snow covered hillside with ski chalet in the distance

Skiing the 3 Valleys

Skiing the 3 Valleys, or Les 3 Vallées, as its known in France will keep you busy for a lifetime and is probably one of the world’s largest ski areas with a whopping 600km of pistes, 321 downhill skiing pistes, more than 2,100 snow canons and 169 ski lifts.

The area as a whole enjoys excellent snow sure skiing on a range of slopes for skiers and snowboarders of all ability levels as well as some seriously breathtaking vistas.

Known for attracting celebrate skiers such as the Beckhams, Elton John, Robbie Williams and even Royalty the region is also home to 12 Michelin-starred restaurants so if you desire, expect excellent gastronomy during your stay.

Resorts of the 3 Valleys

  • Courchevel, located in the Saint-Bon valley (altitude between 1,300 and 1,850 metres).
  • Méribel and Méribel-Mottaret, based in the Allues valley (altitude 1,500 and 1,700 metres, respectively). Méribel is the main town in the Allues valley.
  • Brides-les-Bains is a spa resort also based in the Allues valley (altitude 600 metres). It is linked to Méribel by cable car.
  • La Tania is located between these two valleys in the smaller La Perrière valley (altitude 1,350 metres). It offers easy access to the slopes of Courchevel and Méribel.
  • Saint Martin de Belleville can be found in the Belleville valley (altitude 1,400 metres).
  • Les Menuires is also located in the Belleville valley (altitude 1,850 metres).
  • Val Thorens, the highest ski resort in Europe (altitude 2,300 metres), is also based within the Belleville valley.
  • Orelle can be found in the smaller Maurienne valley (altitude 900 metres) close to the Belleville valley. It provides easy access to the highest point in the area: la Pointe du Bouchet (altitude 3,400 metres).

3 Valleys accommodation

Snowchateaux offers fantastic chalets in La Tania and Méribel, right in the heart of the 3 Valleys. Set within traditional Alpine villages and just a stone’s throw from the slopes, the finest foods are on offer here throughout the day.

Freeride Lodge’s catered chalet in Méribel-Mottaret is just 100 metres from the closest ski lift and a short walk from the village. When you’re not out and about, you can enjoy a glass of wine on the sun terrace or get cosy in front of the log fire.

Ski out of the Blue have fantastic luxury chalets close to the pistes of Meribel. Choose from two perfect chalets, Neve and Tapia.

Mountain Lodge Adventures offer stunning chalets in the heart of St Martin de Belleville. IF you are looking for village charm, St Martin is a stunning setting with great access to the Les Menuires and Val Thorens slopes.

How to get to the 3 Valleys ski area.

Skiing the 3 Valleys has never been easier, it is within easy reach of Geneva airport, which is around two to two and a half hours away by car.  Grenoble and Lyon airports are both options at around two and a half hours away and Chambery airport is the closest at a stones throw of one and a half hours driver or transfer.

The simplest and most cost-effective way to travel between the resort and the airport is of course via a reputable transfer company. If you are looking to book a transfer to get to the 3 Valleys, contact Mountain Rescue Transfers.

Stand up paddle boarders on Tignes Lake

Summer activities Tignes

Tignes summer chair lifts

For a lift-served alpine holiday that won’t cost the earth, we recommend Tignes. No idea what there is to do there? Nor do many other people, which means it’s much less busy than neighbouring Val d’Isere (which it happens to be handily linked to...) So here’s what’s on offer in Tignes: a smorgasbord of free activities ranging from full-on adrenalin to family fun, including completely free lifts for mountain-biking and hiking, all set in one of the largest areas of national park in Western Europe, which happens to have open ski and snowboard pistes 10 months of the year.

Summer Skiing

That’s right, thanks to the Grande Motte glacier in Tignes, you can access some of the highest pistes in Europe and ski or snowboard even in summer. Tignes funicular train takes just seven minutes to deposit you amid 20km of slopes, a terrain park, and 12 lifts; including a cable car that whizzes you right up to 3456m. While you’re rather unlikely to find fresh powder, the freeze-melt can give flattering conditions if you catch it right. It’s a great time to hit kickers, rails and pipes in soft slushy conditions. La Grande Motte itself is the highest summit in the famous Espace Killy ski area, which joins Tignes with Val d’Isere, and the panoramic mountain views are spectacular, stretching out to Mont Blanc in the distance. Head there early for best conditions: It’s open from 7.15am till 1pm in summer.

Free mountain bike park

It’s free to access the five lifts and over 90km of man-made and natural trails in Tignes bike park. With mountain and cross-country tracks graded from green to double black, an airbag for practicing tricks, and links to Val d’Isère, you can eat fresh dirt every day. There’s even a free shuttle bus to get you around them. Get on the popular flowy blue trail ‘Jump Around’ early or late as it’s popular. ‘Moustache’ is a rampage of a black with spectacular views over Tignes Lake, which leads to the super-gnarly ‘Black Metal’ trail that drops to the village below. Alpine giddiness is guaranteed, so find your level on green, blue and red ‘module lines’ before getting your free MTB lift pass at the Maisons de Tignes welcome desk in Lac and Val Claret and heading up.

Paragliding

A certain amount of faith is required to launch yourself off a precipice with your instructor or guide, who will steer the flimsy canopy above you, and cruise around in the air seeking out invisible thermal updrafts that will allow you to gain height. You’ll be totally exposed to the elements and weightless, with a real birds-eye view down on Mont Pourri, the ridges of the Grande Sassiere, the Grande Casse (which is the highest point in La Vanoise at 3,856m) and Mont Blanc in the distance. You don’t need any experience of skills to take a tandem paragliding flight; and if you take to it you can also book lessons and instruction from beginner to advanced level in Tignes.

Hiking Western Europe’s largest area of national park

Tignes lies in the Vanoise National Park, which, when lumped together with neighbouring Italian Grand Paradis National Park, is one the largest protected area in Western Europe. Head to the Maison de Tignes le Lac and Val Claret to get a free lift pass for three lifts. A ‘Summer walks guide’ is available there for 10 euros. Some ideas for walks: a perfect 1.45 hour walk for families winds through Bois de la Laye’s woodlands, waterfalls and streams. The Aiguille Percée (Eye of the Needle) provides a great photo opportunity and a longer walk: (9km and 3 hours) and, finally, this 2-hour Nazonde walk leads the way through the most unspoilt part of Tignes.

Over 26 FREE activities

Check before booking that your accommodation provider can offer you a Sportignes card, which accesses 26 free sports in Tignes, including:

  • Acroland waterpark
  • Archery
  • Beach football
  • Beach volleyball
  • Squash
  • Tennis
  • Air rifle shooting
  • Crazy airbag jumping
  • Mini golf
  • Pétanque
  • Ping-pong
  • Swimming pool
  • Trampolining
  • Pedalos
  • Kayaks
  • Stand-up paddle-boarding
  • Catamaran sailing

Other things you can do in Tignes in summer...

  • Canyoning
  • Helicopter rides
  • Cycling
  • Waterballing
  • Rafting
  • Golf
  • Kayaking
  • Fishing
  • Climbing
  • Horseriding
Exterior of Hotel Taj-i Mah in the snow

Hotel Taj-I Mah, Les Arcs 2000

This winter Les Arcs is opening the doors of its first 5 Start Hotel, the Taj i Mah in Arcs 2000. Named after the largest un-mounted diamond in the Iranian crown jewels collection it translates to “Crown of the Moon”, very French indeed.

Situated bang on the piste next to the “Le Cabriolet” gondola customers will of course be able to enjoy ski in/ski out access as well as amazing views of the piste and mountain range.

All of the rooms at the Taj i Mah enjoy private balconies, wifi access, mini-bar, Nespresso machine and a private safe.

The Taj I Mah hosts two restaurants, a comfortable lounge/bar area, a kids playroom, a panoramic terrace and a 400 meter square spa and swimming pool. The hotel includes a 24/7 turndown service and a baby pack for infants under 3 years old. 

Michelin star holder Eric Samson will manage the hotels two restaurants, The “Dialant Noir” focusing on gastronomic delights and “La Rotisserie” offering local dishes with a casual twist of style.

Its certainly going to take things up a notch in Les Arcs and now it joins the likes of ValdI’sere and Courchevel in housing a luxury 5 star hotel and restaurant. The advantage of staying at 2000 meters however is fantastic and Les Arcs has a super snow sure record to match any of the regions resorts. Les Arcs is directly linked to La Plagne via the 180 person cable car the Vanoise Express, making the massive Paradiski ski area and for that reason making it one of the most popular ski destinations in France.

To book you luxury holiday in Les Arcs for winter 2016/17 visit Alpine Answers for more information.

chalet-broski in the snow

Why Saint Martin de Belleville makes an excellent ski resort

Saint Martin de Belleville is a small, picturesque resort with plenty to offer. Set in the mountains at an altitude of 1,450 metres, it is a fantastic place to ski with spectacular views in every direction.

Visitors can enjoy the slopes here in the heart of the famous Three Valleys region without waiting in long queues. There are gentle slopes for beginners, a selection of blue and red slopes for intermediates, and safe off-piste areas for experienced skiers. There are also plenty of options for snowboarders. 

Other activities on offer in Saint Martin de Belleville include mountain biking and hiking during the summer months, with 20 biking and 50 hiking trails within easy reach. Canyoning and rafting lay down the gauntlet for more daring visitors, while those looking to take it a little easier can enjoy shopping, concerts, spa treatments, craft fairs and visits to the village’s quaint church and museum. There are several excellent restaurants and bars in the region, where you can sample locally produced food and wine.

 

Great places to stay in Saint Martin de Belleville

Why Saint Martin de Belleville

Snow Trippin: A above and beyond luxury experience in the beautiful chalet Broski. A truly owner operated experience we can highly recomend. (Chalet Broski featured picture)

Mountain Lodge AdventuresChalet Alpage offers charm and character, accommodating up to 12 guests. In the evenings you can unwind in either of its two lounges or hang out in the sauna.

Ski TaliniSki Talini offers three luxurious, catered chalets that can accommodate large groups of up to 13. Offering incredible views, you can also enjoy the services a personal chef during your stay.

The Alpine Club: The Alpine club is a selection of beautiful ski chalets each offering excellent service and exceptional food and wine.

How to get to Saint Martin de Belleville

Just over an hour away, Chambery is the closest airport to Saint Martin de Belleville. However, Geneva, Grenoble and Lyon are all about two hours away, so you will have plenty of choice when you book your flights.

You can hire a car at any of the above airports and drive to the resort yourself, but many visitors opt to book an airport transfer instead. This is a more affordable option and means you don’t have to worry about navigating to or from the airport.