Words: Amy Lindsay
Méribel sits in the centre of the world’s largest ski area, Les Trois Vallees, giving access to over 600km of piste and a vast amount of off-piste for the more adventurous. Peppered with traditional wooden chalets, Meribel is packed with Alpine charm, as well as plenty of snow kit stores, après-ski bars and restaurants. Stretching from 1450m up to 1700m, the minted can opt for stylish ski in/ski out accommodation, while the rest of us will be happy to make do with the state-of-the-art lift system.
15 minutes of fame Méribel played host to several events at the 1992 Winter Olympics, leaving them with a huge Olympic park containing an ice rink, climbing wall, swimming pool, gym, spa, bowling and nightclub, so you'll never be bored on a crappy weather day.
Uppers Whether you're a backcountry thrill-seeker or snowboarding virgin, Meribel's great variety of terrain offers something for everyone. You'll never be stuck for a new spot with hundreds of lifts giving you instant access to 600km of slopes over Les Trois Vallees. Plus, there's permanent snow due to a plethora of snow cannons.
Downers Due to a rather wealthy clientele, beer can be quite pricey. Although you might be grateful to drive, as Méribel is spread out up the slopes, meaning it can be difficult to get around after dark without a car. While the slopes are not too crowded, there is a distinct sway towards the skiiers, so get your elbows sharpened if you're on a board.
Get me a guide The Ecole de Ski in Méribel has over 400 instructors speaking every European language to cater to all your needs - from beginners to backcountry and slalom to snow-shoeing.
Rest my weary head For budget backpackers, there are a whole bunch of affordable apartments to rent in Méribel. A small apartment for four people with Pierre et Vacances starts from 200€ per person for a week, or even less if you're willing to top and tail! There are also several tidy 2-star hotels which offer good value for money: La Croix Jean-Claude in Méribel Les Allues costs 80€ per person per night, and Savoy in Méribel Centre comes in at 93€ per person per night, both on a half-board basis.
Feed me La Fromagerie chez Frometon in Méribel town centre offers a meal plus wine for a bargainous 20€. If you fancy splashing out, La Flambee serves first-class local specialities - or Italian grub for the less adventurous - at credit-crunch-friendly prices.
Driiiiink myself stupid There are a whole host of bars to choose from in Méribel. The beautiful people sip rather-too-tasty cocktails in Le Poste de Secours, wine lovers should head to the Bar à Vin Le Saint Amour, while Le Pub is one of Méribel's longest running bars, guaranteeing good beer and lively après-ski. Seasonnaires favourites Jacks and Dicks Tea Bar are essential stops if you're up for a late one, with big-name DJs and a fun crowd. If you're up for something a tad more swanky, head to the super-sophisticated Loft in the Olympic Park.
Locals listen to Pop is the unadventurous - but inoffensive - music mainstay in most bars. For DJ sets, head to Le Poste or Le Bo a Mil in Méribel village.
Where to hit on a powder day Le Raffort, accessible by the Olympic express lift, guarantees perfect conditions for pow.
Where to hit when it hasn't snowed for weeks The snowpark in Méribel Mottaret is armed with snow cannons so there's always an excuse to dust off your board and boots.
Where to hit on a whiteout The slopes of Méribel village are easily accessible and close to town for a mid-morning defrosting chocolat chaud.
Price of beer A small beer comes in at 2.80€ so make sure you stock up on supplies at duty free before you arrive.
Price of lift pass A pass for Méribel valley alone costs 38€ per day, or 182€ for six days. If you're up for exploring more slopes, Méribel is handily situated in the heart of Les 3 Vallées, so you can buy a pass to cover all three (Méribel, Courcheval and Val Thorens) for 45€ per day or 225€ for six days.
How to get there Geneva is just 85 miles from Méribel. Hop on a cheap flight courtesy of Easyjet, then from the airport you can either take the train to Moutiers (just a 10-minute cab ride from Méribel village) or splash out on a transfer which will take around two hours from airport to resort and set you back around 500€.
To find out more, visit meribel.net