Meribel is at the heart of the Trois Vallées and was founded by a Brit, Peter Lindsay, way back in 1938. This may be the reason for the strong British presence in this purpose built village and obvious infrastructure influences. Don’t get me wrong, Meribel is a picturesque, quaint and charming village, unlike many other French purpose-built resorts.
The main street has many different restaurants, bars and shops, with most of the hotels and chalets rising above on a steep hill side. The centre is lively but tasteful with many different styles of bars and different cuisines to choose from. Although, eating and drinking out in Meribel can be expensive.
Being the Trois Vallées, Meribel is an excellent base to explore a seemingly endless amount of slopes. The lift system is fantastic with fast Gondolas and chair lifts without any queues and for such a large area, the slopes are extremely well maintained.
Meribel and the surrounding areas really do have something for everyone! It is great for skiers and snowboarders alike, and excellent for all levels. There are plenty of long, winding and often tree-lined Green and Blue runs for beginners and novices, a good choice of long steep reds for intermediates and fantastic off-piste for the more adventurous.
Being a snowboarder, I was in sideways heaven with the amount of sprawling off-piste terrain on offer; from gentle snow bowls to jumping into steep powder runs that mellow out into tree lined valleys.
I also enjoyed the two snowparks that are Moonpark and Area 43. Combined, they offer a heady mix of kickers, boxes, rails and benches for all levels. The main half-pipe was not open while I was there, but, I had great fun on a smaller one (more like a quarter pipe!) further down.
Being with ex-Team GB boardercross snowboarder Jamie Barrow, we had to have a go at the Boardercross course. The runs are fast and furious but great fun. It goes without saying that Jamie bossed it!
After a long day shredding the powder there is nothing better than a spot of Aprés Ski and Meribel certainly knows how to do that! The world famous Folie Douce sits proudly above the resort by the Saulire mid-station Gondola. Folie Douce may not be for everyone but it is certainly an experience with the mix of guest DJ’s playing thumping dance music, with musicians (often dressed like extras from a Village People video) dotted around standing on tables playing saxophone and guitar rifts throughout.
This fusion of DJs and live music is fantastic and the crowd are whipped up into a frenzy with many dancing on the tables and chairs. Folie Douce is deliberately over the top and full of showmanship, especially with fireworks and coloured smoke set off every time a bucket of champagne is sent down to the VIP section at the back via a zip wire, but this all adds to the elaborate party atmosphere. Folie Douce is best experienced on a bluebird sunny day.
After being kicked out of Folie Douce at closing time, most of the revellers ski or snowboard down (or take the Gondola) to the Rond-Point which is situated at the top of Meribel village. The Rond-Point can get busy but has a great atmosphere with live music.
Lucky for us we did not have far to stagger back to our Hotel which was only 100 metres further down the slope. The Grand Chalet des Piste is ideally situated on the slope for ski in / ski out convenience and is very near a ski lift. The hotel is basic but welcoming and the rooms are large, with free Wifi available throughout.
There are a selection of restaurants/bars near the Hotel and a free bus can take you down to the main strip of Meribel and back up. The bus stop is only a short walk from the Hotel and runs till quite late.
One restaurant near the hotel I can highly recommend is the Bistro de l’Orée du Bois. The staff were very friendly and attentive with a good and varied selection from the menu which was very reasonably priced. Although, not quite sure if the English translation was correct on the description of the Onglet De Boef – Angus where it gives you the option of ‘mashed grandmother or fried puffed?’
The Bistro de l’Orée du Bois is also a bar that you can relax in post meal and the house cocktails are a must to try! The style and ambience is modern chic but there is nothing pretentious about the place.
As a summary, I believe that Meribel is a wonderful resort for skiers and snowboarders of all levels with excellent apré ski. It was my first visit but certainly will not be my last.
Mark is also the manager of Jamie Barrow (Britain’s fastest snowboarder)