Resort Spotlight: Méribel
There are infinite reasons Méribel is the first choice for those looking to fulfill their dream of owning a ski home in the French Alps such as the traditional alpine architecture, world famous après bars and skiing for all abilities.
The main attraction for mountain enthusiasts is its central location in France's largest ski area, Les Trois Vallées. Nestled in between the resorts of Courchevel, La Tania and Val Thorens, Les Trois Vallées boasts over 600km of pistes as well as high quality off-piste terrain. With a staggering 40,000 hectares (98,800 acres) of mountain to play on, the possibilities are almost limitless. What’s more, every corner of this vast area can be easily accessed from Méribel. It isn't just the quantity of skiing that’s impressive. Some of the descents – both on-piste, and off – are world-class too. Over in Courchevel, Combe Saulire might just be the best red-rated piste in the Alps, and there’s a whole mountainside of exceptional pistes above Les Menuires, too. Meanwhile, the lift-accessed couloirs off the top of the Saulire, between Méribel and Courchevel, are both spectacular and steep.
Skiing in Méribel
Méribel has around 150km of pistes, the majority blue, about 25% red and 10% black. Its sheltered setting means its good selection of blues and reds leading into resort are protected by the steep-sided mountains and enjoy more settled weather conditions than in the adjacent broader valleys.
For beginners, the gentle green slopes at Altiport, reached by the Morel chair, and the nursery slopes at the Rond Point make a good starting point. Intermediates can enjoy some of the area’s best pistes south of Mottaret, at the head of the valley, accessed by the Plattieres gondola. For the more experienced, the red Combe Vallon piste from the top of the Mont du Vallon gondola at 2,952m is a good option, or the Face run (created for the downhill races in the 1992 Olympics) from the top of the Roc de Fer at 2,290m
World Famous Bars
Méribel is notorious for its après-ski. La Folie Douce at the mid-station of La Saulire is a world famous après bar packed with skiers and boarders going crazy on table tops to loud pop music from 3pm-5pm every day. If you don't feel like stopping, The Rond Point (or the 'Ronny' as the locals affectionately call it) has live bands from 5pm-7pm to make sure the party keeps going.
If the lively après scene isn't your style, there are plenty of different bars and clubs to suit all tastes. Jacks Bar, at the bottom of the piste, offers live music and comedy nights. La Taverne, open until 2am, is great for partying into the night. Le Pub is also popular, with live music 7 days a week and large flatscreens for the major sporting events. For something a bit more up market, there’s La Poste (de secours), one of Méribel's coolest bars. Prices are high, but its beautiful surroundings and cosmopolitan feel makes it well worth a visit. Finally, there's Barometer. Perfect for those who just want to have a few drinks, play some pool and soak up the atmosphere.
When it comes to food, Méribel is renowned for its extensive choice of restaurants serving everything from international favourites to high-end gourmet cuisine and local dishes – notable eateries worth investigating are La Fruitière, Le Zinc and Le Coeur de Cristal, amongst others. You can choose between central destinations and exclusive, remote setups further up the mountains with stunning views. Nearly all restaurants pride themselves on providing excellent food made from local produce.
Méribel caters well for the alpine shopper. In among the usual scattering of technical ski and board shops of a resort town, designer brands such as Fendi, Prada and D&G can be found.
The best bakery is Glaciers on Route de la Montée in the resort centre, while the Maison de la Presse on the same street sells English newspapers. For local Savoyard cheeses, head for La Fromagerie at Galerie des Cimes. Twice weekly (Tuesdays and Fridays), there’s a small market on the Route de la Chaudanne.
How to get there
Méribel is easily accessed from the airports of: Chambery 95km – 1.5 hours, Geneva 130km - 2 hours, Grenoble 170km – 2.5 hours, Lyon 185km - 3 hours. Geneva and Lyon are the nearest two major airports to the resort with more frequent flights. There are also regular shuttle transfers, bookable through companies such as Ski Lifts between the airports and the ski resort. The Eurostar Ski Train also pulls into the station at Moutiers, from where it’s an easy connection up to Méribel.
A popular market with the British, property in Méribel ranges from ski-in, ski-out apartments to luxury chalets. The well-known developer Pierre et Vacances Centre Parcs has just launched an exciting new development of luxury ski apartments, the Residence l’Hevana, within walking distance of the Chaudanne and the ski resort centre. Choose between a one bedroom apartment to a 3 bedroom “exclusive” apartment with fireplace and sauna.
Click on the following links for further information on purchasing a ski property in France.
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