Our guide to what’s on in Meribel & the Three Valleys this season.
7th December: The Three Valleys ski area opens for the winter.
The day also includes a laser and light performance to mark the opening from 5 pm.
25th December: Christmas celebrations kick off on the night before Christmas with fireworks, a torchlight descent and an appearance by Father Christmas.
31st December: Straight from the slopes there are parties at the main lift areas in Meribel and Motteret from 4.30 pm. Then wrap up warm for the open-air late-night party down at the Chaudanne area until 1.30 am. Or find a bar you like and party there.
28th & 29th January: Men’s Europe Cup, Giant Slalom. GS races held over two days on the 2023 World Cup slope. Winners of the event will be eligible for the WC circuit.
30th January: Winter Film Festival. An evening of short films from legends like Jeremy Prévost. The showings take place at the Auditorium by the Tourist office.
1st February: Yooni Moon Trail Run. All the best ski resorts now have a night time trail running race and Meribel is no exception. Get your head torch charged and choose between the 8km and the 15km trail. Register here https://www.meribel-sport-montagne.com.
7th March: Have you ever wanted to have a go at competitive skiing? If you have why not try the Roc de Fer. Live the life of an alpine racer by entering this competition and turning your hand at Super G, GS and Slalom. Enter here… https://salomon.win-in-sports.com/rocdefer2020/
9th – 13th March: Piste Bash Festival. A 5-day festival packed full of music, comedy and freestyle action. Acts are still being confirmed, but if we go based on past performers, it will be a great week.
14th March: The streets of Meribel get turned into a snowpark for the Jib Sessions.
27th March: The mogul’s competition is always impressive during the Olympics, but if you are in the resort this week you can watch the French Championship live in Motteret.
5th April: The Enduro des 3 Vallees is not what it sounds this is an inclusive event aimed at giving everyone to take part in multiple activities, From Biathaoln to boardercross, there are events for everyone.
Our guide to how you can help your body recover from a day skiing or snowboarding : Get the most out of your ski trip.
Do you plan to get ski fit for your next trip only to put it off and then suddenly you’re on a plane and you haven’t done any relevant exercises?
Skiing and Snowboarding work parts of your body that you don’t use in everyday life.
If you aren’t “ski body” ready there are going to be parts of you that will ache after a day on the slopes.
There are things that you can do during the evening in your chalet to make you feel ready for the next day on the slopes.
Stretching is one of the best ways to help your body recover after skiing, it will help you to avoid sore muscles the next day.
Stretching after a day of riding helps muscles return to their original position by removing the tension.
During your post ski stretching the circulation of blood will return to your muscles allowing them to recover and repair. Make sure that you focus on stretching your leg muscles, glutes and lower back.
Here is a handy warm down guide from ski expert Warren Smith.
Warming your muscles up a few hours after exercises can really help ease the pain and get your body back to it’s full potential.
In most of our ski chalets you will find a hot tub or a sauna. Don’t mistake these for novelties that add a level of sophistication to your holiday, these are important bits of kit that can help your post-ski recovery.
Warming your body in a hot tub or sauna increases blood flow and allows more oxygen get to your muscles.
Experts advise that you wait for several hours before hopping into a sauna or a hot tub after skiing or snowboarding and to make sure that you are thoroughly hydrated.
Many sports therapists also suggest that you should wait until your a few days into your trip before indulging your muscles as the heat can also inflame your muscles and slow down the recovery.
… & in the morning
If you are an early riser or you don’t rush out onto the slopes you may want to use the time to warm up in the hot tub, sauna or shower. Warm muscles are less likely to be damaged during exercises.
A great way to make sure you are ready for the next day on the slopes is to get a sports massage that works on the soft tissues around the most worked parts of your body.
A massage after skiing should focus on your lower back and knee area. Having your body looked after like this will aid your relaxation and increase your recovery.
Out of all the techniques, this is probably the best at ensuring your muscles recover overnight.
The chances that your chalet will have enough ice on hand to do this is unlikely but don’t worry.
All you need is a bath at normal cold tap temperature, between 8°C and 10°C. The cold temperature will slow the inflammation and help get the recovery process working faster.
You should go for two sessions of five minutes with a warm-up in between. If there is a fresh dump of snow you could always jump in that.
All the above will be a waste of time if you don’t hydrate effectively at the end of the day.
We all know that at altitude you lose water from your body faster than at sea level. If you are then taking part in a strenuous activity such as skiing or snowboarding you will become dehydrated even quicker.
Your body needs liquid to help with repairing muscles as well as to extract the nutrients from your food during the digestion process.
Taking a drink directly after skiing will also lower your heart rate faster and ensure that you don’t spend the evening feeling fatigued. Please note that chalet wine is not an acceptable way to hydrate yourself!
As we mentioned at the start one options is to be ski fit for your trip.
As more and more of us want freeride to be easier to access and safer Courchevel and Meribel are introducing such zones.
Meribel is upgrading its “Back to the Wild” freeride zone that can be found on the north-facing Mont de la Challe sector. Skiiers can access area that is area via the Roc de Tougne chair.
Courchevel is revamping the Creux Noirs area that was closed for the 2018/19 season.
It will reopen as an ungroomed controlled freeride area under the name The Freeride Lab and will be accessed by a new 350m drag lift that replaces the very dated chairlift.
Starting at the 2700m peak will be two red runs and one black run, but it also means better access to some of the areas best off-piste. This is a welcome return.
New Ski lifts in the Three Valleys.
In addition to the new Creux Noirs new drag lift Courchevel are making it easier for skiers to commute from Le Praz.
A new €27 million lift will depart from Le Praz and arrive directly into La Croisette complex in Courchevel centre. This will make it easier for skiers to get to the Plantrey chairlift, the slopes and the resort
The base of the lift will also feature a multi-use centre that includes parking and a children’s activity zone.
St Martin de Belleville is upgrading Saint Martin 1 gondola that is the main lift out of the village.
It will replace all the old cabins and increase lift speed further, and capacity will rise from 1,800 to 2,400 people per hour.
More snowmaking in Meribel
To serve the growing army of snowmaking machines that keep the ski slopes white more water is needed.
Meribel has expanded two reservoirs to help increase snowmaking on the Bouvreuil Rouge, Mûres Rouge, sections of Combe du Vallon, Choucas.
New for Families in the Three Valleys
The Yeti park in Meribel-Mottaret has introduced a no skis area so children can run around, play blow Himilyan horns, have a snack and chill out.
And in the Family Cool area near the Meribel Altiport, there will be a load of free entertainment during the school holidays.
Activities will include eagle shows, ice carving, biathlon taster sessions and other surprises.
More picnic areas in the Three Valleys
After the success of the log cabin picnic spot, Cabane des Trappeurs, Meribel are introducing the Refuge at the bottom of the Lagopède piste.
Its worth remembering that the Cabane des Trappeurs doesn’t just provide seating there is also glove-warmers and smartphone chargers.
New Bars in the Three Valleys
Val Thorens is opening a new Igloo village that will be home to an ice bar for drinks and a restaurant serving mountain classics like fondue.
Meribel welcomed the return of the popular Jacks bar. It’s absence last winter was noticed by all.
This winter it will open in a new home across the road from the Chaudanne in the building that previously housed the Meribar.
If you are thinking about skiing in the Three Valleys this winter take a look at our accommodation in La Tania and Meribel.
For intermediate and advanced skiers, the beauty of Méribel is that it’s a perfect springboard resort for the Three Valleys Ski area as a whole, the largest ski area on earth in fact, with over 600km of accessible pistes.
But that’s not to say those new to skiing are overlooked or left too far behind. With a wide choice of English speaking ski schools, two separate nursery areas, 8 green runs and 25 blues to tantalise. There is plenty of places to practice those turns and work on technique.
“The master has failed more times than the beginner has ever tried”
It’s also worth saying that the friendly, welcoming and easy-going nature of the resort in general, lends itself well to those strapping on their ski boots for the first time. Because everyone’s gotta start somewhere…
The two designated beginner zones are found in the centre of Meribel Mottaret (Zen Zones) and at the Altiport area in Meribel itself. In Mottaret, the beginner-only area has its own magic carpet and drag lift, and the Combes chairlift serves the great fun green run known as Little Himalaya.
In Meribel there’s a magic carpet lift at Rond-Point and the quiet and safe slopes of the Easy Rider beginner area are great for children and adults alike to practice.
Think Snow Parks are out of bounds for beginners? Think again! Both Méribel’s Elements Park and Mottarett’s DC Area 43 have specifically designated learner zones, and they’re not just for kids!
Sourcing a Great Ski School
It goes without saying that ski schools get particularly busy during peak times and school holidays so it’s worth doing some research before you arrive and get yourself or your kids signed up. Check out our guide to some great Méribel Ski School here, all of which are English speaking and run by highly experienced skiers that know Meribel and The Three Valleys inside out.
Consolidating those skills.
After the nursery slopes comes the gentle greens, of which there are several to choose from. We love the wide, tree-lined Blanchot piste, accessed by the Rhodos Bubble Lift from the Altiport; it’s great for newbie skiers and snowboarders alike. You can return to the top via the draglift or, if you’ve had enough of falling off those for the time being, there’s a chairlift too! And remember, regular pit stops and time-outs on sunny terraces are highly recommended!
Our top tips for beginners:
Catered Chalets over Self Catering
For those coming skiing for the first time, booking a fully catered chalet is by far and away the better choice. Ski resorts can be overwhelming. Having the helpful advice of chalet staff on tap is a huge benefit. Check out our Meribel and La Tania catered chalets here.
If you can, spend some time prior to your holiday doing some preparatory exercise. We’re not talking hours in the gym here, but taking the stairs over the lift, walking the dogs a bit further and faster, and practising the classic ‘flat back against the wall with bent knees’ pose, will all help build the stamina and endurance that six days straight on skis will call for.
Practice on an Indoor Ski Slope
For those of us that like to have a teeny bit of experience before our first lesson in resort, there are 100’s of indoor slopes 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.
Be prepared for the cold
We’d recommend for first-timers, that wherever you can, it’s best to borrow kit rather than shell out a lot of money on clothing, helmets and goggles you may not use again (Ok, you will probably use it again, because one ski trip is rarely ever enough, but, you know, just in case). However, you need to make sure you are fully prepared for the extreme temperatures. Because nobody wants to cut short their slope time due to frozen fingers. Check out our in depth guide here.
Watch some videos
From full-length films and YouTube Ski Technique guides and tips, there’s a wealth of ski and snowboard related content out there. You could even subscribe to our channel and get a proper feel for an Alpine Action catered chalet experience. All of this will get you super keen and excited to get started on your own skiing or snowboarding journey.
(Just don’t overdo the ‘Best Ski Fails of All Time’ vids…)
Check out our current pricing and availability for your Merbel or La Tania catered Chalet holiday here.
Looking forward to seeing you shredding it very soon…x
Find out how to stay warm on the slopes this season
We have over 25 years of experience providing catered chalet holidays and whilst we obviously share the poet Edith Sitwell’s love for a cosy home, an open fire, quality time with friends and family and fantastic food, we differ slightly in her assertion that it’s the only place we want to be.
Winter is, naturally, our favourite season. We start counting down the days from spring! Then after a long wait, it snows and it is finally time to get outside and play! There’s stunning scenery to be explored and fluffy powder crying out to be skied!
“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.” Edith Sitwell
But all this fun comes at a cold price and if, like us, you want to squeeze out every last second on the slopes during your ski holiday, staying as warm and dry as possible is paramount. Nobody wants to cut their day on the hill short because of the cold.
With this in mind we’ve put together some handy tips to help you stay warm and comfortable on the slopes the whole day long.
Food is Fuel
Start the day right with a good breakfast. However keen you are to get going, you need to put some fuel in the tank first! And eating makes you warmer!
Essentially, you are adding energy which serves to warm up the body. And the bonus is that you don’t have to worry about storing that energy as fat, as you’re sure to burn it all off in the day on the slopes. (Ah, the joys of a guilt-free full English or continental breakfast feast!)
Breakfast might be the most important meal of the day, but with all that shredding planned, you’re going to need to keep refuelling.
Seriously though, layers help trap small pockets of air and multiple layers are always better that one chunky ski jacket. Start with a Merino wool thermal layer which, unlike cotton, will still trap air even if it gets wet, then add a down filled mid-layer and a waterproof shell jacket.
Make sure you do up your jacket’s powder skirt and tuck in all those layers carefully, to avoid the dreaded shovel-full of snow up your back when you fall over (hey, it happens to the best of us).
Extremities in Extreme Cold
Cold head, hands and feet are the skier or snowboarder’s nemesis and sometimes, however good the conditions are, can be cause-enough to abandon slope. Combat really cold hands with a combination of mittens along with a silk glove liner and consider using a pair of hand warmers. They’re small, inexpensive and easily inserted into ski gloves and even boots.
Ski socks have come along way from the extra-thick chunky variety that ultimately restricts your circulation and it really pays to invest in some good quality thinner pairs. When it comes to feet, think merino wool again. With its excellent wicking properties, it will help your feet to keep dry and regulate body temperature. And of course, if you have them, make use of your chalet’s boot-warmers! It’s so important to start your day with dry-as-a-bone kit. If you don’t you’ll find it impossible to get warm.
Let’s face it: there are always going to be people that look great in any hat they put on their head and those that, well, just aren’t. But whichever group you fall into, some form of headwear is imperative on the mountain.
There are traditional wooly hats, helmets, snoods, buffs and balaclavas to choose from and the most important thing is that they help you conserve body heat and protect those ears from the wind chill. You can also try neck gaiters to keep out the drafts and snow.
Take A Break
If you’re out on the slopes and you can feel the cold creeping in uncomfortably so, despite good eating and good dressing, we highly recommend taking a break for a hot choc or a vin chaud. Or maybe just take yourself off to the new Legends Chairlift that runs from the Chaudanne area up to the top of the Elements Park. It has covered and heated seats!
“Méribel is part of the largest ski domain in the world, with more than 370 miles of managed pistes. We skied non-stop for four days and barely scratched the surface of what was available.”Jon Sopel
When you’re in Méribel, you’re slap bang in the middle of the biggest linked ski area in the world, and with a Three Valleys Ski Pass, no two days will ever be the same, even over the space of a full season.
With over 600Km of accessible pistes including 328 downhill skiing pistes, 166 ski lifts and more than 2300 snow cannons, there’s no doing the same run every day here! Think adventure, think mountain exploration, think getting off the beaten track, think world-class lift systems that mean less waiting and more skiing.
By the end of the season, you’ll definitely have scratched that surface. In fact, you’ll be seeing how quickly you can ski into every village in the Three Valleys, still manage some quality pit stops in each and be back in time for work.
2.Quality as well as Quantity
So we get it, The Three Valleys is a big place. But thanks to its natural domain, the fact that 85% of the ski area is above 1800m and the impressive number of snow canons throughout the valleys, snow is guaranteed all season.
And over 70 grooming machines ensure that conditions are kept tip-top. Early morning corduroy anybody?
“One can never be bored by powder skiing because it is a special gift of the relationship between earth and sky. It only comes in sufficient amounts in particular places, at certain times on this earth; it lasts only a limited amount of time before sun or wind changes it. People devote their lives to it for the pleasure of being so purely played by gravity and snow.”– Dolores LaChapelle, Earth Wisdom, 1978
Ah, the elusive perfect powder day. If your skiing has been limited to a week here or there, truly epic powder days have probably been few and far between.
In Meribel, there is a world of fun to be had beyond the marked and bashed runs. Regular dumps of snow and extensive off-piste means your season will see you chalk up some of the most exhilarating powder days of your life.
And let’s face it, if you’re working in Meribel for five months, you’re gonna be privy to a fair few of them.
3. The SnowParks
Work on those Profile Pictures…
Over the course of a season in Meribel and the Three Valleys, you’re going to get lots of opportunities to practice those bonks and pops in the parks.
Give your Park confidence a literal boost by trying out the awesome Jump’Air at Val Thorens. The giant air cushion is the perfect solution if you want to learn or improve your freestyle skiing or snowboard technique.
The early weeks will probably see you at Elements, with its multiple kickers, rails and rollers, eagerly watching replays of your first successes, and before you know it you’ll be ripping it up at the DC Area 43 Park with the big boys and girls. And that perfectly timed photo of you nailing that corkscrew 720 will be a profile pic for months!
4. Awesome Apres and Festival Fever
It’s nothing new to say Méribel has an amazing Apres scene. And sure, if you want to party every night, Meribel and its host of bars and clubs can provide.
The institutions that are Follie Douce and The Rond Pont (AKA the Ronnie) never fail to disappoint and with five months in the resort you’re going to have some ‘memorable’ experiences!
But the Apres scene in Meribel is nicely balanced, with bars like Barometer offering a more chilled night out. Because even the most seasoned party animal will want a quieter night every now and then, especially pre-transfer day!
The Three Valleys also hosts a number of festivals and live music events featuring international artists throughout the season. And by ensuring you’re here all season, the stress of trying to book your holiday to coincide with at least one of them is no more! FOMO be gone!
5. Apparently, in the Three Valleys, people do things other than throwing themselves down a hill with planks of wood strapped to their feet…
That’s right, your downtime after work doesn’t have to be limited to epic powder days, park time and shredding the slopes (I mean, that might get boring right? …right?)
There are actually all sorts of other activities to try including Husky sledging, helicopter rides, ice skating and snowmobiling. As well as the opportunity to go all ‘Top Gear’ and have a go at Ice Driving. That’s definitely one to remember!
5. Friends in High Places
When we asked our staff what they love about working a season, they all said, erm, being able to ski five days a week, for five long snowy months, on some of the best slopes in the world?
But on an equal footing, was the fact they’d all made friends for life. There’s a camaraderie between season workers that quickly creates a special bond.
Everyone working there shares the love for all things winter…the powder days, the clear crisp mornings, the stunning scenery, the awesome Apres scene. While no-one ever said working a season was an easy job, the friendships made on the slopes see you through any tough times!
All aboard…The Alpine Action guide to getting around Méribel by bus.
Transport and transfers are part and parcel of planning your ski trip and getting you to the resort, but what about when you’re all settled in at the chalet, or exhausted at the end of a hard day on the slopes, and are wondering how to get around by bus in Méribel?
Enter those bright blue ‘Navettes,’ pulling up at a bus stop near you every 15-20 minutes.
The villages and resorts that make up the Meribel valley are thankfully very well connected by the fantastic Meribus service.
The completely free to use, the hop-on / hop-off service runs seven days a week from early morning until Midnight and makes getting around the resort super easy.
You can take your skis and poles on board with you but make sure you keep a hold of them.
Timetables are available at each stop or you can pick up a copy in resort.
Handily all Meribuses come with free onboard WiFi so you can always check the website for routes too (in between uploading your latest ski selfies to social media) .
There are four lines: Line A links Les Allues and Méribel Village with Meribel centre and La Chaudanne main ski lift area, Line B links Le Belvedere with Rond Point, while Line C runs from La Chaudanne right through Meribel up to the Altiport, stopping at Meribel Centre, Les Barons, Toubkai and Rond Point along the way. Line D serves as a link between Meribel, Mottaret Centre, the Teleporte and Le Hameau.
For our chalets
Most of our catered chalets in Meribel are located along on one of the bus routes. If they aren’t then we provide a minibus service at key points in the day.
If you are staying in Meribel Village for your holiday in Chalet Rosalie busses on line A will take you to Meribel.
Don’t panic if you accidentally get on the wrong line though, as all buses call at La Chaudanne and Méribel centre near the Tourist Office, which makes connecting from one line to another a doddle.
La Tania Bus Service
While there isn’t currently a free service between La Tania and Méribel, if you’re staying in La Tania, the free ski bus service runs between there and all the Courchevel Valley villages from the main road behind the Montana Hotel opposite La Taiga restaurant. The first bus leaves La Tania at 08.30 to arrive in Courchevel 1850 for 09.00 and then at 10 past the hour all the way through until 01.10, meaning you can well and truly make the most of the nightlife in nearby Courchevel.
In celebration of International Women’s Day this week, we researched some awesome female icons in the world of Winter Sports. These incredible women, dating back to the 1800’s, set the standards in all female mountain sports, ranging from; Mountain Climbing, Figure Skating, Alpine Ski Racing, Back Country Skiing and Freestyle.
In honour of International Women’s Day, here are 10 inspirational role models, giving Girl Power with an Alpine touch.
1. Marie Paradis and Henriette d’Angeville
Marie Paradis was the first female to climb the famous Mont Blanc in 1808, during this time Chamonix was still under the reign of the Kingdom of Sardinia. This history changing female, succeeded the climb alongside mountain guide Jacques Balmat. The quirky fact in this story was the fashion… Marie Paradis did the whole thing in a dress! Thirty years later, Henriette d’Angeville was the second woman in history to climb Mont Blanc in 1883.
2. Sonja Henie
In 1924, the Winter Olympics was launched, women were only allowed to compete in one category – Figure Skating. At the young age of just 11 years old, Sonja Henie of Norway, competed alongside 13 other female competitors. In the 1928 Winter Olympics, Sonja went on to win Gold and in total won 3 Gold Medals over her Olympic career. There was controversy at the time around the length of her skirt, shorter than other competitors due to her age and size it was frowned upon. However, it is believed that a shorter skirt allowed her to incorporate more movement into her routine, such as spins and jumps. As a result, this iconic moment took Figure Skating to a new level with new attire!
3. Christl Cranz
In 1936, the Winter Olympics was transformed with a new sport for females to take part in… Alpine Skiing: Alpine Combined (Slalom and Giant Slalom).
Christl Cranz of Germany was the first female to win a Gold Medal. This was the year for female competitors with over 500 women taking part. Christl Cranz then went on to win 13 World Championship titles.
4. Marielle Goitschel
This French female was originally born in Sainte-Maxine, however, moved to Val d’isere at a young age. The Goitschel family are well known for their talents in Alpine Ski racing, making it no surprise that Marielle became the second woman after Christl Cranz to win 11 World Championship medals in Alpine Ski Racing. To this day the Goitschel family are still based in the French Alps and have ski shops named after them in the resort of Val Thorens.
5. Janica Kostelic
Born in Croatia, Janica came from humble beginnings, during her European tour funding for accommodation was not available, so she and her family slept in a tent or their car during her competitions. Janica’s determination and drive to succeed landed her 4 Olympic Gold Medals. She is the only woman to have ever won 3 Gold Medals in one Winter Olympics (2002).
6. Julia Mancuso
World renowned American ski racer Julia Mancuso is a woman who never gives up, she is said to be one of the best female Alpine Ski Racers in the world. After 7 World Cup wins in Alpine Ski Racing, standing tall on the podium in 5 World Championships, winning 3 Olympic medals including GOLD in Giant Slalom in 2006, this lady knows how to win a ski race or two. Despite a hectic ski schedule she still finds time to enjoy surfing and paddling in Hawaii and is an ambassador for the High Fives Foundation supporting injured athletes.
7. Kelly Clark
This snowboarding role model has achieved the top of her game in Freestyle Snowboarding specialising in Half Pipe. She has had over 70 career wins – more than any Man or Woman. She is a 4 time Olympian and 3 time Medallist, wining Gold in the 2002 Winter Olympics Half Pipe. Kelly now focuses on her foundation, set up in 2010, her company motto is “Success starts with an opportunity to follow your dreams” and she is enabling young aspiring snowboarders to do just that.
8. Linsey Vonn
Possibly one of the most famous Female Alpine Skiers of this era, Lindsey Vonn is always making headlines. Vonn has just been granted the title of “most successful women’s skier of all time” by the Olympic organisation, after beating the World Record for 63 FIS World Cup victories which hasn’t been achieved since 1970’s by Austria’s Annemarie Moser-Pröll’s. Olympic Gold Medallist, and one of only 2 females to win the overall World Cup Championships, there really isn’t much this lady won’t do to succeed. She was awarded “Sports Woman of the year” at the Laureus World Sports Awards 2010 and despite her fair share of struggles due to injury has maintained her competitive drive and inspiring women.
9. Sarah Burke
This Canadian champion put Women’s Freestyle Skiing on the map. She campaigned for Freestyle Skiing to be in the 2014 Winter Olympics and succeeded in her cause. Four time Winter X Games Gold Medallist and World Championship skier in Half Pipe, Sarah Burke inspired thousands of women of all ages to follow their passion. Tragically Sarah Burke died during training in 2012. This devastating loss hit the Freestyle community hard, however, her legacy lives on inspiring females to take Freestyle skiing to another level. Lyndsey Dyer a creative film maker and famous Back Country skier dedicated her all female “Pretty Faces” ski film to Sarah Burke, this is a must see film for anyone who loves mountains, skiing and Girl Power.
10. Kelly Sildaru
The most recent female on our radar, Kelly Sildaru is a 14 year old Freestyle skier from Estonia. Competing in Slopestyle, Sildaru is the youngest female to win a Gold medal in the 2017 Aspen Winter X Games. If that wasn’t enough she then continued being the first female to win 2 prizes at the X Games landing a Silver medal in Big Air. This talented teenager is one to watch for future Winter Olympics.
These inspiring women have excelled in the sport they love, and have motivated us to go out and challenge ourselves on the piste. This week we are very proud to announce that out of the 11 Alpine Action female staff that participated in the “Sheride Sessions, Slope Style competition” in Meribel’s Elements Park, 8 won prizes! Congratulations ladies representing International Women’s Day and Alpine Action.
Sunshine, smiley faces, parties, funny goggle marks and more snow than you might expect. Just a few of the things we love about Spring skiing in the Three Valleys.
In fact, Méribel in the spring comes with more than just a few perks.
In this blog we’re taking a closer look at the pros of a late season session on the slopes that’ll have you searching for all the Spring Ski deals and stocking up on the Factor 50 before you can say ‘have I got any annual leave left?’
Spring skiing is all about Location, Location, Location
Méribel’s enviable position, at the centre of the largest lift-linked ski area in the world with over 600km of marked pistes and 200 ski lifts serving a 110 square mile area, is a great base for exploring the tail-end of a season. Méribel, like La Tania, is of course well connected via lft and piste to the third valley of Val Thorens.
With 99% of its ski area above 2000m, it’s Europe’s highest major resort and one of its most snowsure from the start of the season right through to May. It even comes with a snow guarantee…
The Snow…there’s more than you might expect.
With a winter’s worth of snow as a base, accumulations on Méribel’s upper slopes can regularly reach depths of 2 meters by March and April. We took a look at the spring snowfall records for the last five years and found that an average of almost 50cm fell during the last six weeks of the season, easily matching the snowfall recorded in December in those same seasons.
With the warmer temperatures and stronger sunshine though, snow quality can be more unpredictable, but fear not! Spring skiing just calls for a little pre-planning. We recommend taking to South facing runs such as Jerusalem in the morning and switching to the North facing ones, such as the Cote Brune, in the afternoons.
The Pace of Life
Skiing on a bluebird day in the spring takes on a quality different to that of the winter. It becomes less about the standard adrenaline-fuelled stuff and more about an awe-filled exploration of the mountains.
The longer, warmer days mean that you can take the time to ‘smell the flowers’ as it were. There’s a sense of new growth, a natural unfurling of the summer to come which brings with it the inevitable buzz and potential of a seasonal shift. And this is what those mountain-top bar terraces were made for…
A World Away from the Piste
If you do get the odd day where conditions are less than perfect, it’s handy to know that there are some great alternatives to the slopes.
There are some really good non-ski activities that include paragliding, Ice skating, water parks and Ice Karting on offer in Meribel and The Three Valleys. And oh, did we mention the lovely, sunshine-filled Apres?
There are a lot of parties
There’s always something going on in the Three Valleys but it’s March and April that see the focus lie heavily on parties, charity music events and top notch festivals. Firm favourites such as March’s Ronnie Loves Music Festival and the legendary Three Valleys Charity day in April are just two great examples that complement a whole host of closing parties and the inevitable ‘drink the bar dry’ nights that see the season drawn to a very merry close.
Spring time skiing in Meribel and the Three Valleys is basically about excitable early mornings on the slopes and leisurely lines back towards an especially awesome apres scene that starts in the afternoon and continues late, late into the night.
A guide to some of the best pistes in the Three Valleys – Run Recommendations
There are 321 pistes in the 3 Valleys, so choosing which runs to do can be a bit of a headache without a guide.
To help we have compiled a quick guide of pistes that have been recommended and are well worth trying out next time you are skiing in Meribel, Val Thorens or Courchevel.
All these runs have been recommended by regular skiers to the area and tested by us.
Guide to Blue Pistes in The Three Valleys
The Loze runs from the top of the chairlift of the same name. The lift starts and the run ends in the Altiport area of Meribel and starts where La Tania and Meribel meet.
The piste zigzags it way down the mountain and after several hairpins, you will find yourself in the trees before an exhilarating flatline to the bottom of the lift.
Keep your eyes peeled on the run for dragons, hammocks and activities. It definitely ranks among the more challenging blue runs in the area.
You maybe forgiven for giving this run a miss. On paper, it looks like an essential run to use if you are staying in La Tania and need to get back to your accommodation.
However, we would say that this a must to do run as it is so much fun. It is a fast run through the trees ending in the middle of La Tania. It is also a great run if it is a whiteout.
If your there at the right time grab some lunch and catch some rays outside the Ski Lodge.
You should also double this up by skiing down the equally fun and often untouched Lanches red run that feeds into the top of the Folyeres
Gelinotte & Choucas
The Gelinotte is wide and underused run that starts midway up the side of the Valley at the top of the Roc de Fer chair and comes directly back into the Chaudanne area of Meribel.
A great run for beginners who aren’t looking to stray too far from the centre of town. The downside to this piste is that the chair that serves the run is pretty slow, however, you do get a great view of the Stade de Slalom.
You can extend the run by catching a second lift, (Olympic) to the top of the mountain and enjoying the Choucas piste directly to the top of the Gelinotte.
This legendary run has recently been reclassified as a blue run but it is still truly epic. It runs from the top of the Meribel/Saint-Martin link down into Saint-Martin-de-Belleville.
From the long wide corners to the fast straight sections and the incredibly fun rollers that appear throughout, this is one of the best runs in the area.
No trip to the area is complete without a hoon down this run.
This is on many people’s list of top runs in the 3 Valleys and for a very good reason. It is a thoroughly enjoyable run.
The start is quite challenging for a blue run and it is often quite crowded but there is plenty of space and it is easy to pick your line.
As you get towards the bottom of the first section the crowds seem to disappear and you can start to pick up more speed as you go under the Creux Noir char down into the valley that divides the Courchevel ski areas up.
There is a fun compression before you pass the Chanrossa lift station and once you have passed that you can put in big carving turns all the way down the Aguille du Fruit chair.
To listen to a podcast that features all this runs click on the box below or follow the link to iTunes.
This runs down the face of the Saulire mountain underneath the Courchevel gondola and it is an incredible run. It is one of the fastest and widest runs in the 3 Valleys.
Due to its location, it is heavily used, especially in the afternoon as it is the easiest way back to Courchevel. For that reason, we recommend putting it at the beginning of your ski day while it is still groomed.
As you speed down this run take some time to enjoy the magnificent couloirs to your left and the stunning view of the valley and Mt Blanc in the distance.
If you’re staying in Meribel you must head up Mt Vallon. Firstly the vistas of the Vanoise National Park are incredible.
But primarily the runs down, Combe du Vallon and Campagnol are fun and challenging. Due to the location, they also make you feel like your actually skiing down a mountain.
Guide to Black Pistes in The Three Valleys
A secret little black run that glides past the Courchevel Altiport down into the Valley.
We like this run as very few people use it and there are some interesting features as you drop down past the tree line.
It is a challenge, but isn’t too long and makes a great place for skiers who are looking to build up their confidence on a black run that is not very busy.
This is a monster of a black run and runs from the top of the Vizelle bubble to the bottom. There are multiple routes to take down but try and stick to M.
The run is fairly steep all the way down and will work you hard, especially if it hasn’t been maintained regularly.
The challenge is rewarded by a big wide exit at the base of the run right by the cable car so you are ready to do it again.
To get to this black run you take the Creux Noir chair. At the top there are some stunning views and a choice of runs down, the red called Creux Noir will take you down to Meribel or you can take the Rocher Grises that splits into a red and black.
If you like MPV size moguls then this is the run for you. If you are an intermediate you will look down and feel overwhelmed, a little scared and ultimately pretty pleased with yourself.
Advanced skiers will relish the challenge that this steep run offers. Due to the location of the run, the snow is generally in good condition which allows you to really dig your edges in when needed.
It is worth mentioning that this is one of the areas guaranteed powder areas… which means that it is left ungroomed after fresh snow.
Another piste that is dismissed as a just a home run. Jockeys starts at the top of the Foret chair and winds its way back down to the station of Le Praz, home to the Olympic ski jump.
The run is left ungroomed after a snowfall and maintained for the rest of the time. During periods of low snowfall, the run can be a bit icey.
However, when the run is in top condition it is fast and a lot of fun.