At the heart of the world-famous Trois Vallees ski area is Meribel Valley. Offering more than 150km of pistes (mostly blue pistes, but with a fair share of red and black trails), it also opens the entire region. This means travelers opting to ski Meribel can also enjoy the 600km of pistes, 170 lifts and 320+ runs of Trois Vallees too.
A bit narrower and steeper than its neighbors, Meribel has a nice range of intermediate to advanced pistes, and has what many describe as more consistent weather conditions. Ideal for beginners to advanced skiers, it is home to a wonderful array of chalets, and charming villages that include Brides Les Bains at 600 meters, Les Allues at 1200 meters, Meribel Village at 1400 meters, Meribel Center at 1600 meters, Mussillon and Altitude 1600, Rond Point and Belvedere at 1600 meteres and Altiport sitting close to the top at 1700 meters. The highest point is Meribel Mottaret, which is not actually part of the Meribel resort proper.
Making your way around Meribel is easy thanks to many recent improvements to the lifts throughout the resort. There is the Saulire Express gondola that transports more than two thousand skiers each hour, taking them from the heart of the resort to the 2700-meter Saulire peak. It achieves this in under 15 minutes! There is also a Plattieres gondola that requires less than ten minutes to reach the 2704 meter Marches peak.
The skiing novice need not fear a lack of slopes and fun as roughly ten percent of the pistes here are green slopes. These can be found by taking the Morel lift to Altiport 1600 or by heading to Rond Point for the nursery slopes. Kids and beginners can also find plenty of action by taking the Plattieres gondola to La Sittelle or the Chatelet chair to Le Rossignol or heading to the base of Mottaret to the Le Doron piste.
The intermediate skiers have an abundance of choices with many agreeing that some of the finest of the region’s pistes are at the head of the valley just south of Mottaret. This area is easily reached by the Plattieres gondola that departs from Mottaret. Because such a high portion of the slopes here are blues and reds, it is an ideal spot for the more experienced.
However, if you want some challenge, there is a red piste at Combe Vallon reached by taking the gondola at Mont du Vallon. If you want to compare your skills to those of an Olympian, head to Face run at the very top of Roc de Fer. Here you can use runs developed for the 1992 Olympic games.
Of course, like all popular ski destinations, lines and waits can be a bit of a hassle if you choose the wrong spots at the wrong hours of the day. An insider’s tip to skiing Meribel is to avoid the Chaudanne piste during the hours that ski schools get started (typically between 9 and 9:30 AM). There is also some overcrowding on the runs heading towards Mottaret in the late afternoon hours, and if you want the finest powders throughout the resort, remember that early risers typically avoid all the ski tracks.
Learning to Ski
Of course, you may have no experience with skiing and wish to learn from the very best. Fortunately, skiing in Meribel can also mean taking courses from some of the finest schools in the world. In fact, there are skiing, snowboarding and speed-riding schools for those who wish to gain or sharpen skills. There are also 13 cross country trails here, and you may want to test your skill or master this sport too.