Méribel ski resort
Located within the heart of the world's largest ski area, Les Trois Vallées (The Three Valleys), granting easy access to 600km (372 miles) of piste, Méribel's occupies a spot most modern ski resorts would kill for.
But this prime positioning is more an act of man, than an act of God, with the resort's British founders foreseeing the long-term benefits of building a resort here, and complemented the location with conventional chalet-style architecture to purvey a traditional Alpine atmosphere. The result today is that Méribel is a very pleasant village to stay in, as well as ski from.
Méribel (along with its neighbour Méribel-Mottaret, which contains the concrete apartment blocks Méribel has managed to avoid) caters to all levels of skiing ability, which has helped make it one of the most popular centres in the world, especially favoured by British skiers and snowboarders.
Despite its traditional ambience and French charm, Méribel does not hold back when it comes to partying. Unlike many French resorts, which have a reputation for low-key nightlife, Méribel has become known on the ski scene for its choice of bars and venues in which to unwind into the small hours.
Méribel lies in the Savoie region of the French Alps, above the town of Moûtiers, with Courchevel to the east, and Les Menuires and Val Thorens to the west. Méribel-Mottaret is a few hundred metres uphill from Méribel Centre, with the shapely peak of Mont du Vallon (2,952m/9,685ft) dominating the head of the valley beyond.
MéribelResort Elevation: 1450m
Top Elevation: 2952m
Base Elevation: 1100m
On the slopes
The ski season in Méribel lasts from early December to late April, and offers fairly reliable snow cover. Failing that, almost half of the slopes are armed with snow cannons that provide a constant white coating, as long as temperatures are low enough.
The lift system radiates from two central hubs at Chaudanne and Mottaret, linking Méribel to the neighbouring resorts of Courchevel, Les Menuires and Val Thorens, which make up the vast Trois Vallées area. This grouping of pistes is so big that skiers need not ski the same run twice during a week in the resort.
Méribel is a resort that welcomes newbies, with numerous intermediates runs, and good beginners' areas too. Beginners can practise on the green pistes below the Altiport, before progressing to the easy blues beneath the mid-station of the Tougnette chairlift and the Marmotte, Biche, Geai and Belette blues on the Saulire side.
Most intermediates will want to bag the Mauduit – a challenging red that was once an Olympic downhill course – and the two long, exhilarating red pistes that descend from the summit of Mont du Vallon.
Classic black runs include La Face (another former Olympic downhill) and the mogul fields of Les Bosses and Bartavelle. There's also plenty of epic off-piste terrain on Mont du Vallon and Mont de la Chambre, and further off-piste action in nearby Courchevel and Val Thorens.
Freestylers can choose between two snow parks: one accessed via the Arpasson chairlift, and the other from the Plattières gondola.