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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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The Upgrades Keep Coming

Posted on
January 22, 2021

Hi everybody and welcome back to another post from your favourite blogging Méribel ski instructor. This week I have a list of ski improvements up on the mountain. At the tale end of last summer, I was impressed by the work in Méribel and the surrounding areas as usual, pandemic or not. Why was I surprised? Perhaps because the mountains appeared to be in a different place to normal (just like pre-pandemic times), and it was as though there were few coronavirus challenges/concerns. There seemed to be no reason to not look ahead and continue to invest in the future. This was very refreshing at the time.

Right, let's start off with a new chairlift in the Méribel Valley. It's called 'Bouquetin' and replaces the old colourful Plattieres 3 gondola above Méribel-Mottaret. It starts near the top of the Plain des Mains chairlift and finishes up at the Trois Marches, next to the top of the Granges and the Roc 2 chairlifts from the Belleville Valley.

The new Bouquetin chairlift with Mont Vallon behind.

The large old building that housed the Plattieres gondola has been taken away, giving a slightly more airy feel to the location. It's a six seater, and will take two and a half minutes to travel from bottom to top. People will also be able to download on this chairlift I believe, which perhaps opens up Méribel Valley pedestrian access to the popular Le Bouche a Oreille mountain restaurant.

This latest investment in the valley came at a cost of 6.8 million euros. It may take some skiing traffic away from the nearby Cotes Brune chairlift, however the Bouquetin has a different destination. I believe that the Cote Brune chairlift is due an upgrade soon as well, but I'm not exactly sure of the schedule for this. Using this new chairlift will be an awful lot more convenient than having to clank about with the old bubble. It felt as though you had to be a champion of the game called 'Twister' to get on and off the bubble.

Next up, a new mountain restaurant is under construction in the Tougnete sector. The closest pistes are Faon, Blaireau and Jerusalem to give you an idea of the location. The old restaurant called Les Cretes was demolished last summer, and the new main outer building has already been constructed and made weather tight. Its name will continue to be Les Cretes. The footprint of the restaurant to me looks to be a little bit bigger, but the nature of the terrain was always going to be a limiting factor being located on a ridge! The building looks taller which suggests either a high ceiling/roof, or a first floor. It was tricky to tell from the outside.

The previous Les Cretes was a rustic restaurant, offering a Savoyard experience. The family taking on this new project currently own several restaurants across France, including the renovated Refuge de la Traye here in the Méribel Valley close to Les Allues. This Refuge is now a high end establishment and offers a premium table service. Will Les Cretes be similar? We will find out next winter, and I can't wait.

The back of the new restaurant

The next upgrade I guess isn't technically in Méribel, but on the border with Courchevel up at the Col de la Loze, one of the two links between the valleys. Below is a photo I took at the end of August, and it gives you an idea of the size of the new snow-making water reservoir. It's huge.

Image taken last summer during construction.

A few days ago I skinned (ski toured) up to the Col to take a look in winter, and sadly there wasn't much to be seen due to the weather conditions. All that was visible was the fence which confirms the outline of the reservoir. This water reservoir certainly boosts the capacity for Courchevel's man-made snow, especially above Courchevel La Tania and Courchevel Le Praz. Timed I am sure to provide snow cover for the new black piste called L'Eclipse. This piste will feature races during the 2023 Alpine World Championships co-hosted by Courchevel and Méribel.

And finally, a small and much welcome improvement below the Centre of Méribel. There's a wonderful blue piste called Raffort that's been improved and re-landscaped over recent years. It's such a lovely piste, and perfect if the weather is foul higher up the mountain. It's fun, in the trees and gives you a different viewpoint across to resort that's not often seen. At the end of the piste you have to take off your skis, walk across the zebra crossing on the main road to the Brides les Bains Olympe gondola. Previously, lethal steep steps had to be descended before climbing up again to enter into the Olympe lift. This was challenging enough for adults, even more so for children. Ladies and Gentlemen, we now have a bridge that takes us safely (and easily) from the road at the same level, direct to the lift. How cool is that?

Photo taken from the edge of the road looking towards the lift.

There is one other improvement from this winter, however I haven't had the chance to take a look at it yet. There's a new and larger tunnel that goes underneath the Roc de Fer blue piste, which is used when race competitions are taking place on this piste onto the Stade. Again, this will be in preparation for the 2023 Alpine World Championships.

I hope you enjoyed this post, hopefully this confirms how Méribel continues to invest in the ski area for the future. If you want to have a look at my summer observations of these same upgrades, click here on this link. Keep an eye on The Socials of my latest goings on here in Méribel, links can be found on this page; Instagram is martinhemsleyski by the way. Am steering clear of the pandemic subject this time if that's alright with you? In the meantime, time to sign off with my current credo...... Stay Safe, Stay Healthy and Stay Fabulous. 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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