The Three Valleys’ ugliest resort looks a lot better now, thanks to some facelifts and tasteful extensions. And it’s still a good value, convenient base for exploring the world’s largest lift-linked ski area, plus it has La Masse on its doorstep.
People skiing into Les Menuires from Meribel are sometimes not impressed. They approach it on slopes that mostly face South West and receive too much sun. And below them is a resort centre that was designed in 1964 at the height of the French Alpine movement’s most hideous crimes against architecture. So many of them turn back, or head left for the higher crispier snow at Val Thorens, or right towards the more quaint and cozy St Martin de Belleville.
More fool them. Les Menuires may not be as fashionable as some of the other resorts in the 3 Valleys but that’s why everything from accommodation to ski school lessons tends to be cheaper here. The skiers from Meribel who turn away also can’t crowd onto La Masse which is on the far side of Les Menuires, and is almost a private haven for its more confident skiers who can enjoy the high North East facing red and black runs and plentiful off-piste in relative peace. And even those maligned South West facing pistes on the 3 Valleys side of the resort have their uses. After all, everyone prefers skiing in sunshine and their sheer height (1850m – 2850m), plus a battery of snow-guns, ensure they remain skiable late into the season.
Les Menuires is relatively easy to get to and makes a good base for exploring the rest of the 3 Vallees. It’s in the middle of the Belleville valley, which has half of all the skiing, and both St Martin de Belleville and Val Thorens are within easy reach. So too is the Meribel valley; in fact its highest skiing is more quickly accessed from Les Menuires than from the centre of Meribel. And Courchevel is only two lifts further away.
As for Les Menuires’ looks, some of the eyesores in the centre have been demolished or at least re-clad, and new suburbs like Reberty have been built in a more pleasing, low-rise chalet-style. The resort as a whole still isn’t pretty, but it is convenient: most of the accommodation is close to a piste or lift.
In La Croisette there is a good choice of ski rental shops. In the outer suburbs, the choice is more restricted. Prices can be high for walk-in customers though. SKISET has seven ski rental shops in Les Menuires so one should be close to your accommodation, and they will give discounts of up to 50% if you book online here.
ALPINRESORTS.com works with several shops across the resort and can secure discounts of up to 60% if you book online via this link.
+ An affordable base in the world’s largest lift-linked ski area.
+ Well located within the 3 Valleys
+ La Masse’s steep snowsure runs
+ Convenient slope-side accommodation
– Still too many unattractive buildings
– Local SW-facing slopes get too much sun
– No tree skiing nearby when visibility is poor
– Not much for non-skiers to do.
On the Three Valleys' side of the resort, a ridge approximately 5 kms long separates Les Menuires and its neighbour St Martin de Belleville from Meribel. From Roc du Fer (2290m) at the northern end above St Martin, to Col de la Chambre (2850m) at the southern end above Les Menuires, over 50 pistes and plenty of off-piste runs criss-cross the mountainside and decend nearly 1000m to the valley floor below. This should be a vast winter sports paradise for skiers of all standards, and in good conditions it is. But the southern end above Les Menuires mostly faces South West and this means it often gets too much sun, leading to icy pistes first thing in the morning, and slushy ones in the late afternoon. Towards the end of the season, despite the impressive battery of snow guns, some bare patches usually appear lower down, and although the pistes remain skiable, by Easter they often resemble thin ribbons of snow surrounded by grass and rocks.
Some visitors regard this as a price that is well worth paying for the delight of skiing in sunshine and relaxing in mountain restaurants that are natural sun-traps. But skiers who prize snow-quality above all else, should either focus on the highest and least South-facing of these slopes (generally those around the Col De la Chambre at 2850m) or cross over to the other side of Les Menuires.
Here North-facing and East-facing slopes for confident intermediates and experts descend from the 2800m summit of Pointe de la Masse. The reds and blacks from the top are genuinely steep in places and are at their best in the morning. They also tend to be less crowded than than other areas of the Three Valleys. Less confident intermediates can now ski from top to bottom on blue runs, but even these are slightly steeper than other blue runs elsewhere in the 3 Valleys, so beginners should stick to the other side of the resort.
For off-piste skiers, La Masse offers skiing between the piste and proper backcountry itineraries that start from the summit and curl back to the resort or extend even further descending into the Maurienne Valley and Le Chatelard. If there is a heavy snowfall, there are also plenty of off-piste opportunities on the other side of the resort, but after a day or two of sunshine these often turn to crud because of their orientation.
Les Menuires's pistes are linked to those of St Martin de Belleville, where the slopes generally face North West and hold their snow well, despite their modest altitude. In total the two resorts have 160km of pistes and there is a cheaper local pass that covers just this area, which makes sense for novices.
Val Thorens is in the same valley, and easy to ski into from the top of Les Menuires' ski area. It's the highest ski resort in Europe, with several lifts ascending to over 3000m, and has 140km of runs. That makes the Belleville valley alone broadly the size of the Espace Killy, the area made up of Val d'Isere and Tignes.
But confident skiers will want to explore all the Three Valleys. It's the largest connected ski area in the world with over 600 km of runs, and one of the main reasons to come to Les Menuires, which is ideally located to explore it all. All the skiing in is within reach if you start early enough and don't get too distracted along the way.
In particular it's worth noting that because Les Menuires is a significantly higher resort than Meribel, much of the Meribel valley's highest and best skiing (Mont Vallon and Cote Brune) can be accessed much more quickly from the centre of Les Menuires than it can from the centre of Meribel. It may be in another valley, but in practical terms, it's only two or three lifts away.
There are over 30 lifts in Les Menuires, plus a further 7 in St Martin de Belleville, which serve 86 pistes and official 'Liberty Ride' runs. A lot of money has been invested in upgrading the resort infrastructure - for instance, all of the staircases to the gondolas have been replaced with non-slip ramps and over 50 per cent of the area is covered by snowmaking.
There are two main lift hubs in the resort: La Croisette from where the Roc 1 bubble, Menuires high speed chair and Stadium drag lift all depart, and the area at the bottom of the resort from where the Masse 1 bubble and Doron and Reberty high speed chairs depart (this is also where the Nordic ski circuit starts). The two hubs are linked by the Croisette 'Telebenne' or open gondola and the Boulevarde de la Masse (effectively a piste). But these are not the only village level lifts. Depending on where you stay in the resort and where you want to go, your first lift could also be Bruyeres 1, Sunny Express, Rocher Noir, Tortollet or Le Bettex.
Ski passes can be bought for just Les Menuires and St Martin de Belleville, which is 160km of pistes, or the entire Three Valleys ski area, which has a total of 600km of pistes. The full Three Valleys lift pass will also allow you a day in the Espace Killy, La Plagne or Les Arcs.
All ski passes use an electronic system and Les Menuires offers a two-day period of grace that allows you to decide whether the ski pass you have bought is right for you. Within that time frame you can return your pass to change the duration or ski area for which it is valid. If the snow cover is less than 80 per cent at any time and you decide to leave resort, you can also get your ski pass reimbursed for the unused days.
Half day passes can also be bought. These cover any 4 hour period.
There used to be a Belleville valley lift pass which covered Les Menuires, St Martin and Val Thorens, but this has currently been discontinued. It may however be re-introduced at short notice so it's worth asking about if you want something between a 3 Valleys pass and a local Les Menuires-St Martin pass.
BP 2 - 73440
Tel: + 33 4 79 00 62 75
Les Menuires is an excellent place to learn how to ski both for children and for those who come later to the sport. What's more, there are four free lifts that access small beginners' areas so you can learn without expense. There's one in Bruyeres and Reberty, which is a magic carpet that moves inside a tunnel so is weather proof. The other two are located by the Stade lift and to the very north of the resort.
Les Menuires has large "smooth skiing" areas also, designed for beginners progressing from the nursery slopes to find their feet, although the areas are not always patrolled and thus the signs are often ignored by better skiers. Both are accessed by the Doron chair or Menuires Chairs.
For beginners and improving novices, Les Menuires and St Martin de Belleville have 12 green and 44 blue runs to build confidence on. The La Violette green, accessed from the top of the Roc 1 gondola, is the definitive run for a beginner to have under their belt before they tackle their first blue. It really is perfect for giving beginners the idea of what it means to move around a mountain.
The Gross Tougne is a long easy blue, running from Tougnette (2434m) to the midpoint of La Violette, which then takes you all the way back to the resort. The easiest way to reach it is via a bus to St Martin (there are 5 a day) then take the St Martin 1 bubble and the St Martin Express high speed chair, but more confident beginners can reach it by cris-crossing the mountain on blue runs.
The top of the Le Masse sector on the other side of the resort is generally steeper, so true beginners should delay tackling the all blue route from the very top to the bottom. But from the midway point there are gentler blue runs such as Vallons and Chemin des Vallons. According to one ESF ski instructor Chemin des Vallons blue is skiable by most complete beginners after their fourth day of lessons.
The pistes close to the centre such as Menuires, Boyes and Reberty are all safe for improving beginners. They do get extremely crowded at the end of the day, however.
Since the 2011/2012 season, Les Menuires has installed a section in La Masse called the "Walibi Gliss" which provides an interactive experience for children. With their poles children can touch speakers that play music, while there are tunnels to ski through and parallel slalom courses for those on the border of intermediate class.
Beginners won't need any ski pass at all whilst they are using the free nursery lifts, but as they progress they will need to buy a local Les Menuires pass (which covers St Martin as well). There is no need for them to buy a 3 Valleys pass.
Beginners who need a break from learning to ski should also look at all the other activities you can do Les Menuires, as there is more choice than in some other resorts.
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Les Menuires provides ample scope for those who are taking the step up from beginner level and for those who are quickly progressing to more advanced levels.
There are 44 blue runs in Les Menuires and St Martin, and 22 red runs, spanning both sides of the Belleville valley.
The majority of the runs are on the Meribel side. When the sun is out it bathes most of these for large parts of the day, because most of them face South or South West. Whilst this is very enjoyable, it can create problems when temperatures rise in late season, because the snow becomes slushy in the afternoon, and icy in the morning. If early morning ice becomes a serious problem, cross the ridge and ski down to Meribel on pistes that predominantly face East and are at their best early in the morning. Be warned however, that some of the reds on the Meribel side are steep (the top of Venturon for instance), so if you're a less confident intermediate, stick to the blues when crossing over.
But when conditions are good, the whole mountainside from Roc de Fer (2290m) above St Martin, to Col de la Chambre (2850m) above Les Menuires offers a huge range of blue and easy red pistes.
Particular favourites are the Mont de la Chambre blue, which is a wide motorway run that is perfect for practising your turns, while the Grand Lac blue is more North facing and offers 1,304m of vertical all the way down to St Martin de Belleville - you will have earned that lunch. The fast lifts back up (usually without queues after 10am) mean it's easy to repeat, but perhaps an even better alternative is to try the Jerusalem blue or Pramint red which both descend to the bottom of the St Martin Express chair.
The Pluviometre blue is wide and a joy to ski as well as being the route into Val Thorens although there are flat sections which have to be taken fast in a schuss if you want to avoid a push uphill. If you turn back to Les Menuires on the Boulevard des Echauds there are even more flat sections, so the the Alpage red which snakes a similar path down from the ridge might be a better alternative.
In good conditions, the Allemands red from the top of the Roc 2 chair is wonderful and links into perhaps the best red in resort, Les Grandes Combes. It has great rollers, few skiers go on it and there are no snow cannon so the snow is always real.
In the La Masse sector, the Vallons, Les Enverses and Chemin des Vallons blue runs, all accessible from mid-mountain are all relatively easy. The blues from the top of Masse 2 and Lac Noir are considerably steeper but should be skiable by most intermediates, and are great fun. Even steeper still are the reds and the blacks on La Masse, but these are oriented towards advanced skiers. The Masse draglift is also a tricky drag lift for intermediates to use because of the steep slope it ascends.
For keen intermediates, however, the 160kms of pistes in Les Menuires and St Martin are just the apperitif. The entire 3 Valleys ski area is within easy reach and there is fine intermediate skiing in Val Thorens, Meribel and Courchevel as well. In poor visibility, the wooded slopes above La Tania are aslo well worth a visit.
The best place for advanced skiers to head towards is La Masse which has high, steep, snow-sure slopes which predominantly face North East. This is also usually one of the 3 Valleys least crowded sections, so experts can often tackle the slopes at high speed in comparative safety, but please take care when doing this.
The Dame Blanche is clearly the daddy of the black runs. It is seriously steep and winds across the spine of Pointe de la Masse with soaring views across the valley and into Lac du Lou. Even the drag lift you use to access it (Masse) can be a challenge.
If Dame Blanche is a real test, then Lac Noir and Masse provide a short, sharp hit. Masse is rarely groomed, and there is an extended Liberty Ride (ie: freeride but patrolled) area to skiers left of this and even more off-piste to skier's right.
Rocher Noir is another good black run that starts from the top of the Rocher Noir chair, although if you want to ski almost 1,000m of vertical you can warm up by tackling reds such as Longets and Cretes, which are the steepest in the sector and have stunning views. The Fred Covili, Mur Rouge and Rochers reds are slightly easier, but well worth doing, if only for the views.
On the other side of the valley, Leo Lacroix is a long black run, and invariably a mogul field, but not particularly steep. There are also ungroomed but patrolled Liberty Ride areas close to the Sunny Express (Pylones) and St Martin Express (Riondaz) ski lifts. The red runs on this side of the valley are more aimed at intermediates but have occasional steep sections.
Once these runs have been skied, advanced skiers can either try the extensive off-piste possibilities in Les Menuires or move onto the advanced skiing available in Meribel, Val Thorens and Courchevel. In particular it's worth noting that the Meribel valley's highest skiing at Cote Brune and Mont Vallon, much of which is aimed at advanced skiers, can be reached more quickly from Les Menuires than it can from the centre of Meribel.
In the past, the snowparks of Les Menuires often came a distinct second to neighbouring Val Thorens. Since the resort hired HO5Park to manage the freestyle snowpark development, however, there has been a marked improvement at the BK Park, which is accessed by the Becca and Sunny Express chairs.
There is a boardercross, and as with most things in Les Menuires, the kicker and rails are aimed at the intermediate skill level. There are two blue kickers, as well as four blue rails which are divided up in to a flat descent, a rainbow and two boxes. There are also two red kickers and four red rails, which feature an S-shaped rail, a flat rail with a drop-off, and a Wave and C-shaped rail. There is still a long way to go before the boarders from Val Thorens come down the valley but it's a good effort from HO5.
Areas that some boarders may find difficult to negotiate include the extremely steep and fast Masse draglift and the black runs in the La Masse sector, which are often covered in moguls. The Montaulever draglift, near Bruyeres, has some extremely steep sections and is also very fast.
Other pistes that beginner and intermediate boarders should avoid are the Gros Tougne blue that links Saint Martin de Belleville to Les Menuires. If has large flat sections and is only around two cat-tracks wide, which means if you are not confident changing edges you'll be stuck on one for a very long time.
We have seen many boarders have to take of their board and walk and it is always better to take the Granges chair. The Boulevard Cumin blue from Val Thorens also has large flat sections, as does the Boulevard des Echauds, which links up with Pluviometre, one of the best blues in resort.
There are some truly stunning off-piste sections in Les Menuires and unsurprisingly most of them feature in the La Masse sector to the west of the resort.
La Masse provides plenty of off-piste terrain between the pistes. There is a patrolled but ungroomed Liberty Ride area at the top of the Masse 2 bubble, but this is just a small fragment of what is available within a couple of hundred metres of the various pistes. But as ever take care and take a friend who can get help if you have a bad fall, or better still, take a guide.
La Masse is also the starting point for much longer itineraries for which a guide is even more strongly recommended. The spine of the Pointe de la Masse runs roughly north-south and to the east lies the pretty Vallon du Lou. It is easy to drop in from the top of Pointe de la Masse. The valley is perfect for off-piste skiing and can also be accessed from the top of the Boismint chairlift and the Cime Caron cable car in Val Thorens. Try them all, they all have their charms and allow completely different routes and views.
On the west side of the spine to Pointe de La Masse is the Vallee des Encombres. The landscape on this side is stunning and starting at the top of La Masse you ski along the Fred Covili red until you reach the giant wooden carved Bouquetin. From there if you aim for the village of Le Chatelard below Saint Martin de Belleville a wonderful backcountry area opens up to you. Start in the morning, and you will arrive in the village for lunch. Book a table at the wonderful La Ferme Auberge de Chanacoucou (T +33 6 13 98 91 56) and after you have eaten your superb lunch the owner will drive you to Saint Martin de Belleville to access the return lift. If you don't book, you'll have to work off your lunch by walking the kilometre uphill to Saint Martin.
Also from La Masse, from the top of the Le Lac Noir chairlift, you can ski down to the village of Le Bettex, at the base of Les Menuires. You must go around Le Teurre, the peak with the telephone tower on top of it. On the far side you pass some huts and then aim for the bridge to cross the river at the bottom.
On the other side of the valley another classic route is from the top of 3 Marches. Take the Roc 2 chairlift and ski the Grand Lac blue until you reach the bottom of the Granges chair. Off the Gros Tougne blue and between the Pelozet blue aim for the village of Le Bettex with the village of Les Granges very much on your right. Do not go near the rocks and don't go too low down, otherwise it is a long walk but you will have to cross a road on your way. There is also a long flat off-piste section at the bottom.
Remember to always check the avalanche warning, hire a mountain guide to help ensure your safety and to find the best snow conditions and make sure you have the necessary equipment including probe, shovel and transceiver.
More off-piste skiing is available in Val Thorens, Meribel and Courchevel. The highest lift-accessed off-piste areas in the Meribel valley (Cote Brune and Mont Vallon) are easier to reach from Les Menuires than from the centre of Meribel.
The Chalet du Cairn is accessible from the Sunny Express chairlift, but you can also use both the Becca and Mont de La Chambre chairs. You still have to descend a red piste, the David Douillet red run and one which carries heavy traffic, to access the restaurant's large sun terrace which means it is not the perfect lunch spot for groups of mixed ability. Unlike many of the restaurants in the Belleville valley, Le Chalet du Cairn operates table service. The restaurant also boasts great views across the valley to La Masse. Tel: +33 4 79 00 19 81
L'Alpage serves traditional Savoyard food made from simple but quality ingredients. An extremely convivial atmosphere, due to the rustic, chalet-style decor, L'Alpage also has a sun terrace. It's cheap, good value and accessed via the 4 Ventes red run. Tel: +33 4 79 00 75 16
Le Chalet des Neiges is located at the top of the Roc des 3 Marches chair. As such, it is also accessible by pedestrians and is good for mixed ability groups as there are green, blue and red runs surrounding it. Serves Savoyard cuisine, but also offers filling pizzas and fast food such as sandwiches. Has a sun terrace and where else can you get a steak for around €15 in the Three Valleys? Tel: +33 4 79 00 60 55
Located at the bottom of the Vallons blue, Les 3 V is perfect for celebrating the negotiation of the tricky La Masse sector. Tel: +33 4 79 00 74 04
Located at the mid station of the Bruyeres gondola, Les 4 Vents is perfect for a quick drink while you wait for your mates to catch up in the gondola behind. If you want to stay on a bit longer, Les 4 Vents self service restaurantal so does a mean grill and has a great sun terrace. For those who don't like taxidermy, you would be wise to give this kooky restaurant a wide berth. It's stuffed animal central. Tel: +33 4 79 00 64 44
Located at the top of Mont de la Chambre chair and Bruyeres gondola, the food is fair, but not the main reason for visiting. Quite simply, Le Mont de la Chambre has one of the best views in the Belleville valley. Huge sun terrace, which means when the weather is good you will struggle to get a table but it is worth it. Tel: +33 4 79 00 67 68
Located above La Masse, Le Panoramique is much like Le Mont de la Chambre but on the other side of the valley. Sumptuous views, great sun terrace for good weather and food that is unremarkable yet filling. Think Spaghetti Bolognese, or Lasagne; it's a good place for refuelling before tackling La Masse. Tel: +33 79 22 80 60
Montagnette is one of the better mountain restaurants in Les Menuires with tables surrounded by a roaring fireplace. As the restaurant features waiter service, this is more of a place to dine, rather than simply eat. L'Etoile provides a traditional Savoyard lunch, put together with the greatest care and backed up by a huge wine list. It's also accessible by pedestrians from La Sapiniere. Tel: +33 4 79 00 75 58
Located at the bottom of Granges chairlift, Le Grande Lac is one of the few mountain restaurants in Les Menuires that offers serious food. Le Grande Lac is perfect for Meribel day-trippers who have explored Les Menuires in the morning and want a big lunch with big portions and at a respectable price before returning via the Plattieres link. Tel: +33 4 79 08 25 78
Situated in between the lifts Masse 1 and Masse, Les Roches Blanches is basically good for a pit stop for those who have been exploring the dramatic La Masse sector. It is a traditional Savoyard chalet, offering large welcoming plates of pizzas and spaghettis but nothing more. Tel: +33 4 79 00 60 22
Chalet les Sonnailes is a perfect spot for lunch for skiers coming from Val Thorens before an afternoon expedition to Les Menuires. Boarders should be mindful that the approach to Boulevard Cumin is extremely flat. For those who go all out for a long lunch, it takes around an hour to get back to Val Thorens. Chalet les Sonnailes is very rustic and like many restaurants in Val Thorens it combines self-service and waiter service. Cheap and cheerful, the plat du jour is one of the best value lunches in the valley. The Chalet has a great sun terrace and good views back to Val Thorens. T +33 4 79 00 74 28
Officially, Les Menuires is composed of eight separate areas: La Croisette, Preyerand, Brelin, La Sapinière, Reberty 1850, Reberty 2000, Les Fontanettes and Les Bruyères. The small village of Le Bettex, which is just below Les Menuires and linked to it by lift, is also often considered part of the resort. Wherever you stay, almost all the accommodation is either ski-in/ski-out, or is only a short walk to the nearest lift.
The centre of Les Menuires, called La Croisette, is ugly but convenient. The only building of any architectural merit is the church which has a genuinely beautiful and innovative steeple; everything else is either bland or an outright eyesore. The tourist information office, sports centre, post office, Bureau des Guides and most of the shops are clustered in this area. It's also the main hub for the buses reaching out to the other subsurbs, and there's a good choice of bars and retaurants, although most are in the cheap and cheerful, rather than fine dining, category. The Roc 1 bubble and the Menuires chair both depart from near La Croisette, as does the Stadium draglift for skiers competing on the slalom course, and skiers can also descend on the Boulevard de la Masse to the Doron and Masse 1 lifts.
Reberty or Garnd Reberty to give it its full name, is to the south of Les Menuires (and therefore on the right hand side of the piste map and most village maps) and is split into two distinct levels: Reberty 2000 and Reberty 1850. The area houses two of the resort's best hotels and some of the smartest chalets. Reberty 1,850 was built in 1985, while 2,000 was built for the Millennium and is significantly more upmarket. Both areas are relatively self-contained and have supermarkets. Reberty 1850 has an outpost of the tourist office, where you can also buy a ski pass (on Sunday and Monday mornings it can often be quicker to walk the ten minutes up the hill from La Croisette, or catch the bus, to avoid the ski pass queues) while Reberty 2000 also has a ski pass outlet. The new Sunny Express chair lift is located between Reberty and Bruyeres but most visitors ski down on easy blue pistes and boulevards to the lifts at La Croisette or Bruyeres.
Between Reberty 1850 and La Croisette is La Sapiniere. It's relatively small: whether it really constitutes a separate area or is merely a part of Grand Reberty is a matter of debate. as an area it's upmarket but quiet - there is a noticeable shortage of bars, restaurants, ski hire shops, ski pass recharge outlets and other facilities. But La Croisette is only a short walk (or an even shorter bus ride) away, and even easier to reach on skis.
Les Fontanettes is just below La Sapiniere, and is broadly similar to it although it's a little less quiet and upmarket and slightly more strung out. At the foot of the suburb is the main lift hub from which the Reberty, Doran, Croisette and La Masse lifts all depart.
To the west of Reberty (and therefore on the far right hand side of most maps) is Les Bruyeres, and Hameau des Bruyeres, which combine to produce virtually a self-contained mini resort that is filled mostly with new, upmarket and wooden-clad chalets. It has its own lifts (Bruyeres 1 and Sunny Express) or skiers can descend on gentle blue pistes to the lift hub below Les Fontanettes.
Above and to the north of La Croisette (and therefore to the top left of the map) is Brelin. This is composed of just one massive building. To its critics, it resembles a large cruise ship marooned on a mountainside, but most agree its long curving shape fits into its surroundings far better than the amorphous tower blocks and apartment complexes of La Croisette. There are a few shops in Brelin, including a supermarket and ski hire shop and there is also a ski pass office. It's great for children and good for disabled access. In the morning skiers and boarders descend to La Croisette or beyond on piste. There is also an 'ascenseur' (like a bubble lift on rails) that runs late into the evening, connecting Brelin to La Croisette.
At the entrance to the resort on the road that leads from St Martin is Preyerand. There are several large, but sympathetically designed chalet-style MGM apartment blocks, and some less aesthetically-pleasing older buildings. To reach the slopes you either take the bus to La Croisette, walk to the Preyrand lift or ski down to the Bettex lift.
Le Bettex is officially a separate village. It's small and quiet and at night a little bit isolated: bus services to the rest of Les Menuires are either rare or non-existent, and to reach Les Menuires by car you have to drive through Praranger, effectively two sides of a triangle. During the day, however, the Bettex lift provides fast access to Les Menuires' slopes and you can ski back on piste. The village has its own creche facility as well as a restaurant, bar and ski shop. Despite several new chalet and apartment developments, it has a traditional Savoyarde charm.
There are free shuttle buses that connect all the sectors (apart from Le Bettex) to La Croisette.
Route A is the Circuit de Reberty. It starts in Preyerand, goes through La Croisette, passes along the bottom edge of la Sapiniere then goes onto Reberty 1850 and Reberty 2000.
Route B is the Circuit des Bruyeres. It too starts in Preyerand and goes through La Croisette but then descends through Les Fontanettes to Les Bruyeres.
Route C is the Circuit des Marmottes. It circles the Preyerand area and connects it to the Gare Routiere in La Crosiette.
Route D connects Preyerand with La Croisette.
The shuttle buses operate approximately every 20 minutes with the first starting at around 8am and the last leaving just after 11pm.
There are also around five buses a day to Val Thorens and Saint Martin de Belleville.
Les Menuires has a muted nightlife, but apres-ski is fairly robust with several bars providing an arena in which to get 'spirited'.
La Croisette has the widest range with bar Le Mousse (Tel: +33 4 79 00 16 16) and above it Bar le Challenge (Tel: +33 4 79 00 78 52), the best places to head. Le Mousse can get very busy later at night, while Le Challenge often has live music and stays open until 2am
Bar Le Tilbury (Tel: +33 4 79 00 64 18), also in La Croisette, is a fairly typical French Alpine bar - it's decked out in non-descript pine and sells Amstel on tap, but has a good range of spirits and even better offers. Bar le Challenge (Tel: +33 4 79 00 78 52), also in La Croisette, often has live music and stays open until 2am.
Le Kube piano bar is one of the more upmarket offerings in Les Menuires. The bar boats live music and although there is a pool table in the entrance the trendy sofas and extensive cocktail list make up for it. Live music generally starts at around 5.30pm, while DJ sets start at 10pm.
In the other parts of resort, the piste-side complex in Reberty headed up by the restaurant La Ferme de Reberty, is a good place to stop for sundowners. In Les Bruyeres Le Chouette (Tel: +33 4 79 00 21 26) is also good for a drink and the creperie next door provides good sustenance afterwards when the bar closes for a breather at 6.30pm before opening later at night.
Finally, down in Preyerand is the Dutch-run Yeti bar, which is about the most fun bar in town. Preyerand is by the entrance to resort on the road to Moutiers, so it is a bit of a trek back to the main sectors of Les Menuires, but is worth the effort.
Les Menuires is so child and family orientated that nightlife is not top of the list of most people's priorities, although there are a lot of restaurants that cater for those who want a night away from the stove in their residences and apartments.
Eating out can range from the multitude of takeaway pizza shops that litter the centre of La Croisette to the gastronomic attempts that are served up in Reberty.
La Croisette lacks a serious player in the dinner stakes. The most traditional restaurants such as L'Etoile (Tel: +33 4 79 00 75 58) which we have recommended for lunch, and Au Coin du Feu (Tel: +33 4 79 09 97 52) are worth investigating as a change of scenery if you are staying in one of the many apartment blocks in the centre of resort.
A good source of upmarket dining is the various hotels, with particular reference to Le K, which is housed in the Hotel Kaya (Tel: +33 4 79 41 42 00), and the restaurant in Hotel L'Ours Blanc (Tel: +33 4 79 00 61 66), both of which are in Reberty.
Another star in Reberty is La Ferme de Reberty (Tel: +33 4 79 00 77 01), which also is a fine spot for lunch. The fixed price dinner menu is excellent value for the quality of food received. It is the same at the Baroc Cafe (Tel: +33 4 79 55 48 41), which is run by Jean Sulpice, the Michelin-starred chef that runs the famous Oxalys in Val Thorens. It provides excellent food at a very reasonable price.
In Bruyeres the traditional La Marmite du Geant (Tel: +33 4 79 00 74 75) serves up large portions of duck, trout and steak, and branches out into scallops and foie gras on occasion. It also has a fine pizza menu.
If looking for a real stellar dining experience, be prepared to leave Les Menuires and to dine elsewhere in the Three Valleys. Top of the list in the Belleville valley is undoubtedly La Bouitte, which wears its Michelin star proudly, while the aforementioned L'Oxalys (Tel: +33 4 79 00 12 00) is also highly recommended.
As for nightlife, there are two nightclubs in resort, Le New Pop (Tel: +33 4 79 00 67 20) in La Croisette and Le Leeberty (Tel: +33 4 79 00 68 49) in Reberty.
The Cabaret in the restaurant Le Medzery (Tel: +33 4 79 08 16 74) is certainly rather different and worth a look.
Les Menuires is quite a big resort, with many sections that boast their own character. There is quite a lot to do in resort and the sports centre is first rate. To keep in touch with all the resort developments, ski lift information and other activities, the resort has a radio station sponsored by Virgin radio (101 and 92.3 FM). Activities for non-skiers in Les Menuires include the following:
Les Menuires is not the most committed resort to cross-country skiing but there are 28km of marked trails in the Belleville valley. The trails start from Plan de l'Eau in Les Menuires and traverse through the village of Chatelard and Saint Martin de Belleville. There are also snowshoeing expeditions from the Plan de l'Eau area. Tel: +33 4 79 00 73 00
One of the non-skiing activities that is currently finding favour throughout resorts in the Alps, parapenting is a perfect way to enjoy the majestic views of the Three Valleys. Tel: +33 6 80 10 79 20
Val Thorens may have its ice racetrack but Les Menuires has a 1,800m circuit for all sorts of snow mobiles.
Scoot Evasion provides 1 hour guided snowmobile outings every evening from its base in La Croisette. Tel +33 6 46 10 88 93.
Altana Bikes offers instruction on the use of each of their vehicles and also have two-seater buggies for children. The firm also provide free transport from the Reberty and La Croisette cable cars. Tel: +33 6 11 38 37 96.
Bicycles with fat, studded tyres which can go up and down a dediacted snow-covered track underneath the Roc 1 lift, giving what is described as an 'unforgettable glide sensation'. Rent them from the Roc n Bob office at the foot of the Roc 1 bubble lift in la Croisette, giving at least one day's notice.
Every day except Saturdays the French ski school organises two different itineraries accessible on snowshoes. A half day is around €30 and six half days cost in the region of €150. Equipment hire is included in the price. Tel: +33 4 79 00 61 43
Les Menuires sports centre measures 4,500m2 and features a large indoor swimming pool, saunas, steam rooms, Jacuzzis, solariums, Turkish baths and a wellbeing area for facials and other beauty treatments. There are also other activities such as squash and badminton as well as a large fun park for children. There is an outdoor heated swimming pool at Les Bruyeres, where costumes and towels can be hired. Tel: +33 4 79 01 08 83
The toboggan run in Les Menuires is an impressive 4km long and features 22 bends. There is a vertical of 450m, which makes for breakneck speeds. The Roc 'n Bob is only open in the afternoons. Tel: +33 4 79 00 62 75. Or just turn up at the Roc n Bob office at the bottom of the Roc 1 Bubble in La Croisette.
A family oriented bobsleigh track that does not require any snow or ice because the sledges are fixed to a steel rail. Based in Les Bruyeres. +33 4 79 00 62 75.
For all kinds of indoor sports such as badminton, table tennis and basketball.. Based in La Croisette. tel + 33 4 79 01 08 83.