An Introduction & guide to Meribel
Nestled in the beautiful Alpine valley of Les Allues, Meribel and its surrounding hamlets offer visitors views of chocolate box chalets, stunning mountain scenery as well as great restaurants, nightlife and a vast ski area. The three valleys is undoubtedly the largest ski area in the world, linking Meribel with neighbouring Courchevel and Val Thorens giving skiers and snowboarders of every level access to around 600km of pistes and a huge variety of off-piste options too.
Not only is the resort a haven for snow lovers in the winter, bringing thousands of families and visitors from across the world to enjoy its varied ski terrain, but it is also home to incredible opportunities for summer holidays too, with a broad network of hiking trails, road cycling, mountain biking and a fantastic golf course.
Méribel is the largest of the villages in the valley and is home to the main shopping area and the greatest selection of après-ski bars and restaurants. The bi-weekly street market adds charm and sense of tradition to the town centre. Stretching from 1450m up to 1700m, it offers some ski in / ski out accommodation and excellent access to the ski area via the superb lift system.
Accommodation stretches all the way from Mottaret, through Meribel, into Les Allues and on down to Brides les Bains at the bottom of the valley, offering lots of choice for every budget. Although the resort is best known for its beautiful chalet and hotel accommodation, there are also plenty of residences and self-catering apartments available too.
Food is a great part of life in the French Alps, and with all those outdoor pursuits to try you can rest assured it is all very hearty! Local specialities are often cheese or cream based (sometimes both…), featuring local meats, potatoes and green salad. The food in the Alps is often accused of being unadventurous and ‘lardy’ but there are plenty of delicious regional dishes besides the good old fondue.
The emphasis is very much on fresh local produce and so cured and seasoned meats will have come from cattle grazed on Alpine pastures, the local cheeses of Abondance and Beaufort will be prevalent and although there isn’t a coastline in sight there is still a regional fish dish! The féra is caught in nearby Lake Geneva and is a popular dish served in many restaurants, alongside other lake fish such as Omble Chevalier (char), truite (trout), brochet (pike) and perche (perch).
Where is Meribel?
The most convenient airport for the Three Valleys is Chambery, situated 109 kms (1 1/4hrs) away. From here, you have a number of different methods of transport to choose from to get you up to resort. If you can’t get a flight to Chambéry, the next best options are Grenoble (2 hours), Lyon (2 hours) or Geneva (3 hours) - all of these airports are serviced by a number of the major airlines.
Each airport has it pros and cons. Chambery is closest but may close in bad weather and your flight be diverted elsewhere. Geneva has excellent bus/shuttle links to Meribel, Courchevel & Val Thorens, but finding the route in a hire car isn't particularly easy. Lyon St-Exupery has fewer links to resort, expecially midweek, but the journey is easier and quicker than from Geneva if you hire a car. Of course Meribel also has its own Altiport for those arriving by private plane or helicopter..
Also see: Towns & Villages in Meribel
Events in Meribel
Meribel hosts a number of events throughout the summer and winter months, some of which span the entire three valleys.
Things to Do in Meribel
The winter season normally runs from the second week in December until the end of April, with New Year and February/March being the busiest times.
Méribel’s lift system is modern and continually being improved, with 15 gondola lifts and 19 chairlifts. The neighbouring resorts of Courchevel, la Tania, Val Thorens and Les Menuires can all be reached quickly, making Méribel the ideal base from which the explore the vast Trois Vallées.
In summer the resort opens during July and August when mountain biking, walking, golf, children’s clubs and dozens of other activities are on offer.
Restaurants in Meribel
There are a wide variety of restaurants in Meribel centre to suit every taste, from gourmet fine dining to snack bars and everything in between.
Also see: Where to Eat in Meribel
Nightlife in Meribel
Nightlife in Meribel in the winter starts at après ski and carries on for as long as you can manage! For the night owls head to O'sullivans, or try some of our favourites - Evolution and Jacks' bar where you'll find a mixture of live music and comedy nights in the winter, or more laid back dining and drinking in the summer.
Where to Stay in Meribel
There are a number of different quartiers that make up Méribel that offer alternatives to the lively centre of town. The original hamlet of Mussillon (shown) is about a 10 minute walk downhill from the centre and 5 minute bus ride from the slopes. It may not have ski in / ski out accommodation but it is home to the infamous Dicks Tea Bar (and is therefore, popular with Brits!) Belvedere (more upmarket), Altiport (tranquil woodland area), the Rond-Point, Le Plateau, Altitude 1600, and Morel, all lie further up the hill from Méribel Centre, and are a short bus ride away. There are however, a range of shops and restaurants in these areas, and you also have a greater chance of securing ski in / ski out accommodation in these areas.
Further up the valley, about 4 km from Méribel, lies Mottaret (1700 to 1800m). This village was developed in the early 1970s, and therefore has a more modern (but still attractive) look. It is quieter than Méribel, but still has a good selection of shops and bars, and the added bonus of ski in / ski out accommodation. It has its own lift pass office (you can buy a Mottaret area only lift pass, as an alternative to a Méribel Valley or 3 Valleys pass) and is perfectly positioned for exploring the whole 3 Valleys area. Méribel is a short ski away down an easy green piste and there is also a free bus service that runs to and from Méribel, although it can get crowded at peak times.
Méribel-Village lies at 1400m and is approximately 2 km from Méribel on the road to La Tania and Courchevel. This tiny hamlet provides peaceful accommodation; making it popular with families and beginners and has a supermarket, a baker and a couple of restaurants. It has its own chair lift that runs up to the Altiport area (which is good for beginners).
Les Allues is a charming village at 1100m that has a more traditional feel to it. The village is served by the Olympe gondola that whisks you up to the Chaudanne in the heart of Méribel’s ski area. Les Allues has a supermarket, a ski hire shop and several restaurants. If you want to head up to Méribel, there is a public bus service – the journey time is around 15 – 20 minutes, alternatively you can take the gondola lift, or you can easily hire a local taxi.
Further down again is the pretty village of Brides les Bains at 600m which is connected to Meribel by the Olympe gondola.
Also see: Where to Stay in Meribel
Hotels in Meribel
Meribel has a good selection of hotels to choose from, suiting every price range and group size.
Apartments in Meribel
From studio apartments to large properties sleeping more than 10 people, there are lots of types of apartments available in Meribel.
Chalets in Meribel
There are no end of great chalets to choose from in Meribel, mostly with chocolate box exteriors and a lot of them with ski in ski out locations. From luxury to the budget end of the spectrum, there's bound to be something to suit you.
History & Culture in Meribel
As well as the two main resorts, Méribel and Méribel-Mottaret, the valley also includes a number of traditional villages. Together they form one of the most popular destinations for British skiers (the resort was, in fact, founded by a British Colonel, Peter Lindsay, in 1938). The resort’s perennial popularity is due not only to its extensive skiing, but also to the attractive chalet-style architecture. Unlike many purpose-built ski resort Méribel has retained its Alpine charm and consists entirely of chalet-style wood and stone buildings.
Also see: History of Meribel
Location: Meribel Region