Meribel Skiing & Snowboarding Guide For Intermediates
All the information on these pages is free for private use and has been written by us personally. We have skied here for 20 years so trust us, you really have chosen possibly
the very best resort in the world for intermediates skiers. Our team are mainly skiers (although we have boarded too) ,so although we try , specific snowboarding tips are slightly limited. It might
be a good idea to also read the beginner section to warm up and the advance section which covers all the black runs and some off piste.
In the early mornings you are better off skiing the Tougnète (2434m) side of Meribel. It catches the morning sun, so in early season will not be so cold and in later season will not be icy, as is the Saulire side before 11am. Saulire gets the hot afternoon sun, so the snow melts then freezes hard at night. First thing in the morning in spring it's horrendous and will make your teeth full out! So catch the very first lifts on the Tougnète side and you will find velvet carpets for up to one hour on most of the main blue and red pistes. If you find a long queue for the Gondola take the Plan de L'Homme chair. Its fast and actually quicker to the mid stage of Tougnète than the gondola itself. Then take the new 2nd stage chairlift. Just make sure you are one of the first to the top. It's truly well worth the effort. You can also take the two stage Olympic chair to the top of La Face. From here you can ski La Face, which although black is more like a red first thing in the morning, when its usually nicely groomed. This was the ladies downhill run in the 92 Olympics and is always my first favorite run on sunny mornings. All the overnight runs that have been prepared are displayed at the tourist office and at the Chaudanne lift centre by the information desk. If your chalet or apartment faces Tougnète you can often spot them. If so have a speedy breakfast and move out fast.
In fresh powder get yourself on to the 9am Plan de L'Homme chair lift. The red Eterlou run alongside the Moon Park is usually ungroomed so you can enjoy powder practice for about 45
minutes before it's totally skied out. The short draglift at the bottom of this run opens at 9.20am (unless the lift attendant is also getting in a first run of the day!). In fact all of the blues and reds on this side of the mountain are really great in the mornings but then get worn and icy during the afternoons. At around 11am you can, if you wish, follow the sun and
move over to the Saulire side.
All the runs here are usually excellent in the morning during early season but are in the shade at first. With a fall of fresh powder there is lots of safe off piste to the side of the main blue pistes as all the slopes here are not steep enough to trigger avalanches. (apart from those directly below the Boulevard De Loze, which DO avalanche!) The off piste under the Adret Chairlift is particularly good in new fresh snow. In the spring with hot sunny days , this side of the mountain however is very hard and icy until about 11am, and then can become very slushy in the late afternoon. At this time of the season 11am to 1pm can be a total dream.
From the top of the Saulire Gondola it is a fairly steep short run round to the right, after which the piste opens out to give a choice down to Mottaret or take the path further to the right for the Meribel Saulire section. This first short run can be icy and cold in high winds, and in poor snow be careful as you might find lots of small stones appearing.
Try Mauduit, which is an incredible long run (over 1000m ) and used to host the Meribel men's downhill race. Named after Georges Mauduit ex ski racer. (he came 2nd in Giant Slalom in the 1966 world championships) . It used to be a black but was changed to a red at the time of the Olympics for some reason. Its a bit steep at the top but otherwise red is the correct level. In fresh powder it is not usually groomed so is a great powder run first thing in the morning.
A great spot for lunch and absolute sun trap is the Rond Point. It's not cheap but the food
is original and good quality.
Another good choice for those on a budget is to ski down from the Altiport to Meribel Village on the blue Lapin Piste and have lunch at LDV.
This Italian style restaurant has a great simple and inexpensive lunch menu plus a peaceful little sun terrace.
For a special lunch you can ski off piste (not too steep) to Le Plantin, a superb up market restaurant with a special skiers menu about 35 Euros.
Get yourself over to Mont Vallon , at the very far end of Mottaret, just as soon as possible for two of the best runs in the whole 3 valleys. Take Plattieres gondola to the 2nd stage then take "Bouvreuil" or go to the 3rd and top stage and take "Cote Brune". Both excellent runs that catch the morning sun and will both get you to the Mont Vallon gondola. You will rarely find any
large queues for this lift as it is not a direct part of the 3 valley tourist circuit. It's a really great area to get some serious and fast cruising in. At the top facing, northwest is the
fabulous Combe du Vallon piste which usually has excellent snow. The top section is a bit steep with moguls but it's quite short and it gets much easier after that. At the very bottom (5
kilometers later) you will have to catch the short Mures Rouges chair to get back to the Mont Vallon gondola or alternatively continue all the way down to Mottaret by the Ours blue track.
Do NOT be tempted to eat in the lovely new restaurant at Mont Vallon..We tried it when it opened.It is expensive and quite frankly awful food..!! Although I am told the takeaway sandwiches are very good.
2 other good value restaurants are next to the Zig Zag.
Le Rastro is an old favourite of the Brits and serves good value simple food.
Plus there is the charming Belle Savoie,one of our favourites. Try the Trout with Almonds !
An alternative run down to 1850 from Meribel Saulire is the superb Creux. These photos were wonderful first tracks March 2010 from Meribel to Bel Air for coffee at Courchevel 1650. At 09.00 on a sunny day this run is one of the best in the 3 Valleys.(approx 45 minutes). Try it.
Courchevel 1850 is notoriously expensive for lunch. If your wallet is stuffed with valid gold credit cards then this area is no problem to you. However if 40 quid for a couple of omelets and
bottle of house plonk is not to your taste then be very wary over here.
The quickest route is up to Saulire then down Creux and take Chanrossa chair lift. This brings you directly in to the 1650 ski area and a wide choice of relaxing easy
blues, plus three excellent comfortable red runs, Chapelets, Bel Air, and Rochers. This is a wonderful quiet section of the 3 valleys. No crowds, fabulous snow conditions. It's a long trek
over (about 1 hour from Meribel) but well worth it. if you have children be sure to take them down "Indians" a wonderful blue track through the forest. They will love all the
small jumps on the right hand side! "Indians" starts just to the right side of the Casserole restaurant. You will see the large notice board with a story of the Sioux Indian tribe on
it. on it. Take your camera as there are authentic Indian tepees pitched up on route in the forest., and make sure your kids pose by the large "Buffalo" . In addition ,on large colorful
notice boards are some more interesting and sad true history of the north American Indian tribes. "Indians" is the most interesting route down to the centre of 1650. Once there you
will find relaxing easy blues in all directions. This area really is the quietest in all 3 valleys.
La Petite Savoyard
This is a lovely famous restaurant, at the top of the chair lift of the same name. It has excellent food and a fabulous sun terrace. Plat du Jour normally about 20 euros so don't drop in if you are on a tight budget. Reservations are always necessary. Tel: 04 79 08 00 93.
There is also a supermarket in the main street opposite the piste, open all day if you are on a very tight budget and want a takeaway snack meal.
Take the Ariondaz Gondola out 1650, then the Combes drag lift, and follow the signs for Roc Mugnier a red piste down to Gravelles chair. Take note: This piste is quite steep at the beginning and usually icy in the afternoons. You can avoid the top by taking the Gravelles (a bit flat!) route, which rejoins it just above the chairs at the bottom. Next take the Suisses Chair lift next for Vizelle. La Viselle is the quickest way back to the Saulire side of Meribel and Mottaret. Alternatively you can also ski past Suisses chair and return on the blue run direct to 1850 centre where you take the Chenus gondola up to Col de la loze, the entry point to the Meribel Valley. If the Boulevard de la loze is closed do NOT be tempted go under the rope! This pathway often suffers very sudden and dangerous avalanches after a heavy snowfall. This is why it's closed. Take the Pic Noir instead down to the Altiport area.
If the snow is good try to get down to this lovely little unspoilt village. Note: In early or late season the runs down to the village are often lacking in snow cover. If snow conditions are poor be sure to give it a miss or you will find rocks, ice and tree stumps on the lower sections.
So assuming good snow conditions ,try Jockeys or Murettes all the way down. Another interesting Red is Brigues. (although a little steep). As with the others it
runs all the way down to the village.
Tel: 04 79 08 41 42
The easiest route to La Tania is from Meribel. Take Rhodos gondola from Chaudanne then ski down to the Loze chair (very slow) at the Altiport. At the top you have the
choice of a steep black or medium steep red both running down to the Le Bouc Blanc
Very English, but good food, good prices and great atmosphere. Try fish and chips with mushy peas / club sandwich / veggie burger.
Also in La Tania is La
This lovely restaurant is more up market and is just across the main road. It has superb food and a great wine list at reasonable prices.
A truly wonderful excellent value restaurant with exceptional food and a fabulous giant sun terrace.Sits at the top of the La Tania Gondola on Bouc Blanc Piste.
|St Martin De Belleville:
This is a beautiful little 14th century village.
Take the Tougnète Gondola from Chaudanne to the top stage. If its busy take the Plan de l'Homme fast chair then the Tougnète drag lift up to Le Crêtes
In the square opposite the church. Fabulous food. (The best ducks leg in the world at €15.80). If you eat outside in early season be sure to choose a table at either end of the terrace depending on the time. When the sun disappears behind the church steeple it is absolutely freezing! In spring it does not matter.
Reservations: Tel 04 79 08 91 48.
This restaurant is half way down the draglift on the far right side and set among a row of old houses. Until 6 years ago it was the same. The grandparents house along with their cows !! All living in the same old stone barn. It has truly fabulous food and still the same wonderful ancient interior. Plat du jour €12.80.Note: there is no sun terrace but don't let that put you off.
Early reservations are absolutely essential here. Tel: 04 79 01 08 40
Great very friendly Pub grub burger style restaurant run by a lovely Dutch couple. The chef is vegetarian so the veggie dishes are superb. It's very busy so try to reserve. It has a lovely little sun terrace so avoid the tables shielded by the large tree if you want to top up your tan.
Tel:04 79 00 28 27
It takes only 35 minutes to get to Les Menuires center from Meribel. Catch the Tougnète gondola to the top then follow Gros Tougne all the way down. On the way , at the base of the Grand Luc fast 6 man chair you will pass a wonderful mountain restaurant of the same name. Take note of this one. We found superb food with the plat du jour exceptional value (11 euros) , as is the quality wine list. The lady hostess is charm itself , plus it also has 5 star toilets. Exceptionally clean and modern with very thoughtful non slip steps leading down to them. This restaurant is only 2 years old and well worth a visit if you have not done so already.
From Mottaret catch Plattieres gondola to and then take Allamands. It’s a fast run and is not usually too busy. Then drop down on Grandes Combes to Gros Tougne again for the run in to Les Menuires.
Alternatively take the Combes Chair then Roc de Tougne double drag lift. Ski down Pramint and then join Gros Tougne once more.
The reds below Mont de la Chambre are also usually fairly quiet and make excellent cruising especially the 4 vents piste .
Another good choice is Chalet 2000 situated under the Doron chair serving wonderful food, especially the plat du jour (12 euros). If service seems a little brusque sometimes that is because the waiter is always so busy. Take no notice, just enjoy the fine quality of the food.
Tel: 04 79 0060 57 for reservations. (essential)
Hotel L'ours Blanc:
A little more up market but also absolutely excellent. (renowned for it's T Bone Steaks). This hotel restaurant has the most charming English lady owner, very friendly service and good value. Well worth a visit. You will find it just below Chalet 2000 on the same piste under the Doron chair.
Val 2300m Thorens:
There are two main routes over to Val Thorens from Meribel. The most popular and the quickest route means starting from Mottaret so if you are in Meribel jump on Tougnète gondola to the first stage, or Plan de l'Homme fast chair. Then ski down to Mottaret centre. Take Plattieres gondola to the 2nd stage then take Bouvreuil or go to the 3rd and top stage and take Cote Brune. Both are excellent runs that catch the morning sun and will take you direct down to Cote Brune Chair. This long cold chair will in due course get you to the top of Mont de la Chambre (2860m) and in to the VT valley.
Another choice is to head up to the top of Tougnète then head straight down to Les Menuires & Reberty Village via the Gros Tougne pathway. Then catch Les Bruyeres gondola to the
same entry point for VT.
As you enter Val Thorens you have a very short black run, which is quite easy early morning in good snow conditions, but very icy later. This joins Plein Sud for the easy trip down to VT centre. The alternative, depending on your desired destination is to take the long Pluviometre run down but take note that this piste ends up far below the centre. You will then have to walk 100m up to Cascades chair and/or Peclet Funitel or take the Plein Sud chairlift if you want to ski the far left side of the valley. However this blue route does whisk you down to the Caron gondola which connects with the Cime de Caron cable car.
If it is your first trip to VT then be sure to take a trip up to the Cime de Caron. There is always a queue for this giant cable car but as it holds 160 people it never takes too long. The views are fantastic at the top (3200m) with a giant compass showing all the other major resorts in the alps. It is always cold up here so wrap up warm. There is a small restaurant hut at the top for hot drinks.
Take the Col De L'audzin , a wonderful long run all the way down to the cable car base. Also the Combe-de-Caron, although black ,is not actually too steep for confident intermediates. All the snow on this section is usually in excellent condition.
There is also now also a superb long black run over the other side in the 4th valley. The Combe Rosael, that used to be strictly off piste, now drops down to join Mauriennaise for the final route to Orelle (900m). So a full 2300m descent in one go! Well worth doing and as a bonus by the time you get reach this piste you will normally find it in basking in full sunshine.
Given time another excellent choice is to take the Funitel Grand Fond and drop in to the 4th valley for a full 2100m run down to Orelle on the Mauriennaise.
Up in this corner of VT is also another fairly quite excellent red. Take the Boismint chair then ski the piste of the same name. It's long ,fast and we have never known it to be really busy.
VT really is an such an excellent place to ski ! More of the good stuff is to be found at the far left end of the valley. "Col" for example over by Pte de Thorens (3266m).
Really this whole area, together with the reds, Christine, Beranger, Lac Blanc, reached by the Peclet Funitel always have excellent snow and are normally very quiet. Val Thorens definitely
warrants more than just one day trip from Meribel.
Tel 04 79 00 03 12.
If you are on a very tight budget drop in to the VT centre where you will find cheap takeaway burger/sandwiches bars in ready supply.
This trip home is interesting but very tiring. Its about 8 km to Meribel and takes about 1 hour so don't leave it too late. This route gets very crowded from 3.30pm onwards
and is mainly shaded from the sun so is also very cold in early season.
Homeward Route: 2
So enjoy all these runs and don't forget to please give us feedback. Was this article helpful to you? Comments etc to firstname.lastname@example.org