Iâ€™ve just got back from a rather awesome week snowboarding in France with Ski Weeks. Ski and Snowboarding holidays have never been the cheapest recreation but it is possible to do it on a budget. Let me tell you howâ€¦
Why Ski Meribel and the Three Valleys?
The long and short of it really is that the three valleys are the largest ski area in the world! The 600km of slopes might seem intimidating, which on first glance of a lift map it can be, but itâ€™s really not difficult at all. Meribel Alpina operates the lifts in and around Meribel but the whole area, including the likes of Courchevel, are connected with around 200 lifts.
Meribel Alpina are a rather forward thinking company and are pretty far ahead in terms of customer service. There is also heavy investment on new lifts at the moment so it just gets better. One thing that is worth mentioning is that Meribel is a rather â€˜Britishâ€™ ski resort (youâ€™d expect this having been founded by a Scot) and 35% of visitors to Meribel are from the UK. A six day lift pass for the Meribel ski area costs Â£180 with a 3 Valleys pass at Â£221. Youâ€™d be surprised how many different runs you can do in a week or even a weekend with a 3 valleys pass so itâ€™s worth going for it.
Finally, Iâ€™d highly recommend getting the 3 Valleys app rather than digging out a paper map which wonâ€™t last very long.
Want to see what itâ€™s like to snowboard here? Check out this video I put togetherâ€¦
Why travel with Ski Weeks and Ski Weekends?
Ski Weeks and Ski Weekends operates 24 resorts in four countries; France, Austria, Italy and Switzerland. With Ski Weeks you can easily and affordably visit impressive ski areas such as the 3 Valleys, Morzine and Chamonix. They run overnight coach trips to these resorts which are reasonably priced and most of all, comfortable.
Ski Weeks and Weekends Review; Brides Les Bains
So how did my trip go? Well pack it up, pack it in, let me beginâ€¦
Itâ€™s 4.30pm and Iâ€™m at Victoria Station in London, a sandwich in hand (this lasted 30 minutes into the trip, whoops) and my luggage. Now Iâ€™m pretty good at sleeping (anywhere) so I donâ€™t remember that much of the journey but it was pretty relaxed and easy going. Thereâ€™s just something easy about coach travel. I was only at the station 30 minutes before, â€œcheck inâ€ consisted of ticking my name off a sheet and putting my luggage in the hold and then sitting down. That was it. From there it was just a case of getting comfortable, half watching the movie and falling asleep. If only flying was that easy!
The next thing I know itâ€™s daylight, Iâ€™m looking at snow out the window and our rep has climbed on board to give us all the information we need. Although half asleep, I did prefer it this way. It meant that as soon as we got to Brides Les Bains it was just a case of getting changed, a quick breakfast and grabbing your rentals. No time wasted and they do everything they can to get you on the slopes asap.
In Brides Les Bains, Ski Weeks operates the Hotel Verseau in the town that services the 3 Valleys area with the Olympe Lift, near the hotel, providing a direct link to Meribel. The lift takes 30 minutes and should it not be running (it wasnâ€™t for the whole of my trip as it was the start of the season), the hotel put on coaches and mini buses to take us up and down to Meribel. No drama.
Brides Le Bains is a sleepy little town. Itâ€™s not exactly happening but it is certainly a lot cheaper. I paid 5 euros for a coke in Meribel! The hotel is situated alongside the river below and there are a few ski shops, a small supermarket, newsagents and a bunch of pizza places just up the road.
The hotel itself is comfortable with large reception areas (with a fire!) and lots of comfy sofas. There is also a small rental place within the hotel. This is actually part of a larger place in Meribel. I had problems with my boots during the day and just popped into their shop up in Meribel and changed them without any difficulty. Ski hire for 6 days starts at Â£59 for snowboard and Â£25 for boots (skis from Â£52).
The rooms themselves are a decent size and well maintained for budget accommodation. Most importantly, they had decent showers! This is a standard I always judge accommodation by but maybe thatâ€™s just me. The hotels operates on a half board basis with breakfast and a three course dinner provided. The breakfast is continental style with croissants and pain au chocolat. Now the dinners I was very impressed with and the feedback was the same from the other guests. The pea and mint soup. Blew my mind. Itâ€™s worth mentioning that on Tuesdays there is no dinner as the chefs get a night off (understandable) but all the guests go to a near by restaurant on that night. Itâ€™s walking distance and it does make for a nice change of scenery.
Finally, I have to mention how impressed I was with the staff and the quality of service they provided. From the coach driver and his witty banter, the rep that greets you on the first morning, the girls who cheerily put on breakfast, the chefs, the drivers and the hotel manager who saw us off, they were all fantastic. They really made my trip and it even made me want to get a job there!
A weekâ€™s skiing in the 3 Valleys staying at the Hotel Verseau in Brides Les Bains starts at Â£299 including half board catering and return coach travel from London Victoria.Â For more information visit www.skiweeks.com or call SkiWeeks on 02380 206978.
Ski and Snowboard Lessons with New Generation
First off, you canâ€™t miss these guys. The bright orange ski gear isnâ€™t difficult to spot!
I was fortunate enough to have a private lesson with Simon from New Generation. Considering the guy used to compete in Mogul Championships, I felt like I really did have a top quality instructor. They also have a bunch of other instructors with top notch credentials so you know youâ€™re in good hands.
Iâ€™ve had group lessons before but if you really want to hammer those improvements a private lesson could be the way to go. We started off by doing a very quick green run to check my current ability and worked our way up. The one-on-one coaching is invaluable. All the attention is on you and the instructor was quick to pick up on some of my bad habits and how to address them.
If you are interested in lessons you can visit www.skinewgen.com for more information. If youâ€™re staying with Ski Weeks or Ski Weekends they can also arrange lessons with New Generation for you.
Final Verdict on Meribel, Ski Weeks and New Generation
You canâ€™t argue with the biggest ski area in the world and the ease of getting their by coach is a huge plus in my book. My New Generation instructor was awesome and I can still hear his advice in my head when I am snowboarding on my own! Would I do this all again? In a heartbeat! Would I change anything. Nope, couldnâ€™t think of anything. A great trip and I would highly recommend it.