Last time I was in Meribel was ten years ago when I left with four seasons under my belt and mud-covered snowboard boots from a very rainy season. I subsequently headed off in search of the sun-soaked powder-filled slopes of Colorado I’d heard so much about…
Two seasons later and it was time to settle down back in the UK but with a vow that one day I would go back to relive the good times I had in the Three Valleys. With the muddy memories a distant memory, I planned my trip. Surely I couldn’t have chosen a better season…
We arrived to the rumours of it being the best weeks of the season ahead with the arrival of a foot of snow followed by a forecast of a week of blue skies. After a couple of weeks of web-cam watching and hearing all the news about the poor snow conditions, I was less than enthused, however we arrived to find that what everyone had been saying all along this season, the snow was much better than we expected.
The lower slopes were icy and hard-packed in the morning and slushy by the end of the day but the upper slopes were still in great shape. We followed the masses to the high slopes surrounding Val Thorens on one day but found the lift lines and slopes busy so we spent the rest of the week on the quieter slopes mainly in Les Menuires and Courchevel, which had equally as good snow coverage. My favorite slopes are still the ones surrounding Courchevel 1650 where the lift system has been transformed in the last ten years with the removal of the drag lifts, replaced by comfy high-speed chairlifts. The slopes are still quieter than the rest of the area so you can enjoy the wide-open, rolling runs with my favourites being Chapelets and Tovets.
We stayed in Residence Maeva Les Ravines which has an amazing location in the centre of the resort, opposite the popular La Taverne bar and a stone’s throw from the newly-installed escalators which take you to the slopes. Escalators in Europe? Yes really, very Beaver Creek. I was half expecting (hoping) they would be dishing out free croissants at the base of the slopes.
The residence is ideally suited to people who are either looking to enjoy the bright lights of Meribel or like me, someone who enjoys après-ski followed by some good food without having to walk home too far at the end of the night. Whilst the residence isn’t overly noisy, I wouldn’t really recommend it to families due to its central location.
The resort hadn’t changed much, and despite the less than average snow conditions and the economic crisis which seemingly hasn’t hit the champagne-sipping seasonnaires filling the terrace of the Rond-Point, we had a brilliant week.
Finally, I’d like to make a special thank you to all involved in maintaining the snow on the pistes. They really are doing an amazing job, and I couldn’t help but think technology must have evolved a lot in the last ten years as I was packing away my mud-free snowboard boots.