Meribel is in the middle of the Three Valleys ski area which makes it the ideal base for exploring the whole area. If you are facing up the mountain, on your left hand side there is access to Courchevel and La Tania and to your right you have Val Thorens, Les Menuires and St Martin de Belleville.
Meribel has in the region of 45 ski lifts giving access to ski terrain ranging from 1100m to 2952m in altitude and ~150km of pistes. The pistes are made up of 8 green, 25 blue, 24 red and 7 black runs (see the piste maps).
This ski area is varied with plenty to keep all levels of skier and snowboarder occupied. TOP TIP: ski in the sun on the Tougnète side in the morning and cross over to the Saulire in the afternoon.
Beginner areas in Meribel
Meribel is a great place to learn how to ski or to improve from beginner to intermediate. With a variety of nursery slopes and green runs you will find Meribel a comfortable and easy-going resort to learn to ski or snowboard.
Beginner / nursery ski areas
Meribel has two designated beginner ski areas with 8 free lifts which allow you to learn and progress in a comfortable beginner environment. These are located in the centre of Meribel Mottaret and at the Altiport area of Meribel. In addition, several of Meribel's ski schools have their own private beginner lifts and easy mini-slopes. There are also special beginner lift passes, called "mini-pass", giving access to the chairlifts and slopes suitable for those just starting off.
Once you have mastered the nursery slopes and want to venture on to something a bit more challenging, there are two fantastic areas just for you. Above Méribel, the green Blanchot run now starts higher up at the top of Saulire Express 1 gondola lift and leads back to the Altiport area, or you can continue along Foret back into Méribel resort. This route is marketed as the Ski Cool route.
Mottaret spent millions to redesign its beginner area for 2016. There is now a special beginner-only area, with its own magic carpet and draglift, located at the top of the resort, and the new Combes chairlift serves a brand-new green beginner run, Little Himalaya. In addition, Mottaret offers beginners two “Zen zones”, easy slopes dedicated to learners where you can practice your turns in peace and quiet.
Beginner snow parks
For children, there are plenty of beginner friendly areas for them to have some fun on and learn some new skiing techniques. Smallest of all is a mini-boardercross with banked turns called P’tit Moon at the Rond Point, for 7-12-year-olds. To get there, take the Rhodos 1 gondola then Cotes draglift. This is very quiet and safe for kids. The Chemin des Ecoliers is a longer and steeper boardercross for families near the DC Area 43 snowpark above Mottaret. This is more popular with adults, so be prepared to be overtaken by slightly out-of-control grown-ups. The main Méribel Moon Park has a brilliant series of whoops suitable for children located by the entrance. Look for this by the start of the Grive blue run. If you enter your mobile number at the console at the start you will be filmed going down the whoops. Children will love the Moon Wild, a themed piste with life-sized animal models hidden in the woods and a quiz about the forest animals. This starts on the right-hand side, near the bottom of the Blanchot piste.
If you want to challenge yourself there are 28 blue runs in Meribel, some of which are harder than others so it is best to do these with more experienced skiers or with someone who knows their way around the pistes, but again they provide a great challenge for a beginner.
Advanced areas in Meribel
There are several black runs in Meribel that will offer a challenge for the advanced skier. Heading up the Roc de Fer chairlift and then the Olympic chairlift will take you to the Face which was the Olympic downhill run for Women in 1992. It can be in great condition and is best to head to in the mid-morning when the snow is slightly softer but still firm.
If you take the Loze chairlift up the mountain you can tackle the Tetras run back down. This tends to be a challenge as it is often extremely mogul-filled so be ready to work those legs. You can also take the Pas du Lac up from Meribel Mottaret and then take the slightly less challenging (but still advanced) Sanglier or Grande Rosiere pistes back to resort. Both the red runs at the top of the Mont Vallon lift are long, steep and often full of moguls. These lengthy uninterrupted pistes tend to be a good place for practicing your technique as they are generally quieter as it is not linked to other parts for the Three Valleys.
Look out for 'Bumps' run next to Martre piste ending at the plateau in the centre of Mottaret. This allows the advanced skiers out there to show off their bump skills to people on the Plattieres lift.
Finally, the steep couloir under the Saulire Express lift has been turned into a black run and named Couloir Tournier. The start of this narrow run is steep - 37 degrees - and a video camera has been installed here so you can keep a record of your exploits.
Snowparks in Meribel
Meribel has two snowparks, the long-running favourite Elements Park and the Plattières Park. The Elements park used to be called the Moon Park and is now dedicated to freestylers of every level. Even novices will enjoy the boardercross, can whoop it up on the whoops, enjoy the Fun Cross and try their first tricks on the soft impact boxes, rails and jibs. The park is easy to get to and open to skiers and snowboarders of all levels. It is ideal for beginner to intermediate freestylers and is serviced by its own drag lift; Arpasson. With the usual collection of kickers and rails and its great location on the east-facing slopes above Meribel it makes for an ideal afternoon destination.
The Plattieres Park is currently managed by DC Snowboarding (hence its name, DC Area 43). The park is new and extremely well looked after. It is 1200m long with 2 lifts allowing you to get access to the park and there are two half-pipes, one for intermediates and the other for experts only. The competition standard pipe is used for top-level freestyle events which are well worth watching. The video system within the park, like the Elements Park, means you can film and photograph yourself on the modules. Other improvements to this snowpark include free WiFi, a fun boardercross piste and entertainment every Tuesday and regular “DC parties” with contests.
Best pistes in Meribel
Meribel has a lot of good pistes for beginner skiers with lots of cruisy blue runs to choose from. There are also a couple of reds and blacks that you might want to try out, including one of the longest pistes in the whole valley.
Best pistes for beginners
For beginner skiers, the Blanchot run is ideal. Starting from the Saulire Express 1 lift this easy green winds down towards the Altiport area and is the perfect piste for beginners and children to practice on. Head to the Tougnète/Roc de Fer area to enjoy the loveliest rolling blues in the valley, which are enjoyable for skiers of all abilities. Start with Faon, a swooping, winding blue. Next take the Tougnète 2 lift and head down Crêtes, which is sited on a ridge with spectacular views in every direction. Continue down Choucas, a north-facing blue run which is a favourite with ski schools thanks to its excellent snow. Continue part of the way down Gelinotte then take the Olympic chair and enjoy the competition piste, the Roc de Fer blue run. On the other side of the valley, don’t miss the lovely Lapin run which descends from Altiport to Méribel Village. This is another tree-lined run, ideal in flat light or bad weather.
Best pistes for intermediate skiers
The red Combe Vallon is one of the longest runs in the valley, starting at Méribel’s highest skiing point, the Mont Vallon (2952m). Mainly north facing, it keeps excellent snow on it all season. Starting out steep and narrow, it twists and turns, widens, and then just keeps on going for a total 1000m drop. Unless you’re very fit you’ll need to stop for several breathers (pretend you’re admiring the view).
Pic Bleu is quiet with gorgeous, tree-lined views. Now it’s now been remodelled it keeps better snow on it too. Nominated by Sue Gatenby, AMS Rentals.
Best pistes for expert skiers
The black run, Face was created for the 1992 Olympic Ladies’ downhill. It’s very steep and sometimes moguled, and it’s difficult to believe that humans could straight-line it without dying in the process. (Please don’t try.) The Couloir Tournier is the newest run in the valley, starting from the summit of Saulire Express gondola, this is the steepest run in the valley, with a scary 37-degree slope at the top. Narrow and with no escape routes, this couloir is only for experts.
Once every few winters there is enough snow to ski all the way down to Brides les Bains. The lower part of the descent is an un-patrolled itinerary, so go with a guide. Start at the top of the Saulire (2738m) and end up at 600m after a long run through forests, terraced fields and orchards. Have a big lunch in Brides, and then take the Olympe gondola back up.
Off-piste areas in Meribel
For some great off-piste skiing head from Loze Express to Dent du Burgin. Take the Loze Express chairlift up and ski along Boulevard de la Loze track that leads over to the Dent du Burgin chair (under no circumstances should you take this if it is closed for avalanche danger). When you are about halfway along the track, drop off to the right for large, swooping open plains of fresh tracks and powder. Also underneath the Loze Express chairlift there is a very popular off-piste run that gets tracked out very quickly. Great fun if you are one of the first to ride it, so make sure on a fresh powder day you head up there on the first lift. Try cutting off to the right and riding in between the trees, and it's even possible to enjoy powder in between the trees all the way down to Meribel Village on a good snow day!
The area around the Cote Brune chairlift is a beautiful area to ski in fresh powder. It pays to be imaginative and put in a bit of hard work around here. A short hike can take you to some incredible descents and some amazing fresh tracks. Make sure you stop at the Ski Patrollers’ hut at the top of the lift to check with them which routes are safe – they are the experts and they are always happy to advise.
Another great off-piste route is from Olympic to Raffort Village. To do this cut immediately right as soon as you come off of the Olympic Express chairlift. Hike along the ridge (this will be hell for snowboarders - sorry) until you are satisfied that the slopes down to the right are suitably untouched. For the more daring, the further along you hike, the bigger the initial drop to get onto the slope is. Careful not to ski into the stream at the bottom - once you reach the stream, find a crossing point and enjoy the winding Villages piste all the way down to Les Allues.
Take the Roc de Tougne (it's Meribel's toughest drag lift, especially on a powder day) and it will immediately become apparent where you should be skiing. Long off-piste runs stretch out on either side of the drag track and a bit of a traverse at the top will be sure you find you some untouched fluff!
Ski itineraries in Meribel
It’s easy to become bewildered by the choice of 330 pistes that are available in the 3 Valleys, so we (and our intrepid snow reporters) have compiled a handful of routes that we hope will help you discover new terrain in this enormous ski area. Follow these routes to discover the best pistes, best snow, great views, where to eat and where to go on those bad weather days.
Bad Weather areas in Meribel
There are several areas in Meribel where you can ski on a bad weather day below the tree line where visibility will be better. However, these may be slightly busier due to the number of people choosing this option. The tree-lined runs around the Altiport and above Meribel Village are ideal as the trees provide the contrast required for orientation during whiteout conditions, whereas on high open pistes, white slopes and sky can blur into one. Another area you can head to for better visibility is the skiing area near the Combes chairlift in Mottaret where there are natural obstacles which make skiing easier during a whiteout.
In bad weather, the two red runs below the main resort, Raffort and Villages, are worth searching out. Raffort descents through the trees to the village of the same name and Villages is a very long, mainly flattish run past traditional hamlets to Les Allues. Rejoin the main ski area by taking the Olympe gondola or the free buses to Méribel centre.
Bear in mind, the valley floors can sometimes be covered in fog but the summits are bathed in glorious sunshine. Therefore, it is always a good idea to check out the webcams before you set off for the day.