There are plenty of reasons to love Méribel, not least for its pretty, chalet-style architecture, wooded surroundings and friendly, village atmosphere. But the prime reason is its central position within France’s huge Trois Vallées ski area.
To the east are the resorts of Courchevel and La Tania, and to the west, Val Thorens. Together with Méribel these combine to make one of the largest linked ski areas in the world, with more than 600km of pistes.
The villages of Méribel Centre range from 1,600m to 1,700m in altitude; the highest is Altiport (1,700m). Feeding into Méribel by shuttle bus and gondola are the lower outlying resorts of Brides les Bains (600m), Les Allues (1,200m) and Méribel Village (1,400m), and at the top of the valley is Méribel-Mottaret at 1,750m, a satellite resort.
The height of Saulire, 3 Marches and Mont du Vallon – the highest point in Méribel’s local ski area at nearly 3,000m – means good snow throughout the season, even if it can get a little slushy in March. On the downside, Méribel’s high, wide slopes are unsheltered and not great on poor-weather days, while experts lament a lack of challenging terrain.
Méribel caters well for the alpine shopper, with a number of technical clothing outlets in the resort, plus shops selling designer brands and interior design. The best bakery is Glaciers on Route de la Montée in the centre of the resort, while the Maison de la Presse on the same street sells British newspapers. For local Savoyard cheese, head for La Fromagerie at Galerie des Cimes near the centre. Twice weekly (Tuesdays and Fridays), there’s a small market on the Route de la Chaudanne.
The Olympic Centre built for the 1992 Winter Olympics is open daily, offering a 25m indoor swimming pool, children’s pool, water slide, fitness centre, climbing wall, spa and indoor ice-rink. Snowshoeing, horse-sleigh tours, snowmobiling and walking routes are also available.
Options range from family-friendly, good value pizza-type places to hotel fine dining, and, unusually for an Alpine resort, there’s also tasty Indian fare.
Le Cookie’s Club — Exposed beams, stone walls and smart rattan chairs create a traditional, homely atmosphere in this wonderfully located hotel-restaurant. Set at 1,650m, Le Cookie’s Club’s views are superb, with salads, homemade burgers and panini served on the south-facing terrace from 11am to 3.30pm. Alternatively, there are pricier grilled fish and meat dishes available from the restaurant.
Chez Kiki — A favourite on the chalet staff’s night off. The draw at Chez Kiki, located near the Le Morel chair, is the grilled meat (steaks, lamb and duck) cooked over an open fire by head chef Davis in view of diners. There are Petit Kiki menus for children aged up to 10 years, but don’t bring your veggie teenager.