Best Pistes in Meribel
Hidden Gems and All Time Favourites
The ski area is so vast it can be difficult to know where to start skiing. So we have put together some of our favorite runs throughout the ski area. Whether you're into moguls, steep and long descents or simply beautiful, quiet pistes with great snow, we hope that these suggestions will hit the spot.
Best Pistes in Meribel Valley
The newly-created upper part of the Blanchot runs starts from the Saulire Express 1 gondola lift. This easy green winds down towards the Altiport area and is the ideal piste for beginners and children to practice on. Head to the Tougnète/Roc de Fer area to enjoy the loveliest blues in the valley. Start with Faon, a swooping, winding blue. Next take the Tougnète 2 lift and head down Crêtes, which is sited on a ridge with spectacular views in every direction. Continue down Choucas, a north-facing blue run which is a favourite with ski schools thanks to its excellent snow. Continue part of the way down Gelinotte then take the Olympic chair and enjoy the Grand Duc blue run. On the other side of the valley, don’t miss the lovely Lapin run which descends from Altiport to Méribel Village. This is another tree-lined run, ideal in flat light or bad weather.
The red Combe Vallon is one of the longest runs in the valley, starting at Méribel’s highest skiing point, the Mont Vallon (2952m). Mainly north facing, it keeps excellent snow on it all season. Starting out steep and narrow, it twists and turns, widens, and then just keeps on going for a total 1000m drop. Unless you’re very fit you’ll need to stop for several breathers (pretend you’re admiring the view). Campagnol is slightly gentler and usually quieter. Both offer amazing views and usually have wonderful snow.
Mauduit, a red piste formerly used for downhill races, is named after Méribel’s champion skier, George Mauduit. Long and swooping, it descends from just below the summit of Saulire all the way into la Chauanne in Méribel. In bad weather, the two red runs below the main resort, Raffort and Villages, are worth searching out. Raffort descents through the trees to the village of the same name, and Villages is a very long, mainly flattish run past traditional hamlets to Les Allues. Rejoin the main ski area by taking the Olympe gondola or the free buses to Méribel centre.
The black run, Face was created for the 1992 Olympic Ladies’ downhill. It’s very steep and sometimes moguled, and it’s difficult to believe that humans could straight-line it without dying in the process. (Please don’t try.) The Couloir Tournier is the newest run in the valley (created for the 2013 season, is it not yet on the piste map). Starting from the summit of Saulire Express gondola, this is the steepest run in the valley, with a scary 37 degree slope at the top. Narrow and with no escape routes, this couloir is only for experts.
Pic Noir is quiet with gorgeous, tree-lined views. Now it’s now been remodelled it keeps better snow on it too. Nominated by Sue Gatenby, AMS Rentals.
Once every few winters there is enough snow to ski all the way down to Brides les Bains. The lower part of the descent is an un-patrolled itinerary, so go with a guide. Start at the top of the Saulire (2738m) and end up at 600m after a long run through forests, terraced fields and orchards. Have a big lunch in Brides, and then take the Olympe gondola back up.
BEST PISTES IN THE COURCHEVEL VALLEY
Combe Saulire before 9.30 in the morning. Why so early? This red run becomes busy once the lifts from Courchevel reach it. But both Méribel and Mottaret gondola lifts get there earlier, so hit first lift and make this the first run of the day. It has the best snow possible, which is invariably groomed into immaculate condition each night. Nominated by Ed Wooley, Director Parallel Lines Ski School.
Do you like moguls? If so, you’ll find the biggest ones in the Three Valleys on Courchevel black run, Suisses. If the top section is too steep for you, take the easier start via the Marmottes run. You’ll have an audience from the Suisses chairlift most of the way down so feel free to show off. Only ski Suisses in good snow conditions; the bottom can get very icy. Nominated by Antonia Laws, Human Resources Manger, Ski Scott Dunn.
Chapelets feels as close to ‘back-country’ skiing as one can get without leaving the piste. The scenery is stunning and it’s always quiet. Nominated by Anne Wooley, Director of Ski Cuisine. Chapelets also great to hit first thing in the morning when it is freshly groomed as you can whizz down. It starts of steep and then it gets more gentle but it is a favourtie among many.
Another few of our favourites are Jean pichot which is a fast red but it has lots of off piste connecting it with large moguls also the Dou de Lanches which is a black run just aboveLa Tania, it is steep and speedy but great!
BEST PISTES IN THE VAL THORENS & BELLEVILLE VALLEY
Red run Allamande winds from the top of 3 Marches down towards the resort of Les Menuires, and has enough twists, turns, long shusses and steep bits to keep everyone happy. Nominated by Merinet’s own snow reporter.
All three runs from the top of the Cime de Caron are excellent. Black Combe de Caron and red Col de l’Audzin run back towards Val Thorens, but our favourite is the black Combe Rosael which takes you to the gorgeous ‘fourth valley’. It’s seriously steep, so don’t attempt is if the snow is icy.
The start of Jerusualem is tucked away, which is why this red run is always quiet, and usually keeps excellent snow. This perfect intermediate run is rolling with gentle and steep sections, and the off-piste to either side is safe and gentle – ideal for first forays into powder. Nominated by Mike Harrison, ESF instructor.