The resort of Meribel is situated in the French Alps, right at the heart of the Three Valleys, which is the largest ski area in the world, boasting over 200 lifts and 600 kilometres of incredible skiing and snowboarding. Meribel encompasses three villages called Meribel Centre, Meribel-Mottaret, and Meribel Village. These villages are located within the Vanoise National Park.
It is the ideal resort for those wishing to explore the vast Three Valleys area, with the neighbouring resorts of Courchevel, La Tania, Val Thorens, and Les Menuires all easily accessible. The resort hosted the Ice Hockey and Women’s Downhill events at the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville.
Meribel’s potential as a resort was originally spotted by British Colonel, Peter Lindsay, in 1938, and the resort has maintained its traditional chalet-style architecture to this day. It has grown rapidly, spreading across the mountainside and has become hugely popular with British visitors in recent years, with many owning chalets in this decidedly upscale “English” resort. Despite this growth, it has retained an atmosphere reminiscent of the traditional skiing village.
For other useful information on skiing and snowboarding in Meribel, written by Meribel season workers, take a look at Meribel-Unplugged.
How to get there
Cheap flights to Meribel are available via Chambery with Snowjet. These flights are available from Manchester, Gatwick, Stansted, and Bristol. Cheap flights are also available to Chambery, Grenoble, Geneva, and Lyon. Wegolo can book flights with Easyjet, Jet 2, Ryan Air, Flybe, BMI, Thomsonfly, and several other cheap flight specialists.
You will then need to find appropriate public transport or you could hire a car. The airport at Chambery is only an hour and a half away by car from Meribel. Geneva and Lyon transfer times will take closer to three hours. Try Car Hire 3000 if you do want to hire a car.
The Eurostar snow train is a good way to get to Meribel by rail. It departs from St Pancras station in London and arrives at Moutiers rail station. Moutiers is twenty minutes away from Meribel Centre and a local bus runs regularly between the two locations. It costs around 12 euros per person. Eurostar offers snow trains with Friday afternoon departures from St Pancras to Moutiers and Friday evening departures from Dover.
Meribel is less than 600 miles away from Calais. The journey will take about ten hours and the total toll cost will be about 60 euros each way. If you have a large party with lots of luggage, driving can be a more convenient and economic way of getting to your Meribel accommodation choice.
Who the resort caters for
From the gentle tree-lined slopes around the Altiport, to the steeper runs up on the Saulire, Meribel caters for skiers of all ages and abilities. Beginners should practice on the protected green runs around the Altiport area. The blue and red runs situated at the Saulire region allow mixed-ability groups to ski together.
When the snow is good, there are some excellent off-piste runs available. However, more advanced, experienced skiers may want to try the slopes located in Courchevel and Val Thorens. Meribel offers numerous English-speaking ski schools which can help absolute beginners or simply improve the skills of intermediate skiers.
If you become tired of travelling on skis, there are plenty of other activities to undertake, including glacier walking, husky sledging, ice skating, indoor climbing, snowmobiling, tobogganing, and tourist flights over Mont Blanc. Kid’s activities include bowling, snowbiking, and dog sledding. The resort also has a nice swimming pool.
Meribel is a posh resort which is not cheap but its popularity with British people is increasing. The nightlife has become almost as famous as the skiing, with a wide range of restaurants, bars, and cafes catering for all tastes and budgets.
When the lifts close for the day, you can spend your evenings relaxing in one of the many terraces or checking out the nightlife in one of Meribel’s nightclubs. Dick’s Tea Bar, Doron Pub, Le Rastro, and Bar 50/50 are all popular stops on a night out in Meribel. For those after a calmer experience, Meribel also offers a relaxation area and spa in the Sports Complex and the Olympic Centre. Many of the hotels will also offer spas and treatments.
What accommodation the resort offers
Meribel has three distinct types of accommodation: hotels, chalets, and self-catering apartments. With over 100 catered chalets on offer in Meribel, the resort offers the classic chalet skiing holiday. The resort offers a wide range of fully self-catered chalets of all types and sizes. Have a look at Ski Chalets Meribel for advice about Meribel’s catered chalets.
The village of Mottaret, which is located at a slightly higher altitude than Meribel Centre, offers a wide range of ski-in ski-out accommodation. In Raffort there is a small camping centre, two miles away from Meribel Town.
There are 23 hotels in Meribel town centre and a further 4 located in Meribel Mottaret. All of these hotels are listed on the Meribel tourist office website. The main ski area has a host of apartments from simple two-person studios to luxury apartments suitable for up to ten people.
However, you should be aware that because the resort is spread out, much of the accommodation Meribel offers is located far from the slopes. As the resort is located at quite a low altitude, it is not always possible to ski to the main village.
The Three Valleys is one of the most extensive ski areas in the world. It is ten times bigger than Vail, the largest area in the USA. Meribel, right in the heart of this area, allows visitors to access the wider Three Valley system, with opportunities available to visit resorts including Courchevel and Val Thorens.
The lift system linking Meribel to the Courchevel Valley in one direction and Val Thorens in the other, is highly efficient and reliable. Altogether, there are 2500 hectares of groomed pistes, 293 marked runs, and 130 kilometres of cross-country tracks.
The whole area is excellent for off-piste skiing, and it takes only 20 minutes to reach Courchevel and 45 minutes to reach Val Thorens. There are two snow parks in the Meribel Valley. One is located in Meribel (the Moon Park) and the other is located in Meribel Mottaret. Excellent ski areas with some of the best runs in the valley can be found in the Meribel Mottaret Mont Vallon ski area, which is reached by Plattieres gondola.
Black Runs: 10
Red Runs: 21
Blue Runs: 32
Green Runs: 11
Pistes: 150 km
Cross Country: 33km
Ski Lifts: 61
Max Vertical: 1850m
Highest Lift: 2950m
Lowest Piste: 1100m
Resort Altitude: 1450m