The Three Valleys - Skiing heaven in the French Alps
If you have heard the tales of excellent skiing, dramatic scenery and vibrant nightlife, taking a Three Valleys ski chalet will sound extremely tempting. The Three Valleys is the largest ski domain the world, covering three valleys of prime skiing country in the French Alps. With a great range of ski facilities throughout the domain, the Three Valleys is the perfect destination for beginners, intermediates and expert skiers alike.
Six of the Best Three Valleys Ski ResortsA single Three Valleys ski pass gives you access to the 330 downhill pistes, 120km of cross country skiing tracks and the 183 ski lifts across the Three Valleys domain, as well as some fearsome off-piste snowparks, which are a veritable playground for snowboarding. Family ski passes reduce costs further, as long as you intend to stay in your Three Valleys ski accommodation for at least 6 days. There are no risks to be taken on snow conditions either, as the Three Valleys have the best artificial snow making facilities in the world. However, with eight separate resorts making up the domain, which of the Three Valley ski resorts will give you the best experience?
Taking accommodation in Meribel, France, puts you at the heart of the Three Valleys. Meribel has the best nightlife in the Three Valleys, plus evil off-piste and huge drop-offs, as well as moguls, speed runs and a snow-park.
View Meribel ski chalets
A Courchevel ski chalet puts you in the most exclusive resort in France, where you can choose from a vast range of activities including off-piste skiing, mogul runs, almost vertical black runs and freestyle skiing. The après-ski isn't bad either!
La Tania is billed as a family resort due to its wide, gentle pistes. The off-piste is great though, with fearsome drop-offs and huge bowls, as well as some great après ski, so there is something to keep the whole family happy.
View chalets in La Tania
Les Menuires is ideal for intermediate skiers and snowboarders, with excellent blue and red runs, many of which come right down to Les Menuires accommodation. Les Menuires is also a family friendly resort, with plenty of activities for children.
Val Thorens is the highest ski resort in Europe. You can ski to and from the front door of your Val Thorens accommodation, and there is vast off-piste potential, a central snowpark and excellent nightlife including Europe's highest pub.
St Martin de Belleville
St Martin de Belleville is the small, quiet and traditional Three Valleys resort. It is particularly good for expert skiers and snowboarders, especially those who would prefer to hit the slopes early rather than hit the clubs late.
What do I need to know?Beginners: If you have never skied before and are heading for the Three Valleys you will be well taken care of as qualified, English speaking instructors are available for group or individual lessons throughout the Three Valleys ski resorts. The best options for Three Valleys ski holidays for beginners would be to take Val Thorens accommodation or Les Menuires accommodation, as both resorts have long, wide and gentle pistes, as well as some great learner slopes.
Intermediates: What a choice! The Three Valleys ski resorts are regularly cited as the finest intermediate level ski resorts in the world, with over 50% of their pistes having blue or red status. A ski chalet in Meribel allows you to try moguls, runs of over 1,000 vertical metres, excellent off-piste skiing and a tremendous snowpark, as well as making you closest to the centre of the Three Valleys - perfectly positioned to make use of any of the 183 ski lifts in the domain.
Experts: There are some gruelling black runs located throughout the Three Valleys, but it is the formidable off-piste possibilities which excite most visitors to the Three Valleys. To get the most from the Three Valleys off-piste, buy the Three Valleys Off-Piste Guide, which has itineraries, maps, photos and route plans. As with all off-piste skiing, listen to local knowledge and always take a local guide.
Snowboarding: Courchevel chalets are the favourite accommodation in the Three Valleys for snowboarding. However, there is excellent terrain throughout the domain, and there are snowparks in Meribel and Val Thorens as well as Courchevel which offer plenty of opportunity for air, as well as half pipes and boarder-cross courses.
It is a common misconception that Three Valleys skiing holidays are hard to organize. However, there are six airports which receive direct flights from the UK within two hours drive of Meribel, at the centre of the domain. Chambery Airport is within an hour of Meribel skiing accommodation, and there are numerous cheap transfer options, including a range of well equipped mini bus services which come with knowledgeable drivers and refreshments. Flybe, Jet2 and Snowjet provide flights from ten British airports from Edinburgh to Exeter.