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At the heart of Les Trois Vallées, the ski resort of Belle Méribe has it all, as Lisa Harris discovers.
When I go skiing, there are three things I want: guaranteed snow, beautiful scenery and a touch of après-ski glamour. It turns out Méribel has all of this and it’s also in the middle of one of the largest ski areas in the world, with over 600km of pristine piste. Which explains why the Brits have been flocking here since the 1960s.
A two-hour drive from Geneva, Méribel is actually three villages: Méribel Les Allues, where the locals and ski instructors live, Méribel Village, which is slightly more upmarket, and then our base, Méribel-Mottaret (or just ‘Mottaret’), which is higher up the mountain, offering the best ski-in/ski-out accommodation.
High-rise development in Méribel is banned, so the valley has a quaint alpine feel with traditional wooden chalets dotted around the slopes. We broke up the drive to Méribel with a night at the luxurious Château de Candie near the beautiful city of Chambéry. One in-room massage and a fine-dining dinner in the hotel’s L’Orangerie restaurant later and we were in the holiday mood.
Next morning, we drove to Méribel, checking into the charming Hôtel Le Mottaret before hitting the slopes. Méribel has beginner, intermediate and advanced off piste slopes so is a good all-rounder. The ski lifts are just a 30-second downhill ski away. We kicked off with a ski lesson, booked through a website called maisonsport.com, which lets you compare and book ski and snowboard instructors by skill set, languages or cost. I’m a rusty intermediate skier so our instructor, Ewan, took us on hidden tree-lined ski routes while giving me all the tips I needed to make the most of the skiing.
That night, a jazz band played in the cosy hotel lounge, and with a generous, all-inclusive approach to food and drinks, it was very relaxed. We then retired to the Jacuzzi to enjoy a glass of Champagne under the stars. One afternoon, visibility was so bad we decided to drop into legendary après-ski bar La Folie Douce for a spectacular charcuterie lunch on the terrace, as a guitarist rocked out Michael Jackson covers from the rooftop. Let’s just say it’s the first time I’ve ever danced on a table at midday.
We ate incredibly well throughout our holiday, digging into delicious raclette at La Brizolée and picking up delicacies such as Tarentaise goats’ cheese at La Route de la Chaudanne farmers’ market. I also picked up Crozets Alpine pasta, which I was instructed to smother in crème fraîche and bake in a gratin with sausages and Beaufort cheese. It was delicious! Just a few days had revealed why Méribel has such a big reputation – and I’ll most certainly return…
A one-night stay at Le Château de Candie costs from £156 based on two sharing a classic room, excluding meals. A week’s stay at Hôtel Le Mottaret costs from £898, based on two sharing a twin or double. Both can be booked through Ski France.