Meribel Activity Report: 15th August 2012
Caroline Sayer | Meribel Reporter | published: 15th August 2012
You might think that Méribel in summer is a relaxed, dozy, out-of-season sort of place. It’s true that the inter-season (May-June, September-November) are quiet months, when you are more likely to meet a marmot or red deer on the mountain than another human being. July and August, however, are Méribel’s summer season, when the resort comes alive with a spectacular range of activities, events, theme weeks and parties.
The first two weeks of August see Méribel at its buzzy best: today’s local entertainment programme lists no fewer than 23 different activities for children and adults, ranging from Segway riding to Nordic walking via evening mountain bike rides and mini-golf. In addition, this week sees Méribel’s major Magic Festival with children’s magic courses, close-up magic shows and galas each evening. Today is also the resort’s annual street sale, the “Braderie”, when sports shops sell off last year’s stock at tiny prices.
If you enjoy sports, outdoor activities or simply being close to nature, then you could never get bored in Méribel in summer. It always surprises me that so few winter visitors come back in July or August to discover the place in its radically different but equally beautiful summer character.
This summer has seen various developments. A charming, brand-new walking path, “le Sentier au fil de l’eau” runs alongside the Doron river between Méribel and Mottaret. In addition, a free, “Ecobus” also serves the various activity centres along the Doron Fun Area, stopping at the climbing area, high-wire adventure course, tennis and riding centres. (Why Ecobus, I wonder? Surely it would be more eco-friendly to walk?) In addition, a new, free shuttle bus links Méribel with Brides-les-Bains, allowing mountain bikers to whizz all the way from the top of the Saulire (2700m) down to Brides (600m) and regain the resort without effort.
Of course, summer is the only time when construction work can be carried out and this year sees more than usual building activity. In the centre of town, Méribel’s first five-star hotel, the Kaila et Spa, is nearing completion. This swanky new hotel, created by the same family as the Trois Hotels de la Chaudanne, is due to open this December.
The main lift areas in Méribel and Mottaret are hives of activity as two major new lifts are prepared for next winter. (Click here for full details of all the new piste and lift improvements for winter 2012-13). Even the normally-tranquil Mont Vallon area is busy. A helicopter is carrying building materials to the Refuge du Saut – the only means of transport to this hard-to-access site on the edge of the Vanoise National Park. A two-year renovation plan will see this tiny refuge brought up to modern standards. I stayed at the Refuge du Saut earlier this summer and though it’s a sweet refuge in a wonderful spot, I did find the shared dormitory accommodation, outdoor loo and lack of showers rather basic….
Next week sees even more excitement: a week dedicated to mountain-biking (Ride’N Bike) ends with the French fourcross final and the French Mountain Biking Cup Final. Thrills, spills and lots of broken bones are guaranteed.
Sadly, the summer fun must come to an end all too soon: the official summer season finishes on 31 August. September is often a beautiful month in a suddenly calm valley, when the main activities are mushroom hunting and watching the red deer in rut. October and November are quieter still, when the valley looks like New England in the fall, all russets and gold. The first snows fall on the summits at this time of year, and we start to look forward to the start of the new winter season on 8 December…..