Skiing in Les Menuires

Les Menuires is located alongside Saint Martin de Belleville and Val Thorens in the Belleville Valley, which contains half of all the runs in France’s famous, and enormous, 3 Valleys ski area. Les Menuires has slopes on both sides of the resort.

Skier on David Drouilet Red Piste in Les Menuires

David Drouilet is one of several excellent red pistes coming down from Col de La Chambre (c) Les Menuires OT-Vincent_Lottenberg

Les Menuires Ski Area Overview

Col de la Chambre

The Three Valleys’ side of the Les Menuires ski area is usually called the Col de la Chambre after its 2850m high point. From here a ridge approximately 10 km long separates Les Menuires and its neighbour St Martin de Belleville from Meribel, and over 50 pistes and plenty of off-piste runs descend nearly 1000m to the valley floor below.

Most of the pistes here are gentle red and blue runs that best suit intermediates who want to cruise in the afternoon sunshine. The blue and green runs close to Les Menuires are suitable for beginners. The reds around the Col de la Chambre have some semi-steep parts but usually have the best snow. Experts should check out the black Leo Lacroix run and the two official Liberty Ride areas (one near the St Martin Express, the other near the Sunny Express) which offer avalanche-protected freeriding.

When it snows there is also plenty of unofficial between-the-piste freeriding on the upper slopes but be careful about descending to the valley floor as the lower you go, the more dangerous it gets. If in doubt, stay above the Gross Tougne blue, or better still, hire a guide. Because most of the slopes face west or south-west, they get a lot of sunshine. so snow conditions can change rapidly. The pistes tend to be high enough and have enough artificial snow to be skiable from Christmas through to Easter but early in the morning they can be icy, so it can be better to ‘follow the sun’ and ski La Masse in the morning and come here in the afternoon.

La Masse

La Masse is on the other side of the resort, and here east and north-east-facing slopes for confident intermediates and experts predominate. The reds and blacks coming down from the 2800m summit of Pointe de la Masse are genuinely steep in places and are at their best in the morning. They also tend to be less crowded than other areas of the 3 Valleys. Less confident intermediates can now ski from top to bottom on blue runs, but even these are slightly steeper than the blue runs on the 3 Valleys side.

For off-piste skiers, La Masse offers an avalanche-protected official Liberty Ride area and proper backcountry itineraries that start from the summit and curl back to the resort or the road below it or to other destinations such as  Lac du Lou, the Vallee des Encombes and Les Yvoses. If you are venturing beyond the official Liberty Ride area, you should hire a guide.

St Martin de Belleville

Les Menuires’s pistes are linked to those of St Martin de Belleville, where the slopes generally face northwest 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 and less keen skiers. You can also buy one-day extensions that cover the full 3 valleys area.

Val Thorens

Val Thorens is in the same valley but is not part of the Les Menuires-St Martin local lift pass area. It is easy to get to, however, via  Col de la Chambre. You can also ski to Val Thorens off-piste with a guide from La Masse via the Lac du Lou itinerary. Val Thorens is the highest ski resort in Europe, with several lifts ascending to over 3000m, so in warm weather often it has the best snow in the 3 Valleys. You can ski back to Les Menuires on the easy blue Boulevarde Cumin, but if the snow is soft or slushy you might need to push hard or walk in places. 


Meribel might be in a different valley to Les Menuires but you can cross into it at Col de la Chambre, 3 Marches, Mont de la Challe, Tougnete and Roc de Fer, so it’s easy to get to and from and you can explore lots of different routes. Because Les Menuires is a much higher resort than Meribel, the Meribel Valley’s highest skiing around Cote Brune and Mont Vallon can be accessed much more quickly from the centre of Les Menuires than it can from the centre of Meribel. 


Courchevel is two valleys away from Les Menuires but its ski area can still be reached in about 90 minutes by good skiers, so it’s perfectly possible to ski there for the day and then return to Les Menuires. But keep an eye on the time when you are there and allow extra time if there are queues for lifts: on skis, there are plenty of fun ways to return from Courchevel to Les Menuires, but if you miss the last lift, the only way home will be a very long, very boring,  and very expensive taxi ride.

Beginner Skiing in Les Menuires

Les Menuires is now branded ‘FriendlyMenuires’ and is an ideal ski resort for beginners with good facilities for both adults and children. Beginners can practice their turns on sunny slopes, and compared to other ski resorts in the 3 Valleys, it’s relatively cheap.

Small child skiing next to animal sculpture in Les Menuires

Les Menuires is a good resort for beginners_ Ski_famille_au_Friendly_Natural_Park (c) Les Menuires OT

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, four free lifts 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 weatherproof. The other two are located by the Stade lift.

Les Menuires also has large “smooth skiing” areas, 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 is perfect for giving beginners an 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 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 crisscrossing 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.

 Les Menuires has installed a section in La Masse called the “Walibi Gliss” which provides an interactive experience for children. With their ski 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. In some years the resort has introduced a low-cost beginners pass that covers the lifts and pistes closest to the resort which are all gentle blues and greens, 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 at Les Menuires, as there is more choice than in some other resorts.

Ski Schools & Ski Lessons in Les Menuires

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Intermediate Skiing in Les Menuires

Les Menuires is perfect for intermediate skiers who like clocking up mileage in the sunshine. It also provides an excellent environment in which to progress from intermediate skiing to more advanced levels.

Les Menuires provides ample scope for those who are taking the step up from the 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 the 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 down to St Martin de Belleville – you will have earned that lunch. The fast lifts back up (usually without queues after 10 am) 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 Alpage red which snakes a similar path down from the ridge might be a better alternative.

In good snow conditions, the Allemands red from the top of the Roc 2 chair is wonderful and links into perhaps the best red in the resort, Les Grandes Combes. It has great rollers, few skiers go on it and there are no snow cannons 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 aperitif. 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 also well worth a visit. 

Advanced & Expert Skiing in Les Menuires

There are eight black runs and ‘Liberty Ride’ ungroomed slopes in the local Les Menuires ski area, most of which are concentrated in the La Masse sector. Advanced skiers, however, will want to explore the entire Three Valleys, and Les Menuires is an excellent base for this.

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 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 the skier’s left of this and even more off-piste to the 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 Rocher 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 on to 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.

Boarding & Freestyle in Les Menuires

Les Menuires has made numerous improvements in recent years, a much has been done to improve facilities for snowboarders, especially the snowpark. There are several runs for beginners and intermediates that have large flat sections that should be avoided.

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 into 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 off 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 the resort.

Off-Piste & Freeriding in Les Menuires 

Despite its reputation as a resort for intermediates and beginners, Les Menuires also has good between-the-piste skiing, some decent ‘LibertyRide’ freeriding areas, and some long off-piste itineraries, particularly from the top of la Masse.

Freeride skiers on La Masse above Les Menuires

Freeride skiers on La Masse above Les Menuires © P.Lebeau-Les Menuires OT

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 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 with the lake at the bottom. In good conditions (normally in the morning) you can ski there 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, you can ski down to the village of Le Bettex at the base of Les Menuires, via Les Yvoses. You must go around Le Teurre, the peak with the old 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, but you need a guide to do this safely.

Advanced skier on La Masse looking across to ski slopes on the Meribel side of Les Menuires

Advanced skier on La Masse looking across to the Meribel side of Les Menuires (c) Les Menuires OT_David_ANDRE

On the other side of the valley, there are two official, avalanche-patrolled, ungroomed Liberty Ride areas – one near the Sunny Express lift and one near the St Martin Express. In fresh snow, there is also lots of ‘between the piste’ free riding coming down from 3 Marches and Mont de la Challe and Tougnete, but many of the runs face west or southwest so snow quality can change quickly. Be very careful about going lower than the Gros Tougne blue – the lower you go, the rockier, and more dangerous, it gets. In good conditions, you can ski down to Le Bettex (you have to cross the road and there is a long flat section at the end) from the bottom of the Granges chair – turn right off Gros Tougne, keep the Pelozet blue on your right, and keep well to the left of the village of Les Granges.

Remember always to check the avalanche warning and make sure you have the necessary equipment including a probe, shovel and transceiver. Hiring a guide is always recommended.

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.

Les Menuires Mountain Restaurants

Technically almost every restaurant in Les Menuires is a mountain restaurant because it’s a ski-in, ski-out resort where you’re never far from the piste, but these all have something special about them.

Friends eating lunch on terrace of mountain restaurant in Les Menuires

Les Menuires Mountain Restaurant© Les MenuiresOT_David André


Next to the Bruyeres mid-station lift near the bottom of the 4 Vents piste, L’Antigel serves seriously good food with waiter service, but there are always one or two very reasonably priced main courses on special offer as well as cheaper salads and light dishes. Great atmosphere inside and out, (there is an old stove inside and a south-facing sun terrace) and even a trip to the toilets is interesting because you go through a museum of skiing. Tel: +33 4 79 00 64 44.

Le Ferme de Reberty

Okay, it’s in Reberty 2000 rather than higher up the mountain but it’s just off the blue Boyes piste so you can ski virtually to the door. Great food to suit all budgets, great atmosphere (it becomes an apres-ski hangout later on), good-sized portions, and a sunny terrace, so what’s not to like? Tel +33 4 79 00 77 01.

Le 2800, Pointe de la Masse

Located at the top of La Masse, this mountain restaurant surely has the best views in the whole of the resort. On a clear day, you look across the Alps to Mont Blanc. A natural meeting point because even non-skiers can reach it via the fast bubble lift, this restaurant caters both for those wanting a quick chocolate chaud in the morning before tackling one of the long runs down to the resort and those wanting a proper lunch with fine wine and table service. There is also a self-service snack hut if you just want a quick pit-stop. In sunny weather, booking ahead is recommended for lunch. Tel: +33 6 11 74 58 05

Le Chalet du Cairn 

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 good value and accessed via the 4 Ventes red run. Tel: +33 4 79 00 75 16


Located on the green Montagnette piste and within walking distance of the upmarket La Sapiniere/Les Montagnettes chalets and apartments, at lunchtimes this is more of a place to dine, rather than simply eat, with table service and fine Savoyard cooking backed up by a huge wine list. But it’s also in a sunny spot with a lovely terrace and nice views. Open in the evening as well as lunchtime. Tel: +33 4 79 00 75 58

Le Grande Lac

If there was a border between the Les Menuires and St Martin de Belleville ski areas, this mountain restaurant would be on it because it’s located in a sunny spot with good views near the bottom of Granges chairlift, at the crossroads where the Pelozet, Gross Tougne, Teppes and Grand Lac piste all meet. A favourite for Meribel day-trippers who have explored the Belleville Valley in the morning and want a big lunch at a Les Menuires price before returning to their more expensive valley.  Tel: +33 4 79 08 25 78

Les Roches Blanches

Situated halfway down La Masse at the top of the Masse 1 lift, Les Roches Blanches is 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 spaghetti but nothing more. Tel: +33 4 79 00 60 22



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