Text by Alice White Walker
When it comes to skiing, few places in Europe can match Les 3 Vallées. From glistening slopes, to forests littered with snow-capped branches, to traditional villages filled with log cabins – the slope style here is nothing short of picturesque. Read on for our guide to some of the best resorts Les 3 Vallées has to offer.
Divided into three separate valleys – Courchevel, Méribel and Les Belleville – Les 3 Vallées is the world’s largest ski area, with 373 miles of ski-accessible pistes, 166 ski lifts and more than 86,400 acres of nature to explore. Days without snow and velvety-smooth slopes are unheard of; its snow grooming craftsmanship is second to none, boasting a 160-strong team and 2,383 snow cannons covering over 50% of the ski area. Skiers and snowboarders have their pick of terrains to tackle, and there are plentiful options for non-skiers to have fun, too. Hiking, dog sledding, paraponting and other outdoor adventures await thrill-seekers, while luxury shopping, indulgent massages and gourmet meals are fitting indulgences for relaxing off-piste.
This year, Les 3 Vallées is set to open from December 10, 2022, to April 28, 2023. Click here for more information.
Saint Martin de Belleville
Nestled into the mountain valley, Saint Martin de Belleville rolls at a more laid-back pace and is the ideal setting to wind down and reboot. This authentic Savoyard village is picture-perfect, with its bell tower, winding streets, and stone farms. There are 22 little hamlets in the village, each with traditional, cozy chalets.
If you need lessons – be it a quick refresher or a week-long introduction to the sport – Saint Martin de Belleville is a great place to enjoy a private or group class.
Courchevel, near the Lac Bleu, has changed since its beginnings as a small resort in 1908. Today, it comprises six separate villages that are easy to travel in between, thanks to free shuttle buses and connecting ski routes.
Each village has its own distinct ambiance, which is partly the reason why Courchevel appeals to so many. The biggies? Le Praz – a skier’s paradise – home to France’s only Olympic ski jumps; Courchevel Village, which has an informal atmosphere that is great for families; and Courchevel 1850, with the highest altitude and an equally elevated reputation for luxury. Here, you’ll find Michelin-starred restaurants and chic, high-fashion boutiques aplenty.
Charming stone and wood chalets surrounded by a lush blanket of forest and stunning panoramic views of the Alps and Mont-Blanc, Méribel unites the serenity of nature with the elegant comforts of 5-star service.
Beautiful, private chalets and state-of-the-art hotels ensure a refined stay for all guests. If you want to go all out with catering, spas, and made-to-measure additions, Méribel is where to do it! Families also benefit from countless options for fun winter activities, such as tobogganing, mountaineering, ice skating, and much more.
The highest point in Les 3 Vallées, Val Thorens, is famous for its unrivaled skiing options and lively après ski scene, with bustling on-piste bars and tons of trendy restaurants (there are over 60!). The resort has been semi-pedestrianized, so you can walk everywhere you want and ski straight from your doorstep.
Val Thorens is also classified as a “Family Plus Mountain,” offering great options for children of all ages, such as ski lessons, activities, care services, and other entertainment.
Things To Do
Run by the Martin family, Villarenger is an adorable goat farm that produces wonderful dairy products. Visit the artisanal factory, enjoy cheese and yogurt tastings, take part in an atelier on local flora and fauna, and take in the surrounding nature on horseback. An idyllic place to experience the true Saint Martin de Belleville culture.
A great way to see a different side of the Valleys. Book a dog sled ride and traverse through forests, up and down hills and around winter lakes. A thrilling ride for the whole family.
With or without snowshoes, hiking is a good option for those looking for physical activity at a more relaxed pace. Some guides are also yoga teachers and practice gentle exercises to soothe the mind at 1,000 plus feet high!
High speed doesn’t only mean skis and boards! In Courchevel, you can brave nearly two miles at Formula 1 speed on the Moriond Racing track. Or try the 1850 route – a trail just over a mile through the heart of the forest that takes you between Courchevel 1850 and Courchevel Village.
From night-time excursions that start at dusk and finish with a glass of vin chaud, to intrepidly exploring the breathtaking glacier landscape, to cruising through verdant woodland trails, cross-country skiing caters to all levels and tastes. Outings are always accompanied by a professional to ensure you’ll be safely led by those that know the mountains the best!
From the crème de la crème of high-end fashion – Valentino, Chanel, Louis Vuitton – to concept stores, deluxe ski equipment shops and more, Courchevel 1850 has made a name for itself as a shopping destination. The optimal way to treat yourself to some retail therapy in the mountains.
Where To Stay
91 Route du Châtelard, Quartier La Villette, 73440 Saint Martin de Belleville
A stunning property with five bedrooms, Le Chalet sleeps up to 10 people in the lap of luxury. It has a log fire, authentic wooden furniture and an open plan dining room and kitchen where you can watch the French chefs create your meals. There’s no better place to relax after a hard day of skiing than a heated indoor swimming pool, sauna, steam room or outdoor jacuzzi — just for you.
Place de l’Église, 73440, Val Thorens
Traditional alpine design married with modern touches, Le Val Thorens Hotel has everything you could need, with 80 rooms and family suites, stunning panoramic views, a large swimming pool, a spa and a design-led bar area. The best bit? It has ski-in/ski-out access to the slopes, so you won’t waste time traveling to the pistes.
464 Route du Belvédère, Les Allues, 73550 Méribel
Opened in late 2019 – and seen on the Condé Nast Traveler Hot List 2020 – Le Coucou is young but making big waves. No detail has been spared for this 5-star boutique hotel, where classic alpine style has been wonderfully reimagined by legendary French designer Pierre Yovanovitch. The Tata Harper spa and heated pools (indoor and outdoor!) are just a few of the fine extras you can expect.
71 Rue du Lac, 73120, Courchevel
A charming bed and breakfast chalet situated in the village of Le Praz, not far from the ski lifts. The owners — Jacky and Beatrice — offer a warm welcome with personalized rooms (there are three bedrooms and two suites to cater to couples and families) and a hearty breakfast to start the day right. A sauna and jacuzzi will soothe aching muscles, and appointments for massage, facials and manicures can be arranged.
Where To Eat
Piste de la Chasse, 73440, Val Thorens
An eatery known for its Savoyard specialties, you’ll find Chez Pépé Nicolas just above Ménuires, Val Thorens, on the piste itself. Uniting the traditional with the contemporary, the team prides itself by working with local producers to create a menu of dishes that go beyond the staple raclette and tartiflette.
Run by two local ski instructor brothers, Boris and Florian Glise understand exactly what visitors want from a piste-side restaurant. La Cave des Creux offers quality, nutritious food to energize you for the rest of the day’s activities. The restaurant’s wonderful terrace boasts an outside fire with sweeping panoramas over Mont Blanc.
435 Rue des Jeux Olympiques, Les Allues, 73550, Méribel
Le Resto, the esteemed Hotel Savoy’s restaurant, is the ideal spot for a serene evening with gourmet food. Set across two floors, the space is a reworking of classic alpine style with large, convivial tables, an impressive fireplace and an elegant, cozy atmosphere. The menu champions meat and fish dishes cooked with flair.