The Guide

Skiing the Three Valleys

The Three Valleys, with its 600km of pisted runs and extensive off-piste terrain is the largest ski area in the world. Our friends at New Generation Ski & Snowboard School share their insider tips for nailing your ski holiday.

From carefully crafted beginner zones, to cruisey blues, perfectly groomed reds and challenging blacks, the Three Valleys really does have something for everyone. So much terrain, so little time….

New Gen pooled the knowledge of their Three Valleys’ teams to ensure you cover some ground, see the sights, and have fun. You are on holiday after all!

1 – Check the piste report

If you like your snow groomed to perfection then the Three Valleys is the perfect ski destination for you. The dedication they put into grooming every night is impressive to say the least. Every green and 80% of blues are groomed nightly as well as most reds and a good chunk of blacks. And with 328 downhill pistes that’s no easy feat! But to find the pick of the bunch check out the piste reports. These can be found on leaflets at the foot of the main lift areas, or via the 3 Valleys app. Each day they name a piste du jour per valley. So keep an eye on the blackboards by the main lifts and head there first thing.

2 – Go on an adventure

Make the most of this expansive terrain on your doorstep and have an adventure. It’s now possible to ski the Three Valleys solely on blues, making a Three Valleys adventure possible for all but beginner skiers. Depending on your level you could take on Mont Vallon, ski to Orelle and back, or enjoy a culinary tour of the Three Valleys taking lunch in a working farm (La Ferme de Choumette) in St Martin de Belleville and enjoying hot chocolate or vin chaud along the way.

3 – Time it right

It’s rare to get stuck in a lift queue in the Three Valleys due to the high speed lift system in place. That said, if it’s getting a little crowded on the slopes it’s all about timing it right, and picking your spot. The main lift areas get crowded first thing so if you’re in Méribel or Mottaret get up, up and away. If you stay high, avoiding the main lift stations, you’re onto a winner. Or in Courchevel dropping down from 1850 to Le Praz can help your cause. Skiing over lunch when the slopes get quieter, before enjoying a late lunch is also a favoured tactic. Then you can enjoy lunch and relax, safe in the knowledge you’ve made the most of the day! Alternatively, head to the far side of the piste map where things get a little quieter. Chapelets in Courchevel 1650 is a cracking run, so gets our vote.

4 – If the weather closes in head for the trees!

When the light gets flat or the cloud level is low it’s best to head to the lower runs and the cover of the trees. Skiing tree runs gives you protection and helps to provide visibility and definition in poor conditions. In Courchevel some great options include the ever-popular blue run to La Tania – Folyères. Over in Méribel you’ve got the choice between Lapin, a blue down to Village with trees on both sides and lots of little tracks to explore with kids – both big or small. And on those really blustery days head to the red run Raffort for more of an adventure, all the way down to Les Allues. Just watch out for the narrow sections and be careful to duck under the tree branches.

5 – Follow the sun

OK, we’ll admit we’d generally rather ski under the sun’s rays. Who wouldn’t? But it’s not just the feel of the sun’s warmth on our face, or the lure of a goggle tan that drives this tip. With temperatures dropping overnight even the most perfectly pisted runs can cause a teeth chattering effect. Which is where the sun comes in. By warming the pistes it softens the snow, creating that hero snow effect, that makes us all ski far better. In Courchevel the Chenus area gets the sun early in the day. While over in Méribel stay to the right hand side towards Val Thorens until the sun rises. Then, if you change tack in the afternoon and ski in Courchevel 1650 or the Saulire side of the Méribel slopes you get the best of both worlds, with sun all day. Happy days!

6 – Find the best snow

Thanks to the impressive snow-making facilities here in the Three Valleys you are guaranteed the most open, linked runs in Europe whenever you come – from early December to mid to late April. And the good news is that it’s also not as ecologically unsound as you may expect. Man-made snow is made of tiny droplets of water – gathered in several reservoirs dotted around the area – fired out of the snow cannons using compressed air. All these particles bouncing off each other at such speed cause them to freeze and form snow in the air. So if it looks a little sparse during your stay check out the runs lined with snow cannons where cover is thickest.

Want to make the most of skiing the Three Valleys?

Whatever your level, booking a lesson helps you make the most of your holiday. From developing skills to finding the best snow New Gen have you covered. This short edit explains what makes them tick.

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Sara Fernie-Jones

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