Méribel is at the heart of Les 3 Vallées, the world's largest lift-linked ski area. Mostly comprising of low-rise chalets, Meribel is easy on the eye and fun to stay in. It has slopes to suit all standards but intermediate-level skiers tend to like it best.
Nowhere else can quite match the 3 Valleys for the sheer amount of easily accessible skiing on offer. About 600 km of piste is divided into hundreds of runs, and connected by more than 175 lifts – and Meribel sits snugly in its central valley.
The local runs are mostly aimed at intermediates, and Meribel has a reputation for being ‘piste basher heaven’ but there are challenges for advanced skiers too, mostly off piste. It’s also a good place to learn to ski with a wide choice of ski schools, and novices who are keen to start exploring will benefit from the clear signage, excellent piste grooming and the opportunity to ski from Meribel into both of the other valleys and return entirely on gentle green and blue runs.
And generally if Meribel lacks something, it can be found elsewhere in the 3 Valleys and easily reached. There are no lifts ascending over 3000m in the Meribel valley for instance (although Mont Vallon at 2952m gets very close), but just across the Col de la Chambre there are plenty in Val Thorens. Local tree skiing is limited, but ski over the Col de la Loze and you can find a lot more in the woods above Le Praz and La Tania. And whilst Meribel’s own black runs are not very steep, you only have to cross the Saulire ridge and ski a few metres into Courchevel to find the Grand Couloir, which definitely deserves its grading,
As a place to stay in, Meribel is a purpose-built resort in France like no other. Located at 1450m, its original low-rise chalet style has been preserved and so has the British legacy. Meribel was conceived by Colonel Peter Lindsay in 1938 and even today over a third of winter visitors come from the UK. English is spoken everywhere, especially in Meribel’s plentiful bars and clubs including the lively apres-ski hangouts like Jack’s and La Folie Douce.
The main village is now rather spread out and some of its suburbs are a long way from the main lifts but the ski-bus service is good and there are useful connecting pistes and lifts. For real slope-side convenience, you have to stay up the valley in the satellite resort of Meribel Mottaret which probably has the best location in the whole of the 3 Valleys in terms of skiing, but it lacks the charm and vibrant nightlife of Meribel itself, which for many of of its visitors, are just as important as its endless pistes.
Meribel Pros & Cons
+ The middle of the world’s largest lift-linked ski area
+ Local pistes have something for everyone
+ A purpose-built resort that’s easy on the eye
+ Good snowmaking and modern lifts
+ Fun apres-ski and nightlife
– Resort is too spread out to be convenient
– At 1450m the main resort is not very high
– Expensive (unless compared to Courchevel)