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.
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.
We are very excited to report it has been snowing in the 3 Valleys! Waking up on Thursday morning was a delight, with a light dusting of snow lower down the valley and a heavy snowfall up top.
The 3 Valleys has had a well needed top up!
There are lots of exciting things happening in Meribel and La Tania over the next week with the build up to the French Ski Touring Championships held up in Meribel Mottaret and Russian Christmas this weekend. Expect lots of fireworks and celebrations.
Snow/weather forecast for the week…
Next week we have an awesome forecast with the temperatures continuing to plummet, lows of minus 9 and highs of minus 2! Don’t forget to pack some warm winter woollies if you are preparing for a Ski holiday. Wind chill is forecast at minus 15! More snow is predicted for Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday with sunshine in between – fingers crossed this stays and it will be the perfect week for skiing.
The Meribel Valley currently has a reading of 7cm of snow at resort level (1450m) and 72cm at Altitude (2700m).
The Courchevel Valley currently has a reading of 14cm at resort level (1800m) and 68cm at Altitude (2700m)
Avalanche risk is 1 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
Evolution Bar: open mic night -10pm
Meribel: ♫Live Music♫
Doron Pub: AUDIBLE 1 DJ Set – 11pm
Evolution: WINGMEN 10pm
Jacks Bar: SHAMELESS A night of Guilty Pleasures – 10:30pm
O’ Sullivans: ALEX DAVIES 1am
The Den: ROB CROSS – 10pm
English speaking Church service at Notre-Dame des Neiges” 6pm-7pm
La Tania Welcome drink: located inc front of the Tourism office free hot chocolate and local cheeses – 4.30-5.30pm
La Taiga: BRING YOUR SISTERS – 10pm
Meribel: ♫Live Music♫
Jacks Bar: JAY TAMKIN – 5pm
Evolution: THE MARDY JOHNNY DEPPS – 10pm
La Tania ♫Live Music♫
Chrome Bar: JRBB – 5pm
Meribel: ♫Live Music♫
Jacks Bar: DAISY B – 5pm
Doron Pub: BUBBLE & CRISP – 11pm
Evolution: HOBO CHIC – 10pm
O’ Sullivans: BRING YOUR SISTERS
Scotts: THE SLOPES – 10pm
La Tania YOGA: in the Performance hall. 16 € session, Registration and payment at the Tourism office – 10.30am-12pm
La Taïga: MUSIC FREDDY FINGERS – 10pm
The Ski Lodge: THE MARIVEAU Pub – 10pm
Ice hockey gala match: Meribel vs Chamonix. 8:30pm at the Olympic centre 5euros for adults, 3 euros for children.
Jacks Bar: THE MARDY JOHNNY DEPPS 5pm
The Rond Point: BUBBLE & CRISP – 5pm
Doron Pub: WINGMEN – 11pm
La Tania ♫Live Music♫
The Ski Lodge: KILLERBEEZ – 5pm
La Taïga: AL JONES – 10pm
Meribel: Himalaya by night: night sledging 5:30pm – 7:30pm
Jacks Bar: HOBO CHIC – 5pm
Duo Doron Pub: BRING YOUR SISTERS – 11pm
La Taverne: BUBBLE & CRISP – 10pm
Mountain Movers: MC AKIL MC & DJ Set – DJ Danz Support 12:30am
La Tania ♫Live Music♫
The Ski Lodge: BRING YOUR SISTERS – 5pm
Last minute availability
We still have limited spaces in our Chalets across Meribel and La Tania. If you are looking for a fabulous Chalet Holiday in the heart of the 3 Valleys, don’t hesitate to check out our last minute deals on the Alpine Action website!
If you love skiing and love your family the inevitable will happen – A family ski holiday.
I have been blogging for Alpine Action for many years and have been skiing for even longer. During the five winter seasons I did and the numerous ski holidays I have been on, I’ve been lucky enough to experience much of what the mountains have to offer. From backcountry to park, snowboarding to snowblading, I have never shied away from a challenge despite my limited ability. To be clear I am no Travis Rice or Bode Miller but I expect that even they may have met their match when it came to taking their children skiing for the first time.
I recently took my children, 2 and 4 years old, to Méribel on their first ski trip and it was probably my biggest and most rewarding ski challenge to date.
Part One : Catching a plane with children
Overnight in a hotel
I come from a place where the northern part of the county accounts for less than 0.001% of the UK population. As you can imagine we are not spoilt for choice when it comes to local flights to the Alps. We opted to drive to Gatwick Airport. As this was our first time flying as a family, and the departure time was early, we decided on an overnight stop in a hotel, just a mile from the airport. You can get a family room with 8 nights parking for less than £80.
We arrived at the airport just after 10pm, re settled the children and bedded down to an anxious night sleep. As I lay in the hotel room, semi asleep and refusing to empty my bladder in case I woke a child up, I recalled how we had traveled across Russia several times without calamity or missing a train, and safely navigated around India on public transport. However, we didn’t have 2 children when we did it.
Getting to the car
As we were staying such a short distance from the airport we set our alarms, allowing ourselves two and a half hours to make our way to the departure lounge via the carpark, baggage drop, security checks and other airport distractions. Surely this was plenty of time.
Top tip : Shower the night before. No one knows why we all decided to shower in the morning. Possibly it was the convention of staying in a hotel room that everything must be used and evaluated. Time stolen 10 min.
Following the showers there was the predictable tantrum from a child that we still don’t really know the origin of. It could have been that she was woken up three hours earlier than normal, or that the only food we saw fit to provide was definitely not breakfast food. Time Stolen 7.5 min.
At home I know that even if the whole family only has shoes to put on before getting in the car it will still take over 5 minutes before we can leave. Somehow the reality never sunk in that room 568, the room we were in, was located at the exact furthest point away from the far corner of the car park where our vehicle was located. Time stolen 10 min.
Parking at the airport
The car had to be moved from the hotel car park to the longstay car park. Despite a short detour this part of the journey was achieved without incident. By this time we started to pay more attention to the time and realised we may not make the flight. As we pulled into the car park the shuttle bus was leaving. Time Stolen 1 min.
Frustratingly we were directed to zone X to park. We unloaded, made a note of the location and headed of to the bus stop. Panic started to set in as the time ticked on while we waited for the shuttle bus. When a bus did arrive all available space had been occupied and so it drove straight past us of to the airport. Time for an adult tantrum. 6 long minutes passed and another bus arrived and we headed to the terminal. Time lost 20 minutes.
We alighted the bus swiftly and with children on shoulders and baggage hanging from any available body part, the fast walk combined with short sprints was underway. With time ticking away the race with other passengers that I normally contain in my head became incredibly competitive and threatened to spill over into reality. During the journey to check-in one of our children presses the wrong floor on the lift, no one notices. Time lost 3 minutes.
We had already checked in online and our e-tickets were on an app on my phone which meant that all we had to do was drop our big bag off at the bag drop. As the bag drop came into view so did the queue but that was never going to trouble us as the minute hand on the giant departures clock signaled that our check-in had closed 5 minutes ago and so ended our chance to get our bag on the plane.
The airline staff were great but there was nothing much they could do and it really was our fault that we had missed our flight. Of course we did consider abandoning a bag in an airport and making a dash for the departure gate although this course of action could have resulted in much bigger problems.
We arranged a flight for the next day and booked back into the hotel where we sat around feeling slightly embarrassed at our own incompetence. The next day we were at the airport 2 hours before check-in closed, relaxed and ready for our holiday. It also gave me a chance to research a future blog, “What to do in an airport with 2 children if you arrive 2 hours early”.
Despite all this we went on to have one of the best family holidays we have ever been on and are already planning our next family ski trip to Méribel.
Snow & Weather Report for the Three Valleys – Week 2 – December 2016
Welcome to our weekly guide to the slopes and skies of the 3 Valleys featuring up to date reports from the in-resort Alpine Action team. You will also find events listings for Méribel & La Tania.
Snow Conditions in the Three Valleys
During the past week there has been a few flurries of snow all the way down to 1200m which had a big effect on the pistes across the area. If you look at the webcams for the resorts you can see it doesn’t look pretty at low altitude as there is grass clearly visible but this distracts from quite how good the skiing still is once you are out of the towns and up in the mountains. If you are heading out for a week of quality piste riding then you won’t be disappointed. The slopes above 2000m are in good condition and have a decent base thanks to the huge November snow and the might of the Three Valleys snow making ability.
The 3 inches of snow that fell during the week wasn’t massive but it was enough to make the runs feel fresh. It is also encouraging for the weeks ahead as it means that the ski area can continue to use the snow cannons and ensure that the resort remains one of the best places to ski in Europe.
The way to get the best out of the mountain at the moment is to follow the sun around, hitting Méribel’s and Courchevel’s east facing slopes in the morning and then hopping over to the west facing slopes of St Martin and Val Thorens in the Afternoon. You can still get around the whole 3 Valley area easily as the majority of links are open and 74% of lifts are currently operating.
There is potential for snow during the week and if it does come then it will be just a few inches so you won’t need to dust the powder skis off just yet. Through the week there will be intermittent cloud cover but it will generally be sunny allowing skiers and boarders to make the most of the terrain that is open. During the days the temperature will peak at at around 3° and drop down to -5° overnight allowing many of the 2186 snow cannons to work away freshening up the slopes.
What’s on this week in Méribel & La Tania
Week: 20th – 24th December 2016
Evolution Bar featuring:
Hobo Chic and Max Le Sax 10pm
Ski lodge: Les Deux Roux 10pm
Womens Alpine Ski Comp 3pm :
Featuring the French Alpine team, Chaudanne♫Live Music♫Apres Ski:
Le Rond Point featuring:
DJs Bubble and Crisp
Jacks Bar featuring:
Wingmen + The Mardy Jonny Depps
Apres at Ski Lodge with The Slopes 5pm
La Taiga : Al Jones 10pm
Lodge du Village featuring:
Bring Your Sisters, 10pm
Mountain Movers event Jack Beats playing live.
Apres with bring Your Sisters 5pm
Open mic night 10pm with
Daisy B and Tom
Meet Santa – Resort Center, 4.45pm
Apres with The Shadowmen 10pm
Lodge du Village : Christmas Carols, 6pm
Jacks Bar : Bad Christmas Jumper Party, 10pm
Christmas Eve Party – Ski Lodge
Santas Grotto – Live Music – Drink promos
Late availability to Méribel and La Tania
We have a few rooms left in La Tania next week, departing on the 27th of December if you want to spend New Years Day skiing off that hangover. Prices are from £699pp.
I am a St Bernard dog and I live in your chalet, I hope you don’t mind if I hang out with you on your chalet holiday. You will be pleased to know that I am chalet and chairlift trained. I also love playing with children of all ages. I enjoy making new friends and having adventures.
It would be great if I can come on some of your adventures? I would hate to miss out. I can guarantee that we will have a good time.
I am a big poser and love having my photo taken when I am doing cool stuff. I have lots of friends all over the world and they like to see what I am up to. It would be great if you could share our adventures on-line using the hashtag #AlbertAction.
You can also see what other adventures I have been on by searching #AlbertAction or by following me on Twitter @AlbertActionSki as I like to share my photos with my friends.
Alberts list of things I like doing…
Skiing and Snowboarding
Most other extreme sports
Alberts list of things I don’t like doing…
Going in Washing Machines
Hanging out with cats
I am looking forward meeting you this winter . I think we will have a great time.
The 2016/17 winter season is here. Find out what to expect in Méribel & The Three Valleys in our pre-season preview.
Skiing started in the Three Valleys on the the 19th of November when Val Thorens turned on its lifts and welcomed skiers and boarders earlier than expected due to some seriously heavy November snow. Courchevel was also able to open some of its runs early due to the 120cm of snow that fell across the Alps. All that happend before the season truly kicked off, so what has this winter got in store for the 3 valleys? Lets find out…
As we said there has been loads of snow already and all that snow has laid down a great base for the season and the temperatures are staying low according to the long term forecast. That coupled with the 3 Valleys’ amazing ability to make snow this could be a great season. Méribel opens its doors for skiing on the 10th of December opening up the whole of the 3 Valleys for skiing until late April.
We couldn’t wait to get up on mountain so we went hiking on the 17th of November.
You can save €10 per lift pass if you are buying more than one as part of the new Duo Lift pass, you must be purchasing a 6 day pass for a valley or the whole area to get the discount.
Tubing in Mottaret is opening this winter meaning that you can spend your evening flying down the slopes in a rubber ring.
If you like to picnic on the slopes then there is good news as Méribel has opened some indoor lunch lounges complete with microwaves. These can be found in Méribel and Mottaret main lift stations.
There are also new lifts in Val Thorens, the Roc and Stades drag lifts are now a shiny new 6 seater chairlift and the Boismint has also been upgraded to take more passengers.
There is lots to look forward to in the 3 Valleys this season from the Ski Cross world cup in Val Thorens on the 5th of December for 5 days to the end of the season mega party that is the 3 Valleys charity day. Here are few to look out for…
December is a busy month with opening parties as well as Christmas and New Year celebrations all going on. But there is also the the FIS Ladies Alpine World Cup being held in Courchevel from the the 20th December.
One of the best events to watch in January is the annual British Armed Forces Combined Services Alpine Championships which is held in Méribel and will be in its 11 the year.
This month the resorts will celebrate Valentines day with various activities to help show your love. There will also be loads of children’s activities across the 3 Valleys as during the majority of the month there will be a region of France that has a half term holiday as well as the UK Half Term week starting on the 11th.
The big event in March is the Ronnie Loves Music Festival, hosted at the original aprés ski destination The Rond Point. This year Norman Jay MBE will return and there will be a set from 6 Musics Craig Charles playing music from his trunk of funk. There will also be some of the worlds top riders showing off on a specially build park. The event kicks of on the 20th of March.
As the season comes to a close there are a still some great events on. We have all ready mentioned the incredible 3 Valleys Charity day happening on the 12th of April and it will feature all the best Aprés ski bands. There is also the 3 Valleys Enduro event where you can take part in events across the ski area such as Giant Slalom and Ski Cross.
If your heading to the Three Valleys then you may want to tick of a few thing on the Méribel bucket list and you definitely don’t want to miss out on some of our favourite things…
You need to make sure you spend at least one afternoon dancing at the Folie Douce.
Spend your evenings hanging out at Jacks Bar in Méribel where they have live music nearly every evening as well as comedy and great drinks offers.
If your in La Tania make sure you grab some lunch in at Pub Le Ski Lodge as well as enjoying the evening entertainment.
Also don’t forget to get your photo taken in one of the 3 valleys giant photo frames.
The hardest thing about being a skier or a snowboarder is that we are all slaves to the weather. While resorts like Méribel can make snow and ensure the pistes are always open. They can’t create that magical moment when you wake up to a massive dump of snow and go and ride fluffy white powder then at the end of the day you have a silly grin on your face and aching legs.
So while we anticipate what the weather gods will blow into the the Three Valleys this year, we thought we would analyse the last 8 years of snowfall and snow depth and make some cool graphics to tell the story!
Before even going skiing nearly 70% of skiers reported that they feel very satisfied after they have booked a ski holiday, with only 2% not getting any satisfaction from booking the annual trip.
The other 50% were all satisfied if they got out for the first lift however, there was a small percentage that weren’t. We can only assume that the unsatisfied 8% were more keen to a lie-in.
Ride, Eat, Party
We asked everyone how satisfied they felt after half a days riding, a long lunch, one more run and some Aprés? There was nearly a 30/70 split with the majority feeling pretty pleased with this approach to skiing.
Dump of snow
Unsurprisingly waking up to a fresh dump of snow was the most satisfying with 93% of skiers feeling satisfied/quite satisfied or very satisfied. There was a small group that weren’t very happy about this. We suspect that these are the same ones that were planning on a lie-in.
Becoming a ski instructor
We wondered how satisfying it would you be if everyone who had been skiing followed their dream and became a ski instructor? 31% claimed it would not be satisfying at all but on the positive end of the scale 42% of skiers would be very happy to end up working as a instructor.
Hiking and getting fresh lines
The results were pretty clear for the question “How satisfied do you feel after a day hiking and making fresh tracks?”. With the majority claiming that hiking was high on the agenda when looking for thrills on the mountain.
How satisfied to you feel at the end of the trip? On the whole most people felt satisfied at the end of a weeks skiing with a massive 52% being very satisfied. Not surprisingly there was an 18% who craved more mountain time which is why they should consider working a ski season.