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A Short Guide To Skiing in Méribel, France
Returning to the lovely mountain tops of the French Alps with John was a trip down memory lane. We visited the 3 Valleys, Méribel, in The French Alps on the eve of our one year anniversary to the very same setting where we awkwardly shared our mulled-wine infused first kiss.
We talked, laughed and watched the sunset after a long day on the slopes. I mean falling for your best friend on Valentine’s Day in the French Alps… doesn’t really get better than that?! My very own fairy tale. Anyways, I digress. Needless to say, this skiing trip marked a year of beautiful experiences and back we were facing 7 days in a new skiing resort in the 3 Valleys with old friends!
The 3 Valleys is like a playground for people skiing and snowboarding with some of the most stunning views you will see in your life and thrilling pistes to challenge your skills.
A Brief Intro to The 3 Valleys, France
The 3 Valleys Méribel resort in the French Alps is a ski destination for those looking to experience the best of what the French Alps has to offer. The 3 Valleys, Méribel offers something for everyone, from beginners and families, to experts and adrenaline junkies.
You will find the 3 Valleys diverse terrain caters well to all levels of skiing ability, with over 600km worth of pistes, at altitudes ranging from 600m-3230m. With so much variety on offer it is no wonder why the 3 Valleys was named as one of The World’s Best Ski Resorts!
As you head up to the Three Valleys, Méribel, you can enjoy fresh air and beautiful scenery on your way there. You’ll be able to see the glaciers and snowy mountain tops all around you as you drive through this area, but it won’t take long before you’re at your destination! Once there, it’s time for some skiing, beer and raclette!
Who To Book Ski Trips With?
Ella’s brother has booked ski trips in the past through various companies, this year it was Crystal Ski. Other years we’ve used Nielson, shop around as there are many options for pre-arranged packages. We use ski package holidays to keep it simple and make sure all things are sorted, keeping the stress levels down!
Benefits of Ski Packages
Ski holiday packages have lots of benefits especially if you’re a novice or going with a group.
- You’re rep meets you at the airport and can help with your booking
- They pop you on a pre-booked coach that takes you to your resort
- While on the coach you get your info pack and pre-booked ski passes and ski rental info
- The info pack has other activities info, potential discounts, briefings, collective Apres Ski events and most importantly, a map! (You’ll need this unless you’re planning on turning into a mountain goat and live in the wilderness there forever
- Flights, hotel, food, ski passes and all your gear are arranged by the company you book with
Negatives of Ski Packages
There are also downsides to pre booked ski holidays…
- There is a cost associated with this (as all things do) package ski holidays can cost more if you don’t shop around!
- You can often experience hold ups on coaches, there and back from slow groups arriving late at pick up points. So be vigilant in telling your rep your flight time
- When you arrive at an airport as coaches drop off large groups there will be a large queue to get through when checking in flights
- You can get a badly organised company, Crystal Ski have been great each time we used them!
Airports for Flying to the French Alps
In previous years we always flew to Grenoble and got a coach from there to our ski resort in the French Alps, however for the past 2 we’ve flown to Chambéry Airport. Unfortunately I’m not sure this lovely little, tiny airport was designed to handle the descent of thousands of people heading for a ski adventure quite yet.
Although it is covered with signs on how much is being invested, they still haven’t ironed out their queuing and space issues. I know what you’re thinking ‘typical English to complain about unacceptably chaotic queues’ but look at this madness, this was the check in queue upon our return, which was the same as our arrival…..
Checking into Your Ski Resort Hotel
When arriving at the resort, you’ll check-in at your hotel, chalet, or castle … depending on budget. We advise to stock up on food, hot drinks, snacks and alcohol (Diplomatico Rum goes down well in the cold weather!) on the first day. 2 reasons for this are:
- Saving money – Eating out every night can be expensive in the French Alps
- Save time in the mornings/evenings – You want to get out early as possible to get the best fresh powder/snow and when you get home you will be tired (we mean this) So it’s good to have an easy meal at hand and make sure everyone is fed and not hungry or grumpy.
We always go self/ part-catered, this way you can cook your own food. Breakfast included is awfully handy when you’re out early to hit the fresh powder on the morning runs (make sure to take a boiled egg or 2 for a quick meal on the slopes). Some ski packages don’t include food so check this when booking!
Picking Up Ski Gear
Depending on what time you get to the ski resort, you might have time to pick up your ski equipment straight away! Get your skiing gear sooner rather than later – the day after arrival everyone will be descending onto the Skiset shops to pick up their gear and taking all of the best gear – as always it’s first come first serve.
Top Tip | Don’t be shy about testing out your ski / snowboard boots before leaving the shop and make sure you’re happy with everything! They are so important for ensuring you have a good time on the slopes – loose boots could encourage twisted ankle and unstable activities which increase the risk of injury.
Taking Your Own Snowboard / Ski Gear?
We all have our own skiing helmets, boots and thermals as these can be bought on the plane with ease, Ella’s brother even brings his own snowboard. We would advise getting your own fitted boots and helmet, the rental gear may be uncomfortable due to be used a lot and generally smells bad!
Top Tip | Your travel insurance typically covers your ski equipment, so you don’t need to purchase extra with your ski rental company! (check with your insurance company to be sure).
Getting Out on the Slopes
If you want to join the skiing-elite why not get some ski lessons or snowboard lessons? We advise for people starting out skiing to book in some lessons, some ski holiday packages offer this as part of the booking. Most ski instructors will teach you the basics and how to stay safe on the slopes, make sure to stick to the green and blue runs.
For those who have been skiing or snowboarding before we would advise to take it easy on the first few runs, as you may be a little rusty its good to get your bearings before going too wild on the slopes.
You can stay on piest to start with whilst you get your bearings, however the real adventure lays in trails off piest.
Snowboard / Skiing Safety Tips
- Make sure to always stay in pairs just in case one of you gets injured, this happened when John was in Japan, his friend dislocated his shoulder when he fell over whilst snowboarding.
- Make sure to take a fully charged mobile phone to call for help in an emergency
- Make sure to take plenty of water and food with you
- Make sure to take extra thermal layer in a bag in case you get stuck
- Do not run a slope unless you feel confident in your skiing abilities
- Always check weather reports for blizzards or avalanche risks
- Always wear a helmet in case you fall and hit your head on ice under the snow, this can cause concussions
Top Tip | The later you get out on the slopes the more they have already been carved out, known as “Moguls”. Moguls are the ice bumps that appear when a ski run has been heavily carved by other skiers and snowboarders – this can often make it much harder to ski between and is a NIGHTMARE for novice snowboarders.
Other Things to Do in the Alps Apart from Ski?
There are many many things on offer on the slopes apart from traditional skiing or snowboarding, so to all you winter-sports-a-phobics who have been dragged to the mountains by your friends, family other halves – fear not!
Have you given outdoor swimming any thought?! Well you should as it’s incredible, imagine a heated pool with steam rising into the air so thickly that just above the water you can still feel its warmth.
You can also go on a long walk or hike in the Alps, Méribel where we stayed has a massive frozen lake you can walk around and where you will find some stunning woodland walks.
Top Tip | Bring a hat if you’re outdoor swimming the top of your head might get a little chilly – this is a good way to stay warm.
Popping on a bathing suit at -5°C not your thing? Here’s a list of some other common things to do in the Alps when not skiing or snowboarding:
- Snow walking / hiking
- Dog sledding
- Spa day
- Horse riding
- Drinking! Bar crawls ‘Apres Ski’
- And my favourite outdoor swimming
Eating Out in the Alps
Enjoying insanely delicious and often slightly overpriced food in the mountains is a must! Try the local cuisine, and local drink! Here is a little list of our favourite things to order in the French Alps.
- La Schouf Beer
- Local blanca beer on tap
- Hot Mulled wine
- Fresh ice cold tap water (yes it’s yummy)
- Raclette for 2 and cured meats plate, boiled potatoes
- Grilled meat DIY style with boiled potatoes
- Duck breast is a personal favourite! Often comes with roasted vegetable
- Honey, meat and mozzarella stone baked pizza
- Blueberry Tart with ice cream
Returning Home After Being in the Alps
Finishing up a break in the mountains. Make the most of your trip, take some photos on your favourite peaks, enjoy the deeply humbling surroundings carved into and out of the earth over centuries. It’s easy to forget to absorb the gravitas of your surroundings when you’re rushing from piest to piest.
Take a moment and humble yourself in the breath-taking surrounding you called home for the past week. Then pack for a slow and slightly nauseating decent down a winding road and into a small airport that’ll take you back home.