A mixture of big name and small low-key resorts, the Three Valleys encompasses Bride-les-Bains, Courchevel, La Tania, Les Menuires, Le Praz, Meribel, Mottaret, Orelle, St Martin de Belleville and Val Thorens. Britain’s favourite place to ski, the vast and exciting skiing area attracts around 300,000 of us each year. It’s the ultimate absolute ‘must’ during any skiers or borders career. Founded by a British colonel, Meribel alone attracts 150,000 Brits a year.
The Three Valleys has unbeatable practical piste skiing. The world’s largest lift-linked ski area, it has 600kms of piste served by 183 lifts. With enough snow, you can ski all 600km without needing to catch a single bus or taxi. The Three Valleys are in-fact ‘four valleys’ since its expansion south into Maurienne. Brides-Les-Bains is the spa town at the very bottom of the ski area, the Courchevel valley to the far left encompasses four villages of Courchevel 1300 (otherwise known as La Praz, great for bargain ski deals), and Courchevel 1550, 1650 and 1850. The most popular luxury skiing destination,1850 is arguably the most glitziest resort of the Three Valleys. There’s even a tepee village, where actors dressed like Red Indians will dress you in furs, face paint, a head dress and have archery demonstrations. Purpose built Val Thorens is the highest resort in the Alps sitting at 3230m. The ‘forth’ valley encompasses the slopes above Orelle village.
The exciting terrain has something to offer everyone. Intermediates can set off on enthralling ski expeditions. Skiers and snowboarders staying in Courchevel can easily cross over to Val Thorens or vice versa. Meribel lifts can get busy in the afternoon, but the lifts above Courchevel 1650 to the left and above Orelle to the right tend to be quieter. With such a sizeable area, Eclipse Ski recommends planning your days skiing in the morning and keeping an eye on the time when skiing here. Lifts close at 4pm, and it’s a 2 hour taxi ride back from La Tania to Val Thorens.
Opposite to conventional ski resorts, the Three Valley ski resorts are quieter on the weekends. An ambitious destination for those on a weekend short-stay ski break, weekend transfer days mean it’s the quietest time on the slopes.
Chambery airport is the closest transfer at 90 minutes. Geneva and Lyon are 3 hours drive away. Prefer not to fly? It’s possible to travel down by train overnight. Take the Eurostar from London St Pancras to Paris, then a train to Moutiers, followed by a short transfer up to resort. If you prefer to drive, it takes roughly 10 hours cruising down the motorways from Calais. Eclipse Ski recommends taking some cards or cash for the tolls on the main roads down through France. Accommodation wise, La Tania, Les Menuires and Le Praz are cheap tickets to a world-class skiing heaven.
Eating out in one of the many mountain restaurants can be expensive. Mont Bel-Air is pricey but popular due to its sunny terrace and breathtaking views above Courchevel 1650. A cheaper alternative is locals favourite Le Petit Savoyard.
Why not book your Three Valley lift pass online before you go? Trying to stay ahead, all passes except Season, free or Option card can be bought or recharged on the Internet without the need for a photo. They can then be sent to your home address or left at the resort tourist office. Any Three Valley P@ss can be recharged on the internet and used immediately.
Three Valley Resorts:
St Martin de Belleville