Photo: © Sylvain Aymoz
The Ultimate Guide to Meribel
Issue 25 / 03 December 2019
The Ultimate Guide to Meribel

Discover all you need to know about Meribel in the Three Valleys.

Serena Norton

Where is Meribel?

Meribel is an authentic alpine village located in the heart of the world’s largest ski area, the Three Valleys. Purpose-built, Meribel was developed by a British military man, Peter Lindsay, just before the Second World War. The British influence can be seen in the traditional chalet-style buildings comprised of wood and stone which dominate the resort and the town remains extremely popular with Brits today.

Meribel itself is divided into several villages which are well connected by the lifts and slopes. However, once these shut at the end of the day, it can be a little trickier to navigate between villages. Meribel Centre is arguably the most attractive of the villages and is where the main hub of bars and restaurants are located. A few kilometres up the valley at 1750m, Mottaret is well-positioned for exploring the slopes and has a reasonable variety of bars and restaurants. Below the Altiport at the bottom of the Golf lift lies Meribel Village, a quieter hamlet with a range of accommodation. Lower down is where you can find Les Allues and Brides-les-Bains which offer a more back door route into Meribel and the Three Valleys.

Top events in Meribel

Christmas is a big deal in Meribel with Santa Claus handing gifts out on the slopes, a torchlight descent and parade, plus a firework display and carol concert. For New Year, the festivities at La Folie Douce are not to be missed.

Meribel hosts a leg of the Men’s European Cup at the end of January, so come and witness the thrills and spills as top Alpine skiers compete to win. For something different, why not take part in the Yooni Moon Trail on the 1st February, an 8km or 15km trail by night through the Tueda nature reserve. Fans of stand-up comedy will enjoy Meribel’s Piste Bash Festival in March, featuring skiing, live music, DJs and comedy. For another live event check out Sound Clash, an outdoor disco with a DJ battle billed as the biggest street party of the season.

On 15th and 16th July 2020, Meribel is set to welcome riders of the Tour de France for the 17th stage in the 107th edition of this legendary event. The stage culminates at an altitude of 2,304 metres at the top of the famous Col de la Loze.

Where to eat & drink in Meribel

Meribel has a good variety of restaurants, from family-friendly to fine dining and international cuisine. On the mountain, try Le Clos Bernard for sophisticated Savoyard cuisine in a cosy setting. If its views you’re after then L’Allodis has a fantastic panoramic terrace teamed with local specialities and excellent service.

Meribel’s only Michelin-star belongs to L’Ekrin at the five-star hotel Le Kaila. Further fine dining can be found at Le Cepe where mushrooms are their speciality, as is fresh fish from the surrounding lakes. Something of an institution in Meribel, Chez Kiki is the place to go if you’re a meat-lover. Serving grilled meats cooked to perfection over an open fire, Kiki has been serving up Savoyarde specialities for over 50 years. Another popular choice is Aux Petits Oignons, serving up dishes such as lamb shank braised with thyme, pie of confit pork cheek and apple and Savoyard veal escalope wrapped in ham. For something a little bit different, Tsaretta Spice provides a taste of India in the mountains.

Meribel is renowned for its lively après scene, the most popular places to party in your ski boots being La Folie Douce, Rond Point (otherwise known as ‘the Ronnie’) and Jack’s. For cocktails, world wines and craft beer head to Copina, a Galician-inspired cocktail bar and tapas restaurant in the heart of Meribel Centre. For a relaxed pub-style vibe try the recently renovated Barometer which also happens to serve the best pizzas in town. For late-night drinking and serious partying head to O’Sullivans (formerly Dicks T-Bar) where you can dance until dawn to big-name DJs.

Where to stay in Meribel

Meribel has countless catered chalets and self-catered apartments dotted around its villages. For large groups looking for a catered chalet with exquisite service then Chalet Les Brames and La Ferme De Mon Grand-Père are both good options. For a traditional ski-in/ski-out chalet then Chalet Trois Ours is one to consider. Beautifully-designed using local wood, the chalet is Alpine charm personified with special modern touches including an outdoor hot tub and cosy cinema room.

For a luxurious swimming pool, you can’t get better than Chalet Menor, with its stunning indoor pool opening onto the terrace overlooking the surrounding peaks. Chalet Mont Tremblant also has impressive wellness facilities, which include an outdoor infinity pool, hot tub, hammam and massage room.

There are also some charming self-catered apartments. We recommend the brand new ski-in/ski-out Petit Chamois at Rond Point des Pistes which offers an inviting interior, south-facing balcony and five en-suite bedrooms.

Winter in Meribel

Part of the largest ski area in the world, skiers in Meribel have access to a staggering 600 km of slopes. Half the ski area is made up of green and blue runs making it a great resort for beginners to learn the ropes. There are also huge amounts of red run skiing in the valley for intermediates to explore. Experts will find lots of good off-piste terrain close to the lifts and freestylers can make use of two big parks - Snowpark DC Area 43 on the Chatelet chair-lift above Mottaret is for serious riders whereas Element Park at mid-mountain is aimed at families and beginners. Lifts are constantly being updated although there may still be queues during peak weeks.

A great resort for non-skiers, Meribel has plenty of activities that don’t involve a pair of skis. Explore the valley on snowshoes or take charge of a team of huskies along forest paths. For adrenaline-inducing thrills, blast around the snowfields on a snowmobile or toboggan down the 3.4km Mission Black Forest run served by the Tougnete 1 gondola. A gentler and more relaxing way to explore the landscape is by horse and carriage. You can take a half or one hour tour through the magical national park.

The Park Olympique, a popular sports centre in the centre of town, houses an indoor ice rink, indoor swimming pool, fitness centre and spa. Also available is an indoor climbing wall.

Summer in Meribel

Meribel has plenty to offer its visitors in summer as the snow melts away. Lovers of water-sports can take to the water on canoe or kayak. Canyoning is also popular, although not for the faint-hearted. Serious cyclists can tackle some of the most challenging sections of the Tour de France and there is a bike park for mountain bikers.

Meribel is also a paradise for fishing but make sure you have the correct permit and are aware of local regulations. Golf enthusiasts have an 18-hole course at their disposal and there are plenty of beautiful walking trails to explore too.

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