Outdoor activities in the heart of the Three Valleys. From on-and-off-slope activities for both skiers and non-skiers alike, find out what’s hot for 2017 and enjoy a ‘Breath of Fresh Air in Meribel’. Happy reading and bonne vacance.
Nothing quite soothes the soul like filling your lungs with crisp mountain air and feasting your eyes on those handsome snow-covered peaks. And for me, the satisfaction gained from completing a challenging run or learning a new trick on my snowboard is simply unparalleled.
If, however, stepping into clunky ski boots or strapping on to a board and sliding down a slope just doesn’t appeal to you, fear not, as there are plenty of ways to enjoy the mountains – and Méribel – this season.
BEST FOR FAMILIES: HORSE-DRAWN CARRIAGE
Why not treat your pack to the ultimate winter wonderland experience and sign-up for a traditional tour of Meribel Mottaret’s Lac Tueda? Ideal for families and friends; enjoy stunning views of the lake and surrounding valleys from the charm of your very own horse-drawn carriage.
For more information, availability and bookings, visit Mottaret’s Office du Tourisme, which is found next to the pistes.
BEST FOR FRIENDS: THE RONNIE
The Rond Point des Pistes (or ‘The Ronnie’ as it is affectionately known), is the ultimate après-ski bar, which is suited to all. Found on the Doron piste, which sits halfway up Saulire and leads back to Chaudanne, the Ronnie is easily accessible by bus, ski and even foot.
From its large open terrace (which boasts a killer view down the valley) and cracking entertainment – including live bands and some of the hottest Djs in the Alps – to its exclusive à la carte menu, homemade vin chaud and toffee vodka; the Ronnie has something for all.
Open from 9am, it’s the perfect place to prepare for the day with a coffee and pain aux chocolat. For lunch, choose between the à la carte menu (served from 11:30 – 15:30) and their cheap and cheerful external snackbar, which offers delicious noodles and burgers until 17:00.
Psst: Watch out for the Ronnie Loves Music Festival. From 20th – 24th March 2017, the Ronnie is treating us to a week full of great music and guest stars to accompany the crazy skills and stunts from the DC freestyle snowboard team. With the stage placed just within spitting distance of the terrace, learn from the best or watch in awe with pint in hand.
BEST FOR ADRENALINE: SNOWMOBILE
Remember that scene in your favourite ski movie where the crew appear on snowmobiles and charge through deep powder in epic backcountry terrain? Well it’s not just for the pros. Thanks to Whitetracks and their snowmobile programme (which is based in Meribel Mottaret), you can now charge up-piste too.
Once the slopes have closed for the day and the skiers, boarders and those crazy people who hike up on skis as opposed to riding down like everyone else (called skinning… really good exercise by the way), the freshly groomed pistes are yours for the taking.
Providing the ultimate adrenaline fix as well as the opportunity for an adventure of a lifetime, snowmobiles can drive through deep powder (mother nature providing) as well as speed across completely empty pistes.
To find out how to book your moonlit snowmobile experience, contact Whitetracks directly.
Psst: Did you know that modern snowmobiles can achieve speeds of over 120mph?
BEST FOR AFTER DARK: NIGHT SLEDGING
Treat your inner child to a blast from the past with the Himalaya by Night tobogganing evenings. Every Tuesday (and Mondays during French school holidays) the green run of Little Himalaya illuminates so you can happily slide down from Mottaret to Mèribel in your very own toboggan.
Psst: There’s also music, hot chocolate and marshmallows to accompany the surrounding moonlit peaks. Trust me, it’s a truly magical experience.
BEST FOR ANIMAL LOVERS: HUSKY SLEDGE RIDE
Like milk and tea for the Brits, huskies and snow are a match made in heaven.
Taking the reins and putting you in full control of 3 (sometimes 4) beautiful mountain dogs, Whitetracks’ Husky Sledge Ride provides a travel experience like no other. Starting in Le Plantin – the tiny village between La Tania and Méribel Village – the traditional husky sledge ride lasts for one energetic hour and covers both open and wooded terrain. Physically demanding, yet highly rewarding, this truly authentic trip costs £58 per person and is available 3 times per day.
BEST FOR PEACE SEEKERS: HOT AIR BALLOON
Modern life is all about the rush. Fast-paced and frantic, we live in a world where multi-tasking, time-keeping and scheduling is imperative, and everything seems to be built around function and speed. Hot air balloons are the polar opposite. They aren’t fast. And you can’t steer them into a particular direction.
This, unsurprisingly, makes for the ultimate calming experience.
Climb aboard Whitetracks’ Hot Air Balloon rides in Méribel and prepare to see the mountain as only the birds do. Departing from the Altiport in Courchevel 1850 on a daily basis, each balloon ride costs £255 per person and lasts up to 2 hours.
So, why not stand back, relax and let the wind carry you on what’s set to be one truly serene and peaceful journey through the air? I guarantee it will be like nothing like you’ve ever experienced before.
TOP ON-SLOPE ACTIVITIES
BEST FOR FAMILIES: YETI PARK
Looking for ways to keep the little ones entertained in a safe space on the piste? Head to the Yeti Park in Mottaret, which is full to the brim with family-fun features including gongs, trumpets, igloos, tunnels and even a zip wire. Accessible on both skis or by foot, this winding green run is open all day and can be enjoyed in the company of ‘Yooni’ the park’s friendly Yeti.
Competitive family? Well, ski down the dual slalom slope and watch back the race on video… You won’t regret it.
BEST FOR POWDER: HELI-SKIING
If you long to escape the crowded pistes and dream of conquering completely untouched terrain, then Heli-Skiing could be just the thing. Offering exclusive views and the ultimate first-tracks, experience the joys of riding through deep fluffy powder on exclusive routes and all in the safe hands of a professional mountain guide.
Although banned in France (helicopters are now only used for work or rescue purposes), heli-skiing programmes still run in Italy’s Aosta Valley, which boasts some extreme terrain including the largest vertical drop in Europe, numerous couloirs, as well as glaciers.
Each helicopter can take a guide and up to 4 passengers and the descent can last up to half a day with a potential for 3500m worth of vertical skiing. For those whose legs can handle it, up to 4 descents are possible a day.
Psst: Transceiver, probes and shovels are all supplied.
BEST FOR ADRENALINE SEEKERS: TANDEM PARAGLIDING
Recognised as one of the most popular activities in the Alps, paragliding is now more accessible than ever.
With the chance to enjoy a bird’s eye view of the pistes, the rush of take-off and landing as well as a bit of acrobatics at the end of the flight; it’s no surprise that so many of us are taking the leap.
Starting from the top of Saulire (Col de la Loze), each paraglide typically lasts for 15-20 minutes and is preceded by a 5-10 minute debrief and equipment-handling induction. Open to all skiers who are already confident on blue runs and above, your guide will ride in tandem and be there every step of the way to help you breeze through this truly exhilarating experience.
Psst: For more information on bookings and availability, talk to Claudia, Magic’s very own paragliding guide. With over 15-years’ experience in the Three Valleys; you’ll be in good hands.