Meribel & Mottaret.
We have 5 blacks in the Meribel valley and the best of these are La Face which was the women’s Olympic downhill course in 1992 and Bartavelle, at the top of Roc de Tougne double drag lift in Mottaret. See picture above. Bartavelle is on the left going up the drag. It is sometimes groomed, but usually has giant moguls on it.
Take the Roc de Fer chair from Chaudanne then the Olympic chair to the peak, also called Roc de Fer (2294m).
La Face is a very easy black early morning if groomed but it gets worn, bumpy and icy later. From this run you also can take the off piste itinerary to either Raffort or ski down to Les Allues village snow permitting. The Olympe gondola brings you back from both to Chaudanne.
This is a black that runs from the top of Tougnète down to almost mid station. This is a fabulous run in new powder at 9. 20am as it never gets groomed.
The same applies to the “Les Bosses” black run directly under the Plan de L’Homme chair lift. This 2nd one is worth getting out of bed for if we have had heavy snow overnight. Fresh snowfalls means the top lifts are closed till about 11am but Plan de L’Homme chair usually opens as usual. If you doubt this just ask Dion Taylor, Ex MD of Snow and Rock. He was spotted making the first powder tracks at exactly 9.20am directly under the chair in a meter of fresh snow some years ago in April. (During the British Land championships). Later in the day – – Les Bosses develops in to a major mogul field. (“Bosses” is French for “bumps by the way “)
Take the Combes chair out of Mottaret then the Roc de Tougne double drag lift. (see photo).This is one of the best mogul fields in the 3 valleys and was the venue for the famous “Cocktail Shakers” a few years ago. This was a bumps competition open to all and the highlight each year was a “Naked shaker” when bids were offered for a chalet girl to ski/board the course without a stitch on. Ski Cocktail ski school went out of business and sadly the “Naked Shaker” died with them. (But the memory lingers on – Jill Dance are you reading this!). Just too either side of the drag are also enjoyable powder possibilities after a new snow fall. However as is often the case rocks linger under so make sure we have had at least a meter or more of snow on top.
The other blacks in the Meribel valley are Tetras by the Altiport and Grand Rosiere and Sanglier above Mottaret. All three get the afternoon sun so the new snow does not last long. However after a fresh dump they are wonderful in the mornings. Either side of all of 3 pistes also provides excellent spring snow skiing during March and April.
If you are lucky enough to have a really big fall of snow all the way down to the valley floor then the itinerary through the forest to Brides Les Bains is extremely interesting. This run starts at the Altiport area and is now marked. I was lucky enough to do it back in “Jan 87″ in more than a meter of fresh powder with Frederick St Guilhem of the ESF ski discovery group. In those days “Ski Discovery” was called “Rally Savage”. They changed the name as it put quite a few of us Brits from joining up! It was quite an incredible experience right through the forest! Back then, pre gondola, it also meant an expensive taxi back up the mountain. (To be paid for by the clients (2 of us) by the way – as I found out to my cost!)
In Brides les Bains try lunch at les Cerisiers, just by the base of the Olympe gondola. Excellent quality.
In Mottaret use the Zig Zag, Le Rastro or La Terrace at Chatelet area. All 3 are excellent value with super food, and very friendly, personal service. Well worth a stroll across the piste.