Enjoy the white slopes - but do keep it green

You can ski without letting your eco-credentials go downhill.


By Kathy Carter, December 29, 2010
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Carbon conscious resort: Trees are routinely planted at Méribel to offset carbon emissions and the ski lift is powered by hydroelectricity

Carbon conscious resort: Trees are routinely planted at Méribel to offset carbon emissions and the ski lift is powered by hydroelectricity

Flanked by Courchevel and Val Thorens, Méribel turns from a picturesque mountain village in summer into a thriving winter ski resort by December. The pretty alpine flowers give way to crisp, white snow as the temperature drops.

Hikers hang up their boots and winter sports enthusiasts flock here for some of the world's best skiing and snowboarding.

Since being founded by a Briton just over 70 years ago, the resort has stayed popular with British skiers and has managed to retain its reputation as a discerning destination.

Two satellite resorts - Méribel-Mottaret higher up the valley and Méribel-Village on the way to Courchevel - give the area a community feel, with many holidaymakers returning to their favourite spots year after year.

Fact file

Return prices on the Ski Meribel Sleeper Coach start from £119.00. Self catering accommodation based on four people sharing, including travel on a luxury sleeper coach, from £259.00 pp with Ski Meribel, 020 8668 8223.
More information about the area is available online at Unplugged Meribel and Little World Festival.
Visit Savoie Mont Blanc

One of the biggest draws here is surely the amazing lift network in the Trois Vallées (Three Valleys), the famous region in the centre of which Méribel nestles.

The Three Valleys is 'an intermediate's paradise', with wide expanses of red and blue runs, and also black and off-piste for the experts and fearless among us.

However, as an enthusiastic, novice snowboarder, I have yet to explore the wider region, and will stick to Méribel's gentle beginner slopes for the time being.

Méribel is famously a draw for those seeking a fulfilling holiday with après-ski time spent with friends and family, good wines and fine dining, and excellent live entertainment from leading comedians and musicians.

For example, UK band The Feeling are curators of the Méribel Little World Festival each March, which combines five days of skiing and snowboarding with entertainment from some of Europe's biggest bands and DJs.

Meanwhile, comedian and snowboarder Marcus Brigstocke's Altitude festival, which also takes place in March, is attracting a growing number of leading comics including Ed Byrne and Jenny Éclair. Events such as these give Méribel a great "end of term" send-off, and help to maintain its air of coolness within the snow sports set.

On this note, Méribel is often described as being "lively" - a word sometimes used as a euphemism for drunken Brits abroad. However, the atmosphere here is friendly and safe. While the après-ski is legendary - great skiing, great food and wine are common accolades - the bars and restaurants are of the tasteful variety.

However, some of the bars can be pricey, so shop around for happy hours if you like a tipple. Or ask your chalet maid or ski instructor for their top tips, as local knowledge can't be beaten.

One person who knows his way around the resort's bars, valleys and ski runs is Conor Norton, a BASI–qualified ski instructor with the local Magic In Motion ski school, and proprietor of the popular Ski Méribel sleeper coach, which makes weekly visits there throughout the season.

Conor has not missed a ski season for 20 years, and is well-known throughout the Three Valleys.

The Ski Méribel sleeper coach, was born out of Conor's appreciation of one of the issues facing many skiers.

"They don't want to spend two days travelling. Instead, visitors using the sleeper coach travel through the night, maximising their time in the resort and giving them eight days on the slopes, instead of the usual six.

"I designed the coach myself to provide pure luxury and comfort - it has just 40 seats with exceptional reclining distance, leg and calf support.

"Many guests are repeat travellers, and like the fact that the coach offers a 'green' option.

"Coach travel from the UK to France creates around 12.5 per cent less CO2 emissions and energy resource consumption per person than air travel."

Méribel is carbon-conscious with recycling de rigour, and even its famous lift system is powered by hydroelectricity.

Méribel is a haven for ski and snowboard enthusiasts, as opposed to people for whom the price of beer takes precedence over the snow
condition. It is also close to the UK and easy to get to.

As a newbie to the world of boarding, I look forward to the day when I will navigate a blue run without spending most of my time on my backside.

But until then, there's no place I'd rather spend my day falling over than in Méribel.

    Last updated: 2:28pm, December 29 2010