Méribel lies at the heart of The Three Valleys ski resort and is an extremely popular village, not only because of its excellent location and access to snow-sure skiing, but also it’s lively yet laid-back atmosphere. Ideal for families, friends or corporate groups alike, the variety of pistes suits beginners through to experts. With the largest linked area in Europe to explore, there are more kilometres of skiing than most legs can cope with in a week!
This variety continues through the bars and restaurants of the bustling village; La Folie Douce, renowned for lively après ski, a smattering of Michelin-starred establishments, and the many charmingly traditional Savoyarde restaurants there is genuinely something for everyone. For those not skiing, there are accessible walks or hikes, mountain restaurants to access via the gondolas, and the stunning vistas of the Tarentaise valley to marvel at. Méribel is a pretty alpine village with a bustling high street, featuring gorgeous interior shops, excellent cafes and a range of ski wear boutiques. The twice-weekly market is ideal for picking up souvenirs and sampling local gastronomic delights. For the quintessential alpine experience, why not explore the area from the comfort of a private horse-drawn sleigh…
(All images on this page ©Sylvain Aymoz)
Méribel is at the heart of The Three Valleys, one of the largest and most famous ski areas on the planet.
- 600km of pistes in Les Trois Vallées
- 150km of pistes in the Méribel valley
- 166 lifts
- Ski terrain ranging from 1100m to 2952m
- Snow guarantee (over 85% of pistes above 1800m)
- 2 of the best snowparks in Europe
- 100km of cross-country trails
- Infinite off-piste possibilities
Live Like A Local
There is a hidden door, a secret place, an untold secret. That is the essence of travel, that journey of discovery when you uncover a gem, stumble upon the unique; when you truly manage to live like the locals. If you are looking for the authentic here are a few places to start.
FOR THE BEST HOT CHOCOLATE STOP
Le Rond Point
Hot chocolate piste breaks are memory makers. You’ve just made first tracks, perhaps you achieved your first turn, maybe just maybe you watched one of your kids take their first slide. It’s time for a hot chocolate break. Le Rond Point might not seem like the most obvious choice for a hot chocolate break as it’s known for its excitable après. But it’s worth reconsidering. Because Le Rond Point, or Ronnies as the locals call it, has its very own indoor slide! It’s a slide to the bathrooms of all places but it does mean that kids can enjoy a hot chocolate, rest their legs, warm themselves, then slide their way to the toilets. What child (or tired, ski boot-wearing adult) isn’t going to love that?
FOR HIGH ALTITUDE COFFEE WITH MONT BLANC VIEWS
Les Pierres Plates
Les Pierres Plates is the restaurant at the top of the La Saulire (the 3 valleys connection point between Meribel and Courchevel). Perched at 2738m with its own sun terrace and 360° views of the surrounding mountains, Les Pierres Plates can be accessed by non-skiers too. They offer self-service dining and a separate a la carte restaurant. But best of all they offer breakfast, making it the perfect location to start your day!
FOR DINING AT ALTITUDE… IN A GONDOLA!
Fondue in the Sky
Fondue in the Sky is the brainchild of Sylvain Chardonnet, the owner of the Bistrot de l’Orée. At certain times throughout the season you can dine at altitude in a moving gondola enjoying the finest traditional cheese fondue. Take a seat at your own private table in the Saulire Express lift and taste delicious fondue starting at the altitude of 1450m in Méribel centre, stopping at the summit at 2738m, before returning to Méribel centre. Not only a gastronomic journey out of the ordinary, this is also a chance to see the Méribel valley by night. And it’s not just the odd bubble that’s been turned into a restaurant for the night, it’s the whole lift—a moving, ascending, descending, fondue savouring, pop up restaurant. Each bubble can accommodate 4 to 6 people, so choose your friends wisely! Reservation required.
FOR A LITTLE BIT OF NIGHT SKIING
Descente aux Flambeaux
It is the simple pleasures in life that are the most memorable and this is a great example of that. The Descente aux Flambeaux is an incredible experience, allowing you to descend the mountain, at night, with just the sound of your skis swooshing under your feet, the Méribel village lit up below, a head torch lighting your way, stars twinkling in the sky above. It feels like it’s just you and the mountain. The ultimate mountain adventure. To find out which dates this is happening this year and to make a booking, check out the ESF website.
Picture perfect Méribel is synonymous with chalet-style architecture located in an idyllic valley of forests, valleys, pastures and peaks, with stunning panoramic views of the Alps and Mont Blanc. Méribel sits within the huge Les Trois Vallées ski area surrounded by and connected to the ski resorts of Courchevel, La Tania and Val Thorens. Ski here and you have over 600km of pistes to explore which is why it is heralded as one of the largest linked ski areas in the world. Eternally popular it offers visitors the authentic alpine ski experience both in terms of its aesthetic, its history and its world-class skiing. Visitors become regulars. For good reason.
Resort altitude: 1450m
Highest lift: 2592m
Vertical drop: 1142m
Winter season: Runs from approximately 8th Dec to 22nd April
Summer season: Runs from 6th July to 30th August
Local population: Year round
Geneva, Lyon or Grenoble Airport
Transfer to resort in around two hours.
If you can get a flight to Chambery from your regional airport, the transfer to resort is just an hour and a quarter.
NEAREST TRAIN STATIONS
Moûtiers (full name Moûtiers Salins Brides Les Bains)
25 minutes from Méribel centre.
If you’re travelling from the UK, the Eurostar leaves from London or Kent and takes you either direct to Moûtiers or into Paris, where you pick up a connecting TGV train to Moûtiers.
Parc Olympique, located in the heart of Méribel, houses an indoor ice rink, indoor swimming pool, fitness centre and wellness area and spa. The swimming pool is open everyday of the week throughout the summer and winter seasons. As with much of France, swimming shorts are not permitted for men and speedos must be worn. Something to do with hygiene, apparently. The fitness centre and gym offers cardio training, fitness training, weight rooms, rowing machines and fitness bicycles. The wellness area and spa consists of massage rooms, a sauna, Turkish baths and steam room.
Things To Do
It is easy to forget in the midst of a ski holiday that there are other equally exciting things to experience. In reality, such is the plethora of non-ski activities, they warrant an action-packed week’s holiday of their own…
Located within the Olympic Centre, Méribel’s bowling lanes are modern, well organised and a great off-mountain activity for the whole family. The bowling centre has 6 lanes, very similar to those you will find back in the UK. The lanes are fully-equipped for children as young as 3 years old and there is also a bar, a games area with billiards and arcade games, a foosball table and big screen TVs for those who like to keep up with your favourite sporting events. They can organise birthday parties and have snacks available and are open every day all winter long. A good destination if you find yourself off the slopes one day or with children looking for more adventures after ski school.
The ice rink in Meribel is impressive having hosted the Olympics back in 1992. Located in the Olympic Centre you can enjoy traditional ice skating with all the family, or you can opt for something a little different, such as an ice skating disco or dancing on ice. If that’s not enough, try one of the Olympic Days when you can complete in various ice disciplines such as curling. If that all sounds like a bit much you can just go and watch other people exert themselves at the local ice hockey matches. As the ice skating rink forms part of the Olympic Centre there are a whole host of other activities for you to enjoy including a climbing wall, bowling, swimming and an aquatic park. It’s a safe destination for any afternoon spent off-piste.
With a sauna, steam room, tea room, relaxation area and a 25m swimming pool, this sports centre is the perfect place to unwind, relax your muscles and enjoy the calm of the spa area. Offering a range of beauty treatments and massages you can book in for a treatment with one of the highly-qualified therapists and melt your stress away.
AquaMotion in Courchevel
This aqua park has wowed many an adult and child alike. They have waves, pools, water slides, climbing walls, aqua wellness, mini golf, saunas, hammams, and an Austrian-style spa experience. Méribel locals have been heard describing AquaMotion as ‘out of this world’ with an odd level of excitement for an adult. We say, take the plunge.
IGLOO BUILDING FOR KIDS
Méribel Tourist Office
Enjoy a little down time while your kids embark on a truly unique mountain adventure. This evening activity starts around 17:00 on Wednesdays and is run by a team of mountain professionals, who will teach your kids all about the mountains and how to build an igloo. Head torches are included as are warming hot chocolates if the weather is cold. Suitable for children from 6 years up. It’s a memory maker for sure. And adults are sometimes allowed to participate as well! Sign up at the tourist office.
MISSION BLACK FOREST: SLEDGING ADVENTURE
On mountain but not ski-focused, this sledding adventure keeps growing in popularity. The stats are simple; it’s a 3.4km on snow sled course descending 470m with 28 corners. The reality is an adventure that plunges sled riders into an imaginary world where they become the actors in their own adventure. Take the Tougnète gondola lift up to the start of the run. Then choose the covering for your helmet and prepare to become one of the heroes of an adventure outlined in a cartoon story that you will be shown at the start. During your descent you must navigate foam filled modules that are all linked by a bell that alerts the fantasy creatures guarding the run! As you descend you will pass chalets, model characters and obstacles on an adventure that gets better year after year.
Whether we admit it to ourselves or not skiing is also about the eating, and for dining experiences, Méribel delivers. Gone are the days of overcooked cheese fondue and day old chips, mountain dining now comes with Michelin stars and Les Trois Vallées is collecting them like loose change. Méribel and Les Trois Vallées has it all. You can dine on piste and off piste to your heart’s desire.
LE CLOS BERNARD
On-piste, near Altiport
Le Clos Bernard is located in Méribel on the edge of a forest. Accessible by foot (a 10 min walk from the car park) this magical setting offers an unforgettable experience. Savour grilled meats from a wood-burning open fire and an abundance of Savoyard specialities. All their produce is carefully selected from local producers offering you the finest local cuisine. Open lunchtimes and evenings, with special events throughout the season.
Le Farcon is set at the foot of the slopes, 1400 metres above sea level. Chef Julien Machet is at the helm of this restaurant, warmly welcoming all his guests. The restaurant offers a modern Savoyard setting and has been Michelin-starred since 2006. And rightly so. Find it on the snow of La Tania, between Méribel and Courchevel.
St Martin de Belleville
La Bouitte is listed as the first restaurant in the Savoie region to be awarded 3 stars by the Michelin Guide. Owners René and Maxime make an impressive double act. They’ve been working together for over 20 years and celebrated La Bouitte’s 40th anniversary at the end of 2016. This self-taught father and son team has developed a creative and subtle cuisine. Described as genuine and irreverent it draws inspiration from the culinary traditions of Savoie while paying homage to them.
Chef Jean Suplice, who was trained by the renowned Marc Veyrat, has overseen L’Oxalys restaurant since 2002. Inspired by the rich culinary traditions of the Savoie region it has become one of the highest-starred restaurants in Europe enabling Suplice to disprove those who had claimed that gastronomy at high altitude would never work.
La Folie Douce
With its stylish décor of white enamel milk churns, exposed zinc pipework, antique tiling and dairy-styled fittings, La Fruitière has a special atmosphere. Head chef Franck Mischler offers something equally special with his fine yet rich cuisine. The menu is locally sourced, inviting customers to explore the wealth of regional Savoyard delicacies. La Fruitière transforms simple fare into a wholesome, gourmet experience.
Rond Point, Meribel
Nestled high up on the slopes of Méribel, the Hotel L’Allodis “skis aux pieds” welcomes guests straight from the slopes to a cozy mountain retreat. Offering breakfast, lunch and dinner you can start your day in Méribel with Viennese pastries, aromas of fresh fruits or Savoyard sausages. Wait for lunch and dine on the terrace with exceptional panoramic views. Or wait for dinner and indulge in the delicate and refined flavors by chef Phillippe Vrignaud. They say “sharpen your taste buds for high flavors!” We say “yes please!”.
LE GRAND COEUR
Dinner is a very special occasion at Le Grand Coeur. Chef Marc Dach has been in charge of the kitchens since December 1991, offering a gourmet twist to many traditional dishes. His wonderfully original, traditional cuisine is guaranteed to delight even the most demanding palate. He works his inspirational magic with ever-changing, always creative, gourmet menus, coupled with wine cellars offering more than 400 different wines. Every aspect of your dining experience has been taken care of. Enjoy!
LE BISTRO DU PRAZ
Le Praz, Courchevel
Located at the foot of the slopes of the Praz, accessible from Courchevel, it’s hard to find much on this restaurant if you search for it online. What you will find are hundreds of 5* reviews and mentions of delicious foie gras, crispy suckling pig, fresh tagliatelle, lobster bolognaise and fondue Savoyarde. Excellent service and dedicated returning customers makes this a must for your dining to do list.
Alpine nightlife can be hit and miss. Gregarious après, repetitive music and a general sense of excess over excellence can become wearing to the discerning traveller. So what if your holiday time is too precious to waste and your palate too discerning for disappointing drinks? Here are a few of our preferred destinations for the famous aperitivo hour and beyond.
LA FOLIE DOUCE
You must go. Even just once. One recent visitor described it as ‘DJs and live music, dancers and fireworks, flares and smoke machines and people dancing on tables, all in this remote bar, randomly placed in the middle of nowhere, on a snowy mountain’. La Folie Douce is of course the birthplace of après, offering you a daily show involving dancers, singers, musicians and extravagant costumes. Book a table outside, soak up the atmosphere and get on the dancefloor. But be prepared—it closes promptly at 5pm and you are expected to exit the restaurant swiftly and descend the mountain safely without delay. So be sure to give yourself plenty of time for a safe ski home.
LE ROND POINT
With live music, a vibrant celebratory atmosphere and a slide that takes you down to the toilets, “Ronnie’s” is a must do if you like excitable après and free-flowing drinks. This legendary bar offers all day entertainment right on the piste (09:00-19:30) with a fantastic ski-in/ski-out sun terrace. Despite being known as the largest après ski bar in France, it also boasts a great a la carte restaurant for lunchtime dining between 11:30-15:00. Whether you dine on the enormous sun terrace surrounded by the mountains or upstairs in the cosy restaurant on snowy days, Le Rond Point offers a fantastic dining experience. The menu consists of freshly-made house specialities, starters and main courses as well as salads, pizzas and pasta, plus a menu for the kids. If you are on a family holiday don’t write it off due to its excitable reputation; in the mornings or midday it is a fun hot chocolate break for children, especially when they find out they have to slide their way to the toilets!
LE BAR DU SAVOY
Undoubtedly the trendiest place in the whole 3 Valleys. Thibault, the talented bartender, has created a menu of winter cocktails where drinks and cured meats can be enjoyed together. He can also create cocktails on the spot to suit your personality. There is live music but in an unobtrusive way that leaves you to relax and enjoy the open fire, cowhide stools and wingback armchairs. If you prefer high tea to après cocktails the Savoy High Tea includes a gourmet snack, a tasty homemade mixture of savoury and sweet treats, accompanied by a hot drink. Just 50 metres from the piste this is a great choice to meet up and regroup after a day on the mountain. Try to get the seats by the fire!
Stylish and sophisticated La Copiña promises to be the après ski hot spot for the winter season, offering a unique Spanish dining and drinking experience located right in the centre of Méribel. With an impressive menu of traditional homemade cocktails and tapas made with fresh produce (and with great skill), La Copiña is a great choice for post-piste drinks. They also have craft beers and wines from around the world and daily offers. The bar can be found on the former site of Jack’s Bar. If you go there perhaps tell your server that you know Copiña means “small glass” in Spanish. You never know, perhaps you will be given a small glass on the house…
It’s the little touches that make all the difference and that is what Le Kaila offers. The bar in this 5* hotel is a great place for swanky drinks and a far cry from the on-piste antics of the likes of the Folie Douce. With its sophisticated, relaxed décor, combining light woods and warm fabrics, English influences and modern accents it offers delicate teas, rare alcohols, fine wines and superb cocktails. It’s the ideal place for sophisticated après, decadent high tea or perhaps an end of evening nightcap. For those who enjoy the occasional cigar there is even a smoking room, complete with leather armchairs.
This beautiful town on the lake is known as the ‘Venice of the Alps’ due to its picturesque canals and maze of cobbled streets in the Old Town. The lake is the second largest in France and is said to be the cleanest in Europe, making it perfect for a swim on a warm summer’s day. The lake has a number of pretty villages along its banks and in particular Talloires which is well worth a stop for coffee or a drink. Park in the main Hôtel de Ville car park and then you are close to the Old Town where you’ll find a host of bars, restaurants and shops. Wander to your heart’s content, browsing along the cobbled streets and alleyways. Tuesdays and Fridays are market days in the Old Town.
The mountain town of Chamonix in the shadow of Mont Blanc is not to be missed. Take the driving route via Flumet and Megève, which is far more scenic than the motorway route. In the summer months Chamonix is a mecca for adventure sports—climbers, hikers and mountain bikers flock to experience the challenges of the mountains. Chamonix is also famous for its spectacular cable car up to the Aiguille du Midi (3842m), built in 1955 when it was the highest cable car in the world. Together with a cable car system going up to the Pointe Helbronner (3462m) from Entrèves in the Aosta Valley (Italy), it is possible to cross the entire Mont Blanc massif by cable car (the latter is only open during the summer). Also go for a trip on the Montenvers Railway which goes from the centre of town to Montenvers, above the Mer de Glace. The town centre has a number of bars, shops and restaurants and parking is well signed and central, allowing for easy access to the pedestrian streets. Also don’t miss the Musée Alpin which charts the history of the town from the arrival of the first climbing tourists in the 18th century.