The end of March and the start of April were once times that dedicated skiers would try and avoid the slopes. But over the last few years, these six weeks have seen an increase in big fresh dumps of snow. The snow that falls in spring may not stay around as long, but it is light, fluffy, and often accompanied by blue skies when it falls.
Outrageous tan lines
A goggle mark has always been more of a statement than a lax sunscreen application approach. But why stop at a goggle mark when there are T-shirt lines to collect on your arms, neck and rear. And the best time to get yours is during the spring months.
The sighting of Marmots
To some these are mythical creatures that only exist in souvenir shops or the name of the piste where you were meant to meet your partner after their ski lesson. To others, the appearance of these giant rodents is a sign that spring is here and summer is on its way.
The alpine festival is a growing trend. Méribel alone can boast of the Ronnie Loves Music Festival and the Folie Douce Courchevel festival. Once the posters for these start to go up, we know that we are in for a good time and spring has arrived.
Rocks are a part of the spring experience, and other than the ptex manufacturers, no one enjoys their appearance. First, the big ones that form the landscape start to appear, then slowly, smaller ones start to pop up on the lower slopes and busy intersections. By the season’s final week (if it hasn’t dumped), part of the game is to dodge the rocks.
An iconic ski resort image in spring is the sunbathing lift op. Over the years, the resorts have become more customer-focused and the role of the lift operator more responsible this sight happens less and less. But when it does, you can’t but think…. “I’d quite like that job”.
Puddles to skim
You know the drill. You spot a puddle or melted pond, point it out to your group, and watch someone effortlessly skim across it on skis. The challenge is on. One of your group heads back to the chalet early to dry off. In some resorts, this is now a major event. Don’t let your mate enter!
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.
Our guide to what’s across the 3 Valleys in 2018/2019.
We’ve already put together a rundown of what’s new in Méribel for 2018/19 and with the season fast approaching, anticipation and general excitement is now reaching its annual fever pitch!
The Three Valleys is more than just the largest linked ski area in the world and as always, there are lots of events taking place throughout the season that you won’t want to miss if you can help it.
We’ve put together a few dates for your diary for the 2018 / 2019 season in Méribel and The Three Valleys.
Ski Area opening day. Snow cover permitting, the Three Valleys ski area is scheduled to open from 8th December, so expect a huge buzz with lots of smiling faces and eager lift-goers jostling for space on the newly opened slopes.
The Audi FIS Ski World Cup takes place over in Courchevel over a full weekend, 21st-22nd December. Many championstake part, all keen to become the next Mikaela Shiffrin (USA), who won last year’s competition ahead of Tessa Worley (France) and Manuela Moelgg (Italy).
Also in December, catch the inaugural, Meribel stage of the Ladies Night Tour. An International women’s Alpine tour, the dual slalom event takes place at night which really ups the atmospheric stakes and is the best place to catch up with the female French skiers at the top of their game.
See in 2019 in style with the New Year celebrations, Meribel style. Expect fireworks and champagne corks and some great parties at a whole host of clubs and bars such as the Folie Douce, The Rond Point, O’Sullivans and Jacks. Be sure to check their websites beforehand as some bars and clubs are ticketed on NYE.
In January, catch The French Slopestyle Cup, held in the DC Area 43 Terrain Park. See top athletes performing simply extraordinary jumps and tricks in this spectacular competition, guaranteed ‘ohs’ and ‘ahs’ as standard.
Kicking off on the 14th and then throughout February and March, join upwards of 8,000 spectators to witness some of the most amazing firework displays you’re ever likely to see, at the International Fireworks Festival in Courchevel.
March is all about Music and sees the return of The Ronnie Loves Music Festival. Back for its seventh consecutive year, the week-long family friendly festival features top name events and a Big Air contest, all in one of the Alps’ top Apres Ski venues.
As April arrives and we start to think about the season’s end, there’s still time for the Three Valleys Enduro event which sees teams of pros, amateurs and families compete in some great challenges and events such as the Giant Slalom and Skicross.
Also in April is the Annual Three Valleys Charity Day, held in Meribel Village. The event is a firm favourite and has been running for more than 15 years now. The lineup this year includes hip-hop DJ Jaguar and perennial partiers, the Dub Pistols.
Unless you’re lucky enough to be spending the whole season in Méribel, chances are you’ll only be able to catch one or two of the events we’ve highlighted here. Handily, we’ve also got a Meribel Bucket List guide, which is all perfectly doable, even if you have just the one week in Meribel and The Three Valleys.
Skiing is all about luxury and spoiling yourself. From champaign lunches to a nighttime soak in the chalet hot tub, it is your duty to document them all and share your experience with your friends.
No mountain holiday would be compleat with the overindulgence of cheese and this comes in many forms. There is the fondue night, the tartiflette on the mountain, the after-dinner cheese board and not forgetting the stunning displays and tasters on offer at the local market.
Top Tip: Fondue tastes better than it looks especially when it a low-resolution camera in a low light restaurant after a few wines!
The Mountain View
On a clear day, it is the summits are where the Alps is at its most spectacular. With views across to other mountains, sweeping valley vistas and endless horizons. Not to mention the untouched snow full of untapped potential.
Top Tip: Never used the panorama setting on your phone? This is the moment.
The Action Shot
Possibly the hardest one to get done. Let’s be honest very few of us are amazing skiers and even few of us have a camera crew follwing us about taking 1000’s of pictures allowing us to pick the best one.
So get your mate to have a go at getting a good shot of you. You will get better results if the photos are being taken closer to the ground.
And if you get a good one it will be your profile picture for many years to come.
The Apres Ski One
This is the one even your non-ski pals will find envious. It can be hard to get right as many apres venues can be a bit dingy. But choose one like the Folie Douce in Meribel and you’re going to get a winning photo every time.
The other perks are that you get to pick the best room, have the final say and know you won’t end up in a rubbish resort.
Step 4 – Picking your ski holiday
Picking your chalet is the next step and it is this point when many factors will come into play such as size, price and location.
At this stage, you might find yourself with a few options. In our experience as a group leader, you will find it easier if you decide on the best couple of options and pitch it to the group.
You should also be prepared to compromise. If you are a really big group you may struggle to discover a chalet that you will all fit into so you may need to look at ski properties next door to each other.
Step 5 – Confirming your ski holiday
Getting a deposit from everyone is a big challenge and the last big hurdle. You should make sure that everyone is ready to book and can send the deposit to you immediately.
As a rule, most chalet companies will hold a chalet for a week if you are booking early. This will give you time to decide and get the deposits collected.
If you are booking near or during the season you may only get a few days.
Payment is the next step. If you don’t want to get involved in collecting money (and we wouldn’t blame you) then we can help as will collect all the individual balance payments.
Then all that is left for you to do is enjoy your holiday in the company of your friends and family.
Give us a call to find out which chalets in Meribel and La Tania would suit your group. Phone the team on 01273 466535.
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.
There are some people that have never been to Méribel, there are many that just miss being there and there are the obsessed that just love Méribel so much that they can’t get enough of it. To help all these people out we have put together a virtual tour of Méribel using a collection of videos. Hopefully it will help the people that have never been want to come, those that miss it feel like they are back there and those that love Méribel can get quick top up.
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.
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.