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Three Vallees, France: Info needed..Thanks!!

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
Hi all-

I am currently arranging a ski trip to the Three Vallees area in France in Jan. '08. I will be making the trip by myself, but I have never skied in Europe before. I had viewed all the resort websites and was somewhat overwhelmed. Therefore, I sent a thread fairly recently re: where to ski in Europe for someone who has never been there. As a result, I was happy to find tons of feedback from many Forum readers (thanks to all who previously offered suggestions and comments). The replys were very very helpful for me to narrow all the great resort choices down to the Three Vallees. I have made flight arrangements into Geneva. I plan on skiing there by myself for around ten days.

However, my head is spinning again as I research websites and resources for accomodations. I plead ignorance as I don't know what is considerded reasonable rates and good deals for staying there. I really don't need anything fancy or luxerious. I probably could get by with a bed and a shower and close access to the lifts. So, would it better to stay in an outlying little town or village with a shuttle to the lifts?

Obviously, being in the heart of Meribel or Courchevel would cost more vs. a hotel, pension, or hostel somewhere nearby. But I do not know the lay of the land other than looking at resort maps online. Therefore, any suggestions you could offer based on your experience staying there or through others would really help me. Secondly, the cost ski passes are listed on the resort websites, but is there any inside information you may have re: purchasing a multi-day pass?

Thanks in advance for your suggestions and related information you could provide me. If by chance you find yourself in the Three Vallees area during January 14-24, beers and dinner are on me some night!!!

Thanks everyone!!
- Dan
post #2 of 29
Has been ages since I was there last time but check out the village St. Martin de Belleville just down the road from Les Menuieres for cheaper lodging. Full access to the whole circuit, just get up early enough to beat the hordes.
post #3 of 29
Two super cheap Trois Valles secrets:

Stay in St Michel de Maurienne and take the amazing 45 minute gondola from the dry valley floor to the glaciers on top of the 3 valleys. The Maurienne area is full of affordable places to stay and this back door access gets you ahead of all the traffic.



Or stay in Moutiers, below Courcheval. There is a nice bar with rooms upstairs. Our room was cheaper than parking and a beer up above. There is good bus service to the ski areas.

post #4 of 29
Thread Starter 
jm, p[1qAZ2HN TG5B
post #5 of 29
I'll be in Val Thorens from 17th-24th of Jan with a few friends.May have a spare bed if you're interested. Great location.
If not there's a hostel there called the UCPA. I think they only accept under 26 year olds,but I may be wrong there.
post #6 of 29

3 Vallee

Hi,
It's been many years since I've skiied there , but a few things remain in memory,,,,
If we were to return, we would stay in Merebel area.
Reasons,,,ski high, sleep low. Val Thorens is around 10k...The body does not get the nighttime recovery as you would at 7.5. Effects can be cumulative over several days.
Also, if you get "smoked out" Merebel area is in treeline,,,You can still make a day of it.
I skiied Val Thoren by brail up in the glaciers for a couple of days,,,,pretty intresting!!
Not withstanding, you'll want to navigate to Thorens a few times as that corner of the Three Vallee's is awesome.
Lastly,,,I don't know If I have the spelling correct, but you have to try a local liquor called Genepee [sp]..It is made from a local alpine flower,,,careful!
Have a great time!!!!
post #7 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmjimm View Post
I'll be in Val Thorens from 17th-24th of Jan with a few friends.May have a spare bed if you're interested. Great location.
If not there's a hostel there called the UCPA. I think they only accept under 26 year olds,but I may be wrong there.
UCPA holidays cater up to age 40, though the hostel rules may be different- check www.ucpa.com
post #8 of 29
Avoid staying down in the valley floor in January. When nuking hard the access road can be a pain or even closed and the gondola shut down to strong winds. Have been there in January, know what I'm talking about.
post #9 of 29
This area is so big I could see why it is confusing to you if you have never been there. The best place to stay will depend on conditions, which you won't know obviously until you are there, so the best bet is to reduce risk of not skiing (PowHog's comment) and of not having to go to far each day for good snow. We stayed in Meribel but we had to slog it over to Val Thorens EVERY DAY because it was mash potatoes down in Meribel. If I went back I would highly consider staying in Les Menuieres because it is more centralized. If I was going late in the season I would just stay in Val Thorens.
post #10 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by PowHog View Post
Avoid staying down in the valley floor in January. When nuking hard the access road can be a pain or even closed and the gondola shut down to strong winds. Have been there in January, know what I'm talking about.
oops! someone knows the flaw in the Maurienne back door strategy.

From time to time people get stuck because the incredible gondola is shut down due to weather. Then you get to find a really high priced room and go to dinner in your ski boots, or take a very expensive taxi ride.

To listen to the hotel owners in Val Thorens this happens every other day. Good idea to check the weather, and spend the day hanging out drinking 6 euro Apremont (36 euro Apremont in Val Thorens) if the weather is iffy.
post #11 of 29
A couple of ways to save the $$
if you're willing to give up a few hrs, the 100+ euro bus ride from geneva to moutiers can be done by train (1 connection) all commuter (so no reservations required). Check the SNCF website for timetables, the trains do run pretty frequently.

Get an extra day skiing by leaving for whichever station at 5:50AM and checking your luggage in the bag-check (the bus stations have them) for a nominal fee and ski the whole day, get back and check in to your room/apartment/hotel room whatever it may be.

Val tho is great except when nuking because there is no reference (all above tree line). We stayed in Les Menuires, and while it doesn't have the rocking nightlife of val tho/courchevel/ meribel, our deal was, we were there to ski not really to party hard, your objectives may differ. Definately get a hotel or one of the more 'upscale' places in Les Menuires if you stay there, its comparable to a median level place in the other resorts.

Access to the other stations was not too bad, we made it to Courchevel, the furthest away in about 1 1/2 hrs with careful planning and spent the day there and still made the 4:00pm cutoff for the last lifts back to les menuires.

La masse, across the valley from Les Men. has some of the best kept secrets in the 3 valleys, there was tons of untracked more than a week after the last major dump while we were there.

PM me if you have specific questions, we were there first week of jan 07. If anything, familiarize yourself with major lifts, and the general outline of the place BEFORE you get there, this place is HUGE and that definately helps!
post #12 of 29
Note that the lift passes are (by default) for a single lift company. This means that you are not skiing everywhere. You have to upgrade your pass to be a 3 Vallees pass before leaving the area of the lift company from which you bought your original pass. Otherwise, you have to buy a full pass from that other lift company.

I stayed at the Oxalys in Val T, and it was in a great location and all, but likely won't work for you as a single (mostly apartments). I don't have experience at other lodgings.
post #13 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssh View Post
Note that the lift passes are (by default) for a single lift company. This means that you are not skiing everywhere. You have to upgrade your pass to be a 3 Vallees pass before leaving the area of the lift company from which you bought your original pass. Otherwise, you have to buy a full pass from that other lift company.

I stayed at the Oxalys in Val T, and it was in a great location and all, but likely won't work for you as a single (mostly apartments). I don't have experience at other lodgings.

Don't be foolish about lift passes - just buy a 3 Vallee Pass (opposed to single area) and ride any lift you want. Often you are on a ridge between 2 mountains/valleys and you will want the ability to ski what looks best. It's easy to buy a hands-free, mulit-day lift pass and never think about it again.

6-day one area 178 E
6-day 3 Vallees 220 E

Only a 40E difference. There are so many other ways to save money. Like pack food, BYOB for decks, fewer snacks, groceries, public transportation, good plans, etc.

I think it would be so stupid to skimp/budget here. Kind of like visiting the Louvre but just deciding to look at it from outside and not go in to save a few.
post #14 of 29
chrisc, I agree. It's just that most folks from the States aren't likely to understand that distinction, I think.
post #15 of 29

Train-book ahead to save

Similar to airlines, you can save by booking ahead with European trains. It can also make a difference what website you go to...I think the SNCF site probably has the best fares for a r/t, but there are some deals, like Eurorail that you can only book from abroad (i.e. USA).

I've been in Bourg Saint Maurice, about a half hour past Moutiers, since September and while I have not priced it to Moutiers, it looks like the train can be cheaper than the bus, but it will have 1 or 2 changes depending on schedule from Geneva. However, with the train, if you are not staying in Moutiers, then you will have to take a bus/shuttle or taxi to your resort. With the bus ( is one, but I don't really like their website) you have a better choice of drop off points.

Matt
post #16 of 29
I never could figure out the SNCF site. Thanks to Linds for her help booking my train tickets (Paris-Moutiers) on the overnight.
post #17 of 29
True, the SNCF site is very poorly designed/not always working.

However, if you don't have a good travel agent, and you can navagate your way through, then it gives you an idea of what the schedule is (and probably what the lowest fare should be)...I have typically booked at the train except for a ticket or two in Germany that I was able to pay for and print from the computer at my sister in laws.

Matt
post #18 of 29
MEfree30, probably true, but you need to know the specific station names, and sometimes (like with my experience with Moutiers!), it's not what you think (and there are multiple stations with similar names). Just a forewarning. If you have more patience than I do, you can likely figure it out.
post #19 of 29

skiing 3 vallees

In no particular order:

The guy who reckons Val Thorens is 10K feet high, wrong, its 2300 metres which is about 6900 feet so no issue sleeping there.

If your making the effort to travel all the way from the States to ski some "real mountains" not the "hills" you find in the Rockies then by a 3 vallees pass not worth considering anything else.

Same again why scrimp and save on a couple of dollars to stay in the valley, stay in either Val Thorens or Meribel Mottaret (higher up than Meribel with much better slope access). Mottaret just shades it over Val Thorens due to location. However Val more of a laugh due to the large dutch presence, doing what they like to call "Winter Sports" which seems to be hard skiing and even harder drinking

Also if your a half decent skier hire a guide so you can check out the limitless off piste.

Also make sure if the snows good you ski the Couloir's under the Saulire cabel car, nothing like the pressure of an audiance to focus your mind

Finally enjoy, its an awesome ski area.
post #20 of 29
I concurr.
The UCPA in Val Tho is pretty cheap and right on the slopes.
Especially if I was alone I'd hate to commute to the mountain everyday.
After a hard day of skiing you can park your ski's at the edge of the village, have some great apr├Ęs-ski drinks and then ski down to the hostel at night.

Anyways, enjoy! It's a great skiing arena...
post #21 of 29
Have a look at my site I have a lot of links regarding skiing in the 3 valleys, webcams, routes, travel tips, etc. (not trying to sell you anything) all the w's skimottaret dot com
post #22 of 29

Took 45 there in 99

Or at least I think it was 99...

Anyway, I did tons of reasearch and at that time concluded Meribel was the best place as is is 1) cen the Les Trois Vallees 2) lower/better sleeping than Val Thornes and 3) saved time commuting from cheaper vallee floor areas. Look into the Hotel Merilys--think I'm spelling it correctly. Wonderful food, v comfortable rooms, heated ski lockers, etc. Hosts owners Catherine et Bernard even skied with us once or twice.

Also, val Thorens is a purpose built resort with 60s & 70s styling, totally lacking in aestehics. (Looks like Portillo...)

Another plus to Meribel is that you can walk down hill (or bus) to shops & restaurants.

Cheers,
TreepickerSue
post #23 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by TreepickerSue View Post
Or at least I think it was 99...

Anyway, I did tons of reasearch and at that time concluded Meribel was the best place as is is 1) cen the Les Trois Vallees 2) lower/better sleeping than Val Thornes and 3) saved time commuting from cheaper vallee floor areas. Look into the Hotel Merilys--think I'm spelling it correctly. Wonderful food, v comfortable rooms, heated ski lockers, etc. Hosts owners Catherine et Bernard even skied with us once or twice.

Also, val Thorens is a purpose built resort with 60s & 70s styling, totally lacking in aestehics. (Looks like Portillo...)

Another plus to Meribel is that you can walk down hill (or bus) to shops & restaurants.

Cheers,
TreepickerSue
Hi Sue, I remember you from Paula's Ski Lovers. We also stayed at Hotel Merilys and I agree it was a nice place, very personable and clean, good location in Meribel.

Good to see you here!
post #24 of 29

Three Valleys

If cost is an object, stay low and allow for the extra time it will take to ride the lifts up, if not, either Meribel or Courchivel are excellent bases. As far as passes are concerned, the only pass to get is the Three Valley, or multi area pass. Don't fool around, get the hands free pass and also purchase the insurance for the ski patrol - in the event you should need them, they are not free like in the states. The extra charges are really nominal.
post #25 of 29
I'll be at the other end of the French Alps in the Portes du Soleil (Les Gets/Morzine/Avoriaz) that week so if you don't mind, I'll not drive 200miles for that beer, but I really would recommend Courchevel, the lower variations (1850 is for the super-rich only).

1650, if your budget will stretch, is worth a look as you are right into the 3vallees skiing (albeit the far left section of it) off the first lift. Other options such as 1350 have a gondola up into 1850, but the same problems may arise in poor weather as mentioned elsewhere in this thread.

My personal preference would not be to Meribel. However it does have many many chalets and a spare single bed might be easier to find than in the higher resorts. It's a fairly busy valley and not particularly challenging skiing - but then we've always been trying to get across it so I'm prepared to be corrected.

Would concur with previous correspondents about Val Thorens & Les Menuires. There are lots of aparetments there and therfore the resorts can be a bit soulless. The skiing in good weather is, however, excellent.

You are, in my opinion, going at the very best time of year. Early snow in France has been good and you will miss both the Christmas and New Year crowds and the hell that is the French holiday month of February which coincides with the UK half term school holiday - skier soup! There's a reason we go at this time - see powderhoundsDOTorgDOTuk (swap DOT for .)

You should be able to ski fairly much without crowds across the biggest interlinked ski area in France and probably one of the most snow-sure in Europe.
... did I say I wasn't going to be there - what's got into me? Oh yes, teh free acommodation in my friend's chalet :-)

Anyway - try wwwDOTsnowheadsDOTcom for local info. It's a bit like this site and you might even be able to find accomodation and/or ski buddies for your trip.

Whatever you end up doing - enjoy. It will be awesome & you'll find whatever you want; steeps, off piste, bumps, groomers, long and fast etc...

CW
post #26 of 29
Yer, I know it's an old thread but our party of six has just returned from nine days skiing in Les Trois Vallees so I thought it good to recount our experience.

We all flew to Chambery with Jet2 and arrived on time. The flights are very cheap if you avoid weekends and book early:
http://www.jet2.com/

We arranged for a CoolBus to come and pick us up. The driver was there when we arrived and the transfer to Brides-les-Bains only took about an hour. The return trip ran equally smoothly:
http://www.thecoolbus.co.uk/

We stayed 9 nights 'demi-pension' in the Hotel des Sources in Brides-les-Bains. Recommended! It's reasonably priced, the food is excellent and the staff superb. The rooms were good but the bathrooms could do with a refurb. It's over 5 minutes walk to the bubble station but they run a minibus morning and evening to ferry eight at a time. The first bus out leaves at 8:15, in time to get in the queue for the first bubble at 8:30. Then, after a short walk to the snow, we'd meet up with our instructor at the centre of Meribel just after 9 o'clock. Unfortunately, the last lift down leaves at 17:30 so there's little time to hang around in bars before returning to the hotel. Being used to ski-to-door, we found all this a bit of a drag - but there is one big advantage. In the middle of the week someone commented that they didn't feel as exhausted at usual when booting up a slope at over 2500m. 'That's probably because we're sleeping at only 600m' I said.
http://www.hotel-des-sources.com/

We engaged an British instructor for six of the days. Simon is good - very good. So good that he instructs instructors. Most of us had met him before but were a little worried that his minimalist style wouldn't suit the others. Far from it! Everyone thought he was excellent.
http://www.offpisteskiing.com/

Add to that some 30cm of snow at the beginning of the week, lots of sunshine for the rest, ticks against the couloirs of Emile Allais and Tremplin, and a trip down the pretty Avals Vallee (spotting chamois on the way): we all reckon we had one of our best weeks skiing - ever.
post #27 of 29
i just got back from 3 vallees. went with my skiklub and had a good time. some things i can add-

flew into Geneva from Newark and it was painless. flew Qatar Airways and they were adequate. Lucky for us, roads and skies were clear. 2 hour bus trip to the resort. it was nice to know that there are several ski areas close to geneva. i might try to make a return trip.

stayed at Brides Le Bain and it is said to be much cheaper than staying higher up. it;s at 600 mm and to get to the base of Meribel takes a 25-30 minute gondola ride. that;s not too bad as staying in the valley, the temps were moderate. however, the gondola for downloading closes at 5:30 so you got to get back before it closes or you have to pay a 30$ Euro cab ride. we could never find any way of getting to the other bases using public transportation. we heard there was a bus that only ran once a day.

also, it seemed that since we came during the week of carnivale break, the mountain was alot more crowded than it would usually be. so i guess if you can help it, chose a different week. we asked another tour operator if January would be a better time and he said it is very cold at that time.

as for the skiing, it was spring temps but we did get some rain in the valley/snow in the mountains higher up the next few days. so lucky for us we got powder and not so cold temps. Val Thorens was the place with the best powder, highest elevations and bowls although we found good stuff on Meribel as well.

goodluck!
post #28 of 29
I've stayed in pretty much all of the 3V resorts and I'd recommend La Tania for direct access to Meribel and Courchevel and lower prices, plus it has tree skiing for when visability is bad.
Courchevel 1300 la Praz, for rustic charm and direct link to Courchevel 1850. Val Thorens is good if the weather is good, terrible if it's bad.
Meribel snow cover gets worn really quickly, Meribel Motteret is a better place to stay as the links are better to the other valleys.
Les Menuires is the ugliest place in 3V, but not bad skiing.
Buy a full 3V pass.
post #29 of 29
I haven't read all the above threads, but here's some info.

A friend who lived and worked in 3 Vallees, plus a number of other areas throughout France, started a web site a few years ago that has some super helpful first-hand info. Its called Skiguru.net. Find it HERE.

Also, make sure you buy a "Carte Neige" with your ski pass. Carte Neige is an insurance card. It covers your heli rescue, ski patrol rescue (they aren't free in yurp), hospital, transportation and even repatriation if necessary. Its very cheap insurance and totally worth it if you end up using it.
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