recommended family holidays

meribel resort guide, french alps

The mountain village of Meribel is situated at 1,500m in the Les Allues Valley in the Northern French Alps.  It is situated at the centre of the world’s largest ski area, les Trois Vallees, or the 3 Valleys.  There is access to over 600km of pistes plus unlimited off piste opportunities.  As well as the two main resorts of Meribel and
Meribel-Mottaret, the valley also includes a number of other traditional village.  Together they remain the most popular destination for British skiers and perhaps the typical Savoyard style of buildings & wooden chalets are one of the reasons.  For once, we have a whole resort that both retains its Alpine charm throughout and has fantastic skiing!
Meribel is the largest of the villages & has the main shopping area & greatest selection of après ski bars & restaurants.  Stretching up to a height of 1,700m some of the accommodation offers ski in ski out opportunities plus excellent access to the efficient lift system. 
Meribel-Mottaret lies about 4km up the valley from Meribel at a height of 1,700m to 1,800m.  The village is slightly more modern although still retains its charm, however it is quieter than Meribel but still has good shops & bars plus you can ski in/ski out.
Meribel-Village at 1,400m is about 2km from Meribel on the road to La Tania & Courchevel.  It is a small hamlet offering mainly chalet accommodation & because it is more peaceful is popular with families & beginners.  It has its own supermarket, bakery & a couple of restaurants including a nice bar at the bottom of the slope for après ski.  It has its own chair lift up to the Altiport area which is good for beginners – ideal if you want to avoid lift queues.
Les Allues is a charming little traditional village at 1,100m served by a gondola up to the ski area.  It has its own supermarket, ski hire shop & a couple of restaurants.  If you want to head to Meribel then there is a free shuttle bus service.
For the non-skiers in your group, there is almost too much on offer to list!  Why not try one of the following: snowshoe walking, winter walking trails, husky sledging, paragliding & parapenting, glacier walking, helicopter rides, hot air ballooning, learn to fly at the flying school or relax with a spa day.  In addition there is an ice rink, swimming pool, bowling alley & cinema.

Winter in Meribel

Winter is dominated by skiers & snowboarders.  The season runs from around the second week in December through to the end of April & the snow is normally pretty darned good! 
Meribel is ideal to ski the 3 Valleys region as it is at the centre so you can head off to the neighbouring resorts of Courchevel, La Tania, Val Thorens & Les Menuires all very quickly with a 3 Valleys lift pass.  All are connected with an efficient & modern lift system with over 200 lifts & if required 1,500 snow cannons. Alternatively, you could choose a more local lift pass such as the Mottaret area or the Meribel Valley area.
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.
With over 600km of pistes there is undoubtedly something for everyone in the Three Valleys. Beginner slopes, runs featuring in the world's top ten, huge powder bowls, tree skiing, glaciers and pro snow parks.
As you might expect there are numerous ski schools in Meribel including:
  • First tracks ski coaching – a small ski school offering specialised group or private lessons for all ages.
  • Parallel lines – a 100% British ski school with group, private, snowboard & kids lessons
  • Magic in Motion – a good reputation for fun lessons
  • Snow d’Light – Anglo-French ski school established in 2001 offering group & private lessons
  • ESF Meribel Ski School – the main French ski school offering ski or boarding lessons either in groups or privately.  Lessons are also held in English. 
  • RTM Snowboarding – a specialist snowboarding school for beginners up to advanced
  • New Generation Ski School – offering award winning instruction for adults & children in small groups with English guaranteed.
  • The Development Centre – British ski & snowboarding school offering either group lessons or private lessons.
  • BASS ski school – British Alpine Ski & Snowboarding school – all native English speakers for groups, individuals, children & corporate skiing

Meribel is also a good destination for disabled skiers.

Summer in Meribel

Activities range from the wild and fun white water rafting to the more gentle and relaxing hiking. There are activities which are great for families, groups and those that you can just pop out on your own and enjoy. Whatever you decide to do there is plenty to enjoy in the mountains in the summer:
  • Canoe rafting, white water rafting, hydro-speeding & canyoning
  • Road cycling or mountain biking – cycle hire is available
  • Glacier walking or hiking
  • Helicopter tours
  • Spa relaxation days
  • Paragliding or parapenting
  • Climbing
  • Flying School (Meribel has its own small airstrip)
  • Golf
  • Hot air ballooning

Accommodation in Meribel

Chalet Hotel Tarentaise, Meribel from Mark Warner – tucked right on the edge of the piste in Meribel with views across the mountains.  The bedrooms are all en-suite & many have balconies. Offered on a fully catered basis including breakfast, afternoon tea & 3 course evening meal with wine.  Childcare for babies from 4 months up to 12 years old is onsite in the chalet hotel, there is a crèche service in the evening for you to enjoy your dinner in peace & a babysitting service.
Chalet Loden, Meribel from Mark Warner – a traditional chalet offering boutique luxury accommodation for 12 guests. Stunning views & good access to the slopes.  Offered on a fully catered basis including breakfast, afternoon tea & 3 course evening meal with wine.  Children over the age of 8 welcome if the whole chalet is booked together.
Hotel Le Mottaret, Meribel-Mottaret from MadameVacances – all inclusive 3 star hotel including a packed lunch & drinks. Easy access to slopes & ski school. Giant outdoor hot tub, sauna, fitness area, lounge with fire & bar.  All rooms have TVs, superior rooms also have a DVD player & some have a balcony. Double & triple rooms available.
Les Chalets de Meribel, Meribel from MadameVacances – self catering traditional chalets sleeping up to 12 guests & available to book as a whole only.  Lounge with log fire, stunning views, easy access to slopes & near the centre of the village. 
Crystal Ski in Meribel also offers a range of accommodation in all of the villages of Meribel.  They offer a private nanny service for all guests staying in their chalets in Meribel when booking the whole chalet. Catered chalets, self catered apartments & hotels are all available for all budgets.  An excellent choice.
Inghams in Meribel offer an excellent choice of accommodation across all the villages. Accommodation includes half board hotels, self catering apartments & catered chalets.  They offer an accommodation only service or a full package including flights & transfers. Club Piou-Piou is available in Meribel for children aged 3-5 years in the mornings.
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Article By Lucilla Paull

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