2018 has started with over 130cm of snow falling from the sky adding to the epic December snowfall of 2017 to leave depths of up to 280cm across the 3 Valleys. This quantity of snow means that we have some of the best conditions on and off the piste in recent years.
When there is a huge amount of snow there will always be a risk and the avalanche warning levels remain high. However, the piste security has been working overtime and all the runs are now open and all the high-risk faces have been blasted.
With all this snow you would expect people to be flocking to Meribel and the 3 Valleys to ski the amazing conditions but you would be wrong. While we are 99% full, some guests have been commenting on how quiet the slopes feel? So not only are the conditions incredible the queues are short and the runs clear.
The runs down to the lower resorts such as La Tania and Le Praz are in great shape and much better than usual which means they can be enjoyed and not just treated as commuter piste!
There is some easy safe off-piste or “Sidecountry” to tackle within the resort’s boundaries but if you are planning on making the most of the deep stuff we advise you hire a guide and pack all the essential kit!
The joy of this season so far has been the bursts of snow that are followed by clear skies that reveal the pristine snow-covered landscape that excites you and hurries you out of bed for a day of non-stop skiing.
This excitement doesn’t look like it will be stopping soon. The people who predict the weather are saying that we can expect at least another meter to fall at the end of next week over a few days.
Up until Tuesday the 16th we can expect sunny skies to help us make the most of the current conditions.
You have probably heard about all the snow this season but if you haven’t here is everything you need to know about the conditions in the Three Valleys.
Since the colder months arrived the Three Valleys has officially received around 135cm of snow and there is more to come over the next few week.
UPDATE – FRIDAY 8TH DECEMEBR
Opening dates and prices
Val Thorens opened for the season on the 25th of November and due to the conditions, Courchevel opened up for a day of free skiing on Wednesday the 22nd of November.
The season truly gets underway on the 9th of December when Meribel and Courchevel start the lifts up and all the links open. La Tania opens a week later on the 16th of December in time for a white Christmas.
Lift Pass Prices
How good is good
Currently, the base level at altitude is between 80 and 100 cm which is the average for a whole season. Ski runs back into Meribel have a respectable 30cm coverage.
We have said the snowfall has been impressive this season but how impressive is it? The first snow fell on the 30th of October, since then we have received 7 more significant snow days, with the best being 40cm on the 20th of November.
Last winter 80cm of snow fell in November but crucially the temperatures were unusually high causing the snow to melt at lower altitudes which made the beginning of the season feel a bit like spring. This year the temperatures have remained low and have stayed in the minus figure since the first snow fell.
The amount of snow that has fallen places it in the top 3 best starts to a winter season since 2006, only being beaten by 2008 and 2012, but this could change over the weekend.
Looking ahead there is another 50cm of snow predicted to fall before the lifts open on Saturday and the snow won’t be stopping for most of the week with a total of 176cm set to fall on the higher slopes by Friday the 15th. The snow may continue into Christmas week as there is another half a meter appearing on the longterm forecast.
Do you always find an excuse to not ski at Christmas?
You have probably thought about going skiing at Christmas every year but something has put you off and you have always found an excuse. We have spent many Christmases in the 3 Valleys and we can confirm it is the most wonderful time of the year. You also get an extra thrill when you suddenly realise that it’s Christmas Day and you are on the slopes and having great time.
Whatever your reason for not going in the past here are a few excuses you can use this year.
#1 You just love skiing
Maybe not an excuse and more just a fact but if you love skiing then what could be a better present to you and your family that the gift of a ski trip. It also means that you get to try out that new pair of skis that you will have been bought for Christmas.
#2 Christmas is on offer
A week skiing during Christmas has never been so reasonably priced with all tour operators offering big savings, making the cost similar to off peak weeks. Our prices are starting at £599 pp for the festive week and there are savings of up to £350 pp on our best properties. So if you have always put off a Christmas ski trip due to price now is your chance.
#3 White Christmas
Every single year Bing Crosby sings “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas”. He is right to do so. If you look at the facts you notice that the UK hasn’t had widespread snow on the ground during Christmas since 2010 and before that it was 2004. So to combat this you could head to the 3 Valleys where they pretty much can guarantee you a White Christmas.
#4 Be looked after
The demands of Christmas day for those hosting can be huge, will Aunt Janet get too drunk, will the turkey be cooked in time, have you peeled enough potatoes? Why not avoid this and go on a catered ski chalet holiday and let them look after you? All you will need to do is go skiing and relax… unless you bring Aunt Janet with you.
#5 One for the humbugs
Spending Christmas in a skiing is a great compromise as in a way it always feels a bit like Christmas in a ski resort. But at the same time it doesn’t as everything is open and everyone is either working or skiing or both. This makes it a perfect place to spend Christmas for families of mixed festive spirit.
At the beginning of November, the ground was looking a bit brown with small patches of snow from previous snow flurries and snow cannons. Now the whole ski area is cover in the glorious white stuff! Here is a look at all the photos and videos from the last few days.
Latest webcam round up
Val Thorens capture the first few flakes of snow on the 5th.
Find out what is new in the 3 Valley this winter 17/18
The winter is not very far away now! Skiers will be on the slopes of Val Thorens on the 18th of November followed by Meribel and Courchevel on the 9th of December. As always the companies behind the 3 Valleys lifts and pistes have been working hard over the summer to introduce new or improved facilities for its customers!
New Lifts in the 3 Valleys
Loupit – Rond Pont – Covered magic carpet
The beginner’s area located by the Rond Point in Meribel will have new Covered Magic carpet similar to the one found in Mottaret. The learner zone alongside it will also be developed into a safer space for skiers to master the basics away from the busier slopes.
Ariondaz Gondola – Courchevel 1650 -Moriond
Over in Courchevel 1650 the old Ariondaz gondola that takes skiers and boarder out of the resort has been replaced by an 8 seater lift that can carry double the amount of passenger up the hill.
Moraine – 10 seater Gondola – Val Thorens
€14m has been spent on installing a new gondola in Val Thorens. The 10 seater lift is 2.5 km long and carries skiers up to the foot of the Glacier de Thorens.
Roc de Tougnete – 6 seater – Meribel
For many years there has been 2 drag lifts that served this area and for that reason it often goes unexplored by many. The arrival of this new lift will change all that and make the Lagopède and Bartavelle pistes a lot more accessible.
New Pistes in the 3 Valleys
Lac de la Chambre – Meribel
Previously a red run the Lac de la Chambre that started at the Col de la Chambre has been given a new course down the mountain to make it into a easier blue. The run is a great way to get back from Val Thorens into Mottaret and Meribel.
Croix d’Antide – Val Thorens
High up above the Orelle valley there is a new blue run called the Croix d’Antide it can be found under the Peyron chair and runs parallel to a piste of the same name.
Corniche – Val Thorens
Another new blue piste in Val Thorens. This one runs from the Folie Douce and joins up with the stade to make an easy run back to the resort.
New Luge run
A new 3 km luge run has opened up in 1650 and can be accessed by the new Arinodaz lift. This means that there are now loads of sledging opportunities in the 3 Valleys to complement the original and best one in Courchevel that runs from 1850 to 1550.
4 hours ski pass
This season sees the end of the half day pass as the 3 valleys will introduce a 4-hour pass that can be used at any point during the day and will cost €54.5 . It is worth noting that it is still better value to buy a 6 day pass at €300 if you are going to ski all week!
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.
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.
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.
It has been another glorious week in the 3 Valleys with sunshine, blue skies and warmer temperatures. Lunching outside on a sunny terrace in your favourite mountain restaurant has never been so appealing.
However, all is about to change, the snow gods have been listening and our prayers have been granted, as of tomorrow we are forecast nearly half a meter of snow! It’s time to brush off those powder skis and book a mountain guide to explore the vast 3 valleys off piste routes. Tuesday has heavy snow predicted all day, on Wednesday there will be light snow in the morning and brighter skies in the afternoon. Towards the end of the week/early next week, we are forecast for sun, cloud and light snow showers. Later next week the sun will come back out welcoming us into March.
Temperatures over the next 7 days include highs of 2 degrees and lows of -11 degrees on Tuesday evening. The coldest wind chill is forecast at -20!
The Meribel valley currently has a reading of 40cm of snow at resort level (1450m) and 122cm at Altitude (2700m).
The Courchevel valley currently has a reading of 74cm at resort level (1850m) and 122cm at Altitude (2700m).
Avalanche risk is 2 out of 5 today, however, with the huge dump of snow forecast this will change later on in the week.
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 20thth Welcome drink, La Chaudanne, enjoy a complementary drink and advice on where to ski between 9am – 11am. ♫Live Music♫
Jacks Bar: Jay Tamkin – 5pm
Evolution: Mardy Johnny Depps – 10pm
Tuesday 21st Market day in Meribel centre.
DC Area 43: welcome drink and games, opportunity to win prizes, 2-4pm.
Biathlon initiation: try out biathlon for free in the Family Cool area of Meribel Altiport, 10 – 4:30pm.
Fashion week and Mardi Gras at La Folie Douce.
Carnival at La Chaudanne – 5-6pm ♫Live Music♫
Jacks Bar: Daisy B – 5pm
Lodge du Village: Bring Your Sisters – 4:30pm
Evolution: Hobo Chic – 10pm
Scotts: Alex Davies – 10pm
Doron Pub: The Slopes – 11pm
O’Sullivans: Bring Your Sisters – 12:30am
Wednesday 22nd Torch lit decent for children: La Chaudanne – 6pm
Ice Hockey at the Olympic Centre: Meribel vs Chamonix, 8:15-11pm
Belgium Party at Folie Douce – all day ♫Live Music♫
Jacks Bar: The Mardy Johnny Depps – 5pm & Wingmen – 6pm
The Rond Point: Bubble & Crisp – 5pm
Street Party outside the tourism office: Mr Clean – 4:30pm
Doron Pub: Wingmen 11pm Thursday 23rd Himalaya by night: night sledging 5:30pm – 7:30pm Meribel Mottaret
Archery initiation: try your hand at Archery in the Meribel Altiport family cool area – 10-4:30pm.
DC Area 43: search for DC shoes around the park to win them, 2-4pm
Tobogganing and mulled wine at La Chaudanne, 4:15pm. ♫Live Music♫
Jacks Bar: Hobo Chic – 5pm
Doron Pub: Bring Your Sisters – 11pm
Den: Bubble & Crisp, 10pm
Mountain Movers, O’Sullivans: Too Many T’s – 12:30am
Friday 24th Market day in Meribel centre
Night Slalom: Meribel Mottaret – 5pm
What’s on this week in La Tania
Last minute availability
The snow forecast this week is so good why not book a last-minute holiday in the heart of the 3 valleys? Call our UK office today on: +44(0) 1273 466 535 to discuss what is on offer for next week and the rest of the season.
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.