© Meribel OT
- The Méribel ski area
- The Three Valleys ski area
- When is the ski area open in Méribel?
- Beginner areas in the Méribel Valley
- Advanced areas in the Méribel Valley
- Snowparks in the Méribel Valley
- Best pistes in Meribel Valley
- Off-piste areas in the Méribel Valley
- Bad Weather areas in the Méribel Valley
- More inspiration...
Ski Area in Meribel
Discover the best of the Meribel ski area
The legendary resort of Meribel offers a wide variety of ski runs for all ages and abilities, from complete beginners to freeride experts, and is part of one of the largest linked ski areas in the world, the Three Valleys - all of which is accessible with the same pass.
The main things to know about the Méribel ski area are:
Snow-sure high altitude skiing
With 85% of the area above 1,800m and one of the largest snow making operations in France, you can be sure of enjoying pristine snow conditions all season.
Great for families and beginners
A 'Famille Plus' resort, with dedicated facilities for those with young children or elderly relatives.
Located just 2h15 from Gevena international airport, two hours from Lyon airport, 1h15 from Chambéry or 45 minutes from Moûtiers train station.
Part of the largest interlinked ski area in the world
Centrally located within the Three Valleys, there are virtually no limits to where you can go with an all encompassing lift pass that includes Courchevel and Val Thorens.
The Méribel ski area
Situated in the Tarentaise Valley, within the Savoie department of the Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes region, Méribel is one of the main resorts that makes up the Three Valleys. Composed of several districts spread out across varying altitudes, the main five villages are Méribel Les Allues (1,100m), Méribel Centre (1,450m), Méribel Mottaret (1,750m), Méribel Les Hauts (1,600m) and Méribel Village (1,450m). Located in an idyll of forests, valleys and peaks, you'll enjoy incredible views of the Alps and Mont Blanc wherever you base yourself. At the head of the Méribel valley you'll find Mont Du Vallon, at a height of 2,952m, the views are stunning and the ski down even more so. Try and ski to the bottom with no stops and your legs will be on fire!
It has in the region of 45 ski lifts giving access to ski terrain ranging from 1,100m to 2,952m altitude and approximately 150km of pistes (see the piste maps). This ski area is varied with plenty to keep all levels of skier and snowboarder occupied.
What's it like to ski and snowboard in Méribel?
Located at a height of 1,450m, Méribel has been welcoming skiers since before the Second World War, when Scotsman Peter Lindsay visited Les Allues and imagined how the area could become a ski resort. The first lift was installed above the village in 1938 and a year later the first hotels and chalets were built in Méribel. All new constructions were reassuringly in-keeping with the Savoyard style, rather than some of the modern era monstrosities you see dotted around other ski resorts. So renowned is the skiing in Méribel, that when the 1992 Winter Olympics were held in Albertville, it was selected to host the ice hockey and all of the women's alpine skiing events on the Roc de Fer piste.
The perfect resort for beginner skiers and families, it also has plenty for the more advanced skiers and snowboarders. There's easily accessible off-piste for the adventurous and the valley also contains two of the best snowparks in Europe; with a beginner jump line, a superpipe, and more. As and when the snow is falling there's always fun to be had. The pistes of Méribel are made up of eight green, 25 blue, 24 red and seven black runs (see the piste maps).
The three areas to become familiar with are:
- Méribel Centre: Tougnète and Saulire
- Méribel Village: Altiport
A number of modern lifts depart from La Chaudanne, offering easy access to the Méribel slopes and the wider Three Valleys. The nerve centre of the area, it provides a natural meeting point and start/finish point for the day, and it's where most of the ski schools meet in the morning. Most people passing through the Three Valleys will pass through here, so it can get busy at peak times.
On one side you have the Tougnète area, with pistes ideal for those keen to take the next step up. There's a good mix of levels here and if you want to access St. Martin and Les Menuires this is the best way. Also, this is the start of the Val Thorens loop. The Elements Park and the boardercross are located here, and the Back to the Wild area at the top of the Roc de Tougne chair is a free-ski area ideal for practising your off-piste skills before you head into the steep stuff. Runs worth a mention here are Faon, a blue with wide, long easy corners which tends to be quiet all day, and Combe Tougnète, a steep and wide red run with great views down the valley.
The Saulire area is accessible from all areas via the network of cable cars, and is great for all level with an excellent choice of runs. The Saulire Express 1 and 2 gondola is where most people start from and the area below is perfect for beginners with mostly green and blue runs. Biche is a wide easy blue run with stunning views, and there's a red that runs parallel to it for those of you looking for more of a challenge. Mauduit is a really nice red that is long and can be quite steep in places. If you're looking for more, then one of the most famous black runs in the Three Valleys is the Go Pro Couloir, with a gradient of 37° it's not for the faint of heart.
Our recommendation is to ski in the sun on the Tougnète side in the morning and cross over to the Saulire in the afternoon!
The true heart of the Three Valleys, due to its altitude you can ski-in, ski-out if you're staying in one of the modern residences at the foot of the slopes here. The ski schools are all at the bottom of the village between the Laitelet and Châtelet districts.
For intermediate / advanced skiers and snowboarders, there is a great range of red runs, and for those looking for more adventure there is some excellent off-piste to be found on the right on the Campagnol piste. Take the Côte Brune chair to head over to Val Thorens and enjoy the Lac de la Chambre piste to come home. There is a large snowpark in this area called DC Area 43 next to the Chatelet chair.
Runs worth mentioning are Sitelle and Martre, long and lovely blues that run from the top all the way down to Mottaret. A couple of reds not to miss are Venturon, great early in the day when the morning sun hits it, and Combe du Vallon which at 3.2km is the longest piste in the Méribel valley with a vertical drop of 1,000m. A tough red run, you may wish to stop for a breather on the way down, or just go hell for leather and keep up your speed all the way. Before you begin your descent, don't forget to take in the scenery from the top of Mont Vallon, the highest lift in Méribel for stunning views across to Mont Blanc.
Méribel Village / Altiport
Served by the fast Golf chairlift that accesses the whole of the Méribel and Three Valleys ski area, and when the day is over you can ski back to the heart of the village on the blue Lapin run.
The Altiport area is a beginners / novices paradise, full to bursting with cruisey greens, blues and reds, and there is an excellent area for the children around the Piste des Inuits.
The more experienced among you will also find some interesting red runs here, and some great off-piste can found at the top of the Dent de Burgin lift. Notable runs include Geai, a long, wide, cruisey blue run, and the aforementioned Lapin and Houlotte bringing you back down to your accommodation.
The Three Valleys ski area
There's loads of skiing to be done in Méribel and once you've finished there, there's a whole load more skiing to be done across the Three Valleys.
Consisting of eight resorts - Courchevel, La Tania, Méribel, Brides-les-Bains, Les Menuires, Val Thorens, Orelle and St Martin de Belleville (see the piste maps); there are a massive 319 pistes totalling 600km in length, 200 lifts and 1,500 snow cannons - it's a snow lovers' paradise. Each individual valley is different and it's possible to find something for everyone.
There are 51 green pistes, 132 blues, 106 reds and 32 black pistes, with 11 links to the neighbouring resorts and 169 ski lifts. Beginner slopes, runs that feature in the world's top ten, huge powder bowls, tree skiing, glaciers and pro snowparks, are all connected by one of the fastest, modern lift systems around. There's only one way to discover all of it and that's with a Three Valleys ski pass.
Situated on the northern side of the Three Valleys ski area, it is connected to Méribel by a number of lifts, so wherever you're staying there are a number of routes, making it especially easy to head over there for the day. And it's definitely worth it. Made up of five villages that sit below the pistes, on a clear day you will get stunning views of Mont Blanc. It is split into three main ski areas: La Tania, Courchevel (1850) and Courchevel Moriond, with 150km of piste skiing and over 600 snow cannons helping to keep it snow sure all season.
- For beginners, there's a huge range of slopes to discover. The green runs here are wide and shallow as they approach the lower parts of the resort.
- Seven Easy Rider zones and 12 free lifts are spread around the villages, some zones are known as 'ZEN' (Zones for the Evolution of Novices).
- Plenty of cruisy blue runs for novices developing into intermediate skiers, as well as some challenging red runs if you feel ready, it’s a piste-skiers dream with long red runs such as Creux and Chapelets.
- Known for having some of the world's hardest and most challenging black runs, plus the couloir runs that everyone talks about; the area to head to would be Saulire for some of the best snow possible and access to those couloirs. Two of the couloirs are recognised pistes; Grand Couloir and the GoPro Couloir, which is technically in Méribel. The other pistes around here are steep and challenging and often furnished with moguls.
- Chapelets is a red run over the far side of the resort and is a favourite spot amongst many, starting off steep before gently mellowing out, it's great to hit this first thing when it's been freshly groomed. The tree runs around here are where to head in a white-out.
- The La Tania ski area has a great variety of runs, the black Dou des Lanches is worth a mention, and the face of the Rocher de la Loze known locally as the Freeride Face, is only for the most experienced skiers.
- Highlights include the Les Avals valley with over 1,000m of powder, the Saulire couloirs and the Roc Merlet face which will test the most advanced of you.
- Underneath the Dou des Lanches lift, there is easily accessible powder, cliffs, steeps and trees which makes for some awesome and varied terrain.
- The Bel Aire area above Courchevel Moriond is safe and easy to access off either side of the Pyramide, Signal and Chapelets.
- The Family Park is located alongside the Verdons piste just above the village at 1850 and has something for all levels of freerider, with gentle, small features ideal for those looking to progress their freestyle skills.
The Val Thorens valley is made of three separate villages, Les Menuires, Val Thorens and Saint Martin de Belleville. With its own glacier and a peak elevation of 3,200m, 99% of the runs here are above 2,000m, guaranteeing amazing conditions throughout the season into late spring.
- Over five designated beginner zones between the Roc, Cascades and 2 Lac lifts (it is worth noting that the four magic carpet lifts are free of charge).
- There are 11 green runs and 29 blues, and if you extend that to the whole of the Belleville Valley, there's access to 20 green runs and 60 blues. It has gentle pistes that connect to different areas of the valley, meaning learners get as much variety as advanced skiers and spend less time, if any, doing the same slopes over and over again.
- Runs from the top of the Cime Caron lift, particularly Combe de Caron, have always been a favourite. From the top of this lift you can also access the famous Combe de Rosael which is often filled with huge moguls that will test your skills.
- The Point de La Masse has four tricky blacks: Masse, Lac Noir, Dame Blanche and Rocher Noir. It is the perfect spot first thing in the morning as it avoids the Three Valleys traffic and gets the best of the pre-lunch sunshine.
- Slightly busier are the runs at the top of the Funitel Peclet. Christine is the steepest and longest and gives you the chance to follow up with the Col red run at the top of the Glacier de Thorens accessed via the Moraine lift.
- For piste-lovers the ski run Jerusalem is regularly rated in the world's top ten red runs, and the runs from the top of Pointe de la Masse are breathtaking.
- Surrounded by six glaciers you'll find endless fields of powder in breath-taking surroundings. The glaciers of the Vanoise offer the most beautiful off-piste skiing in the Three Vallées on the amazing Maurienne side: The Pierre Lory from the top of the Col chair into the Maurienne Valley, and the descent from the Gebroulaz glacier towards Méribel or Pralognan.
- Popular off-piste routes include: Lac du Lou from the Combe de Rosael black run from La Masse; La Masse down Vallée des Encombres; further down the valley above St Martin the area between Jerusalem and Pramint is renowned for its off-piste skiing, especially with instructors and their clients. You have to be quick, otherwise, the Meribellians get there first!
- On the Plateaux Pistes is a fantastic 70,000m² snowpark, accessed via the Moutière chairlift. The Plateaux drag lift services the park that for years was the biggest in the Three Valleys. You'll find some fairly meaty wedges here, and thanks to the park's altitude it stays in good shape until late in the season. All the runs are colour coded depending on difficulty, and there are five zones: an 800m boardercross, three freestyle zones and a Jump'Air. The park also contains whoops (a succession of waves), a corner (raised bend), a jump table, a wall ride (extended snow wall), a hand rail and a half pipe.
Orelle - the fourth valley
The Three Valleys is actually made up of four valleys...slightly confusing, we know. Orelle is located on the far side of Val Thorens and boasts the ski area's highest point at a massive 3,230m. Excellent snow conditions and stunning views make it well worth a visit. It's only 15 minutes by cable car from Val Thorens and the slopes here will satisfy skiers and snowboarders whatever their level. There are 11 green pistes, 33 blues, 29 reds and nine black slopes all between 900m and 3,200m altitude. And for off-piste the slopes around the Bouchet lift are the best place to get fresh powder. Up here it's wide and often quiet, allowing you to pick up as much speed as you can handle.
When is the ski area open in Méribel?
The winter season usually runs from mid-December to mid-April, with any early lift openings depending on snow conditions (check Ski Lift Opening Dates for this winter's schedule). Your holiday will be very much determined by the weather and snow conditions, and therefore the time of year you choose to visit is important. If it's sunny pistes and a cold glass of wine on a mountain restaurant terrace, come in March or April. If your perfect ski break is about quiet slopes and lots of fresh snow, then January is the time to come. Or if you want numerous activities organised for your children during their school holidays, February is for you.
Whenever you choose to come, as long as the lifts are open, the local pisteurs will make the best of the snow (real and/or artificial), and groom the pistes to perfection so that you get the best possible conditions.
Beginner areas in the Méribel Valley
Méribel is a great place to learn how to ski or to improve from beginner to intermediate. With a variety of nursery slopes and green runs you will find Méribel a comfortable and easy-going resort to learn to ski or snowboard.
There are two designated beginner ski areas with eight free lifts allowing you to learn and progress in a comfortable beginner environment. These are located in the centre of Méribel Mottaret and at the Altiport area of Méribel. In addition, several of Méribel's ski schools have their own private beginner lifts and easy mini-slopes. There is even a dedicated beginner lift pass called "mini-pass", giving access to the chairlifts and slopes suitable for those just starting off.
Mottaret spent millions back in 2016 developing and redesigning its beginner area which is located at the top of the resort and is furnished with its own magic carpet and drag. Also the new Combes chairlift serves a brand-new green run called Little Himalaya. Mottaret also has two ZEN zones - dedicated to learners where you can practise your turns.
Méribel Centre - Tougnète
Head to the Tougnète / Roc de Fer area to enjoy the loveliest rolling blues in the valley, which are enjoyable for skiers of all abilities. Start with Faon, a swooping, winding blue. Next take the Tougnète 2 lift and head down Jerusalem, 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 competition piste, the Roc de Fer blue run all the way back to Centre.
Méribel Village - Altiport
Above Méribel the green Blanchot starts from the top of Saulire Express 1 gondola and leads back to the Altiport area. Or, continue along Forêt back into Méribel resort. This route is marketed as the Ski Cool route. 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. Pic Bleu is a quiet blue run with gorgeous, tree-lined views, and now it’s now been remodelled it keeps better snow on it too.
Children will love Moon Wild, a themed piste with life-size model animals hidden in the woods and a quiz about the forest animals. This starts on the right-hand side, near the bottom of the Blanchot piste.
Blue pistes: If you want to challenge yourself there are 28 blue runs in Méribel some of which are harder than others so it is best to do these with more experienced skiers or with someone who knows their way around the pistes, but again they provide a great challenge for a beginner.
Advanced areas in the Méribel Valley
There are several black runs in Méribel that will offer a challenge for the advanced skier.
Tougnète - Heading up the Legends chairlift and then the Olympic chairlift will take you to the Face, which was the women's Olympic downhill run in the 1992 Albertville winter games. It can be in great condition and is best to head to mid-morning when the snow is slightly softer but still firm.
Saulire - If you take the Loze chairlift up the mountain you can tackle the Tetras run back down. This tends to be a challenge as it is often extremely mogul-filled so be ready to work those legs. The steep couloir under the Saulire Express lift has been turned into a black run and named the GoPro Couloir. The start of this narrow run is steep at the top - a scary 37 degrees. With no escape routes, this couloir is only for experts, and a video camera has been installed here so you can keep a record of your descent.
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 (2,738m) 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.
Take the Pas du Lac up from Méribel-Mottaret and then take the slightly less challenging (but still advanced) Sanglier or Grande Rosière pistes back to resort.
Both the red runs at the top of the Mont Vallon lift are long, steep and often full of moguls. The red Combe Vallon is one of the longest runs in the valley, 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 1,000m drop. Unless you’re very fit you’ll need to stop for several breathers (pretend you’re admiring the view). These lengthy uninterrupted pistes tend to be a good place for practising your technique, and these ones are generally quieter as they aren't linked to any other parts of the Three Valleys.
Look out for bumps run next to Martre piste ending at the plateau in the centre of Mottaret. This allows the advanced skiers out there to show off their mogul skills to people on the Plattières lift.
Snowparks in the Méribel Valley
Méribel has two snowparks, the Plattières Park aka DC Area 34 and the long-running favourite Elements Park.
Currently managed by DC Snowboarding (hence its name, DC Area 43), this park is new and extremely well looked after. It is 1,200m long with two lifts, and once inside you'll find two half-pipes; one for intermediates and the other for experts only, plus kickers for all levels, small boxes and rails, pro-level features and some rollers. The competition standard pipe is used for top-level freestyle events, which are well worth watching if you're here, and the video system within the park means you can film and photograph yourself on the modules. Other improvements to this snowpark include free WiFi, a fun boardercross piste, entertainment every Tuesday and regular DC parties with contests.
The Chemin des Ecoliers is a longer and steeper boardercross for families near the snowpark that is popular with adults, so be prepared to be overtaken by slightly out-of-control grown-ups.
Elements Park used to be called the Moon Park and is designed with newcomers to freestyle in mind. Serviced by its own drag lift; Arpasson, it is divided into the four elements: Earth, Wind, Fire and Water. The park is easy to get to and is 'the' snowpark for families. Located on the east-facing slopes above Méribel it makes for an ideal afternoon destination.
- Earth: Mini zone for the littlees with foam characters to spin, soft-impact elements and easy jumps.
- Wind: From the top of the new Legends chair ski towards the Tougnète lift via this line of whoops for guaranteed fun and laughs.
- Fire: A blue-level run of fun with turns, mini jumps, arches to ski through and figures to spin.
- Water: A red-level boardercross for full on action. Expect banked turns, jumps and shaped terrain.
Best pistes in Meribel Valley
Perfect for mixed ability groups and families, the Méribel ski area offers a range of pistes. With wide open runs, some steeper skiing and tree-lined pistes, you're sure to find your favourite piste this winter.
Off-piste areas in the Méribel Valley
Méribel Village - Altiport
For some great off-piste skiing head from Loze Express to Dent de Burgin. Take the Loze Express chairlift up and ski along Boulevard de la Loze track that leads over to the Dent de Burgin chair (under no circumstances should you take this track if it is closed - avalanche danger is high here). When you are about halfway along the track, drop off to the right for large, swooping open plains of fresh tracks and powder.
Also underneath the Loze Express chairlift there is a very popular off-piste run that gets tracked out very quickly. Great fun if you are one of the first to ride it, so make sure on a fresh powder day you head up there on the first lift. Try cutting off to the right and riding in between the trees, and it's even possible to enjoy powder in between the trees all the way down to Méribel Village on a good snow day!
The area around the Côte Brune chairlift is a beautiful area to ski in fresh powder. It pays to be imaginative and put in a bit of hard work around here. A short hike can take you to some incredible descents and some amazing fresh tracks. Make sure you stop at the Ski Patrollers’ hut at the top of the lift to check with them which routes are safe – they are the experts and always happy to advise.
Take Combes 1 and 2 and head towards the Roc de Tougne (Méribel's toughest drag lift, especially on a powder day), and it will immediately become apparent where you should be. Long off-piste runs stretch out on either side of the drag track and a bit of a traverse at the top will be sure to find you some untouched fluff!
Méribel Centre - Tougnète
Another great off-piste route is from Olympic to Raffort Village. To do this cut immediately right as soon as you come off of the Olympic Express chairlift. Hike along the ridge (this will be hell for snowboarders - sorry) until you are satisfied that the slopes down to the right are suitably untouched. For the more daring, the further along you hike, the bigger the drop in. Take care not to end up in the stream at the bottom - once you reach it, find a crossing point and enjoy the winding Villages piste all the way down to Les Allues.
Always make sure you are prepared before embarking on any off-piste skiing or snowboarding. Check out our Avalanche Safety guide. It's always advisable to hire an off-piste guide who will have extensive knowledge of the area and the mountains.
Bad Weather areas in the Méribel Valley
There are several areas in Méribel where you can ski on a bad weather day, below the tree line where visibility will be better. However, these may be slightly busier due to the number of people choosing this option.
The tree-lined runs around the Altiport and above Méribel Village are ideal as the trees provide the contrast required for orientation during whiteout conditions, whereas on high open pistes, white slopes and sky can blur into one. Another area you can head to for better visibility is the skiing area near the Combes chairlift in Mottaret where there are natural obstacles which make skiing easier during a whiteout.
In bad weather, the two red runs below the main resort, Raffort and Villages, are worth searching out. Raffort descends 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.
Bear in mind, the valley floors can sometimes be covered in fog but the summits are bathed in glorious sunshine. Therefore, it is always a good idea to check out the webcams before you set off for the day.
Take a look at this year's Ski Pass Prices or, if you're not sure which pass to buy.