I must admit that when I initially thought about travelling to Meribel, deep in the heart of the Trois Vallées ski region in France, my initial reaction was to book a flight, but it was suggested to me to let the train take the strain and I thought I would give it a go.
I was travelling with professional snowboarder Jamie Barrow, the UK’s fastest snowboarder. Jamie is best known for setting the Facebook world alight with his viral video of him speeding across the frozen lake at St.Moritz with a jet powered backpack, and also for being towed behind an aircraft as it sped down a runway at almost 100mph! We were travelling to Meribel to test out the flagship snowboard by the UK based company Striding Edge. It is fair to say that Jamie is a speed demon so I was hoping that the journey would not be too slow for him.
We were travelling on the Eurostar and boarded the train at London’s St Pancras Station, The security and bag checks felt very much like checking in at an airport, but the process was so much quicker. After storing our snowboards at the end of the carriage, we settled down in our seats and it wasn’t long before the train was speeding through the English countryside. Not that we were admiring the view; we were too busy tucking into our Full English Breakfast and enjoying our second mug of coffee!
It didn’t seem long at all before we were travelling under the depths of the English Channel, popping up into France, and then in no time, pulling into the Garde du Nord station in France. We then took a short tube journey over to Paris-Lyon to board a train for the final leg of our journey. If you don’t fancy getting the Tube, it is only a short Taxi journey.
It is fair to say that taking the train is a lot less stressful than flying or driving. The journey is more enjoyable as you are free to move about the train and can have a drink or something to eat at the onboard bar, or if you wish, just sit back and enjoy the French scenery rolling past your window.
Meribel is a picturesque village that is a byword for luxury and just oozes charm. The main street with all the bars and restaurants is at the base of a valley with the majority of hotels and chalets rising above on a steep hillside. Meribel is the perfect base location for exploring the Trois Vallées with a fast and efficient ski lift system.
Being the biggest ski area in the world, the Trois Vallées was the perfect location to test out the Striding Edge snowboard and it certainly seemed versatile. With a pure Rocker profile, Jamie found the ride dreamy in powder as we cut down steep off-piste valleys, and it was easy control and maneuver as we cut through the trees at the bottom. We also found the board to be stable at speed and very forgiving.
The Striding edge snowboard was equally as playful in the fantastic parks (Moonpark and Area 43) and as well as on the Boardercross circuit. Jamie found this to be particularly good fun since he used to compete for Team GB in Boardercross until he was forced to retire from the sport with a back injury.
Late afternoon we were invited into the VIP area at the world renowned Folie Douce, which is an extravagant party venue Ibiza club style up in the mountains, complete with top DJs pumping out tunes to a pumped crowd. I recommend having Folie Douce on your bucket list as it a place you really have to experience to believe. The famous bar sits high above Meribel and you can ski/snowboard straight down into the village when it closes its doors, or, if you have been partying too hard, make sure you get the last cable car down!
Our time in Meribel seemed too short and we would have loved to have stayed longer, but at least our journey home on the train was as relaxing and uneventful as we could have wished for as we reminisced about our good times in Trois Vallées.
Travelling by Rail to the Alps
Fares from London to Moutiers start from £111 standard class return per person via Paris or from £149 standard class return on Eurostar’s Direct Ski service.
For bookings and more information > www.Voyages-sncf.com
Mark is also the manager of Jamie Barrow (Britain’s fastest snowboarder)