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Méribel sits in the middle of the Three Valleys - the world's largest integrated ski area - and is a bastion of the British ski scene...
Roughly 10% of us take our ski holidays in Méribel each winter, drawn by the vast, intermediate-friendly piste network, the vibrant nightlife, and the profusion of catered chalets, which tend to offer better value for money than in other A-list resorts. Most of them are to be found in Méribel itself - while Mottaret, which is further up the valley, has the lion's share of self-catering apartments.
When it comes to the ski area, Méribel regulars love the fact that they can quickly migrate to the two neighbouring valleys. Courchevel, to the west, offers high-quality pistes, while the Belleville valley (home to the ski resorts of Val Thorens, Les Menuires and St Martin-de-Belleville) is the place to go for high-altitude, snow-sure skiing, as well as an award-winning terrain park. Beyond that lies the “secret” fourth valley, above Orelle, which offers, in the right conditions, awesome off-piste skiing.
As a result, they tend to overlook the shortcomings of their own valley, which suffers from prolonged exposure to the sun - resulting in perennial problems with snow and ice, especially on the busy pistes down from Courchevel into Mottaret, and from the Altiport/Rond-point area into Méribel. Many skiers and snowboarders get a nasty shock when they first attempt them.
No matter: there are several ways to avoid them - the simplest being to ride the lift down rather than skiing. And once you've left them behind, you'll find some magnificent runs elsewhere in the valley, notably the Mont Vallon piste - which is north facing and, after a couple of tricky switchbacks at the start, opens out into a joyously wide and grippy track on which to test your carving skills.
English-speaking ski school Magic in Motion is also on hand to help you make the most of the mountain.
You can drive to Méribel or take the train (stopping at Moutiers, in the valley beneath the resort)...
Alternatively, the resort is also easily accessible from Chambéry, Lyon, Grenoble or Geneva airports.
Holidays in Meribel and Mottaret offer fantastic skiing for everyone from nervous beginners to adrenaline junkies...
The resort's position at the heart of the Three Valleys ski area means that it offers easy access to the pistes of both Courchevel and Val Thorens.
Even in the Meribel valley itself, there is plenty of fun to be had - whatever your level.
English-speaking Meribel and Mottaret are home to numerous après-ski venues, but your bank balance might suffer if you take full advantage…
We Brits like a party, and there's no shortage of them in Méribel, in bars scattered around the slopes as the sun goes down. The Rondpoint is a traditional rallying point, as are Jack's and Evolution in Meribel centre. Later on, the scene shifts to the legendary Dick's Tea Bar. However, as is common in many ski resorts with lots of catered chalets, the restaurant scene in Méribel is under-developed, because so many guests eat in each night. La Bergerie Chez Kiki's is popular, thanks to its extensive menu of flame-grilled meat, while Pizza Express is a favourite refuge of families.
Lots of non-skiers come to Méribel and Mottaret, dragged there by their keen skiing and snowboarding partners. However, the way the two main villages sprawl over steep-sided hillsides means they're almost impossible to get about in on foot. As a result, non-skiers can sometimes feel rather isolated in their chalets and hotels. If they do manage to get out, they'll find plenty to keep them occupied: there's a good pool and spa in the Olympic Centre, as well as ice-skating, snow-shoeing, dog-sledding and scenic flights from the Altiport.
6/10 Cost of living
Its popularity with well-heeled Brits means Méribel is never going to be a bargain-basement destination. However, it does have a good stock of self-catering apartments for those who want to keep their costs down.
8/10 Attractiveness of the resort
It's a good-looking valley, especially when you get up to the far end, beneath the bulk of the 2,950m Mont Vallon. Close up, Méribel is the better looking of the two accommodation centres, but both it and Mottaret suffer from being built on steep slopes. You'll need the muscles of mountain goat if you want to get around on foot. (Fortunately, there's a shuttle-bus service.)