Welcome to our guide to cross-country skiing in Meribel and the 3 valleys! There are two main areas for cross-country skiing in the Meribel Valley - Meribel Mottaret and Meribel Altiport (more about those below). The lessons use both of these areas, so if you're booking through a ski school, do remember to check with your instructor about which one you should meet them at.
Cross-country Skiing is often called "Nordic Skiing", and in French, it's "Ski De Fond". It holds just a fraction of the popularity of its downhill cousin — favoured more by mountain locals than by tourists. That said, cross-country skiing does offer some benefits that downhill cannot. If you've not tried it before, it's an experience similar to going for a good hike. Not exactly the white-knuckle ride that downhill can be, it's more about getting out into the great outdoors, taking it all in and exploring the places that would, otherwise, be out of reach.
With downhill skiing, there's always a constant buzz of activity; people, queues, lifts, kids — and that's even before you see any real powder. That suits some people, but it's certainly not for everyone. For those looking for a more relaxing, almost meditative, way of getting across the snow, cross-country could be just the ticket. Most cross-country tracks are also traversable by foot, so if you prefer, you can just pop on your hiking boots or snowshoes — instead of your skis.
Preparation is key when it comes to cross-country skiing. Once you're out in the wilderness, you'll be glad that you've at least ticked off some essentials. Here's a few items to take into consideration before setting off.
Various ski hire shops in Meribel rent cross-country skis. If you'd like us to arrange any for you, please just let us know. Should you wish to test the waters first, you can rent them by the day. More about Ski Hire Meribel...
For cross-country skiing you usually won't use a lift pass, your legs are the propulsion you need! That said, you may wish to get a pedestrian lift pass if you're looking to cross-country ski to the Courchevel Valley, and then take the ski lifts back. More about lift passes here.
ESF Meribel offers cross-country skiing lessons. They can be quiet, so much so that booking a group lesson can sometimes become your own private tutorial! Remember to check the meeting point with your instructor. They use both of the areas (Meribel Altiport and Meribel Mottaret) for their lessons. Click here for the ESF cross-country skiing page.
It can also be worth getting at least one traditional ski lesson. Cross-country skiing may look like a gentle and easy sport, but going around corners, and slowing down on downhill sections, can be surprisingly difficult!
Meribel Mottaret offers the smaller of the two cross-country skiing areas in the Meribel Valley. The main section here is based on the frozen lake "Lac de Tueda". The lake is completely flat, so it's the ideal place for beginners to find their feet. There is a lovely mountain restaurant on the edge of the lake, great for a hot chocolate break halfway through.
Here, you will find a beginner green route as well as a longer intermediate blue route that ventures off a little further afield.
The scenery is just stunning. On a blue sky morning, the frozen lake and towering mountains provide one of the most magical backdrops in the 3 valleys.
If you've made your way on foot, the mountain restaurant is about a 20-minute walk from Meribel Mottaret. Remember not to tread on the grooves made for the cross-country skiers, or you'll get some disapproving looks as they pass by!
There are plenty of mountain restaurants in Meribel Mottaret itself. The mountain restaurant, on the edge of the lake, is the only one out on the trails.
You can take the free bus from Meribel centre up to Meribel Mottaret. It runs every 10 to 15 minutes during the day, you can find the full details here about getting around Meribel, or just ask us of course!
The cross-country skiing tracks start at the edge of Meribel Mottaret village, on the valley side. The bus will take you through the village and drop you on the uphill side of the village (about 100m from the start of the tracks).
Meribel Altiport is the larger of the 2 cross-country skiing areas. You can connect via La Tania up through Courchevel Valley, and all the way to Courchevel 1850.
Here, you will find a beginner green route, running all the way down the side of the airport runway itself. Watching the small planes land is quite a spectacular sight.
There is a long, blue (intermediate) trail that takes you further into the forest. Meribel Altiport is also the hub for the red trails (advanced). There are a few loops around the area, and it's a red advanced trail that links through to La Tania, up the Courchevel Valley and on to Courchevel 1850. It's a long route to get to Courchevel 1850. If you fancy doing this route just one way, then you can take a ski lift from Courchevel 1850, up to the ridgeline dividing Meribel and Courchevel, then jump on another lift and down into Meribel Centre, which is quite a spectacular journey in itself.
If you've come without skis, you can go hiking along the trails. They are regularly groomed and wide enough, so you won't be getting in the way of any cross-country skiers. Normally, just a decent set of hiking boots will do the trick, though you can hire snowshoes from several of the ski hire shops in Meribel Centre. Handy, if you're taking on some steeper sections, or if there's ice or fresh snowfall.
Remember not to tread on the grooves left for the cross-country skiers, or you'll get some disapproving looks as they pass by!
Click on the map below for the cross-country skiing piste map for the Meribel Valley and Courchevel Valley.Cross-country Skiing Piste Map PDF
Here's a short video on Cross-country Skiing in Meribel, to whet your appetite!