted.
Like many other parents we also chose not to use the allocated tobogganing area to allow our children to play in. Instead we chose a spot that was less distance to get to but ultimately more perilous. This meant that in between being a human tow, I spent my time flinching and shouting “désolé” as a fine ballet of near misses involving skiers, snowboarders and underage sledgers was performed in front of me. Untill now I have often wondered who these type of families were.
In the UK there is no trust between restaurant owners and dinners, which is why we have seen a sharp decline, almost to the point of extinction, of the humble tablecloth. In France there is little evidence of the disappearance of either trust or tablecloths. For one lunch we headed to Le Refuge a favourite restaurant of mine that is full of tables with tablecloths on and delicious pizza.
I am the sort of parent that winces at badly behaved children in restaurants, when in fact it isn’t bad behaviour it is normal behaviour in an adult environment. When it comes to my own children I tend to eat fast, over compensate with politeness, while paralysed with embarrassment. With our children inevitably under the table tugging on a table cloth with more glassware than we currently own, I ate fast, apologised profusely and left with redder cheeks then I went in with.
Outside of ski school I wanted to do some skiing with my daughter. The experience was similar to sledging in so much as I decided to return to the same location. Unsurprisingly after only two lessons she wasn’t quite ready for that mildly challenging red despite what my bravardad feelings were telling me. I spent a very happy afternoon towing my daughter up a mild incline and watching her straight line the slope while avoiding everyone that cut across her line.
Our 2 year old had made it abundantly clear that he wasn’t happy with the lack of skiing at the nursery he was attending. To make up for this I negotiated a loan of kit from my older child. He was thrilled and much better that I expected… maybe good enough for a difficult green?
Riding the lifts
It was agreed between us that on some of the afternoons one parent would head off and go skiing leaving the other to entertain the children. Sensibly, during her turn my wife opted for cake and games in the sanctity of the chalet. I thought I would show them the mountain. My goal was a voyage of discovery through the snowy peaks on gondola ships with a final destination of La Folie Douce. As a whole family we boarded the Saulire in Méribel centre.
Once at the top the doors opened and the wind rushed in to violate the safety of the telecabine. I realised quickly that this may not be the place for a 2 year old. Especially one that has a tendency to run towards the most perilous thing in the room, or beach, or field and now mountain top. As my wife skied away I bundled the children back into the lift where we spent an hour or so going round and round while we ate a picnic and spotted mummy an incredible amount of times.
For those of you that don’t know the Saluire Express passes over the top of the Folie Douce. We passed over it at least 6 times before I decide that it wasn’t my best idea to take the children there. They seemed happy enough in the bubble lift.
Just who you want share lift with!
There are loads of other things to do with your children when you are in Méribel : Ice Skating, swimming, soft play, Bowling and more. We were just too busy having our own fun to get round to doing it all.
The skies are looking moody in the 3 Valleys this week, as we eagerly anticipate the next snow fall. Conditions are still very good, with on-piste skiing compact and well groomed.
As we move into February, in preparation of the school holidays the children’s fun zones are really taking shape across the 3 Valleys. The Piste Inuit in Meribel’s Altiport is now up and running with lots of fun features and activities to entertain the whole family. The NEW Elements Park at the top of the Plan de l’homme chair lift, is also starting to take shape and we are awaiting the opening.
Temperatures are varied over the next 14 days with highs of around 8 degrees and lows of -3. However, towards the weekend we are seeing temperatures plummet with highs of -7 and lows of -11. Wind chill is forecast at a body shivering -18 for Saturday – don’t forget your ski buff!
The Meribel valley currently has a reading of 23cm of snow at resort level (1450m) and 100cm at Altitude (2700m).
The Courchevel valley currently has a reading of 80cm at resort level (1850m) and 170cm at Altitude (2700m).
Avalanche risk is 2 out of 5
We want to keep you up to date with weekly events and happenings in the 3 valleys so here are some of the best bits to get you in the winter holiday spirit…
What’s on this week in Meribel
Monday 30th ♫Live Music♫
Jacks Bar: Jay Tamkin – 5pm
Meribar: Conor Owen – 4:30pm Evolution: Mardy Johnny Depps – 10pm
Tuesday 31st Market day in Meribel centre
Jacks Bar: Daisy B – 5pm
Lodge du Village: Bring Your Sisters – 4:30pm
Meribar: Hobo Chic – 4:30pm
Evolution: Hobo Chic – 10pm
Scotts: Sian Hayley-Smith – 10pm
Doron Pub: The Slopes 11pm
O’Sullivans: Bring Your Sisters – 12am
Wednesday 1st ♫Live Music♫
Jacks Bar: The Mardy Johnny Depps – 5pm & Wingmen – 6pm
Meribar: Bring Your Sisters – 4:30pm
The Rond Point: Bubble & Crisp – 5pm
Lodge du Village: Hobo Chic – 4:30pm
Doron Pub: Wingmen 11pm Thursday 2nd Himalaya by night: night sledging 5:30pm – 7:30pm Meribel Mottaret
Jacks Bar: Hobo Chic – 5pm
Meribar: Blazin Strings – 4:30pm
Lodge du Village: Rob Cross – 4:30pm
Doron Pub: Gareth & Westy – 11pm
La Taverne: Bubble & Crisp – 10pm
Lodge du Village: Two Far Cajon – 10:30pm
O’Sullivan’s: Mountain Movers – 12am
Friday 3rd ♫Live Music♫
Meribar: Wingmen – 4:30pm
What’s on this week in La Tania
Last minute availability
If you like what you see and want to escape rainy England for the snowy Alps, then check out our latest offers and availability. We have limited spaces in Meribel and La Tania from the 18th February onwards. Hopefully we will be welcoming you to the 3 Valleys soon!
In my last blog about our first family ski trip I wrote about how we manage to miss the flight despite staying overnight at an airport hotel. This blog continues the story of our holiday and picks up the trip after we landed in France ready for our transfer to Méribel.
We arrived at Grenoble airport and were warmly welcomed by Alpine Action driver Eddie who my children instantly fell in love with and obsessed about during the duration of our trip. “I can’t wait to get back to see Eddie at the chalet”, “It’s kind of Eddie to let us stay at his house”, “Who are those people cooking in Eddie’s kitchen?” and “Let’s make a card to thank Eddie for letting us stay”. How much Eddie appreciated this admiration is a question for him and how much Jack and Emily, our chalet hosts, appreciated playing Carson to Eddies Earl of Grantham we may never know.
Once in resort there is always some pre-ski admin to do and after the flight fiasco I wasn’t expecting a successful outcome. However, getting ski hire for a 4 year old was simple, as was getting free lift passes for the children along with booking into ski school and child care. I doubt this success was down to us and the behaviour of our children so the credit should go to the wonderful resort staff that helped us along the way. As a result of my many trips to Méribel we were also spared the usual “where is my chalet” moment that we all get in a new ski resort. However my wife was determined to engineer this by repeatedly asking if I knew where I was going.
The next thing on the agenda was introducing our children to snow. The last huge snowfall in the UK was in 2009, way before my children were born, making this their first time experiencing snow. There are many things you can do with snow such as skiing, snowball fights, snowman making or even sledging. The main priority for my children during their first encounter with snow was to eat it and they were determined to sample it from as many locations as possible. Due to my children’s partiality to consuming snow we spent very little time near the resort ponies.
Children’s mealtimes were a success thanks to “Eddies staff” and I was surprised by the ease at which the children went to sleep. I was unsurprised at the time they woke up in the morning. I think the last time I was up before the chalet hosts was when I was one. I also suspect that in some parts of the resort some people were only just heading back to their chalet. But why wouldn’t you wake up early on a ski trip, going skiing is exciting!
Even though I had been awake since 4am, when the minibus arrived to take us to the ski school we weren’t quite ready. Quite means, one child undressed with ski boots on, one child fully dressed no shoes on running around in the snow, one parent not dressed still packing children’s day bag and one parent fiddling with his snowboard while wondering why no one else is ready.
We arrived at the children’s ski school 10 minutes late. A quick glance around told us that we weren’t the only ones. My daughter who is 4 was going into ski school for the morning and was incredibly excited about her first time on skis. My son who isn’t old enough to ski was in the creche. Prior to our holiday we had talked about going skiing, watched it on the TV and role played the holiday, which with hindsight was a bit cruel as when we dropped him off at the nursery he soon realised that he wouldn’t be doing much skiing.
They say there are no friends on a powder day. Maybe there should be a saying that implies similar when referring to offspring on a ski holiday. Shortly after 9.30 am we found ourselves on the first chairlift of the day with the sun on our faces and the combined feelings of guilt and excitement. After few runs we nipped back to the nursery slopes and replaced the last few embers of guilt with pride as we saw our daughter skiing for the first time. We didn’t check on the other one.
Just before lunch we returned to collect the two children for an afternoon of sledging and hot chocolate drinking. One was over the moon that she had mastered skiing and loved every second of her time. The other was less impressed and greeted us with the opening remark “Go skiing now?”.
Coming up in part 3 we relieve our guilt of spending the mornings skiing by attempting to do far to much stuff as a family in the afternoon.