Méribel holds a special place in my heart, our family has been skiing here for as long as I can remember. It is where my dad tried his absolute hardest to get me into skiing until he packed in the towel and resided himself to the fact that I prefer to snowboard. This post will focus on fun activities you can partake in besides skiing and snowboarding of course, because let’s face it not everyone is into the thrill it offers. This post is set out slightly different to the others and will not be broken out into an itinerary but rather a list of fun things to do in the area.
Where is Méribel?
Located in the Tarentaise Valley Méribel is a ski resort in the French Alps situated near the town of Moutiers. There are three main villages located in Méribel including Méribel Centre, Méribel-Mottaret and Méribel Village. The villages are all located within the Vanoise National Park and are a part of the Les Trois Vallées ski system.
Fun Fact: Méribel hosted part of the 1992 Winter Olympic
Getting to Méribel is relatively easy, with a bus service that runs from most surrounding airports. You can book a bus service from Môutiers, Geneva Airport, Chambery Airport, Lyon Airport and Grenoble Airport.
Things to do:
Skiing & Snowboarding
Whether you are into Skiing or Snowboarding you will find some great runs in Méribel. The ski resort is part of the Trois Vallées (three valleys) however it has expanded in recent times to include Courchevel, La Tania, Les Menuires-Saint Martin, Val Thorens and Orelle making it one of the largest linked ski areas in the world. It boasts 180 lifts, 335 runs totaling 600km and 130km of cross-country tracks.
If like me you are into snowboarding I will warn you that the powder in this region is limited unless you are advanced enough to take on the black diamond runs. The easy to moderate tracks are groomed and nice to snowboard on, however we all know that snowboarders are forever chasing the powder. If you are in search of epic powder you will want to plan a trip to Japan, I will be discussing Japan and its amazing snow in a later post.
If you want to try something new and see the three valleys from 4,000 meters in the air then why not go Paragliding. You will be taken up the mountain by your pilot then strapped to them for your flight. For the takeoff and landing you will use your snowboard or skis as instructed by the pilot. The experience is very exhilarating and allows you to experience the mountains from another perspective. If you are lucky you will glide through the snow filled clouds and see a fantastic optical illusion.
Recommended: Whitetracks http://www.whitetracks.co.uk/Meribel_Paragliding_Parapenting.htm
Méribel has a lot of hiking trails and just because they are under quite a lot of snow doesn’t mean that they are inaccessible. There are a number of marked and maintained paths that offer a peaceful way to enjoy the beauty of winter. You can obtain trail maps and daily updates from the tourism office as they can change from year to year. You won't require snow shoes to walk these trails just your regular boots. One of my favorite hikes is located behind Méribel Village. It winds up the mountain to a lookout point over the Village. There are never many people walking on the trail so it is very peaceful and offers some breathtaking views.
Another great hike is located in Méribel-Mottaret and takes you from the village to the frozen lake. There is a small café located on the lake where you can stop for light refreshments.
New Year’s Celebrations
If you are wondering how to spend New Year’s Eve in Méribel head down to the town center where you can warm up with a nice cup of mulled wine or hot cider. Not long after the sun sets the ski school instructors partake in a torchlight skiing event where they ski in formation down the mountain carrying a flame torch. The night always ends with a countdown to midnight and a spectacular firework event.
Lunching at the top
If you are not into skiing and snowboarding don’t let that stop you from reaching the top of the mountain. Why not catch the Gondola to the top for lunch. There are many restaurants located all over the mountain, Pierres Plates is located at the end of the main Gondola and offers two restaurants and a bar. Sit back and relax with a beer or wine and watch the skier’s wiz by.
The Olympic Centre
The Olympic Centre was built for the 1992 Winter Olympics is open daily. It offers a 25 meter indoor swimming pool, fitness center, spa, climbing wall and indoor ice-rink. If you are in luck the center might be hosting an ice-hockey game, however be sure to book your tickets early as they sell out quickly.
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