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Meribel is an attractive chalet-style purpose-built ski resort situated right at the heart of the world’s largest ski area.
Meribel is the middle resort of the major three resorts (Meribel, Courchevel and Val Thorens) that make up the massive Trois Vallées ski area. The combination of great skiing, a top location and the pretty chalet village makes Meribel one of the most popular destinations for British holiday-makers.
The best thing about Meribel is its location. Right in the middle of the Three Valleys, which has a massive 600km of skiable terrain, it is arguably the best place to stay if you want to experience the whole area effortlessly. The local skiing in Meribel is varied with some long cruisy blues, as well as some more challenging slopes, such as the Mont Vallon runs and some good off-piste when there is enough snow.
The ski lifts in the Three Valleys are all very fast and efficient, such as the Saulire Express Gondola, which takes people from the bottom of Meribel to the Saulire Peak (2700m) and the slopes of Courchevel in just 12 minutes. Getting to Val Thoren takes a bit longer, but is still relatively easy to do. As the region is so popular, big queues can often form at the resort-connecting lifts, especially at the beginning and ending of the ski day and at peak times in the season such as half-term.
Depending on how you classify things, it comprises five different settlements. The first and lowest is Brides-les-Bains which lies at an altitude of just 650m. It is linked to Meribel by a three-stage telecabine but the days when you can return to Brides-les-Bains on skis are very limited.
Next comes Les Allues, a sleepy old Savoyarde village with one modest hotel and a handful of privately run catered chalets. A little further up the hill lies Meribel-Village (1,340m), which has grown in size thanks to the ‘Les Fermes de Meribel-Village’ development of chalet-style apartment blocks. Nowadays Meribel-Village easily links into the main Meribel ski area via a four-seater chairlift.
The principal Meribel settlement is simply called Meribel and sprawls up a west-facing hillside from 1,400m to 1,750m. This is the place that most people think of when they talk about Meribel ski holidays and it is arguably the prettiest post-war purpose-built resort in Europe, largely thanks to its Scottish founder, Colonel Peter Lindsay. While other new French resorts were being built in rather unattractive raw concrete, Meribel began as a collection of wooden chalets and the new properties are still built in this style today.
Lastly there is Meribel-Motterat which is higher up the valley and has more ski in/ski out access to the slopes and is particularly good for beginners.
Much of the accommodation in Meribel is not ski in/ski out so you have to use the free public bus or often with catered chalets there is a driver service to take you to and from the Chaudanne (where the main lifts are).
If you want to explore the town it is easily accessed by walking or by bus once skis and boots have been removed. Meribel has a very lively nightlife, multiple clubs and bars stay open late and if you are in the main Meribel resort it is not far to walk in. If you are a bit further out you might prefer a more relaxing night in, making your own entertainment in your chalet.