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The French Alps ski specialist

The Inside Track: End-of-Season in Méribel

image Wednesday, 19, June, 2024

Regular readers of our newsletter and social media will know that the whole team love skiing in March and April. At the end of April we all headed over to Les 3 Vallées ski area for our end of season educational, opting for the 'heart of the 3 Valleys', stunning Méribel.

Known as the 'heart of the 3 Valleys', Méribel is nestled discreetly nestled in a true mountain setting. Situated in the biggest lift-linked ski area in the world, the 3 Valleys has some of the best variety of pistes for all skiing abilities. The four major resorts in the area are Courchevel, Méribel, Les Menuires and Val Thorens. The ski area is also home to smaller, satellite villages like La Tania, St Martin de Belleville and Orelle – these satellite villages give access to accommodation for a whole range of budgets.

Les 3 Vallées is vast, snow-sure ski area which offers over 600km of lift and piste-linked terrain with over 2,000 snow cannons. A keen skier or snowboarder could cover this huge area without taking the same run twice; it terms of quantity of connected skiing, there's nowhere like it! The slopes really provide for all types of skier, with areas ranging from safe accessible beginners' slopes, perfectly groomed pistes, tree-lined runs, moguls, steeps, or real off-piste adventures.

Each resort has a range of activities and facilities to check out once you are back from skiing; a good range of après ski bars and nightclubs can be found across the Three Valleys, although some resorts are livelier than others. If a quieter holiday is for you then the resorts offer spas and swimming pools to relax in, as well as a choice of 11 Michelin starred restaurants, with 19 stars between them!​

Méribel was our choice of destination for the Peak Retreats educational trip...


 

Our flight to Geneva

Our flight to Geneva

     

Getting there

Landing in Geneva Airport and hiring cars, the team travelled in convoy through Albertville, towards Moûtiers, and up into Méribel. The ski resort is in fact made up of five villages, each with their own identity and atmosphere (we feature Méribel Centre and Meribel Mottaret.). Although we chose to fly and hire cars, Méribel is also an easy resort to reach by self-drive – just over 9 hours from Calais – or easy to reach by train too – TGV's go right into Moûtiers at the bottom of the valley, so just a short transfer is needed.


Where we stayed

Our first stop and our first accommodation visit was where we would be staying throughout our trip:

Falcon Lodge, Méribel

During our time in Méribel, we enjoyed a stay at one of our Peak Retreats Premium residences, the stunning Falcon Lodge. Located in the heart of the resort, within the Morel area, this exclusive residence is just 150m from the closest chairlift, and 500m from the resort centre. Set on the mountainside, the residence creates its own hamlet, with 12 semi-detached chalets making up the extensive complex. Facilities include a wellness area with indoor heated pool, hot tub, sauna, and steam room, with on-site spa (payable), ski room/ski shop, underground parking and a concierge service. Some apartments and chalets have their own hot tubs on the balcony, and some larger apartments even have their own saunas.

Falcon Lodge, where we stayed

Falcon Lodge, where we stayed

   

Our first evening consisted of unpacking and a full tour of the residence, as well as picking up our rental skis. The residence itself was stunning, with amazing facilities and beautiful apartments and chalets. From 2 bedrooms to a chalet that can sleep up to 20 (2 interlinked chalets), Falcon Lodge is ideal for all party sizes!

Balcony hot-tubs

Balcony hot-tubs

Beautiful bedrooms

Beautiful bedrooms

Stunning living areas

Stunning living areas

Here's what the team had to say about staying in Falcon Lodge... 

Jack ~ "For someone who has never had the opportunity to ski in the Alps before, Falcon Lodge and Méribel were a dream! Falcon Lodge somehow exceeded my expectations for a luxury ski retreat and combined top-class comfort and convenience with the beautiful 3 Valleys scenery." 
Hannah ~ "Falcon Lodge was the place to relax after a day of skiing in late April powder - the hot tub on our balcony, with its beautiful views over the valley was idyllic! Our apartment was so well equipped with every amenity you might want or need (including a juicer!) but my favourite by far was the Nespresso coffee machine!"   
Alison ~ "Sitting in our hot tub on the terrace of our apartment in Falcon Lodge, with late April snow falling all around, felt like bliss. The interior décor of these apartments is both stylish and cosy; comfy sofas, beautiful textiles and rainfall showers add to the impression of luxury. But there are practical touches too that are just as valuable, like plenty of space for hanging jackets and storing kit." 
Jess ~ "I felt like a princess at Falcon Lodge, even just for a couple days. Our ski equipment was cleaned, warmed and laid out for us every morning, the apartments were amazing and every evening ended with a good soak in the hot tub on the balcony. " 
Yulia ~ "I absolutely loved staying at Falcon Lodge. It was pure luxury with ski concierge taking our equipment outside every morning, feather soft beds, hot bubbly Jacuzzis and gemstone enriched toiletries."

 

     

Skiing

Les 3 Vallées is the largest ski area in the world, with many skiers regarding it as the greatest intermediate ski playground in the world! The impressive ski area is formed of 8 lift-linked ski resorts : Val Thorens, Orelle, Les Menuires, Saint Martin de Belleville, Méribel, Courchevel, La Tania and Bride-les-Bains. Offering a total of 600km of high altitude and snow-sure ski slopes – every ski enthusiast's dream! The area benefits from excellent snow coverage, from early in the season right into the middle of May and beginning of June!

On our first day skiing, we were lucky enough to be shown around by Olivier, Director of Les 3 Vallées Association. Olivier took us from our base of Méribel, up into the Val Thorens area, down through Les Menuires and onto lunch in Saint Martin de Belleville – an incredible way for us to get a good feel of the ski area, guided by someone who knows it well! Whilst visibility wasn't too good for some of the day, we were treated to bursts of sunshine, and beautiful snow! We visited Le Corbeleys for lunch; incredible local cuisine, beautiful desserts, and some tasty Génépi to wash it all down!!

After some early morning snow showers, the team headed left towards the Courchevel ski area on the second day. The fresh snow gave us a great base of light powder on every run, which gave the team some gorgeous runs through the ski area. Whilst on our travels in the Courchevel area, we skied next to the famous Altiport, down into Courchevel centre towards the Gucci gondola, and back up to the Saulire – a great place to enjoy wide-open views (bar the low-lying cloud where we couldn't see anything!). Although visibility was poor, skiing through snow showers and through fresh powder was a highlight for quite a lot of the team – the group with the ESF instructor, Gilles, even managed a cheeky off-piste run underneath a lift!

Here's what some of the team had to say about their days skiing... 

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Two of our directors with Olivier from Les 3 Vallées Association

Two of our directors with Olivier from Les 3 Vallées Association

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Some of the team with Olivier [green blue jacket] from Les 3 Vallées Association

Some of the team with Olivier [green blue jacket] from Les 3 Vallées Association

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Some of the team enjoying Val Thorens!

Some of the team enjoying Val Thorens!

Some of the team at Méribel's snowfront

Some of the team at Méribel's snowfront


 

Activities

After a lovely day skiing, we got the chance to go behind the scenes of an operation that most ski resorts have – a snow making factory! (in French - Usine à Neige). There we learnt all about what it takes to make snow and exactly how the process works. The key ingredients for snow-making?

  • Compressed air
  • Pressurised water
  • The perfect cold temperature
  • The perfect humidity level
The team in the snow-making factory!

The team in the snow-making factory!

     

We were also shown the master computer – this hub is linked to all the snow cannons in the area, and can also be accessed remotely. The system indicates which snow cannons have the perfect conditions to run at their optimum, to make the perfect snow. The pisteurs meticulously plan the sections of piste that need the freshly made snow, to make sure that the ski area is running at the best condition possible! It was an insightful tour for the team, and allowed us to truly appreciate all of the work that goes into making our ski resorts perfect for all of you visiting!

The master-system

The master-system

Our tour guide!

Our tour guide!


 

Resort food service 

Whilst in the French Alps we made use of our resort food delivery service partners, Huski. Delivered just as we arrived in resort, it made our large party dinners quick and easy after a busy day of skiing, quality checking accommodation and scouting out the surrounding resorts! Their range catered for the vegetarian members of the team, and those who are gluten-free, meaning we were all well fed with delicious Tartiflette and Vegiflette, as well as Beef Bourguignon and Beetroot Bourguignon. The lemon tart dessert was a hit with the whole team!

The baked Camembert starter - YUM

The baked Camembert starter - YUM

The aftermath!

The aftermath!

    

It was a godsend for us as a team, knowing that we had homemade food ready to go after a busy day. Also knowing that it was made locally, just down the road in their Bourg St Maurice kitchen made it taste even better! Plus it was great team building with our conveyor belt dishing up method – each person had a different dish or side to plate up!  


 

Bars and Restaurants 

There were quite a few bars and restaurants within Méribel; we only visited a handful but they were all lovely! There are a good choice of mountain restaurants to stop at for a drink or lunch whilst on the slopes skiing, especially in Val Thorens! We were lucky enough to enjoy the food at Le Corbeleys mountain restaurant in St Martin de Belleville, and Chez Fifi in Méribel resort. Both catered to our food needs as a team, and they both had some incredible food!  

Le Corbeleys mountain restaurant

Le Corbeleys mountain restaurant

     

Le Corbeleys is a great spot for French and Savoyarde cuisine, it's situated right off the side of the piste, right above a lift back up into the ski area. This little alpine chalet is family owned, and was built by the owners great grandparents on a plateau suitable for grazing their herds; the chalet building has served for over 120 years in the mountains, and since 1985 has been open as a restaurant. The restaurant sits just above Saint Martin and gives amazing views from the sun terrace! One of their specialities is the Croziflette, which is essentially a french pasta bake, with local crozets (small square pasta) bacon, and reblochon cheese! YUM. 

Chez Fifi ~ Raw Gambero Rosso

Chez Fifi ~ Raw Gambero Rosso

Chez Fifi ~ Carbonara

Chez Fifi ~ Carbonara

Chez Fifi ~ sharing desserts

Chez Fifi ~ sharing desserts

       

Chez Fifi is in a great spot, just up around the corner from where we stayed in Falcon Lodge. The restaurant itself has been open for 60 years, but was revamped in 2022. The cuisine is all Italian-inspired dishes, with a twist... We were treated to a choice of sharing starters, ranging from Burrata to Raw Gambero Rosso (raw king prawns in a yuzu dressing!), beautifully crafted main courses, and all wrapped up with a choice of sharing desserts – we had a classic tiramisu, a lemon basil creation and a tasting plate of different forms of chocolate. The whole team spoke so highly of the dinner we had here – it's definitely one to add to your 'must visit' list!  

Chez Fifi ~ Filet Mignon

Chez Fifi ~ Filet Mignon


 

What we visited and where you could stay 

One of the main reasons that we visit our resorts is to check out the accommodation that we have on offer to our clients, ensuring it meets our, and more importantly, your expectations. What our team at Peak Retreats love about Méribel is the quality of the accommodation on offer. Check out the residences that we visited below, whilst we were in Les 3 Vallées.  

Manali Lodge, Courchevel

The iconic 5* Hotel Manali is one of the most prestigious in the 3 Valleys, a true embodiment of luxury! The residence has just 18 apartments, each with their own stunning style. Facilities include a 24hr reception with concierge service, wellness area with fully equipped gym, pool, sauna and steam room, treatment rooms, lounge bar, not one but two on-site restaurants (Bistrot Manali & Gaia a sushi bar), on-site ski room/ski shop and dedicated underground parking per apartment. 

Yellowstone Lodge, La Tania

This exclusive development of 4 luxury chalets offers a peaceful location in the resort of La Tania, just 50m to the ski slopes and just above the La Tania gondola. Just 150m from the wide choice of the resort's fine shops, bars and restaurants, this is a brilliant residence. The views are breathtaking, and each chalets facilities include balconies with hot tubs, wood stove or fireplace, private parking, as well as contemporary finesse and the latest tech. 

       

Mammoth Lodge, Courchevel

This luxury property is made up of 13 stunning apartments, split over 2 chalet buildings. These spacious, contemporary apartments have incredible open views over the Courchevel valley, and are centrally located just off the main street of Courchevel Moriond. Access to the local area slopes is possible via lifts or escalators next to the residence. Facilities include access to spa facilities in the neighbouring Residence Le C, but some apartments have facilities such as hot tubs, wood burning stove, bars and indoor saunas. 

Residence le C, Courchevel

These 12 apartments and one penthouse are centrally located just off the main street of Courchevel Moriond, and 100m from a choice of bars, shops and restaurants. These spacious apartmens are comfortable and well-equipped with incredible open views over the Courchevel valley. Facilities include an on-site spa with sauna and hot tub, ski shop, and on-site restaurant, Bistrot le C. 

       

Les Chataigniers, Lake Annecy

In the village of Saint-Jorioz, around 10km south of Annecy Centre, you'll find this idyllic residence. Set in a quiet location overlooking Lake Annecy, the residence has superb views of the lake and surrounding mountains. Facilities include indoor heated pool, children's play area, underground car park, sauna, steam room, fitness room, table tennis, and a wonderful outdoor swimming pool. 

Villa Caroline, Lake Annecy

Brand new to the programme this year, Villa Caroline is situated in an exceptional setting in Duingt, around 10km from Annecy town centre. Set between the lake and the mountains, it's the perfect place for a summer relaxation. Facilities include sauna and hammam, roof top solarium, yoga classes, relaxation room, fitness room, and direct access to the lake from the residence's private beach. 


 

Overall... 

We had an amazing end-of-season educational trip to Les 3 Vallées; with great accommodation, great company, and the great ski resort of Méribel! We learnt a lot about the resort, and the accommodation, and headed home with great memories and information to share with you, our clients!  

Comments from the team... 


 

Sydnee ~ "It was my first trip to the French Alps, and it truly opened my eyes to the magic and beauty that the French mountains hold. Gliding down the slopes with our lively ESF instructor gifted me with some great memories! Falcon Lodge had endless opportunities for enjoyment, with its beautiful amenities; some unforgettable memories were definitely made. Méribel truly is a place like no other!" 

 

Steve ~ "After a couple of hours of skiing, our instructor felt we were ready to do an off-piste run, making the most of the amazing fresh snow conditions. We skied directly under the Altiport chairlift with people passing above us. It was an amazing feeling to make the first tracks of the day on an off-piste run." 

 

Alison ~ "Exploring the slopes on the Courchevel side of the 3 Valleys was a real highlight. There are some fabulous wide blues heading down into the valley through open bowls that lead into tree lined slopes with views of forested mountainsides. Méribel is so well placed that you can easily ski in all three valleys. The frustrated engineer in me loved learning more about snow-making at Méribel's snow factory. The idea of being able to control the areas huge number of snow cannons with pinpoint accuracy to maximise the opportunities for snow-making was impressive."

 

Mandy ~ “Returning to skiing after a prolonged break (and a recent broken ankle injury!), what a treat to visit the luxury of the marvellous Meribel/3 Valleys resort with all their fantastic residences  and the most amazing Falcon Lodge where we stayed. Think fluffiness amongst the snow, with the luxurious plush décor, fluffy covers, fluffiness all around, stunning mountain views, hot tub on the balcony, fabulous champagne welcome from our hosts Alpine Residences and not to forget the CHEESE! Local caterers HUSKI did us proud with many beautiful savoyarde dishes which were a welcome treat at the end of our busy days."

 

 If you're ready to explore your options for a wonderful winter break, our expert and award-winning team can help with planning the perfect holiday for you. Call us on 023 9283 9310, email on reservations@peakretreats.co.uk, or you can request a quote and we'll be in touch. Keep up to date with all the latest news from us and our French Alps resorts by signing up to our newsletter. 

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Also, don’t forget you can give us a call on 023 9283 9310 or email reservations@peakretreats.co.uk if you couldn’t find what you needed.
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