3 Vallées Ski Resort

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3 Vallees France has mountains of possibility
3 Vallees France has mountains of possibility
Meribel is the best location from which to ski & explore Les Trois Vallèes
Meribel is the best location from which to ski & explore Les Trois Vallèes
Vast interconnected ski trails & freeride terrain from Val Thorens to St Martin at 3 Vallees
Vast interconnected ski trails & freeride terrain from Val Thorens to St Martin at 3 Vallees
Plenty of powder day options in the 3 Vallèes -first tracks Olympic chair Meribel
Plenty of powder day options in the 3 Vallèes -first tracks Olympic chair Meribel
The Saulire at 3 Vallees Courchevel & Meribel is rightfully famous for its steeps
The Saulire at 3 Vallees Courchevel & Meribel is rightfully famous for its steeps
Les Trois Vallees Meribel has amazing off-piste & freeride terrain
Les Trois Vallees Meribel has amazing off-piste & freeride terrain
High altitude Val Thorens in the 3 Vallees has the French Alps most reliable snow
High altitude Val Thorens in the 3 Vallees has the French Alps most reliable snow
Explorers will find long fresh lines in the 3 Vallèes
Explorers will find long fresh lines in the 3 Vallèes
Courchevel has something for everyone, typical for the 3 Vallees
Courchevel has something for everyone, typical for the 3 Vallees
Mountain dining at 3 Vallees can be in a cosy mountain hut above Meribel
Mountain dining at 3 Vallees can be in a cosy mountain hut above Meribel
Fine dining for lunch is a 3 Vallees Courchevel right of passage
Fine dining for lunch is a 3 Vallees Courchevel right of passage
Better still is a picnic in the sun looking over your tracks on Mont Vallon
Better still is a picnic in the sun looking over your tracks on Mont Vallon
Orelle is the most distant of the 3 Vallees ski resorts
Orelle is the most distant of the 3 Vallees ski resorts
3 Vallees terrain includes quiet tree-lined groomers like here at Courchevel
3 Vallees terrain includes quiet tree-lined groomers like here at Courchevel
Val Thorens is the 3 Valleys (& Europe
Val Thorens is the 3 Valleys (& Europe's) highest ski resort village
Courchevel 1850 is the 3 Vallees most exclusive (expensive!) resort village
Courchevel 1850 is the 3 Vallees most exclusive (expensive!) resort village
Les Menuires is the 3 Vallees unglist village, but has excellent connections to other resorts
Les Menuires is the 3 Vallees unglist village, but has excellent connections to other resorts
St Martin de Belleville (along with Le Praz in Courchevel) are 3 Vallèes most authentic alpine villages
St Martin de Belleville (along with Le Praz in Courchevel) are 3 Vallèes most authentic alpine villages
Interconnection between the 3 Vallees ski resorts is easy
Interconnection between the 3 Vallees ski resorts is easy
Ski & ride Les Trois Vallèes France - an amazing place
Ski & ride Les Trois Vallèes France - an amazing place

3 Vallées Ski Resort

Readers Ratings

3 Vallees

3 Vallees4/51
3 Vallees4 out of 5 based on 1 reviews
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  • Would Revisit
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3 Valleys Ski Resorts

Courchevel
Les-Menuires
Meribel
St Martin de Belleville
Val Thorens

    3 Valleys Ski Trail Map
  • 3 Vallèes Ski Trail Map
  • Vertical (m)
    1,100m - 3,230m (2,130m)
  • Average Snow Fall
    6-10 metres
  • Lifts (166)
    40 Gondolas / cable cars
    60 Chairlifts
  • Opening Dates & Times
    Late November to early-May
    8:30am to 4.30pm
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs - 650km*
    *Piste trails – 600km
    *Ski Routes – 50km
    Longest run – 12km
    Advanced - 18%
    Intermediate - 33%
    Beginner - 49%
  • Lift Pass Price
    Day Ticket 20/21
    3 Valleys
    Adult - €64.50
    Child - €51.60
    Child u/5yr & Adult >75yr - Free
    Courchevel Ski Trail Map
  • Courchevel Ski Trail Map
    Meribel Ski Trail Map
  • Meribel Ski Trail Map
    Val Thorens Ski Trail Map
  • Val Thorens Ski Trail Map
    Les Menuires & St Martin de Belleville Ski Trail Map
  • Les Menuires & St Martin Ski Trail Map

3 Vallées Ski Resort France

Les Trois Vallèes is the world's largest interconnected ski area & features fabulous terrain for all abilities across an area of gargantuan proportions. Unfairly maligned by some as simply an 'industrial' ski area catering to the masses, the 3 Vallees can provide a sensational French Alps ski experience for even the most hardened, discerning, or budget conscious powder hound.

Made up of numerous world famous (& some not so famous!) ski resort areas, the 3 Vallèes includes Courchevel, Les Menuires, Meribel, St Martin de Belleville & Val Thorens & a fourth valley reaching into the Maurienne at Orelle. With over 600km of ski trails, 166 lifts & more villages than one can possibly poke a ski pole at, the biggest question for visitors is where to stay to get the most out of the area. Turns out the answer is simple - if wanting to explore the entire resort, stay in Meribel. As to whether that will suit everyone is another question altogether! More information is below & on the individual ski resort pages.

Pros & Cons for Les 3 Vallees Ski Resort

Pros

  • Reliable snow with majority of terrain above 1800m elevation.
  • Huge, generally modern* & efficient lift system (*some rubbishy older style gondolas still exist in Courchevel & Méribel but they are of little consequence).
  • Long skiable verticals.
  • Incredible range & variety of groomed piste trails for all abilities.
  • Amazing diversity of freeride off-piste terrain for all abilities.
  • Seamless & well sign-posted connections between the individual resorts;
  • Surprisingly few people riding the off-piste on a powder day (in January!).
  • Great après ski & some delectable dining.
  • Plethora of ski-in ski-out accommodation in a massive selection of villages.
  • For what one gets, it is a good value lift pass price with cheaper options for individual resorts.

Cons

  • Crowds can be heinous (avoid the peak times).
  • Major piste trails can be terribly busy & may get skied off/bumped quite early during peak season.
  • Roads to & from the resorts & Moutiers can be chaos in the morning & evening (particularly on weekends)– choose your travel days & times well!

Pro or Con (depending on your perspective!)

  • Villages vary greatly in style & can be quite polarising depending on your tastes & expectations.
  • Similarly, restaurants & bars vary markedly in cost & quality depending on where one is skiing (brown bagging on one of the many picnic tables provided throughout the resorts avoids the problem during the day).
  • You can stay in Europe’s highest ski resort village at Val Thorens.
  • 3 Vallees is a humongous ski area that just like the villages, may or may not appeal to one’s tastes.
  • Accommodation can be relatively expensive & books out quickly in high season.

Skiing & Snowboarding Terrain

With so much 3 Vallees skiing & snowboarding terrain, it is only possible to scratch the surface when describing it. Suffice to say that whilst each valley is similar in aspect (they are all generally north facing), the similarities stop there. Each is surprisingly different & any thoughts of skiing a boringly similar, homogenous set of trails & off-piste can be dismissed – the 3 Valleys has it all & more again.

The ski lifts at 3 Vallees are by necessity able to move vast amounts of visitors efficiently. A few older style gondolas & surface lifts exist, but in the main an ongoing process of modernisation ensures each valley & resort area has up to date systems. From our experience, Val Thorens has the best lift system, able to cope admirably with high winds & surges of skiers. It will get even better once a new 2-stage, valley to summit gondola from Orelle is completed for season 2020/21.

To get a sense of the vastness & complexity of the whole resort, see the 3 Vallèes ski trail map here.

A brief summary of the terrain characteristics for each resort in the 3 Valleys from east to west follows.

  • Courchevel – Steeply forested on the lower reaches, extending to a broad sunny alpine valley at 1850m elevation. Long, gentle valleys extend up into the high alpine region interposed with steep ridges, couloirs and bowls. A great place to both learn to ski or drop into a steep couloir! The lowest skiable point on-piste is St-Bon-Tarentaise below Le Praz. See the Courchevel ski trail map here.

  • Meribel – A comparatively narrow valley, lined with high alpine ridges & fully forested up to around 1800m (higher in some locations). The coldest & most shaded of the 3 valleys, Meribel has excellent snow quality & incredibly diverse off-piste terrain. The resort is the best for intermediates & advanced freeriders looking to test themselves from the high ridges & into the trees on either side of the valley. It has multiple links to all the other 3 Vallees ski areas. Note there is no valley trail to Brides Les Bains. See the Meribel ski trail map here.

  • St Martin de Belleville – Technically part of Les Menuires (they share a local lift pass), St Martin is the first of three ski areas in the broad, generally treeless, Vallèe des Bellevilles. A brand-new lift from the centre of town sets the perfect standard in resort excellence. Unlike others, the ski area extends only on the eastern side of the valley over 1000m vertical, providing some of the longest & mellowest beginner & intermediate piste trails plus some pleasurable off-piste from the top. St Martin’s lifts link perfectly with the superb terrain on Mèribel’s western side plus into Les Menuires. See the St Martin de Belleville ski trail map here.

  • Les Menuires – Spanning both sides of the Vallee des Bellevilles, the Les Menuires skiing & snowboarding terrain is a tale of two parts. On the eastern (village) side of the valley, wide treeless tract of mellow spurs run for up to 1000m vertical above the accommodation, providing mainly beginner ski trails down low, & a few intermediate & advanced runs up high. The western side of the valley holds real interest for powder hounds, with trees down low & well-pitched slopes for advanced riders all the way up to the wonderful Pointe de la Masse. See the Les Menuires ski trail map here.

  • Val Thorens – The highest of the resorts, Val Thorens sits at the top of the Belleville valley. Its lifts & snow quality are the 3 Vallees best. There is terrain to suit all abilities & links to the best alpine sections of Meribel are straightforward. Well above the tree line, despite the resilience of the lifts in bad weather, it is completely at the mercy of mother-nature. The 3 Vallees fourth valley, Orelle, provides a different terrain aspect & feels like a quiet ‘locals ski hill’ by comparison – which is a good thing! See the Val Thorens - Orelle ski trail map here.

Lift Passes

Ski lift pass options are many & varied when skiing Les 3 Vallees. The separate resort areas of CourchevelLes Menuires-St Martin, Meribel & Val Thorens-Orelle each have a local lift pass for their specific domain. Ranging from €7 to €11.50/day cheaper than the full 3 Vallees lift pass, local passes may provide better value depending on your skiing ability & intentions. In between the main two types of day pass is the Vallèe des Bellevilles lift pass. At €4/day cheaper than a 3 Valleys pass, it includes all the lifts & terrain from top to bottom in the Belleville valley – Val Thorens-Orelle, Les Menuires & St Martin de Belleville. The Vallee des Belleville pass is only available as a single day pass, not multiple days. Choose wisely!

Where is 3 Vallees France?

The 3 Vallèes ski resort is in the Savoie region of the French Alps, around 140km east of Lyon and within a few km by road south of the nearest major town, Moûtiers.

Lyon St Exupery (LYS) and Geneva (GVA) are the main gateway airports. Both are connected to Moûtiers by train. From Paris (Gare de Lyon) the direct TGV train connects to nearby Bourg St Maurice & stops at Moutiers on the way. From Moûtiers train station there are taxis, shuttles or public bus transport to the resort villages. Public buses run regularly throughout the day to each valley. Val Thorens, Les Menuires & St Martin are on the T3 line, Meribel is on the T4 line & Courchevel the T5 line. Travel time can be up to 1hr 10min to the most distant destination (Val Thorens). Buy train tickets to Moutiers via the link below, purchase bus tickets from the driver. Free shuttle buses for skiers & snowboarders link the numerous villages within each valley i.e. in the Belleville valley between St Martin, Les Menuires & Val Thorens .

Search rail transport options to Val Thorens & book train tickets from Geneva, Paris, or Lyon to Moûtiers here.

Alternatively, anyone adverse or contagious to trains & buses can organise a private transfer direct from a hotel, airport, or major train station. Search & book all private transfers to the 3 Vallees here.

Another access to Les Trois Vallèes is via the Orelle gondola which emanates from the Maurienne valley to the south. Orelle is only 117km west of Turin, Italy via Bardonecchia & the (expensive) Frejus Tunnel. With one’s own car or a rental, Milan Malpensa (MXP) airport or Turin (TRN) can easily be used to ski the region, but we recommend using a French or Swiss airport to access the region.

Anyone driving to the 3 Vallees will find the journey easy to navigate to Moutiers, then concentration is required! Driving to Val Thorens is the most challenging, simply because of its elevation & exposure to poor weather. All access roads can be incredibly busy during key arrival & departure times across a weekend. Note the car parking arrangements for where you are staying. For instance, many Val Thorens accommodation providers require off-site parking in a multi-level car park at the entry to the resort village.

3 Vallees Accommodation

Possibly the most difficult decision when planning a visit to the 3 Vallèes is where to stay. The choice will depend on your individual tastes, needs, ski ability, budget & aspirations, i.e. are you looking to ski the entire 3 Vallees during your visit. If it is the later, then somewhere in Meribel is your best choice. If one stays on the margins of the resort area i.e. in Courchevel or Val Thorens - Orelle, skiing or boarding to the far valleys can be a challenge simply due to the vast distances involved. But if you are up for a long-distance ski challenge, the 3 Valleys is definitely the place to do it!

Search & book all 3 Vallees ski accommodation here.

In summary - Courchevel & St Martin have the prettiest villages (although some of Courchevel's are questionable!), Méribel has the best access to the entire ski area, Val Thorens is the snowiest & best integrated village & Les Menuires has some fabulous ski-in ski-out lodgings, but it has some rather, shall we say, moche aspects to it. Away from the resort villages, cheaper lodging options are in the towns of Brides les Bains (convenient gondola lift access to Meribel) & Bozel (good car & bus access to Courchevel). Moutiers is an option if desperate.

For more information, see our 3 Vallees Accommodation Info page.

Ski Rentals, Lessons, Guides & Services

A vast range of ski & snowboard rentals from our partners at Skiset are available in 33 locations across the 3 Valleys. Receive a discount when you search & book via our 3 Vallees Ski & Snowboard Rental page.

An incredible array of ski guides & instructors ply their craft in Les 3 Vallees ski resort. An experienced mountain guide can make all the difference to an off-piste powder day in an unfamiliar ski resort. To up your skills with an instructor, or discover the best secret powder stashes in the resort with a guide, see our 3 Valleys Ski Lessons & Guiding page.

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Activities

A ski area as large & well established as Les Trois Vallèes is all but guaranteed to have a diverse range of activities that can occupy those visitors not wanting to throw themselves down a hill on skis or board. For different snow sliding, there are cross-country, toboggan, snow-shoeing & winter walking trails. Add to that ice-skating, sled rides, snowmobiling, dog-sledding, snow-bikes & snow-tubing. Sightseeing trips up gondolas for lunch at a spectacular outpost can be combined with a paragliding descent. Hot air ballooning could go well with a spell on a climbing wall & swim at an indoor pool back down in the village. Or perhaps some bowling! Not to mention all the bars, shops & restaurants to check out. You get the idea!

Review

The Powderhounds reviewed the 3 Vallèes resorts in January 2020. We loved the diversity & immensity of the terrain, plus had some unexpected revelations in amongst one of our Europe season's best powder days (at Meribel). Read our sparkling repartee via the review link in the left column (or top of page if on a mobile).

See how 3 Vallees compares to the rest of the European ski resorts on the Europe ski resort ratings page.

Follow Powderhounds Europe on Facebook or Instagram to see where we are currently skiing.

Tours in or near 3 Vallees

Safari (Road Trip) Tours

Tarentaise Powder Ski Safari
GUIDED OFF-PISTE ADVENTURE
8 Days | 7 Nights | 6 Days Skiing | 3+ Resorts
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Expert
Ski some of the most famous ski areas of the world in France with an experienced guide riding vertical descents of up to 2,000m through untracked powder even days after a snowfall. Join a "fixed date" tour or get your own group of 4+ together for a custom tour.
Price p/p From price based on twin/double-share room occupancy & min group of 7 people
Base/invoice currency is in EURO inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
AUD 3,230
View Details
 
See all Safari (Road Trip) tours that visit 3 Vallees here

Single-Base, Multi-Ski-Area Tours

Tarentaise Valley Star Ski Tour
GUIDED OFF-PISTE ADVENTURE
3 - 4 Days | 3 - 4 Nights | 3 - 4 Skiing Days | 3+ Resorts
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Expert
Ski some of the most famous ski areas of the world in France with an experienced guide riding vertical descents of up to 2,000m through untracked powder even days after a snowfall. Join a "fixed date" tour or get your own group of 4+ together for a custom tour.
Price p/p From price based on twin/double-share room occupancy & min group of 4 people on a 3-day tour
Base/invoice currency is in EURO inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
AUD 1,712
View Details
 
See all Single-Base, Multi-Ski-Area tours that visit 3 Vallees here
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