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The Meribel Edit

Nestled in the heart of the world's largest ski area, Les Trois Vallées, Meribel boasts over 600km of velvety pistes surrounded by picturesque backdrops. World-renowned for both après and ski, it’s no secret why everyone loves Meribel.

SKI

With over 600km of velvety pistes Les Trois Vallées is the world’s largest ski area, and the biggest boast over jugs of Mutzig is skiing all three valleys in one day (start early, bring snacks). Pros head to black run Jockeys in Courchevel with its heart-pumping descent, it’s guaranteed fresh powder after a snow dump. For scenic cruising, the long blue run Creux from the very top of the Saulire peak is one to hit in the morning - it can be bumpy later - while Combe de Vallon has solid views. If the squiggles of the ski map are too much to decode, nab ruggedly bearded local instructor Alain Encinas, through Skills Courchevel, who surfs Biarritz in summer and skis the three valleys in the winter - there’s not a corner he hasn’t carved. Or unclip and try nighttime tobogganing from the top of the Combes chairlift (toasted marshmallows await at the bottom), a wildlife -spotting snow shoe walk or horse drawn sleigh rides around the pine-ringed Lac de Tueda

EAT

At lunchtime, all the savvy skiers begin slipping off like secret squirrels – nosing between the trees near the Piste des Animaux – to Clos Bernard, a magical ski-up spot practically hidden in snowy woodland near Méribel Altiport. Book ahead for a guaranteed spot around the fire pits with glasses of rosé and steaming pots of fondue. On a bluebird day make a beeline for Adray Télébar, also only reached on skis, foot or by snowmobile, to order the veal with creamy sauce and chips on the sun-trap terrace. In Courchevel 1650, Le Bel Air has the terrace to beat all terraces. People watch over a classic Bel Air salad, with buttery beaufort cheese and walnuts. At the very tippy top of Saulire between Meribel and Courchevel, Le Panoramic, as the name suggests, has the stonking views over Les Trois Vallees, for chocolat chaud and a generous shot of génépi to get you back on your way. In Courchevel 1850, skip Le Cap Horn with its fancy puddings (although who knows who is eating them as they are all so skinny), and dip into the ooziest, tastiest, cheesiest raclette around at La Fromagerie. Or line up early at the bottom of the main ski lift for reasonably priced made-to-order churros amongst the oysters and furs.

STAY

For a long time Meribel was more catered chalets to Courchevel’s shiny hotels, but the town is catching up. Le Coucou turned heads when it opened in December 2019, from the French family behind Provence’s pretty Crillon Le Brave and St Tropez’s scene-y Hotel Lou Pinet. The first hotel from Parisian artist-designer Pierre Yovanovitch - who is known for blending high art with vintage detail and an almost sculptural treatment of space - it is a playful redux of the classic Alpine chalet. There’s Yovanovitch’s sheepskin covered bear chairs - with ears poking out of the backrests - lights that look like frosted ice cubes and a wall of cuckoo clocks (a wink to the hotel’s name) in meat-centric restaurant Beefbar. It’s a curvy space trip on the slopes - with a Tata Harper spa to boot. In Courchevel 1850, the Aman Le Melezin and Cheval Blanc Courchevel are slick hideouts for the Petrus crowd, while in quieter, more tucked away 1650, chic lodge Le Portetta (sister to Lime Wood hotel in the UK) has sensational Italian cooking overseen by Angela Hartnett - the daily handmade pasta is worth putting many miles under your skis for, while the risotto al funghi is earthy mountain magic. For chalets, Meriski and Camel Snow hold the keys to the most family-friendly spots, while Purple Ski and Oxford Ski have the smartest addresses in the Alps.

What To Pack