You will need some ski lessons to get you started. Here in Meribel, there are loads of ski schools to choose from, all offering lessons in English - commonly from native speakers.
Your very first lesson will begin on what's known as a 'nursery' slope. A very gentle, short and wide-open piste. After that, it's on to the green slopes: nice gentle descents while you find your feet. Almost one-tenth of Meribel slopes are green. In relative terms, that's a lot. You can tell when you're on a green slope because all the marker signs will be green.
Once you begin to gain confidence, you will progress from green runs to blue. Now the 'real' skiing begins, and you will probably never go back to the green runs again. After all, you're a pro now!
Meribel ski slopes are often very wide, which is ideal as you progress onto blue pistes. The hardest part about learning to ski is turning. On a wide slope, you have plenty of time to plan your next turn.
On the back of your lift pass, you will find some of the most beginner-friendly slopes, so start by sticking to these. Also, your lessons will introduce you to some of the easier pistes. In the afternoon, why not try out a handy route which we call The Green Triangle.
From La Chaudanne, head up the Tougnette 1 bubble lift. From the top, take the Perdrix green run into Meribel-Mottaret. At the bottom, take a left. You'll ski past the medical centre and pharmacy, then through a short tunnel. From here, you're on the Truite green run into Meribel Centre, known locally as "The Trout". This leads you right back to where you started. One lift, two pistes, done. View this on a piste map...
To find more info about where to ski in Meribel, take a look at our comprehensive Meribel Skiing Guide.
A ski trip is completely different from all the holidays you will have previously enjoyed in the warmer months. The differences throw up all sorts of questions so, if you're confused about anything when you book, let us know and we will be happy to help. For some of the most common points of confusion, here are our most frequently asked questions for beginner skiers.
You will need to buy specialist ski clothing. A ski jacket and salopettes (trousers), base layers, mid-layers (fleece), ski gloves, ski socks, leggings/long johns, goggles. A helmet can be bought or hired.
Meribel centre is served by five main ski lifts which all depart from the same area, called La Chaudanne. It's a natural meeting place for groups, and it gives access to all of Meribel's amazing skiing. Here you will find the main lift pass office, a kindergarten and ski schools, plus the most famous bars and restaurants.
If it's your first ski or snowboard holiday, you will definitely need lessons. There are many local providers and your accommodation provider will be able to recommend someone for you.
You will need to buy a lift pass to grant you access to the ski lifts which get you up the mountainside. On your first trip, a local lift pass should be sufficient, giving you access to the whole of the Meribel valley.
You will need holiday insurance with specific winter sports cover. You can get this for as little as £15 for the whole week and, for a few unfortunate souls, it really is money well-spent.
It can get very sunny up on the mountain, so be sure to pack some lip balm, suntan lotion and ski goggles. The snow acts as a giant mirror so, on a clear day, you can get burnt from above and below without even realising it.
A good level of basic fitness is a big help with skiing, and a few pre-holiday gym sessions can pay dividends. You are going to be working your legs very hard and in ways which you might not be used to.
Beginner Skiers should use these useful tips for their first few visits to the 3 valleys. Meribel has some amazing green and blue runs which should boost your confidence and skill levels in no time. Click here to have a look at why we've partnered with the best ski school out there, and what they have to offer. Fear not beginners, even with morning ski school you will still get the chance to practice and ski with your family and friends in the afternoon. It is worth also clicking here to make sure you're choosing the right lift pass for your ability.
The start point for today is La Chaudanne. It is assumed this will be after your morning ski lessons. I would advise using the Rhodos bubble to not only get out of La Chaudanne in the morning but also getting back there in the afternoon. Not only can the run be extremely busy with skiers going home, it quickly can become a run of nightmares.
Once up to the top of Rhodos, I recommend skiing around the Altiport region of Meribel. Take the Altiport run to the left, and follow it down on the Inuits or Blanchot. Then take the Altiport chair lift back up and head back down. This route will keep you busy in the afternoon after ski school and that well-deserved lunch. As the day progresses, either take the Foret pull rope close to the Altiport chair or ski the Rhodos piste to The Rond Point for a well-earned beverage and apres session before calling for a lift back to the chalet.
Experiencing the other valleys is something I really recommend for beginners, even just to see what else is out there. Courchevel is a great choice for day 3. Either at 9 am or following on from your ski lesson, take Saulire 1 and 2 to the top. Here is a great photo spot and 360-degree views. Do not be tempted to chase all the other skiers off into the distance. It is best for beginners to head down on the large Saulire express gondola down into Courchevel 1850.
Fear not, you have not just arrived on a catwalk in Russia: in Courchevel, people really do ski in those fur outfits! Head out of the gondola and follow the nice cruising Verdons piste into the centre of Courchevel. Head back up the Verdons lift, and take a left, this time skiing down Renards. You're likely to be tired at this point and thirsty after all your hard work, but be careful restaurants in Courchevel love nothing more than the world's most expensive coffee. Albeit a little pricey, Chalet du Pierres on the Verdons piste is a great place to people watch and relax in the sunshine behind their outdoor ice rink.
Returning to Meribel take the Verdons gondola out of Courchevel 1850, followed by the large gondola you took earlier on bringing you to the top. Meribel will be basked in the sunshine at this point so head down Saulire to mid-station and ski the Rhodos run back to The Rond Point and catch a lift.
I would suggest a rest in the afternoon following ski school, and head out and explore the town. There are some great shops and bars to explore in the quiet afternoon. Take your lift pass and either catch the free bus to The Rond Point to meet friends or even catch Saulire to the top as a foot passenger for that Memorable Family Snap.
By now I hope you've chosen some great lunch places or heard the noise that comes from the Folie Douce on route home. Take Saulire lift to Mid–station, follow the Altiport run across the Loze chairlift. Be sure to take PHOTOS, your friend WILL want to see them. Take Col de la Loze across to join Loze-est and Lac Bleu into Courchevel 1850. Take the Chenus gondola and follow the same runs back into 1850. Skiing underneath the lift station here, take a left onto the Plantrey green run, taking you to the Plantrey chair. Take Arolles to Dou Des Lanches. Taking the *Bd de la Loze . Join the same Green runs back to the Rond Point for Apres.
* Be careful, this can be closed so take a look when you come up that day, and follow the same route home as day 3.
Today means one thing: it's your LAST DAY! If you're feeling confident and have taken advice from your instructor, I would recommend heading to Courchevel 1650. At 9 am, take Saulire 1 and 2 to the top and follow the run across to the top of Pas du Lac 2 lift station. Here, there is a sweeping blue easy way round to the right where you will find yourself at the top of Creux.
You really want to be one of the first on this run. Following it down past both the Marmottes and Chanrossa lift, you will dip into the shade but find yourself at the bottom of Roc Mugnier. Follow Lac Ariondaz across to Bel Air and enjoy a well-earned coffee. Take Grange and Belvedere into 1650. Time permitting, take the Ariondaz lift and ski Marquis. Grab lunch here in a little secret Tapas bar called Copina, just on the road behind Fire & Ice.
The final return, take Ariondaz followed by Petite bosses to Aiguille Du Fruit. Taking Altiport, ski back into Courchevel 1850. Ski through Courchevel to Plantery lift followed by Arolles to Dou Les Lanches. Here again, take Bd de la Loze across to mid-station Saulire stopping just below at the Folie Douce, just in time for their last show. Finally, take Rhodos to The Rond Point and finish your day... and week. I can recommend Rosē.