Méribel is located in the Tarentaise Valley in the French Alps, situated near the town of Moutiers. Méribel actually refers to three villages - Méribel Centre, Méribel-Mottaret (1750m) and Méribel Village (1400m). The villages are within the Vanoise National Park.
The birth of the famous resort of Méribel was down to the vision of British man, Peter Lindsay. In fact Méribel’s very existence rests with Mr Lindsay. In the 1930’s he decided to find an alternative for British skiers who began abandoning Austrian ski resorts as Germany and Austria grew politically closer. With the help of legendary French skier Emile Allais he found the ideal site above the village of Les Allues - an undeveloped valley with a suitable altitude and perfect orientation. In 1938 he began to buy land from the local farmers and the first ski-lift was constructed. After progress was halted by the Second World War, Lindsay returned to Méribel to continue his work in 1946 calling upon a Parisian architect, Christian Durupt, and Paul Jacques Grillo to help him develop the resort. Méribel is now the centre point of the Trois Vallées ski area but unlike its neighbouring resorts it was created solely with private capital by British and French pioneers.
To ensure that Méribel retained its Savoyard style, Peter Lindsay introduced a strict building code. All chalets were to be constructed from the local materials of slate, wood and stone, with double-pitched roofs and in a ‘harmonious’ architectural style. The first building was a chalet-hotel, le Doron, and the interior decoration was entrusted to Charlotte Perriand, later renowned for designing interiors for le Corbusier. To this day Méribel has retained a traditional feel with nearly all of the buildings being quaint, Savoyard style, timber-framed chalets. This is wholly as a result of the foresight and vision of Peter Lindsay back in the 1930’s
Access to slopes
Méribel is part of the largest linked ski area in the world with over 600km of marked pistes, 200 ski-lifts, and over 130 km of Cross Country Tracks. There are two 150-person cable cars, over twenty high-speed chairs, forty telecabines and almost a 100 draglifts. The lift system is capable of transporting 230,000 skiers per hour. The Three Valleys were expanded about ten years ago to incorporate a fourth valley. The area comprises the resorts of Courchevel, La Tania, Méribel, Les Menuires-Saint Martin, Val Thorens and Orelle.
Méribel is situated between 1450m and 1700m, with the separate satellite village Méribel-Mottaret higher at 1700-1800m. Lower in the valley are several traditional villages, with Les Allues and Raffort linked to the main lift system by gondola. There are shuttle buses running through the villages to take people from their chalets to the lifts.
Méribel has much to offer beginners and intermediate skiers. There are beginner-friendly "Zen Zones" that dot the mountain. Designed for novices, families and less confident skiers, they are set apart from the main runs so the tentative can gain confidence in comfort and safety.
There are several free lifts for beginners. In Méribel they are: Loupiot, Cotes drag lift (at le Rond Point) Altiport drag and Fontany telecord. In Mottaret: Le Doron draglift, Ourson Telecorde and Chalets gondola are free (the latter can also be used by pedestrians). Special reduced area beginners' passes, called Mini-passes, are also available in both Méribel and Mottaret. The free shuttle bus system can also be used as a means of getting up to the Altiport (1700m) or the Hameau in Mottaret (1800m) from where one can ski back down to the Chaudanne in Méribel. All lifts are free for under-fives and over seventy-fives.
Those looking for steeper and more challenging terrain can head to La Masse, the peak that overlooks the neighbouring resort of Les Menuires. There is also a 1,200-metre-long snowpark equipped with 24 snow canons and served by two lifts. Here you'll find one mini-skate ramp, three street lines, 220 metres of rails, an airbag for beginners, a boardercross and there is also a terrain park, The Moon Park.
The most convenient airport is Chambéry, 1¼hrs away (but this can close frequently due to bad weather). Grenoble is 2 hours away, Lyon 2 hours and Geneva 3 hours. All are serviced by transfer companies although transfer prices increase dramatically out of season.
There are a number of companies that offer a long-distance coach service.
Méribel is a 600 mile drive from Calais taking 10-12 hours including stops
The village has all the local amenities one could need. From restaurants, cafes, supermarket, boulangeries, patisseries, boucheries, delicatessens, to the more practical pharmacy, doctors, gym, banks, post office, opticians, hardware stores and specialist food stores. The Maison de la Presse in Méribel centre offers English-language newspapers and books and posters. There are several interior design shops, an abundance of ski / sport shops, and the likes of Gucci and Prada have found their way into some of the clothing stores. On Tuesdays and Fridays there is a market on the Route de la Chaudanne in Méribel centre. There is a cinema which also screens english (VO - Version Original) films. There are a number of great restaurants ranging from pizzerias to Michelin Starred.
Méribel also has an indoor swimming pool, climbing wall, Ice rink, karting on ice, fitness centre, spas, bowling and there are other outdoor activities including sightseeing flights from the Altiport area, snow-mobiling, snow-shoe excursions, paragliding, dog-sledging, hot-air ballooning and paintball!