It’s easy to become bewildered by the choice of 330 pistes. So we have compiled half a dozen routes that we hope will help you discover new terrain throughout the Three Valleys. Follow these routes to discover the best pistes, best snow, great views, and where to go on those bad weather days. Lift names are given in capitals.
Route 1 – Meribel Valley Blues Cruise
It’s your first day back on snow, you don’t want to ski anything too steep, and you want to ski in the sun all day.
Starting in Méribel 1450 take the PLAN DE L’HOMME chairlift and then warm up down the Caves piste, heading for the base of the OLYMPIC chairlift. From the top of the Olympic take the Grand Duc to the CHERFERIE up to the ridge between the Méribel and the Belleville Valleys. Turn back towards Méribel and come down Choucas to the CAVES draglift. From here you can ski down Grive to the TOUGNETE 2. If you want to include a red run you can drop down into the Belleville Valley at this point and take the Pramint piste down to ST MARTIN 2, which will bring you back up to the ridge at Tougnete. If not, stay on the blue Crêtes pistes at the top of the TOUGNETE 2 - at which point it is probably time for lunch!
Lunch: Restaurant Les Crêtes. Small, owner-run restaurant at the top of the TOUGNETE drag lift. Cosy atmosphere and excellent local food. Booking advised, as it is very popular. No credit cards accepted. Lunch served 12h00-15h30. Tel +33 (0)4 79 08 56 50.
From Restaurant Les Crêtes you can access Faon, Perdrix and then Furet before taking the long PAS DU LAC 1 & 2 lifts up to the Saulire. There is then a tiny bit of red run before getting back onto the blue pistes of Biche and then Marmotte. The ADRET will take you up the meet the Geai, Blanchot (green) and Lapin pistes where you will find yourself down in Méribel Village. From here you can hop on the GOLF then ALTIPORT lifts before taking the Rhodos (green) and Doron runs back to Méribel 1450.
Route 2 – Meribel to Courchevel Moriond
You are happy on red runs and want to avoid the busier areas.
From Méribel Mottaret you can either take the BURGIN 1 & 2 or PAS DU LAC 1 & 2 gondolas up to the Saulire. From here you can drop down into the Courchevel Valley via the Creux red run. The CREUX NOIRS will take you back up to the Roches Grises, from which you can choose either a short red or black run to bring you back onto the Creux. Carrry on all the way down to hop on the ROC MUGNIER chairlift and then take the Grandes Bosses blue run down to the SIGNAL chairlift. This will take you to the top of the Chapelets red piste, from where it is a nice long run down to the bottom of the CHAPELETS chairlift. From here take either the red Rochers or the blue Ariondaz (they meet about halfway along anyway). Towards the end of the Arondiaz bear left and head for Restaurant la Casserole.
Lunch: Restaurant la Casserole. Good range of typical French dishes. Lunch served 11h30-15h00. Tel +33 (0)4 79 08 06 35
After lunch take draglift PETITE BOSSE and scoot along the short blue Gravelles to reach the AIGUILLE DU FRUIT chairlift. The Park City and Rama red runs will bring you to MARMOTTES and then come back down the first part of Marmottes red run and then turn off onto the black Suisses. From the top of the SUISSES chairlift you can take the long red Maudit run all the way down to Méribel 1450.
Route 3 – Meribel to Val Thorens
You’ll usually find excellent snow in Val Thorens, but avoid the area on very cold or windy days.
Starting in La Chaudanne take the TOUGNETE 1 & 2 lifts and warm up by coming back down on the red Dahu piste, which then merges into the long blue Martre run. Do not follow the Martre all the way to the end though, about halfway down there is a turn-off for the ROC DE TOUGNE lift. Take this up to the ridge and then come back down the red Lagopède, which brings you back on to the second stretch of the Martre. This time you should follow the piste all the way down to Méribel Mottaret, where you can pick up the PLATTIERE 1, 2 & 3. This long lift will take you back up to the ridge, where you will now drop down into the Belleville Valley.
The red Allamandes followed by the blue Petits Creux pistes will take you to the bottom of the MONT DE LA CHAMBRE chairlift. Once you get off the chairlift you can either take the Marielle and Plein Sud blue runs back to the FUNITEL PECLET or, to avoid the short black run that connects them, take Pluviometre.
From the top of the FUNITEL PECLET you can access the blue Tete Ronde and Dalles pistes before stopping for lunch.
Lunch: Bar de la Marine. Table service, great views, try the speciality, Osso Bucco. Lunch served 12h00-15h00. Tel +33 (0)4 79 00 03 12
Once lunch has settled continue down to the BOIMINT chairlift, from the top of this is it is a short scoot on a red piste across to the CIME CARON. From the top of the Cime de Caron you descend via the black Combe de Caron piste, which leads onto the red Gentiane piste. The end of this run brings you to the MOUTIERE chairlift. From the top of the chairlift take the blue La Linotte and Chalets runs and then hop onto the PLEIN SUD chairlift, followed by the BOUQUETIN cable car. From here it is a nice cruise down the long blue Mont de la Chambre run back to BRUYERES 1 & 2, which will take you back up to the ridge separating the Méribel and Val Thorens valleys.
Re-enter Méribel on the red Venturon and Bouvreuil pistes, all the way to the foot of the MONT VALLON lift. The red Combe Vallon run will bring you back down to the MURES ROUGES chairlift, which takes you to the PLAN DES MAINS chairlift. The blue Sitelle and Martres piste followed by the green Truite, make for a gentle run back into Méribel Mottaret.
Route 4 – La Tania & Tree Line Skiing
This circuit takes you from Méribel la Chaudanne into the La Tania ski area in the Courchevel sector of the Three Valleys. It is a good route for poor visibility days.
Take the RHODOS 1 & 2 before coming onto the green Blanchot and the blue Lapin pistes. Get on the GOLF followed by the ALTIPORT chairlifts and then come back down the Blanchot piste as far as the LOZE chairlift, which will take you up to the ridge between the Méribel and Courchevel valleys. Entering Courchevel take the blue Col de la Loze partway until it meets the black Dou des Lanches piste. Continue until it becomes the blue Folyères run, which takes you all the way down into La Tania itself. The LA TANIA gondola takes you up to Bouc Blanc, which is a nice place to stop for a bite to eat.
Lunch: Restaurant le Bouc Blanc. Popular table-service restaurant with good range of French and local dishes. Huge sunny terrace. Lunch served 12h00-15h00. Tel +33 (0)4 79 08 80 26 Jockeys
If you can move after lunch scoot across the short blue piste to the PRAZ lift, at the top of which you can come down the red Dou du Midi run until it meets the red Brigues piste, which then branches off onto the red Boulevard des Amoureux.
You should now find yourself in Courchevel le Praz 1300. Take the FORET gondola and cruise along the blue Boulevard Arolles to the DOU DES LANCHES chairlift. This takes you up to Col de la Loze, from where you can drop back over into Méribel and return to the Altiport via the blue Pic Noir piste, followed by the short green Blanchot slope. There is a little draglift and then you follow the green Forêt and blue Doron pistes back to Méribel la Chaudanne.
Route 5 - Les Menuires & the '4th Valley'
Starting from Méribel this route takes you across the Belleville Valley, through Les Menuires and into the ‘fourth’ valley of Orelle.
From Méribel la Chaudanne take the TOUGNETTE 1 & 2 up to the ridge and then turn back onto the red Dahu piste, followed by the blue Matre piste. Just go as far as the base of the ROC DE TOUGNE and take the lift back up to the ridge. This time you are going to cross over into the next valley and ski sown to the GRANGES chairlift via the res Teppes piste.
Take the GRANGES back up to the ridge and begin the long descent into Les Menuires via the red Allamands piste followed by the blue Petits Creux piste. Follow the Petits Creux round to the right as far as the ROCHER NOIR chairlift. At the top of the ROCHER NOIR there is a short blue track leading to the LAC NOIR chairlift. The black Lac Noir piste at the top of the chairlift takes you back down to the MASSE 2 cable car. Once out of the cable car you can enjoy a long run from Point de la Masse along the black Masse, red Longets and blue Vallons pistes, all of which lead on from one another. At the end of the Vallons run take the DORON chairlift and return to Les Menuires via the blue Boyes piste. Continue until you come to the base station of the BRUYERES 1 & 2. From the top of the 2nd cable car you take the Marielle track to access the long blue Plein Sud piste. Next take the MOUTIERE chairlift followed by the FUNITEL GRAND FOND then ski across to Cime de Caron via the red Mauriennaise piste.
Lunch: Chalet Refuge Chinal Donat. Sunny terrace and reasonably good value food. Tel +33 (0)4 79 56 53 01. Alternatively, take a picnic lunch and enjoy the spectacular views.
Carry on along the red Gentianes piste and then take the PEYRON and BOUCHET chairlifts before descending down the red and blue runs of the same names. Return to the top of the GRAND FOND via the ROSAEL chairlift and then take the Chamois and Variante red runs, followed by the blue Fond piste and then the green Combe de Thorens slope. The PLEIN SUD chailrift and the BOUQUETIN cable car will return you to the ridge, from where you can take the red Lac de la Chambre all the way down to the base station of the PLAN DES MAINS chairlift. Once off the chairlift you have a pleasant return to Méribel Mottaret via the blue Sitelle and Matre pistes and the green Truite piste.
Route 6 – Courchevel Fast & Furious
For experts only! Courchevel's best steep and deep skiing.
Starting from the top of the SAUILRE cable car use the long red Combe Saulire piste as a warm up before going back up on the VIZELLE gondola and hitting the back M (yes, this is a piste name and not a typo!). Back up the VIZELLE, this time taking the Suisses black run followed by the SUISSES chairlift back to the top. The black Combe Pylônes piste will bring you back down to the SAULIRE base station.
Head back up the cable car if you want to try the steep black Grande Couloir (for real experts only). This brings you back onto the red Combe Saulire run and then along the red Stade Descente piste, so if you want to give the Couloir a miss you can just come down from the start of the Combe Saulire. Next, take the COQS chairlift up to Chenus and let your legs recover on the green Loze Est slope as you head to La Soucoupe for lunch.
Lunch: Restaurant la Soucoupe. Eclectically decorated, rustic restaurant with a huge open fire over which the chef will grill your steak. Serves excellent food and has good celebrity-spotting potential. Not to be confused with the basic, self-service restaurant below. Lunch served 12h00-15h30. Tel +33(0)4 79 08 21 34
After lunch take the blue Loze and Jantzen pistes down into Courchevel, cross through resort and take the green track to the PLANTREY chairlift. The long black Jean Blanc run turns into the red Amoureuz piste, bringing you to the FORET cable car. At the top of the lift take the blue Boulevard Arolles to access the black Jockeys piste, bringing you back round in a loop to Le Praz 1300. Take the FORET again, this time followed by the CRETES chairlift. From here you can ski back down to Courchevel 1850 via a short blue stretch before hitting the long red Chenus run back to resort.
Route 7 - Val Thorens to Courchevel
Courchevel and back in a day from Val Thorens is much easier (and quicker) than you might think. An intermediate skier ought to be able to get there in just over an hour on the most direct route, although you can branch out if you wish to make a day of it.
The obvious route is to ski into the Méribel Valley from the top of the BOUQUETIN FUNITEL at Mont de la Chambre. Taking the PLAN DES MAINS chairlift gains height and avoids the flattish route into Mottaret, which is to be avoided at all costs if on a snowboard! An alternative is to ski Route du Soleil down to ROC DES 3 MARCHES 2, then down the long Grand Lac blue run to either the TEPPES drag or ST MARTIN 2 (should take about 40mins). The Grand Lac is a fabulous run! Mottaret can also be reached from the top of either of these lifts.
Ros, our intrepid Snow Reporter describes one of her favourite circular routes...
- From Mottaret, take the PAS DU LAC bubble, or RAMEES and GRAND ROSIERE chairs if you like the sunshine or there's too big a queue. Both routes take you up to La Saulire.
- Head down the Creux (red), keeping right and carrying on down to the CHANROSSA chair. Take the CHANROSSA and ski down the back of Roc Merlet. Stay right and cross the double drag, PYRAMIDES 1 & 2. Head down to Resaturant le Casserole and take the fast SIGNAL chair to the top of Chapelets - this is a lovely fast red and generally not busy. Take the CHAPELETS chairlift back up and, if having a fast day, do Rochers back to the bottom and then the same CHAPELETS chairlift back up again.
- From here you can go back to the bottom of SIGNAL along Ariondaz, but this time take the Petits Bosses to get to PRAMURUEL. Take GRAVELLES (or AIGUILLE DU FRUIT for a bit of black) and head on down past the Altiport down the Bellecôte Piste to Courchevel 1850. This is a good point to stop for lunch or a drink at Tovets restaurant.
- Once in Courchevel 1850 make for the left of the central lift system and ski through the tunnel and round to the left for the PLANTREY chair. From there, you can ski down the Bouc Blanc to the DOU DES LANCHES chairlift. Just before you arrive you will pass the restaurant Bouc Blanc, another nice refreshment stop. Dou des Lanches arrives at Col de la Loze; track straight on then down to La Chaudanne, or turn right for a red or black down to Meribel Altiport. Then its the ALTIPORT chair or a horizontal draglift to get back to the Rond Point sector for a return to La Chaudanne. (NB most skiers returning to Val Thorens take PLATTIERES from Mottaret followed by COTE BRUNE and in low season this would be OK, in high season its a nightmare).
- From Chaudanne, take PLAN DE L'HOMME and then the blue Grive piste followed by TOUGNETE 2. Ski down into Belleville Valley along the blue Gros Tougne for LES GRANGES, arriving at Roc des Trois Marches (top of PLATTIERES 3). Depending on time, you can then ski down Alouettes (Méribel Valley) for the COTE BRUNE back to Val Thorens, or towards Les Menuires for the MONT DE LA CHAMBRE chair). If there are long queues at MONT DE LA CHAMBRE, try the ETELE chairlift followed by the MONTAULEVER drag.
- The 3 Valleys Piste Map shows each valley on a single page. Spend an evening looking at the crossover points between the Belleville Valley and the Méribel Valley and the runs and lifts which connect them. There are five, and crossing back and forth makes interesting skiing, especially above St Martin and Les Teppes. Between Courchevel and Méribel, there are only two: La Saulire and La Loze.
- Be aware of lift closing times, they are strictly adhered to.
- If running short of time, make sure you are in the right Valley. From top of Tougnete 2 (Méribel), you can ski all the way back to Les Menuires.
- Pick up a Belleville Valley local bus timetable, just as a back-up plan for getting home!
- Take a quick peek at our Mountain Restaurants Guide; the two mentioned above are included in the Courchevel section and are highly rated as well as not breaking the bank!
Route 8 - The Three Valleys Blue Runs Circuit
Our Courchnet reporter has gone to great lengths to plot a route that can be taken by a group of ‘plough/parallel' skiers with ease and will take you into each of the 3 Valleys. Although the itinerary begins and ends in Courchevel, it can be picked up from the point most convenient to where you're staying and followed in a circle.
It takes you into the Belleville Valley above St. Martin & Les Menuires and back up to the the Roc de 3 Marches at 2704 metres with one of the great views in the whole of the 3-Valleys. You then get to ski down the run ‘Grand Lac' followed by ‘Pelozet' which is the longest and best blue in the 3-Valleys with the added benefit of terrific views.
Courchevel Starting Point
• The departure point is from the Croisette in Courchevel - that’s the building which the 3 main bubble lifts leave from. Take the ‘CHENUS’ bubble from here and exit the lift station at the top. • Put your skis on and turn right, skiing down to the little 2 man chair that starts from just behind the Pisteur hut. This ski is no more than 50 metres. The chair travels almost horizontally (ie not up) and is called ‘COL DE LA LOZE’. You are now on the ridge separating the Courchevel Valley (called the Bozel Valley) from the Meribel Valley (called the Meribel Valley!). • Turn a little left from the exit of the chair and about 50 metres away you will see a large wooden gateway saying Welcome to Meribel. • Go through this gateway on to the run called ‘Boulevard de la Loze’. • This is a long path which simply gets you deep into the Meribel Valley and I’m afraid is a little cold in the morning shadow – but trust me it’ll be worth it. Do not deviate right at the top onto either TETRAS or PIC NOIR. The Boulevard is basically straight. • Follow it on until you start getting back into sunshine and start crossing a couple of steepish reds. Keep going traversing across the mountain until you hit a blue run at right angles where you have to turn right. This is called Belette. All the runs funnel down past the top of the Rhodos bubble and onto the Rhodos piste, which brings you onto Rond Point – a large beginners area above Meribel which has many ways in but only one way out. So just feel your way down to the bottom end of Rond Point and get on to the DORON path to Meribel’s main lift area called La Chaudanne. Don’t worry if everything sounds a bit complicated at this point. There are helpful wooden signs at most junctions and just keep in mind ‘RHODOS followed by ROND POINT followed by LA CHAUDANNE’. All runs connecting these three places are blue so it doesn’t matter if you deviate a bit.
Méribel Starting Point
• At La Chaudanne, get on the TOUGNETTE bubble (the one on the left); up the ramp and it’s a 6 person bubble. Stay on for both stages to the top. You are now on the ridge separating the Méribel Valley from the Belleville valley at Tougnette (2434 Metres). • Down the ramp and turn SHARP left along the ridge. Walk 20 or 30 metres and put your skis on in the sunshine. Up to now you’ve been ‘getting there’. Now you’re going to start having fun! • From Courchevel, if you’re quick you’re now an hour into it. If you’re taking it easy or it’s busy, perhaps an hour and a half. • Ski along the ridge looking for the run GROS TOUGNE. Avoid the red run PRAMINT which drops off to the right. • GROS TOUGNE is a 1 km run which goes nowhere but to the restaurant Grand Lac. Time for a pit stop I’d say! Lovely sun deck & view. • After that, get on the very fast covered 6 man chair called GRANGES. This takes you back to the top of the ridge at a point called Roc des 3 Marches. There’s a self service restaurant here with an unbelievable view. The food’s reasonably priced and pretty good. If it’s too early for lunch, turn right at the top and then right just past the restaurant down the run called ‘GRAND LAC’. This is very gentle, very long and the best in the 3 Valleys. It returns you to the bottom of the Granges chair and the Grand Lac restaurant. • Stop here for an early lunch or go just below and to the left of the restaurant down the run called PELOZET • This takes you to one place only (ie can’t get lost!) and that’s the bottom of the St Martin 2 chair. Just before you get to this point, which is the start of your journey home, there’s a restaurant called Corbellays on your left which is very good. • From Courchevel, you can be at this point at 3pm and still get home easily.
St Martin Starting Point
• Up the St Martin 2 chair to the top of the ridge. Turn left along the ridge. When you see a sign to turn right, into the Meribel Valley onto the run called CHOUCAS. • Follow this down till you get to an area that has 2 drag lifts starting close together. Take the one on the right called CAVES. Left at the top across the hill on the run called GRIVES to the middle bubble station. Go just underneath it on to the green PERDRIX and into Mottaret.
Mottaret Starting Point
• Once you get right onto the flat bit that’s Mottaret, there’s a little passage in the left hand corner, behind a couple of ski shops and restaurant’s, signposted to Meribel via the run called La Truite • This gentle green takes you back to La Chaudanne. All the way across and onto the 12 man bubble in the middle called RHODOS. • Go up both stages; go straight out of the door towards the Rhododendron restaurant, keeping it on your left. Just ahead of you is the start of the Dent de Burgin chair which you should ski past and on down to the LOZE chair a few hundred yards down on your right. • This slow chair takes you through the woods and back to Courchevel! • Ski straight ahead from the end of the chair and you’re on the LOZE EST • If you started in Courchevel, then take whatever route you fancy back to your chalet from here. If not, follow the LOZE EST piste down to La Croisette and continue following the route from the top!