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Ski guiding in Meribel France with British ski instructors
Ski guiding in Meribel France with British ski instructors
Ski guiding in Meribel France with British ski instructors
Ski guiding in Meribel France with British ski instructors

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My Favourite Pistes - Méribel

Posted on
January 29, 2022

Hi everybody, and welcome back to another post from your favourite blogging Méribel ski instructor. The Brits are back in France now that border restrictions have been lifted, about time and what a relief for everyone. It's great to see that you are able to travel back out again, I'm really pleased for you all. At the start of the 2020 winter, the one that was cut short by the start of the pandemic, I paid a visit to the Bouc Blanc restaurant in Courchevel with some clients. There had been a slight revamp, and I was really admiring their art theme of pistes and piste markers.

Wall art in the Bouc Blanc mountain restaurant.

I'm often asked what my favourite ski piste is in the Méribel Valley and the 3 Valleys. That's one of the hardest questions to answer. It depends on who I might be teaching, or even if I'm free skiing for myself. Snow conditions and weather can of course have an effect, also the time of the season. To be honest, I can't pinpoint one piste, I have so many. Seeing the art in the Bouc Blanc gave me an idea, why don't I list some of my favourite pistes in the 3 Valleys on this blog page? During the winter of 2020, and continuing this ski season, I've taken several pics and put together some of my favourites. There are some choices that will be obvious to regular visitors to the 3 Valleys, but there will be a few curve balls as well. Let's start here in the Méribel Valley.......

Blanchot

The Blanchot piste, also commonly known as the Altiport, is an absolute beauty. It's a green piste and is a real joy to ski down. The scenery is spectacular all day long, and either end of the day the low light is beautiful (spot the photographer). A golf course during the long summer months which gives you an idea as to how mellow the terrain is. As a ski instructor, this piste is perfect for helping beginner skiers gain their confidence. Not only that, it is also a safe place to introduce 'carving' skiing.

Early morning fun, on a perfectly groomed Altiport piste. Priceless.

Sometimes I'll have a rendezvous for lessons at the bottom of the Altiport chairlift, and there's something quite special about skiing down this piste first thing in the morning. It's a commute to work that puts a massive smile on my face. Speaking of the Altiport chairlift, it serves the Blanchot piste perfectly; designed especially for beginner skiers (nice and safe and gentle), and with eight seats on each chair there are hardly ever any queues.

Lapin

The Lapin piste is in the same sector and a continuation on from the aforementioned Blanchot. There are a number of reasons why I love this piste, it has beautiful views across to the other side of the mountain, and also further down the valley. Lapin (translated as Rabbit) is a fun and gentle blue piste that finishes down in Méribel Village. So for me, it is one of the first blue pistes that I will introduce to skiers who are ready to adventure away from greens. If I'm skiing for myself it is one of those runs where I can let my skis run, be playful, and anticipate the various terrain changes.

In bad weather, for example high winds and heavy snowfall, Lapin is perfect for providing protection due to the lower altitude and the forest. A favourite with ski instructors and those in the know during these periods. Perhaps another reason why I like Lapin so much is that I was based in Méribel Village during my first ever ski season. In fact it was the first year that the Golf chairlift was operational, and the Lapin piste had been created. Me, sentimental? I sometimes take part in the ESF ski school torchlight descents down there, which is wonderful.

Skiing down to Méribel Village on the 'Rabbit Run'.

Geai

Geai, pronounced Jay, is one of those curve ball choices. It is on the Saulire side of the Méribel valley, and is accessed by the Dent de Burgin chairlift. It's in the shade in the morning, and in glorious sunshine all afternoon. On a chilly day, you now know which end of the day will be more enjoyable. This is another blue piste on the easier scale, and again is an option where I will take people who are ready to progress from greens to blues. Geai is a lovely piste that has a flow, and passes close to the cheerful Folie Douce mountain restaurant. With stunning views on this side of the valley, rotating on the Dent de Burgin chairlift is a very rewarding option to take.

Boulevard de la Loze

I absolutely love this piste, and many of you might think it an odd choice because it doesn't necessarily offer an epic ski. What it does give you though, is one of the most amazing views of the Méribel valley and way beyond, it really does knock your ski socks off. Starting at the top of the Col de la Loze, it is a great option for returning back from the Courchevel valley, away from the much busier option of the top of Saulire. In the summer, there is now a tarmac road open to cyclists (under the piste), one of my favourite (but brutal) cycling routes. It featured in the 2020 Tour de France, and is rumoured to return again soon. The Boulevard was also where that I proposed to Harriet many years ago!?! I do love going up to the Col de la Loze at the end of the day, and being one of the last skiers to slide down in stunning end of day sunlight. Give it a go, you won't regret it.

Coqs

Coqs is one of my favourite red pistes in the Méribel Valley. Located just above Méribel-Mottaret, this is slightly hidden from view, which often makes it one of the quietest pistes around. It certainly has a steep pitch part way down, and has a cheeky tight right hand bend that can catch you out if you aren't familiar with it. Having said that, the quality of the snow is usually pretty good all the way down back to Mottaret, with good snow cannon coverage on the final section.

Coqs is one of the several pistes in the Méribel Valley which is north facing. Why is this important? The piste will stay in the shade for much longer than others, which means the quality of the snow will keep a good texture. Plus the piste doesn't get battered by the strong sun in spring time. A few years ago I was guiding a member of the British Royal Family (clang), and it was one of those beautiful warm spring days. The snow was transforming in most places as it does in spring, and I decided to guide HRH and his bodyguard down the Coqs piste. It had lovely winter snow, and skied beautifully. HRH said to me, great choice Martin, what a brilliant piste. Can't say fairer than that. But whatever you do please don't spread the word, Coqs is normally a quiet piste, so let's keep it that way please.

The lower part of Coqs, with Méribel-Mottaret in the foreground, and Méribel Town in the background on the left.

Mouflon

Mouflon is another curve ball for you. I don't think it gets the love it deserves, and this is because most people ski it in the afternoon when the snow has been affected by traffic. This red piste is tucked away high above Méribel-Mottaret, and can be easily accessed by the new Bouquetin chairlift in the Méribel Valley, or the Granges chairlift above Les Menuires. Mouflon has quite a steep top section; with good balance and technique, skiing down here is a pleasure. Just like Coqs, Mouflon is mostly north facing which keeps the snow quality tip top, especially in March and April. New for this winter, snow cannons have been installed which means there should be next to no loose rocks around any more.

Face

Méribel has several black pistes. Several of them rely on bumps forming to keep them challenging and worthy of being classified as a black piste. However, the Face piste doesn't need this, although quite often bumps do form anyway just to keep you on your toes. Face is visible in Méribel Town first thing in the morning, often bathed in brilliant sunshine, and you can see if it has been groomed overnight or not. What does make this a black piste is the steepness. When skiing down, it almost feels as though you a free falling down the slope. First thing in the morning is the best time to ski Face, especially after it has been groomed. A challenging piste, and with impressive views looking down on to Méribel as well if you get the chance.

So there you go, a short list of my favourite pistes in the Méribel Valley. I could've continued, for example I love Choucas, Combe Laitelet, Truite and...... the list goes on. I wonder what would be on your list? Come back soon for my favourites in another valley. In the meantime don't forget to Live With Passion. Martin.

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With our skills- based system of learning, we give you the tools to safely negotiate any demands the mountains make on you, helping you to increase your comfort zone and ski in a wider range of conditions. Whether you are a nervous novice, a blue piste cruiser or an all mountain adventurer, we tailor your ski lessons to create a perfect fit. The question is, which one are you?

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With our skills- based system of learning, we give you the tools to safely negotiate any demands the mountains make on you, helping you to increase your comfort zone and ski in a wider range of conditions. Whether you are a nervous novice, a blue piste cruiser or an all mountain adventurer, we tailor your ski lessons to create a perfect fit. The question is, which one are you?

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