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02-04-2017, 00:00   #181
iroced
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Méribel (Méribel Centre) - Les 3 Vallées

1. Where and when you went.

Méribel (Méribel Centre). 18/03/16 -> 25/03/16
Les 3 Vallées skipass.

2. What you did there ski/board/blade.

Ski.

3. How were the conditions on/off piste.

Not great at all. Very warm temperatures overall, rarely negative even up to 3000m ! When we arrived on Saturday afternoon, it was raining a bit in Meribel (4-5 °C at 1450m).
The lower parts of the ski area were dreadful even in the morning (already mogulled and with "soup" snow). Unfortunately for us, Méribel was the worst resort regarding that. Maybe the pistes orientation? Maybe because it's in the heart of the 3 Vallées so there is more passing? It is also relatively lower than the other resorts (100m for Mottaret and 200-300m for Meribel Centre), which of course didn't help.
Above 2500m high it was good though. Not great but good.
It did snow a little bit in the end of the week above 2500m but that did not make much of a difference on piste.

As a result, the off-piste was very limited since there was not a lot of snow. The Vallon du Lou in Les Ménuires and the lower flanks of Aiguille du Fruit in Courchevel were OK. Also, I actually did a couple of closed black trails in "off-piste conditions" after seeing they had enough snow cover (e.g. Grande Rosière in Méribel, Léo Lacroix in Les Ménuires - was actually surprised they were closed since they were great to ski and they only needed a little work in some parts to be open to the masses, maybe the off-season effect?).

The last 2 days, extreme Foehn wind (up to 100 km/h) caused a lot of lifts closing, particularly the gondolas and cable cars going to the highest summits. Since I did not check well enough the weather forecast, we did not have the opportunity to go up the Mont du Vallon and Cime Caron, which was a shame since they offer some of the best pistes of the area. My own fault really but to be a little fussy and I was talking with a Méribel ski instructor who was agreeing with me, I'd say they anticipate the closing a bit too much (on the Friday and Saturday mornings, it was perfectly safe to have the highest areas open in the morning - the Mont du Vallon one doesn't even involve any connections - and it was easy enough to close them for the afternoon to anticipate the strenghtening of the foehn then).

4. Are you beginner/intermed/advanced.

Advanced.

5. What were the bars/restaurants like.

We were staying close to Le Rond Point (on the heights of Méribel Centre), a bar with live music every evening. Good atmosphere there. Was not open 'till very late since it's located in a kinda residential area but enough to relax and enjoy nice music and beverages after a full day of skiing .

As for the restaurants, there are plenty in the centre with local specialities to enjoy a good meal. We're off the self-catering kind so can't really recommand any places but from what I saw on a few showcase menus, you can get decent prices if you don't go heavy on the wine . Not our thing but if you wanna party later, you'll have no problems finding a couple of night clubs/bars in the centre. I heard many people favourably mentioning Les Saint Pères in Méribel Centre.

6. Anything in particular to recommend about this resort.

In the 3 Vallées ski area, Méribel (and La Tania) is certainly the most familly-oriented resort. Less luxury and jet set than Courchevel. less fiestas than Les Ménuires & Val Thorens. It's also the prettiest resort in terms of architecture with its chalets and its more natural atmosphere.

7. Any hidden gems you found near nearby.

Nothing hidden at all but the Chanrossa-Roc Merlet-Roc Mugnier area in Courchevel was great to ski with a great snow quality (local conditions?). Ditto the Orelle part in Val Thorens.

Now, if you like slow-shoeing or cross-country skiing, the Tuéda lake area (just above Méribel-Mottaret) is a beautiful and peaceful wild area in the middle of the 3 Vallées (an entrance to the Vanoise National Park).

Actually, now that I remember it, in the Chanrossa area, in the cliffs left beside the Chanrossa chairlift, there was a chamois (mountain goats) herd that likes to spend some time. One of the staff guy from the Marmottes chairlift (just opposite of the Chanrossa one) had even installed some binoculars on a man-made tripod directly pointing at them such that we could see them better). Quite unusual in the middle of the day in the middle of one of the biggest ski area of the world!

8. Was the population when you were there mostly Irish/Brits or mainland Europeans.

We were there outside France holiday periods so there were many many foreigners (English-speaking, "German"-speaking, Russians and Polish mainly).

9. Any other relevant comments, and whether you would go again.

Free (outdoor) car parks in our area, which is not always the case in the 3 Vallées (Les Ménuires & Val Thorens have some places with charged carparks).

Free bus in Méribel (Meribus) was great. Our chalet was 200m higher (in elevation) than the bottom of the pistes in Méribel Centre. So if we were to miss out on the last gondola, there were several free bus routes to get back to our place or to go back down in the city centre.


As I said last year, I generally like changing resorts but again I'd definitely recommend Méribel and be delighted to go again. To be more precise, I had deliberately chosen Méribel over the other 3 Vallées resorts (even if it was a bit more expensive (a little less than 100€ more than Les Ménuires for example for the week for 2)) because it's in the heart of the ski area. My/our main interest for our winter holidays is skiing, so it's by far the number 1 priority when it comes to choices. Therefore, I wanted to cut down to the minimum the various connections between resorts. Méribel is perfect for that. No stress to come back to the right skiing area in the afternoon and the possibility to easily and peacefully visit every single places from Courchevel Moriond on the far-North-East to Orelle on the extreme South-West .

As for the 3 Vallées skiing area (well it doesn't really need any publicity, does it ?), I had already gone 11 years ago and went for a week-end in Val Thorens 2 years ago. So third time this year and still found it great. Huge and varied with fantastic panoramic views from the highest points (the Mont Blanc & Grandes Jorasses massifs from the Saulire, the view on the Grande Casse (highest point of the Vanoise National Park) is great from there ; the Ecrins belt and Aiguilles d'Arves peaks from the Val Thorens crests). They never stop improving the lifts, making them faster and more comfortable, removing the old and useless doublon ones (which make some areas of this gigantic ski resort look pretty wild). They work the pistes pretty well. Considering how crap were the forecast (I mean crap for the snow, 16°C under a shiny blue sky at 1500m high isn't really crap conditions right ?!) the pistes were overall in pretty good shape. So yeah, the pass is expensive but it's worth it!

Last edited by iroced; 02-04-2017 at 02:36.
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07-04-2017, 20:12   #182
a148pro
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iroced View Post
Also, I actually did a couple of closed black trails in "off-piste conditions" after seeing they had enough snow cover (e.g. Grande Rosière in Méribel, Léo Lacroix in Les Ménuires - was actually surprised they were closed since they were great to ski and they only needed a little work in some parts to be open to the masses, maybe the off-season effect?).
Just be careful of this - I've skipped the rope and skied blacks a good few times on the assumption that they're closed due to icy moguls or lack of snow, which I feel I can handle but the hordes can't, on the basis that I get to ski some effective off piste. I don't do this any more and in reality its a bad idea. Pistes are closed for a variety of reasons and one is avalanche danger, either above the piste or on the piste itself. You won't go too long without reading about people being killed skiing closed pistes (there was an incident in France last year I think involving a teacher and school children and multiple deaths).

Basically, its a bad idea and disrespectful to the pisteurs. The reality is the likes of us haven't an F-ing clue what is safe and what not on the mountain and we should respect the pisteurs and their knowledge and just do what they say. From their perspective must really piss them off when we do it. Bear in mind they may also have closed the piste to work on it.

Not giving out to you - as I say, I've done it before, just didn't want other people coming and reading it and getting the idea its ok.

PS if in 3vs for the skiing I recommend Mottaret as its right on the junction between the two lifts into the other valley - great place for first tracks and easy access.
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19-04-2017, 18:02   #183
iroced
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Quote:
Originally Posted by a148pro View Post
Just be careful of this - I've skipped the rope and skied blacks a good few times on the assumption that they're closed due to icy moguls or lack of snow, which I feel I can handle but the hordes can't, on the basis that I get to ski some effective off piste. I don't do this any more and in reality its a bad idea. Pistes are closed for a variety of reasons and one is avalanche danger, either above the piste or on the piste itself. You won't go too long without reading about people being killed skiing closed pistes (there was an incident in France last year I think involving a teacher and school children and multiple deaths).

Basically, its a bad idea and disrespectful to the pisteurs. The reality is the likes of us haven't an F-ing clue what is safe and what not on the mountain and we should respect the pisteurs and their knowledge and just do what they say. From their perspective must really piss them off when we do it. Bear in mind they may also have closed the piste to work on it.

Not giving out to you - as I say, I've done it before, just didn't want other people coming and reading it and getting the idea its ok.

PS if in 3vs for the skiing I recommend Mottaret as its right on the junction between the two lifts into the other valley - great place for first tracks and easy access.
Yeah I agree with you but in a way it's like going for an off-piste run. Once you leave the pistes you know you're under your own responsibility and insurance (it's actually written on the ski area map and on some signs on the top of some pistes).

Now, coming back to my own example, I can assure you there was a very limited risk. The only real risk was myself falling and hitting a rock. But that was up to me to be careful.
The peak of the season had already passed and they were not making huge efforts to open some black pistes with thin snow cover. I can understand it. But in the meantime you pay the same amount for the skipass (which is expensive enough) so there should not be any difference between the on and off season. There were several red pistes with "be careful - thin snow cover" signs. They could have done the same on the 2 black pistes I cited.

And the avalanche risk was pretty low. At 2/5 for most of the week (3/5 towards the end because of the snowfall in the upper parts). But in the lower parts of the ski area, it was more a question of gathering up the most snow they could to open the pistes.


- edit -
I agree with you about Mottaret. But it was too expensive for us this year so we chose Meribel Centre instead .
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04-02-2018, 22:22   #184
olaola
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Schladming

1. Where and when you went.

Schladming, 27/01 - 03/02

2. What you did there ski/board/blade.

Ski.

3. How were the conditions on/off piste.

Sensational, the pistes were in excellent condition and after a dump of snow on Thursday night, lots of fresh stuff!
Endless supply of cracking runs, I don't think I've ever been to a resort that had such a wealth of really great pistes. It's not really a spot for beginners, but intermediates to advanced are very well catered for. The mountain we stayed on had some 'best in the wurlt' 3 gold thingies for best pistes or something.

The lift equipment was a bit lacking in some areas, everything that hasn't been replaced recently is old and slow. I'm sure they're going through a program of replacement. You can avoid most of the crappier lifts with a bit of planning (20 min 2 man chair lift!!)

4. Are you beginner/intermed/advanced.

Intermediate

5. What were the bars/restaurants like.

Can't really say! We stayed up the mountain in a spot called Almdorf Reiteralm. Ski in/ski out, chalets on site and we did half board in the hotel next door. The main town on Schladming is a fair distance down the mountain. The town itself isn't that attractive, so you're not missing a wild lot not heading down. Some of the rest of the gang headed down one evening, said it was pretty dead. Prob hopping around the World Cup though!

Loads of great mountain huts, no new canteen like places. Reasonable prices too.

7. Any hidden gems you found near nearby.

3 of the 4 connected mountains (Planai, Hochwurzen & Reiteralm) had too many amazing runs to count. Felt like a kid on Christmas morning, opening more and more presents!!

8. Was the population when you were there mostly Irish/Brits or mainland Europeans.

Mainland Europeans, heard one English accent while we were there.

9. Any other relevant comments, and whether you would go again.

Definitely, I thought it was the best resort I've visited. And only an hour from Salzburg, with a train station in the main village. The only downside is that the 4 mountains are in a line, and not a circuit. So there's a bit of schlepping to get to the furthest connected area. There's a good few other discrete mountains, but we never bothered going near them. The accommodation we stayed in was really well set up for kids, we didn't pay a cent for our two (1 & 3, incl HB). Lots of things to keep them occupied, but while a skidoo took the wee man to school, they couldn't take him home until 3 (he finished ski school at 12) so we had to get the gondola down & taxi back up the mountain. Prob wouldn't take him back until he was confident doing a blue. There's a handy enough forest track back to the place from the beginners area.
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