Overall Rating

Meribel

Meribel4/53
Meribel4 out of 5 based on 3 reviews
  • Recommend
    100%
  • Would Revisit
    100%
Best Powder in Austria

3 Valleys Ski Resorts

3 Vallèes
Courchevel
Les-Menuires
St Martin de Belleville
Val Thorens

    Meribel Ski Trail Map
  • Meribel Ski Trail Map
  • Vertical (m)
    Meribel only
    1,100m – 2,952m (1,852m)

    3 Valleys
    1,100 – 3,230 (2,130m)
  • Average Snow Fall
    5 - 7 metres
  • Lifts (41)
    14 Gondolas / cable cars
    16 Chairlifts

    3 Vallees - 166 lifts
  • Opening Dates & Times
    Early December to late April
    8:30am to 5:00pm
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs – 600km (3 Vallèes)
    Longest run – 5km+
    Advanced - 11%
    Intermediate - 37%
    Beginner – 52%
  • Lift Pass Price
    Day Ticket 19/20
    Meribel only
    Adult - €42.40 to 53
    Child - €34 to 42.50
    Child u/5yr – Free

    3 Valleys ski area
    Adult - €50.40 to 63
    Child - €40.30 to 50.40
    Child u/5yr - Free
    Three Valleys Ski Trail Map
  • 3 Vallèes Ski Trail Map

Meribel - Reviews

Meribel - Reviews

Who'd Have Thunk It!

30/04/2020

POWDERHOUNDS EUROPE

Powderhounds Ambassador
Powderhounds Ambassador

POWDERHOUNDS EUROPE

Powderhounds Ambassador
Powderhounds Ambassador
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Telemarker
  • Rider Level
    Expert
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Month Visited:
    January
  • Admin Rating
    5

Who'd Have Thunk It!

30/04/2020

Of all the places I have skied in the world (& there are a lot of them), never in a million years would I have said that Meribel would make it to my ‘Great Places to Ski on a Powder Day’ list. But it has. We were soooo impressed. Who’d have thunk it!

On a blue bird Saturday morning in January with 20cm+ of quality cold snow on a good base & with no previous knowledge of the ski hill, I rode freshies all day long. In fact, I barely put my skis on a groomed trail. With fresh snow frosting the peaks and trees plus the dubious bonus of a blue sky the main question was ‘where to go?’ Elected to do a full round following the sun from Olympique with its nice long black piste, all the way around toward Saulire to finish the day with après at the seriously pumping La Folie Douce. Turns out Saturday at Meribel is a major changeover day for people in tour groups, so many guests are not skiing. Yippee! Who’d have thunk it!

The major Meribel revelation was the quality of its off-piste freeride terrain. Central of the 3 Vallees, both sides have so much to offer on a powder day. On the western side of the valley, the ridge separating Meribel from St Martin/Les Menuires/Val Thorens extends for around 15km from the Col de la Chambre to beyond the Roc de Fer above Les Allues. In the morning as the sun hits the ridge, a sensational array of intermediate to extreme off-piste terrain is directly accessible via 5 chairlifts & a gondola, providing limitless freeride descents of between 800 to 1100m vertical. The Olympique chair accesses the long, long ridge with a huge variety of freeride descents into the lower villages of Le Raffort & Les Allues and beyond – return via the Olympe gondola mid-stations. Also, off the top of the chair, the backside into St Martin is broad heli-ski like riding into the valley below – make sure you have a 3 Vallees ski pass if heading down! The sector from the ‘Back to the Wild’ zone around to Vallon holds the best snow and terrain at Meribel with loads of little couloirs, open bowls and sneaky stashes. Exploring here is relatively safe – not too much that’s gonna kill you (a few bits might – be careful). But it is fun, fun, fun, as you work your way across the mountain or just settle into one zone. And that is just one side of one valley. It doesn’t include the high solid vertical off Mont Vallon. Its multitude short pitch, off-piste routes are super-fun & easier than they look but are loaded with nasty ski-base gouging rocks & require some speed at the exits to get back to the gondola (snowboarders take heed). Or back around the other side to Saulire & the Col de la Loze with their couloirs & trees, the list goes on. Don’t get me started ……..! Who’d have thunk it.

A visit to Meribel (or Courchevel) is not complete without a journey up to Saulire (2740m), From Meribel Centre a new comfy gondola makes the trip, allowing for a good look at the awfully named ‘GoPro Couloir’. Bumped and decidedly bony at the top we were not tempted on this occasion. In decent snow cover, it is nothing too intimidating though. Naturally, two days later there was decent snow, but we spent all our time on the opposite side of the valley. At the top, the cable car from Courchevel arrives at the same location & there is the entry to the Grand Couloir which has a better range of descent options. The hardest part is the slick, bumped up entry – after that it is all downhill. Strange but true - the quickest way to access the best Courchevel steeps on Saulire is from Meribel Centre. Who’d have thunk it!

Another day sliding on the piste trails to check it all out revealed great stuff for beginners & intermediates too. The gentle altiport & several long valley trails are great for beginners stretching their legs. The entire valley is surrounded by intermediate piste trails. Some get a little skied off & icy by the end of the day, but such is life in the big city. Mèribel’s central locality provides multiple access not only into the 3 Vallees resorts so with 600km of groomers in the region it is safe to say one will not get bored.

We expected après ski to be a bigger deal at Meribel. Aside from the super-fun La Folie Douce just below the Saulire gondola mid-station, and the interesting ROK just below Pas du Lac mid nothing was really pumping. Perhaps it is the lack of sunshine in the valley before 3pm that quickly stymies any enthusiasm. Or perhaps by the time we got down it was already over. The two higher elevation establishments were still in the sun. At Meribel Centre, there are a nest of bars that go long into the night. Amusingly, Jack’s Bar is so British it even has Test cricket on the TVs. Not your usual après fodder. Bar prices at La Folie Douce & Rok are on the ‘Courchevel side’ of expensive. Drink slowly, enjoy the entertainment. Chatting to a young Scottish man on a chairlift earlier in the day, he lamented the après & nightlife in Meribel, describing it as “ ….. just a bunch of Brits getting pissed. I thought there would be a few more Europeans here …..”. Aside from La Folie Douce, the experience he was seeking is probably more readily acquired in Austria. Après ski may be a French term, but it is the Austrians that made it their own.

Meribel’s accommodation is centred on …….. Meribel Centre! It is a pleasant village, tastefully designed & thankfully lacking the grotesque high-rise developments that blight so many French Alps ski resorts. Stepping up the hill from the major nest of ski lifts at La Chaudanne, Meribel Centre provides all the requirements for a long term stay in a rustic village with a surprising amount of ski-in ski-out accommodation. Hotels, apartments and chalets in traditional mountain style, grocers, banks and retail, bars, restaurants, ice rink, medical centre, ski rental/retail plus the obligatory French mega ski resort nightclub that opens fashionably late at 2230hr. Called the Les Saint Pères Mythic Nightclub, it is open until 5am, making it the perfect way to end, begin, or miss, a powder day! The nightclub entrance is on the extremely unfashionable ice rink concourse, right next door to the bowling alley - classy. Guess they have a sense of humour after all. Who’d have thunk it!

Further up from Meribel Centre, Meribel Mottaret is the higher elevation & higher priced resort village. In part bordering on a typically crass French Alps development, but not quite making it, Mottaret is superbly interconnected with lifts & pistes to provide sparklingly good access to not only Meribel, but Courchevel & Les Menuires as well.

In order to make the most of the snow forecast, we tend to leave our Europe itinerary to the last minute. Hence at Meribel, we opted for the ‘3 Vallées à petit budget’ option & stayed several nights in Brides les Bains. Safe to say it is not the prettiest town in France. It feels a touch old & dirty when first viewed with only a few scraps of snow in it. And at only 600m elevation (extremely low for snow in France these days) there is a good chance it will not be fully snow-covered during a visit. The cold, shaded valley location adds to the feeling of dread & the nagging thought you have made a big mistake staying here. But fear not! The positives easily outweigh these initial impressions. A generally quiet town, it is located a few km past Moutiers, just off the main road to Courchevel & Bozel, avoiding any noisy through traffic. Several pleasant hotels with thermal spas plus some super-cheap lodgings are a good start. Its location provides the perfect budget conscious base to explore not only the 3 Vallees but also La Plagne via Champagny en Vanoise, or the gorgeous Pralognan la Vanoise (which is seemingly a world away from the region’s huge industrial resorts). but is well positioned & provides all one needs for a comfortable stay on a budget. The place for a night out is Le Bis ‘Trop’ – a great bar/restaurant at the western end of town. Live music plays through the week and its open until late. Aside from the usual basic brasserie & take-away offerings through the centre of town, past the Hermitage Hotel are two sneaky little places worth a visit. La Montagne has a cute little restaurant section putting out the town’s best pizza & crepes amongst other things. Next door is one out of the box – a classy little sushi joint – Brid’ Sushi. Who’d have thunk it!

Shopping wise, Brides les Bains has a pharmacy, banks, small Spar market, boulangerie (bakery) (eastern end of town – Boulangerie de la Source), cafes, fine foods providers (Au Petit Terroir) and of course ski & outdoor shops a plenty. A miserable ‘casino’ is between the centre of town & the thermal baths. Moûtiers is not far away with its wider range of shops & grocers (for self-caterers). Aside from a wander to a ‘Pain’ shop to get fresh pastries, a morning in Brides les Bains starts with a stroll up to the aging clamshell Olympe gondola. It takes 25min for the journey up to Meribel Centre, followed by a 5min walk or a short ski/slide to La Chaudanne, only to take your skis off again if heading up another gondola! At the end of the day go direct off the Olympe gondola & stop at Amelies Bar for a happy hour pint or other libation. A warm fire outside, and a warmer interior will greet you. The crowd is a mix of friendly Brits et al… no surprise there.

As with the rest of the 3 Vallees, we cannot imagine what it is like skiing here in the peak season – though we have our suspicions. We can only suggest that where possible, stick to the Powderhounds rule of not skiing major French ski resorts during French school holidays. January though is bliss & parts of other months will be too. The 3 Vallees is a bucket list resort & Meribel, as the best located of them, is integral to it. Ski Meribel when the off-piste is fresh & it will be unforgettable. You guessed it. Who’d have thunk it!

You can see our thoughts on the pros & cons on the Meribel overview page and also see our European ski resort ratings regarding how we score it compared to other skiing areas.

Seasonnaire Review

Sarah
21/06/2017
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Snowboarder
  • Rider Level
    Advanced
  • Rider Age
    18-35
  • Month Visited:
    January
  • Admin Rating
    2

Seasonnaire Review

Sarah
21/06/2017
Meribel is fantastic for both families and groups of friends. With a fantastic night life and brilliant places to eat both on and off the mountain I would 100% recommend going.
Though the season this year (2017) was by no means the best, there was decent skiing all season. Definitely not the best resort if you are looking for powder.

Great holiday destination

Sian Healy
29/09/2015
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Snowboarder
  • Rider Level
    Advanced
  • Rider Age
    18-35
  • Month Visited:
    January
  • Admin Rating
    2

Great holiday destination

Sian Healy
29/09/2015
After living in neighbouring Courchevel for two seasons, can say that I have always enjoyed a trip over to Meribel. The park is huge, there is tonnes of terrain to explore and loads of places to stop for food and drink, plus its between the two other valleys or the three valleys, so its ideally placed. Gives easy access to each of the other valleys and is home to a lot of varied terrain.