If money and time are no object, then skiers looking to experience the best ski resort Europe has to offer should look no farther than the enchanting alpine village of Meribel. It is situated within the world-renowned Trois Vallees region, which boasts the largest ski area on the planet. Visitors can get directly into the town of Meribel by train from Paris. However, the closest train station to the alpine village is in Moutiers Salins, from where tourists can take a short bus or taxi ride into Meribel. The roads getting into the town are not very traveler-friendly however, as they get congested frequently and are poorly maintained.
Travelling by car hire or bus are other options from most major cities around France. Most tourists that fly into Geneva, Lyon or Chambery travel the rest of the way to Meribel by bus. Even though the commute to reach the town may seem like a lot of trouble, the rewards upon arrival certainly make up for it!
Meribel was discovered and originally developed by a British man called Colonel Peter Lindsay, who was in search of classic ski fields outside of the German-Austrian region in the late 1930s. He came across Meribel township and by 1938, the first chairlift was constructed. With WWII putting an abrupt end to things for the next five or six years, Meribel didn’t continue to develop until after the conflict ceased.
The town hosted some events for the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, including the women’s downhill events and until recently, Meribel was host to the annual Altitude Festival, until it was moved to Austria.
The area surrounding Meribel consists of more than 600kms of ski runs, many of which are renowned throughout France. Altogether, more than 180 lifts and gondolas are found throughout the Trois Vallees region. This network caters to many thousands of skiers per day, allowing great access to the slopes.
Within the immediate Meribel area, tourists can find about 19 chairlifts serving the adjacent slopes and 15 gondolas, making it effortless to explore the powdery white hills of the ski resort. Don’t forget, the resorts of La Tania and Val Thorens, among others, are easily accessible from the village of Meribel, too.
Skiing isn’t the only activity available to tourists in Meribel. As a matter of fact, there are plenty of fascinating, exciting and downright enthralling things to do off the primary ski slopes. Have you ever wanted to try driving a snow mobile? Well, there are snow mobile rentals in the village. Or try a bird’s eye view of the Three Valleys in a sightseeing aircraft. Ice skating and sleigh rides are great activities for young and young-at-heart travelers.
Meribel offers a range of breathtaking and affordable accommodation, from the stunning mountain-view chalets to the budget-savvy lodges of downtown Meribel. Smaller hamlets, including Belvedere and Rond Point, are scattered around the town. Each has its own shops, restaurants and bars. Getting from one hamlet to another and back into Meribel center is commonly done with courtesy shuttle buses.
Best Time to Visit
Hiking trails and mountaineering opportunities are spectacular during the summer months of May through August. However, the best time to visit Meribel is when the slopes are powdering and pumping. This generally occurs between December and April annually. However, be ready for the crowds.
John writes for Alpine Action who provide chalets in Meribel – see their Meribel ski deals page for the latest special offers on ski holidays to Meribel.