WINTER & SPRING IN LES3VALLEES
19th February 2020
Last modified on May 21st, 2021
What can we say about the biggest lift-linked ski area in the world? Its 600km of pistes and off-piste terrain offer skiing, snowboarding & much more for all. Welcome to Les3Vallees.
The Three Valleys (or four, to be strictly accurate) is home to seven ski resorts.
You can ski or snowboard all of them on one area lift pass without stepping off the slopes.
The pistes cover an area similar to size of Paris.
There are more than 160 lifts.
That’s an awful lot of skiing.
With the variety of runs for all levels, off-piste routes, non-snow activities and the different character of each of the villages, it is, in our opinion, impossible to get bored on a week’s holiday here.
It is, arguably, impossible to get bored over an entire season in Les3Vallees.
And what a winter season.
The entire linked area is open from mid-December to mid-April.
Some of the resorts open earlier and close later.
What’s more, 85% of the ski area is above 1,800 metres, making it a good option for a late-season trip.
THE 7 RESORTS
- Courchevel (includes La Tania)
- Les Menuires
- St Martin de Belleville
- Val Thorens
Don’t be put off by fears that you’ll need to take out a mortgage to stay in Les3Vallees.
Yes, you can go for luxury and spend a lot of money – there are 17 Michelin-starred restaurants, for example – but it is also possible to do it on the cheap, relatively speaking.
You could try staying in Orelle, which is at one extreme end of the ski area – the fourth valley mentioned above.
Les Menuires has some good value options too, including a hostel from €20 a night.
And then there’s Brides-les-Bains, an interesting village down in the valley that’s worth a visit even for non-skiers.
It’s linked to Meribel by a 25-minute ride in a gondola.
2020 CLOSING DATES
- Val Thorens, Orelle – 3rd May
- Courchevel (includes La Tania), Meribel, Les Menuires – 26th April but limited opening from 18th April
- Brides-les-Bains, St Martin de Belleville – 17th April
PlanetSKI started its winter of 2019/20in Les3Vallees.
Our editor, James Cove, began in Val Thorens in November:
Our chief reporter, Jane Peel, began in Les Menuires in December.
Where she also ended her season.
If you’re going this winter or spring, here’s PlanetSKI’s detailed guide of what’s new in each resort this season.
It is the highest ski resort in Europe, sitting at 2,300m and has one of the longest seasons, going from November to May.
A new location for the family snowpark.
It’s near the advanced snowpark in the Grand Fond zone and is easier for beginners to enjoy.
The family-friendly slope will be part of the Junior area and the Funslope this winter.
The new crêperie in Galerie Péclet serves brunches and crêpes and tea-time treats after a day on the slopes.
Après ski beers or cocktails with grazing snacks and music from a DJ.
New igloo village
One of a kind and the highest in Europe, the igloo village is an ice grotto for kids and adults. It’s accessible on skis, foot, snowmobiles or snowshoes.
- Ice Bar
- Ice restaurant where you can enjoy a Savoyard fondue surrounded by ice and covered in blankets
- Ice rooms embedded in the ice for a totally different kind of night
- Ice area designed for events and seminars
New mountain guides office
Opening in the heart of the resort this winter (at the Intersport store on Place Péclet). Book ski touring or ski the highest glaciers in Europe with experienced guides.
World’s first four-wheel drive self-drive electric shuttle
Berto made its debut in the resort in March 2019.
It takes you around the resort without a driver.
The shuttle is a feat of technical expertise, and the world’s first 4-wheel drive model to operate in a ski resort.
Ski Cross funslope
A new Ski Cross funslope area accessible via the Peyron chairlift will give less experienced skiers – those capable of blue runs – a taste of the thrills of ski cross.
New cross country trail
La”Braiz” is a new cross-country skiing trail located at 2,350 metres at Plan Bouchet. It’s the highest cross-country trail in Les3Vallees. The 1km loop is accessible with a pedestrian pass.
A new base camp for the resort’s mascot.
Yeti Park will have a new ski-free area at the bottom of the course where children can blow a Himalayan trumpet, run around the temple in Himalayan flags or have a snack in a giant wooden deckchair.
Two new runs in the Roc de Fer area
La “Gypaète” is accessible via the Cherferie chairlift and will be kept “as natural as possible” with plenty of moguls and banked turns ending in a small series of tight bends before joining the Roc de Fer blue run.
La “Daguet”, accessible from the infamous La Face black run. You’ll need to swing left after the first big wall.
The run winds its way down virgin slopes and then goes through the forest, away from the main ski area.
3 new top of the range places to stay
- Le Refuge de la Traye, a luxury mountain hut accessible only on foot or by electric vehicle. Environmentally friendly, It blends in with its surroundings, offering an unusual option for getting away from it all in luxury accommodation up close to nature.
- L’Hévana, a 5* Pierre & Vacances tourism residence
- Le Coucou, High up in the Belvédère area, the 5* hotel is surrounded by snowy peaks and looks down over the valley. 55 rooms, including 39 suites and two private chalets.
Skiing by moonlight
Private gondola ascent to the summit of La Saulire, one of Méribel’s iconic peaks, sunset aperitif followed by a torchlit ski descent with the ski patrol on a slope that’s been freshly groomed.
Back to the wild
North-facing for good quality snow, two of the Valley’s iconic runs – although not well known to everyone – and an entire freeride area.
Head to the Mont de la Challe area via the Roc de Tougne chairlift to enjoy a natural setting that’s ideal for confident skiers looking to carve some turns on the red and black runs.
Or go for freeride in an area with an accessible slope.
MERIBEL & BRIDES-LES-BAINS
In partnership with the French Ski School in Méribel, skiers from both resorts will be able to start their holiday with a Sunday morning ‘get to know the ski area’ session, with an instructor.
Facelift for thermal spa
The historic spa has been completely renovated.
The Grand Spa Thermal offers 2,700 m2 of treatments and well-being, including massages from around the world, beauty routines and a new 600m2 aquafun space for all the family.
New mountain guide experiences for advanced skiers
- Even Higher – the mountains – XXL style. Roped to your guide, climb an ice fall, explore a wild ridge and get to the top of a rock face.
- Mountain coaching – Learn how to ski in the right place at the right time, adapt to different snow conditions with the right technical approach, manage your energy and nutrition, take the right stuff with you, learn how to find your way around, select the best equipment, carry out a rescue, understand the snow conditions
Freeride Lab at Les Creux Noirs
Les Creux Noirs has to be the one of the most “hard core” zones in Les 3 Vallées, with one black and 2 red runs.
With a world-wide reputation for off-piste skiing, the area has been upgraded, adding a pure “Freeride” dimension.
- A new 350-metre long button lift for quicker, easier access to the top
- Old chairlift taken down
- A new run from the Col du Pas du Lac
- A commitment to make the 3 runs as safe as possible, whilst leaving them ungroomed for freeriders to make the most of the powder snow
Ski n Fly
Ski tour up the mountain and get a paraglider flight back down.
You don’t have to be an expert off-piste skier anymore to get out there on the mountain.
3 New Canyon Lodge Chalets
At the foot of the slopes in the Belvédère district of Courchevel Moriond, the 6-bedroom chalets offer a private spa, ski room, private parking, terraces
Ski mountaineering races
The PLUM MOONtain ski mountaineering races are back in Courchevel after a 5-year break.
The ascent up Col de le Loze takes place by moonlight. After dinner at Le 1928 mountain restaurant, with flaming torches.
The final race of the season is on 6th of March 2020.
On 11th of April 2020, a new event with a party atmosphere that mixes skiing and music, launched by French World Cup alpine racer Alexis Pinturault and the resort.
600 participants are expected for this unique race featuring a sequence of various disciplines (moguls, giant, skicross and waterslide).
New snow scooter
Easy Trott organises electric snow scooter sessions over the trails of Les Menuires in the natural setting of the Plan de l’Eau.
The scooters are easy to use, so you can head out on your own.
Le Chalet 2000
Opened in the Reberty 2000 district at the end of January.
There are 31 beds in 5 apartments ranging in size, all with their own terrace.
The slopes are a few metres away and it’s a short walk to food shops, equipment rental shops, the ESF children’s Piou Piou Club and several restaurants.
Snow groomer excursion & fondue under the stars
On Wednesday, Thursday or Friday evenings, travel up to 2,300 metres on the groomer after everyone else has left the slopes of Les Menuires, and enjoy the sunset followed by a traditional Savoyard fondue or grilled prime rib, before heading back down to the resort in the snow groomer.
Artist Lucas Beaufort
Creations by the artist and painter Lucas BEAUFORT are on show all over the resort this season, revealing small and tall stories about Les Menuires.
This original exhibition takes over the whole of the resort and can be accessed on skis or on foot.
Aqua Cross Training
Inspired by cross fit, aqua cross training comes to Les Menuires sports centre from the USA.
A lot more than just cycling in the water – participants use resistance bands, dumbbells and other accessories to intensify their effort and make different parts of the body work simultaneously through a combination of exercises (aquafitness, aquagym and aquaboxing etc).
Fly a drone
Outdoor drone-flying workshops let you view the landscape from the sky.
The workshops teach you the basic flying techniques as a starter session, or you can perfect your technique over a fun course.
Easy Drone offers off-piste sessions for taking videos and photos.
SAINT MARTIN DE BELLEVILLE
3 new chalets
Astilla, Becca and Luna offer self-catering accommodation in the heart of the resort, with services including concierge and sauna.
Ski storage lockers
Saint Martin de Belleville has installed ski storage facilities in the village.
300 pairs of skis can be stored in lockers for 2 or 4 people. Includes washbasins, changing room, hairdryer, toilets. Book online when buying your ski pass.
New Lys Spa outdoor relaxation area
A new 50 square metre relaxation area outdoors in the village of Saint-Martin: 3 luxury hot tubs, changing room, herbal teas.
End of season forest bathing
In March and April 2020, learn how to find inner peace through meditation among the trees.
Forest bathing is a based on an idea that being close to and in contact with trees can aid psycho-physical wellbeing.
Enduro – Sunday 5th April 2020
The 3 Vallées Enduro is a massive ski-fest for one day only where skiers of all ages in teams of three take part in challenges across the whole ski area.
PlanetSKI took part in 2019:
Starting out from a number of resorts in Les 3 Vallées resorts (Courchevel, Méribel, Les Menuires, Val Thorens and Orelle), teams set out to complete as many challenges as they can out of the 10 or so spread out across the entire ski area.
The challenges are open to all, offering a chance to try something new in the snow: big air bag, giant biathlon, slalom, freestyle, skicross.
Whether you’re out to win or just fancy a bit of a wander, it’s a great day out with family or friends.
Skill isn’t important, it’s more about having a go at things that are hardly ever available to the public.
The biggest champions from Les 3 Vallées also attend the event every year: Alexis Pinturault, Adrien Théaux, Chloé Trespeuch, Jean-Frédéric Chapuis, Phil Lau, Taïna Barioz, Jérémy Prevost and many more.
For more information, visit Les3Vallees website