Understanding Meribel and the 3 Valleys
The 3 Valleys
Meribel and the 3 Valleys is a truly wonderful ski area: one of the best and most popular in the world. Here is our quick guide to the layout and what's what for your first time Skiing the 3 Valleys.
The 3 Valleys is the name for the overall ski area, and Meribel is one resort within that area. The 3 Valleys (Les Trois Vallees) has 600kms of marked pistes, one of the largest ski areas in the world. The lift infrastructure is one of the best; 180 lifts including some of the most modern and fast lift systems found anywhere. The off-piste here too is world-famous with large and varied terrain and many guiding companies are based here.
Geography of The Meribel Valley
If you are new to the ski area of Meribel then here is a little background to help you get your bearings.
We are located in Meribel. Being the central valley this is the ideal base from which to explore this great ski area. The skiing within this valley ranges from 1100m right up to 2950m, giving you almost two vertical kilometers in the one valley. There are four different "Meribel" Resorts. This is very common through the French Alps, where you've a group of villages all close to each other that trade under the same main name, sometimes the only differentiation being an indicator of their altitude. The ski resort of Meribel is a, relatively, straight forward one to navigate.
Meribel at Sunrise
Like most places that you might venture to, especially for the first time, it's always handy to have a certain number of locations and points of interest marked out on a map or at least in your head. The Meribel Valley can be divided into 4 main villages. These are, going in order of lowest altitude to highest and from North to South:
Les Allues (1100m)
Les Allues is the village at the base of the Meribel Valley. It is the most traditionally French of the villages in Meribel and there are still properties in the area that predate the valley becoming a ski resort in the 1930's. Meribel Lift Passes Skiing in Les Allues is normally restricted to the very peak of the winter season as towards the start and end the altitude is too low to sustain enough snow. There are two ski runs into Les Allues, though often later in the season lots of people would take the bubble lift back down.
Meribel Village (1400m)
Meribel Village is a quaint village just to the North of Meribel Centre. It has very few facilities but during the peak ski season the Apres Ski can get lively at the local bar Lodge du Village. As Meribel Village is 300m higher than Les Allues the snow will keep for longer and for most of the ski season Meribel Village is Ski-in Ski-out.
Meribel Centre (1500m)
Meribel Centre is the most lively area of the Meribel Valley. This is in part due to the fact that the altitude is ideal for skiing and normally will have decent ski conditions throughout the ski season. Another reason for Meribel Centre's popularity is La Chaudanne, the area where the foot of the pistes meet. Meribel Centre has a great cluster of facilities including banks, Post Offices, a Tourist Office etc. Meribel Centre is where we are based, is the original Meribel Ski Resort. It's mostly a chalet and small hotel based resort.
Meribel Mottaret (1750m)
Meribel Mottaret the furthest South and highest of the main villages of Meribel. The nightlife and apres ski here is very quiet and it mainly consists of French Hotels and self catered apartments. It is the most budget friendly of the Meribel villages in terms of accommodation. Getting to Meribel Centre from Meribel Mottaret is just a short bus drive away.
Geography the 3 Valleys
There are 8 main resorts spread across 3 Valleys:
The Courchevel Valley. The Names Of The Courchevel Resorts Are As Follows: Courchevel Le Praz 1300, Courchevel Village 1550, Courchevel Moriond 1650, Courchevel 1850 & La Tania.
The Meribel Valley is the central Valley, containing the Meribel Resorts (Meribel Mottaret 1750, Meribel 1450, Meribel Village 1400 and Meribel Les Allues 1100) and you also have Brides-Les-Bains right at the bottom of the valley at 600m (there's no skiing down there, but there is a bubble lift to bring you up to the ski area).
The Belleville Valley contains Val Thorens (the highest resort in Europe at 2300m), Les Menuires 1850 and St. Martin de Belleville 1400.
There is just a touch of a 4th Valley! You can ski over from Val Thorens into a section of a 4th Valley which has Orelle at its base.
The 3 Valleys
One of the largest ski areas in the world with one of the most advanced lift networks.
- 180 lifts
- 600 kms of marked pistes
- Skiing from 1100m to 3200m
The Meribel Valley
The Central Valley, Meribel is a sizeable ski area in its own right.
- 61 lifts
- 150 kms of marked pistes
- Skiing from 1100m to 2950m