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3 Valleys

3 Valleys
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Home > Our destinations > France > Alps > 3 Valleys
winter summer

The 3 Valleys is the largest linked ski area in the entire world. With 335 ski runs to choose from, covering 600km, it is pretty safe to say that there is something for everyone and even the most experienced skier is unlikely to get bored. The ski area is aptly named, consisting of three valleys, Courchevel, Meribel and Belleville, each of which are home to a handful of resorts which differ in size, style altitude and character.


Resorts


Head to La Tania or Saint Martin de Belleville for a lower-altitude, affordable and family-friendly base. Choose Meribel or Courchevel 1850 for couples or groups looking for a great time on and off the mountain. Serious skiers should opt for either Meribel-Mottaret or Val Thorens to give you fast and easy access to this incredible ski area.

3 Valleys


The area has 600km of skiable terrain. There are 177 blue runs, 111 red runs and 30 black runs for the most advanced skiers. The longest run stands at 8km. There are 66 chairlifts, 4 cable cars, 52 drag lifts and 37 gondolas running in all directions.


Beginners


The ski infrastructure, facilities and large choice of ski schools available make the 3 Valleys a good choice for beginners however some would argue that smaller, more affordable and low-key resorts would be a better option to make those first tracks. After all, even the fastest learners would barely begin to make use of the huge quantity of slopes on offer. Even so, Courchevel 1850 and Méribel Mottaret have great, free beginner slopes, whereas La Tania and Les Menuires cater perfectly for kids. Apres-ski facilities and activities are often so important for first-time skiers, which is where the 3 Valleys comes up trumps over smaller resorts.


Intermediate


Intermediate skiers are spoilt for choice with over 50% of the runs being red or blue. We recommend Méribel-Mottaret due to its central location, which gives you easy access to the whole ski area. From here you can nip over to either the Courchevel or Belleville Valleys in no time or enjoy the great skiing available right on your doorstep. Get out early and enjoy first tracks on long and cruising runs; Platieres (just above Mottaret), Jerusalum (on the Bellevile side heading towards St Martin) or Creux (from the top of Saulire towards Courchevel 1650)


Advanced


The sheer size of the ski area means there is always a new challenge available even to the most experienced skiers. Some of the best routes are to be found away from the main resort centres; try La Masse above, off the back of Val Thorens towards Orelle, take the long descents from Mont Vallon above Mottaret or explore the tree runs around La Tania and Le Praz. The off-piste options are endless, however popular, so take a guide and the correct equipment to ensure both your safety and a better chance of first tracks in secret spots!


Freeskiers and boarders looking for park laps are well-catered for in the 3 Valleys. The biggest park is found in Val Thorens and due to its altitude offers great conditions all season. The Méribel Valley boasts both the DC Area 43 park in Mottaret and the Moon Park in Méribel. All of the above offer great quality features for all levels and are exceptionally well maintained. The Family Park in Courchevel is more low-key and as the name suggests is aimed at families looking for their first thrills on snowy jumps!

The 3 Valleys covers such an extensive area that it would be impossible to give precise details on every resort, so instead we'll try and give you an overview and our top picks from each.


Winter Activities


Courchevel 1850 offers a large shopping centre at the forum and a number of chic designer boutiques to keep the Russians and Parisians busy. New for 2016 is the enormous Aquamotion swimming and wellness area, offering various pools, spa facilities, a wave machine and even a climbing wall. Meribel has great selection of shops as well bowling, ice skating, a gym, swimming pool and climbing wall at the Parc Olympique. Les Menuires and Val Thorens are both large resorts with plenty of shops and both offer excellent sports centres with fitness, swimming and spa facilities. You can find the usual range of snowy activities in the 3 Valleys such as snow-shoe walking, parapenting, husky sledding, tobogganing, snowmobiling etc. For those searching for something a little more exciting, have you heard of air boarding? This basically involves body boarding down the piste in an inflatable sledge. You can steer by leaning, as the underside of the sledge is grooved. Not your thing? What about enjoying an igloo experience, where you can dine or even stay overnight in your private igloo! This is not as cold as it sounds!


Eating and Drinking


The 3 Valleys offers an incredible selection of bars and restaurants both on and off the pistes. The majority offer traditional french and savoyarde cuisine however you'llalso find pizzerias, fast food outlets and British-style pubs. Prices tend to be relatively expensive and there are even a few Michelin starred restaurants however there are some good deals to be found if you know where to look. Our top picks for mountain restaurants are Caf' del Mott in Méribel Mottaret, Le Bouc Blanc just above La Tania, Le Bel Air above Courchevel 1650 and Les Chalet du Thorens in Val Thorens. All of the resorts offer good range of bars and restaurants to keep you fed and watered after a long day on the slopes. Our favourite resort restaurants include L'Igloo in Méribel, La Grange des Pizzas in Courchevel 1850, l'Auberge des Balcons in Val Thorens and La Cortona in Courchevel 1550. For a relaxed drink in the evening head to La Taiga in La Tania, Evolution in Méribel or the adorable Cave des Lys, a wine bar hidden in a real cave in the authentic village of Le Praz at the bottom of the Courchevel Valley.


Nightlife


Nightlife in the 3 Valleys is as varied as it is extensive, whether for a lively apres ski session or a heavy all-nighter, the party is definitely on. You can even start the party on the piste as the growing trend of open-air mountainside clubs is popular here, with two branches of the infamous Folie Douce in Val Thorens and Méribel, where you can sip champagne whilst dancing on tables in your ski boots to a live DJ and dancers. Méribel also plays host to Le Rond Point, affectionately known as the Ronny to the British seasonnaires who frequent it for live bands and DJs at apres. Val Thorens and Méribel also offer the biggest nightclubs in the area, with Val Thorens' Malaysia laying claim to being the highest club in the world! Nightlife in the Courchevel Valley is very different depending on the village, with 1850 boasting a host of chic wine and cocktail bars and a few pretentious and lavish clubs, all with eye-watering prices. The scene is very different in the lower villages, with a range of smaller bars and pubs playing host to regular live bands for a good old singalong and more affordable drinks; our favourites are Pub Le Ski Lodge in La Tania and Le Bubble in Courchevel 1650.

Ski Season


The ski seasons vary slightly per resort, but generally run from early December to later April every year. The higher resorts tend to open much earlier (Val Thorens opens late November) and the full 3 Valleys links are usually open from mid-December. This can of course change depending on snow conditions.


Lift Passes


As you would expect from such a large area, there are a wide range of ski passes available and they are not cheap. Each valley offers its own pass as well as the whole 3 Valleys area. You can save by buying as a pair and even more by buying as a group of 3 or more. Don't forget you get a 5% discount on lift passes when you book with Madame Vacances.


Ski Equipment Hire


All the resorts in the 3 Valleys offer a range of ski shops from the leading suppliers. Book with Madame Vacances in advance and save 30% with our supplier Sport 2000.


Lessons and Ski Schools


The 3 Valleys offers a huge range of ski schools with many options in every resort. The ESF has a large presence but other options include New Generation, Magic in Motion and Parallel lines. With over 2000 ski instructors in the 3 Valleys, you won't be left out in the cold.


Childcare and Family Facilities


There is a good range of children's facilities in each resort, but La Tania and Les Menuires are billed as the best children's resorts in the area.

La Tania is known for doorstep skiing and the compact, pedestrian resort centre makes it easy to get around with little ones. A range of childcare options are available from 4 months up to 6 years old. There is also an in resort baby-sitting services.


Les Menuires has been recognised as a family resort for many years, Children's entertainment, ski passes, children's clubs, ski lessons and great family restaurants.


Parking


Large resorts offer great indoor car parking facilities. Please check individually for smaller resorts.

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