The 3 Vallées, everyone knows (the largest ski area in the world) but when choosing between two of the major ski resorts in this area (Meribel and Les Menuires), some questions arise … Which resort offers the best facilities for parking, childcare… If between Meribel and Les Menuires, your heart swings, here are some elements of comparison between these two ski resorts.
Be careful, this comparison is deliberately oriented on practical criteria: ease of access and parking, services/shops, childcare, après-ski … all useful and practical information that will allow you, at final, to choose between Meribel and Les Menuires.
General presentation of both ski resorts (Meribel and Les Menuires)
Made of eight ski resorts, Les 3 Vallées is an exceptional ski area whose reputation is second to none. At the heart of Savoie, it is the largest ski area in the world with 600 km of slopes and 200 lifts.
In the centre of the 3 valley ski area, lies Méribel, a charming resort that consists solely of chalets and residences combining stone and wood, perfectly integrated into the environment. It offers several areas at different altitudes: Les Allues (1100 m), Méribel Centre (1400 m), Méribel Village (1400 m) and Méribel-Mottaret (1700 m).
Nestled at an altitude of 1850m, Les Menuires is a purpose-built ski-in-ski-out resort with multiple facets: it is sporty, fun, family-friendly and functional. Labelled “Famille Plus Montagne”, it is particularly adapted to families thanks to the numerous activities and infrastructures for children.
Access to and parking in Méribel and Les Menuires
Located in the heart of Savoie, the two resorts are easily accessible from Chambéry or Grenoble via the motorway to Albertville and a free 2-way stretch to Moûtiers. Méribel is 18 km above Moûtiers, Les Menuires is 27 km away. The nearest train station is Moûtiers, the airport Chambéry. You are just over 2 hours from Geneva airport.
If you are staying a whole week in Méribel, consider the 7-day subscription (55 euros). You can leave the car park as you wish while keeping your place. For a shorter period, all the discovered car parks in the Méribel valley are free (except for limited time parking). The covered car parks are paying and four in number. The first hour is free and the price is 9 euros for 8 hours. To move around Méribel, a network of shuttles Méribus is free, from 8h to 00h.
In Les Menuires, there are two paid parking garages (50 euros per week) and pay-per-hour car parks in La Croisette for day parking (1 euro per hour, 2 euros for 2 hours and 2 euros for the extra hour). Good to know, free outdoor car parks are available in all areas of the resort. The eight areas of the resort are connected by the slopes and the free shuttles, every 20 minutes from 8h to 20h. An additional evening schedule runs every 40 minutes until 23h.
Comparison of the ski areas of Meribel and Les Menuires
With 600 km of slopes, Les 3 Vallées is a remarkably varied and accessible ski terrain. There are as many easy slopes (green and blue) as difficult ones (red and black). The snow is optimal there since 85% of the pistes are above 1800 m of altitude.
In Méribel, there is 150 km of pistes and 41 lifts with mainly blue and red runs. Known for its freestyle character, the resort has two famous snowparks: Moon Park and DC Area 43. Freeride enthusiasts are not neglected as the off-piste potential is remarkable.
Les Menuires resort has, for its part, 160 km of alpine ski runs (28 km of cross-country skiing), 34 lifts and 79 runs, mainly blue. In the general image of the 3 Valleys, its advantages lie in the variety of pistes, accessibility (several play areas) and the quality of the snow (label “Snow Guarantee”).
Everyday life in Meribel and Les Menuires
Architecturally different, the two resorts offer an exceptional lifestyle approach, each in their own special way.
A charming and high-end resort (Kate Middleton loves it), Meribel is composed of several neighbourhoods where comfort, beauty and quality of life are the priorities. The ski-in ski-out is assured on all the different sites of the resort: Altiport, Belvédère, Rond-Point des Pistes, La Chaudanne, Méribel Village, Les Allues. All the different areas have the necessary amenities to have a perfect stay. It is in Méribel Centre that we find however the most infrastructures and activities.
A purpose-built ski resort to make it easier for holidaymakers to enjoy, the eight areas that makeup Les Menuires are all linked by ski slopes, footpaths and shuttle or ski lift connections. The Croisette district, located in the heart of the resort, is home to the majority of the shops and facilities.
“Après ski” offer by Meribel and Les Menuires
Both in Meribel and Les Menuires, the après-ski is varied and lively: original sports activities, relaxation, entertainment and sports events, festive activities, gourmet restaurants and night clubs, there is something for everyone.
Olympic Park with several swimming pools, ice rink, relaxation and fitness centre, climbing wall, bowling … Méribel does not miss opportunities to give you plenty of fun outside of skiing.
In Les Menuires, the 4,500 m2 sports centre has an Aquaspa (swimming pool, sauna, steam room, jacuzzis). The resort is also full of unusual activities such as mountain biking on snow and Speed Mountain (toboggan run). To go out, 61 bars and restaurants, 6 clubs/bars welcome you through the night!
To welcome children in Meribel and Les Menuires
Even though only Les Menuires resort has the Famille Plus label, children have a decisive place in the development of both these resorts.
In Méribel, the new Inuit Village offers Inuit-themed games to have fun while skiing. In addition, the Cool Ski area for quiet skiing is growing and the Moon Wild Trail is enriched with new animals. Still in place, Le P’tit Moon is a fun course with raised curves for 7-12 years old.
Also a major point for the little ones, children under 5 years old have the free ski pass and free admission to the ice rink and swimming pool.
In Les Menuires, children are king: two children’s clubs welcome them from 3 months old, a slide castle sculpted in the snow is free to access, a children’s music festival “Ball of Notes” has existed for several years and many children activities are on offer.
On the snow side, there are many fun areas like Walibi Gliss, BK Park, Mini KL and the 4 km long Roc’n Bob toboggan run. The package is free for children under 5 years old.
The property market in Méribel and Les Menuires
There is a huge difference in price between Meribel and Les Menuires as Meribel caters to the very high-end clientele, very similar to the Courchevel crowd (but with a maybe more family-friendly approach). One is charming and traditional the other is purpose-built with everything that it implies in good and bad. Prices in Meribel vary greatly depending on which area in Meribel the property is but we can safely say that prices never go below 10,000€/sqm. In Les Menuires, access to facilities and restaurants is not so spread and price per sqm is around 7,000€/sqm for new-build. The only problem with Les Menuires new-build properties is that there are very few new developments being built. In Meribel, the last 3 years have seen a change in new-build permits and we have seen a number of off-plan projects emerging on the market.
From an investment point of view, Meribel has still some scope for a price increase but it is a consolidated ski resort where it is difficult to keep adding value, unlike Les Menuires. Les Menuires though was mainly built between the 70s and 90s and a lot of the ugly architecture will be renovated and embellished in the next 10 years, therefore increases the potential value of the resort and at 7,000€/sqm average for new-build, there is plenty of scope for price increases. The only problem, there is nothing new planned in the near future…
Conclusion of the comparison between Meribel and Les Menuires
Very different architecturally, Meribel and Les Menuires are also very different.
Charming and cosy, Méribel attracts holidaymakers looking for a mountain destination full of charm where comfort and quality prevail. The functionality and user-friendliness of Les Menuires is a particularly popular destination for families.
Their common point is about the slopes where accessibility, variety and fun zones are excellent in both resorts.