Meribel Ski Resort Guide
Originally founded by British skier Colonel Peter Lindsay in 1938, Meribel has grown into one of the biggest and best ski resorts in the Alps. Situated at 1,450m within the scenic French valley of Les Allues and at the heart of the huge Three Valleys ski area, Meribel is rightly one of the most popular ski resorts in the world.
Although technically a purpose-built ski resort, Meribel avoided the lure of building high-rise apartment blocks which have seen resorts such as Tignes or Val Thorens labelled as ugly ducklings. In fact, the town doesn’t allow any high-rise developments at all. Instead it insists on chalet-style buildings meaning Meribel has retained all the charm of a traditional mountain village despite its rapid growth.
Wood and stone chalets nestle in forest surroundings and create as picturesque a ski resort as you can hope to find in France. Don’t mistake Meribel for a sleepy village though – this British-centric resort parties hard too.
Rather than developing skyward, Meribel has instead spread outwards and now encompasses multiple different areas that can be accessed by shuttle bus and ski lift. Meribel Centre is the largest of these areas and is home to the greatest concentration of shops, bars & restaurants. Meribel-Mottaret commands a position at the top of the valley and accommodation here provides the quickest access to the higher, more challenging pistes. Meribel Village has a quieter atmosphere than its neighbours, but still has access to the huge Three Valleys ski area.
Further down the valley are the satellite villages of Brides-Les-Bains and Les Allues. Although these have access to the same ski areas as Meribel and are connected by local transport, they tend to be thought of as resorts in their own right rather than areas of the larger Meribel.
Skiing in Meribel
Meribel itself has enough local pistes to keep varying ability skiers happy for a week-long holiday. There are approximately 150km of pisted runs accessed by 45 ski lifts which give access to slopes between 1100m and 2952m in altitude. This means that most of the local pistes are above the Meribel tree line, but there are also lower runs which provide shelter on bad weather days. This ski area is particularly good for beginners but there are also plenty of long red and blue runs plus good off-piste offerings.
However, Meribel has the added benefit of being situated in the very heart of the massive Three Valleys ski area.
Combining ski areas with eight local resorts – Courchevel, La Tania, Brides-Les Bains, Les Menuires, Val Thorens, St Martin de Belleville & Orelle – Meribel has unrestricted access to the largest ski area in the world. There is something for everyone in the Three Valleys, with sheltered slow areas for beginners as well as 32 black runs for expert skiers and snowboarders. Add to this the amazing freeride opportunities, tree-lined pistes, snow parks and glaciers and you have easy access to everything you could possibly need for an amazing ski holiday.