INSTRUCTOR PROFILE: Adrien Bel

Life as a Local in Meribel

Ever wonder what instructors do when they’re not teaching others to ski? You’re not alone.

We spoke with one of our instructors come summer mountain bike patroller, Adrien Bel, to get the inside scoop on what it’s really like to live the mountain goat life.

As a Magic instructor for over 10 years, Adrien knows how to both work and play in the mountains all year round – and luckily for us; he’s happy to share his secrets.

FOLLOWING HIS FAMILY’S FOOTSTEPS

Originally from a little town outside of Lyon, Adrien is actually a Méribel lad at heart. You see, because his grandfather has owned a flat here for over 30 years, each easter, summer and winter holiday was then spent in the 3 Valleys; skiing, mountain biking and creating lifelong friendships.

As the 5th person in France to become a fully-qualified ski instructor (back in the 1953), his wife’s grandfather played a huge part in Adrien’s life and long-term aspirations. Following in his family’s footsteps, Adrien qualified at the age of 18 and has since completed 16 winter seasons in Méribel to date. His summers were spent travelling to Southeast Asia and beyond. Oh, and he also managed to cram in running his own kitesurf school in Madagascar.

6 years ago – after a few summer seasons away from the 3 Valleys – Adrien returned to his home turf with his wife Anais (also Méribel born and bred) and they now live here all year round. They have 2 beautiful children, Leontine (4 years) and Anselme (10 months), and have recently bought a house in Le Villard to set up roots of their own. Located just above Les Allues on the sun-drenched hillside with quiet streets and gorgeous views of the valley; it’s no wonder they couldn’t keep away.

FROM PLANKS TO PEDALS

Switching his planks for pedals, Adrien now fills his summer months by working for the Mountain Bike Patrol in Méribel. After the calm of interseason (the quiet months in-between winter and summer), the resort lifts re-open to allow mountain bike and downhill racing enthusiasts to explore the 3 Valleys’ notorious summer trails.

“Cross-country mountain biking and downhill racing are popular summer activities in Méribel especially”, continues Adrien. “I’ve seen an increase in the numbers of participants since the Red Bull UCI XCO World Cup was hosted here in August 2014.”

Adrien works from June to September, preparing the lifts and managing the day-to-day operations of the mountain bike trails as well as teaching and touring.

“The lifts open for pedestrians and mountain bikers from the end of June to the end of August, and for those who have a season lift pass, there’s no extra charge!”, explains Adrien. “We use specialist bike racks and hooks to help transport the racers and their bikes up to the summits. This is great for downhill enthusiasts in particular… less time pushing up hill, more focus on speeding down!”

TRAILS TO TRY

“There are so many mountain bike trails to try in Méribel alone”, comments Adrien. “Whatever your ability or cycling goals, I’d recommend checking out the specialised events in resort for this summer via the tourist office website. In particular, I’m looking forward to the 3 Valleys Addict Tour, which runs from Saturday 8th of July – hope to see some of you there!”

Offering over 100km of mountain bike trails, Méribel first received it’s FFC (French Federation of Cycling) accreditation in 1988. And, thanks to connections to the neighbouring valleys, there’s up to 200km of trails to explore. Just like the winter ski routes, each trail is colour coded (green, blue, red and black) indicative of their technical difficulty.

Psst: If you ever get stuck on the mountain and need assistance from the Mountain Bike Patrol, contact them on +33 (0)4 79 08 98 20 or +33 (0)6 16 64 26 49.

For more information on mountain biking in Meribel, why not check out merinet.com’s Mountain Biking Guide.  

Thanks Adrien; here’s to a great summer in the mountains.

Thanks to the Bikepark in Meribel for the pictures and awesome bike trails.