Meribel | Ski Resort Review

26 Jun 202310 min
By Arjen Hartman
a purple sky above the mountains in Meribel village in France

Perched in the heart of the majestic Three Valleys ski region in the French Alps, Meribel ski resort is renowned for offering an exceptional skiing experience. This all-encompassing resort is a preferred choice among European skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts of varying ages and skill levels, owing to its wide range of slopes and diverse activities. With its stunning mountain views, well-groomed pistes, and excellent amenities, Meribel is undoubtedly among the best ski resorts in the region.

Meribel – Overview

In the late 1930s, Meribel ski resort was founded by Peter Lindsey, a British winter sports enthusiast. The resort still retains a strong British influence and is situated at the heart of the Three Valleys (Trois Vallées) ski area in France, which boasts the world's largest network of interconnected ski lifts.

Meribel has earned its place as a beloved ski destination, drawing back a devoted crowd of winter sport enthusiasts year after year. With an extensive and impressive selection of skiing and snowboarding terrain, it's no wonder that Meribel has gained a well-deserved reputation as one of the most lively and exciting resorts in the entire Alpine region.

Meribel's charm lies in its adherence to a longstanding policy that restricts construction projects from deviating from the traditional wood-clad, stone-tiled, chalet-style architecture that is typical of the region. This has resulted in Meribel being one of the most visually appealing resorts of its size in the French Alps. The resort's wooded setting only adds to its appeal and creates an authentic Alpine village atmosphere, despite being a purpose-built ski resort.

Be aware that Meribel-Village or Meribel-Mottaret are not the same as the main resort of Meribel. Meribel-Village is a small satellite village located to the north-east and it only has one lift and piste link with the Altiport ski sector above the actual main resort of Meribel. Meanwhile, Meribel-Mottaret is a separate functional-looking resort development located 3km away from Meribel at the head of the valley.

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Meribel – Ski Map & Pistes:

Nestled in the heart of the Three Valleys ski domain, Meribel caters to intermediate, expert, and snowboarding enthusiasts alike. The resort is surrounded by a breathtaking amphitheatre of ridges and peaks that curve around from above the Western side to the head of the valley above Mottaret, and then sweep above the Eastern slopes of Meribel. With an extensive network of mostly high-speed chairlifts and recently upgraded gondolas, skiers can easily chase the sun and the best snow conditions throughout the day.

Novice skiers can enjoy the local ski area in Meribel, which offers ample terrain for progression. However, many visitors are drawn to the vastness of the full Three Valleys domain. The ski area has several inter-valley link points on the Eastern ridges, providing access to Saint-Martin-de-Belleville, Les Menuires, Reberty, and Val Thorens in the Belleville Valley. To the West, there are a couple of cross-ridge link points into the St-Bons Valley, home to the internationally acclaimed ski resorts of Courchevel and La Tania.

Beginners who find the scale and pace of the main Meribel slopes intimidating can opt for the Altiport sector at the top of Meribel. This scenic parkland-like area offers gently rolling wide pistes that are ideal for learners.

For more experienced skiers and riders, the focus in this valley is on the Plattieres-Vallon sector above Mottaret and the Tougnete sector on the Eastern slopes above Meribel. These areas are known for their long sweeping snow-sure red pistes and great lift-served off-piste access on Mont du Vallon. The Arpasson area is also home to the excellent 'Elements Park' snowpark.

2023 Skimap Trois Vallees Meribel

Meribel – Off-Piste, Backcountry & Ski Touring:

Off-piste skiing in Meribel is an adventure that will take you away from the crowds and into the wild beauty of the mountains. The resort has a number of off-piste routes that range from challenging to extreme, each offering a unique experience for the adventurous skier. For those looking for a challenge, the Mont Vallon area is a popular destination for off-piste skiing, with steep descents and deep powder runs that will test your skills and push you to your limits. Alternatively, the Saulire area offers a variety of off-piste options that cater to intermediate and advanced skiers.

For the ultimate backcountry experience, Meribel has a number of unmarked routes that will take you deep into the heart of the mountains. These routes require a high level of skill and experience, but offer unparalleled views and a sense of isolation that is hard to find in a crowded ski resort. The Col de la Loze and the Aiguille du Fruit areas are popular backcountry destinations that offer challenging descents and breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.

Finally, for those looking for a truly unique skiing experience, ski touring in Meribel is an adventure not to be missed. Ski touring allows you to explore the mountains on skis, using skins to climb uphill and then skiing back down. Meribel has a number of designated ski touring routes that offer a variety of terrain and difficulty levels, from gentle slopes to steep couloirs.

Meribel – Restaurants, Bars & The Town:

With gondola lifts providing access to both sides of the valley, non-skiers can easily meet up with their skiing friends at various mountain bars, restaurants, and lookout points. The surrounding scenery can also be enjoyed by pedestrians along a number of marked walking routes. In town, the Olympic Park near the main Chaudanne base area offers a range of activities including a full-sized ice rink, a spa and fitness suite, an indoor climbing wall, and a swimming pool. For those interested in equestrian activities, the Nordic Ranch provides excellent facilities.

As the sun begins to set and the day's skiing comes to an end, the atmosphere in Meribel transforms into a buzzing apres-ski hub. A plethora of piste-side and base-area bars attract crowds with their lively music and drinks, making it one of the most animated scenes in the Alps. The Folie Douce and the Rond Point, situated on the eastern slopes just above town, are the go-to piste-side venues, while The (Doron) Pub and Jacks are among the leading spots in the village itself. Meribel is renowned for its exceptional apres-ski, and the festivities continue until late into the night.

As the evening progresses, Meribel's lively nightlife moves to the central Route de la Montée and Route du Centre areas, as well as to the suburb of Mussillon, where you can find O'Sullivan's (formerly Dick's Tea Bar).

While most of Meribel's guests stay in catered accommodation, there is a good variety of dining options available to suit different budgets and tastes.

For exquisite modern French and fusion cuisine, make a reservation at the in-house restaurant of one of the resort's top hotels, such as Le Grand Coeur & Spa or La Chaudanne. On the other end of the price range, informal restaurants and pubs throughout the resort serve up pizzas and hearty Savoyard specialties, with notable venues including La Taverne and La Bergerie (Chez Kiki).

Meribel – Ski Hire:

Meribel has a wide range of ski hire options to suit every need and budget, making it easy for skiers to hit the slopes without having to worry about bringing their own equipment.

One of the most popular ski hire options in Meribel is the traditional rental shop, which can be found throughout the resort. These shops offer a wide range of skis, boots, and poles to suit skiers of all abilities, from beginners to experts. The staff at these rental shops are knowledgeable and friendly, and can help you select the equipment that is right for you.

For those looking for a more high-tech rental experience, Meribel also has a number of ski hire companies that offer online booking and delivery services. These companies allow you to select your equipment online before you arrive, and then have it delivered directly to your accommodation. This option is particularly convenient for families or groups who are looking to save time and avoid the hassle of carrying equipment around the resort.

Another unique ski hire option in Meribel is the ski test centre. These centres allow you to test out the latest ski equipment from a range of top brands, giving you the opportunity to try before you buy. The test centres also offer expert advice on selecting the right equipment for your needs, making it a great option for those looking to upgrade their equipment or try out new technology.

Finally, for those who want the ultimate ski hire experience, Meribel also offers a VIP ski hire service. This service provides a personal ski technician who will come directly to your accommodation to fit you with custom-designed skis, boots, and poles. The technician will also make any necessary adjustments throughout your stay to ensure that you have the best possible skiing experience.

Here are some of the top ski rental companies in Meribel and their website URLs:

These ski rental companies offer a range of equipment options, including skis, snowboards, boots, helmets, and more. They have multiple locations throughout the resort, making it easy to find a rental shop that is convenient for you. You can visit their websites to find out more about their specific rental options, prices, and availability, and to book your equipment online in advance.

Meribel – Ski Schools:

Meribel is home to a variety of ski schools that cater to skiers of all abilities, making it a great destination for both beginners and advanced skiers who want to improve their skills and technique.

The ski schools in Meribel offer a range of lesson types, from group lessons to private sessions, as well as specific classes for children, teenagers, and adults. The ski schools are staffed by highly qualified and experienced instructors who speak multiple languages, ensuring that you can communicate effectively and get the most out of your lessons.

In addition to traditional ski lessons, many of the ski schools in Meribel also offer specialist classes such as off-piste skiing, ski touring, and freestyle skiing. These classes are designed to help you develop specific skills and techniques that will enable you to explore more of the mountain and enjoy your skiing to the fullest.

The availability of ski schools in Meribel is generally good, with a number of schools located throughout the resort. However, it is always advisable to book your lessons in advance, especially during peak season, to ensure that you get the lesson times and instructors that are best suited to your needs.

Here are some of the top ski schools in Meribel and their website URLs:

These ski schools offer a range of lessons and activities, including group and private lessons, off-piste skiing, freestyle skiing, and more. They have experienced and qualified instructors, and many offer multiple languages for instruction. You can visit their websites to find out more about their specific lesson options, prices, and availability.

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