When the snow melts on the largest ski area in the world, some of the best mountain bike trails in the world are revealed…
Local mountain bike guide, Victor, shares the reasons that mountain biking isn’t just for adrenaline junkies.
Riding around these familiar mountains with nothing but the sound of your tyres on the track, you’ll experience nature at its best and the breath-taking views that only the French Alps could offer. At the moment, it’s way better known for skiing than for mountain biking, but in the summer Méribel offers a haven for mountain bike (MTB) MTB riders, whether DH Enduro, All Mountain or XC. But if these phrases don’t mean anything to you, then please rest assured that mountain biking really isn’t just for adrenaline junkies! Believe it or not, mountain biking is a very accessible sport.
Open to all
On the trails of Méribel in the summer, everyone from 6-year-old kids to sporty grannies are enjoying the ride! It just takes a passion for nature. If you love skiing, you’ll probably love the summer equivalent. The similarities are there (only you’re riding on solid earth rather than snow!) and it only takes a little imagination from the ski lifts to see how the enormous white peaks transform in the summertime. If you love the thrill of a black run on skis, then it’s likely you’ll love the thrill of letting your wheels skid around the single track.
But even nervous skiers can enjoy the freedom of the mountains in summertime. At VTT des Alpes we’ve worked with families, kids, beginners and experts to help them make the most of the surroundings in a way that is accessible to all.
- Love the views but hate the sweating? Try an e-bike!
- Already into MTB but are tired of the same old runs at home? Come and experience MTB with lifts!
- Looking for an activity holiday to suit everyone? A cross-country or light enduro trail is ideal for a range of levels.
- Want to train for the next World Cup? We’ve got the perfect trail for you.
- Enjoy spotting wildlife? We know the best places to see birds of prey, chamois, bouquetin and marmots.
Exploring the Three Valleys by bike
When I came here 5 years ago knowing little more than legends and stories about the place, it only took a couple of rides to fall in love with it and to see its enormous potential as an MTB resort.
Méribel has the most developed MTB area of all the local resorts, with greens, blues, reds, blacks, elite, e-bike, all-mountain and x-country trails – all the ingredients you need to define a dream bike-park! The trails are well-shaped and adventurous; using the lifts will keep you busy all day and allow you to explore the whole of the Three Valleys.
As well as revisiting your favourite pistes on wheels, you’ll also see parts of the mountain that you’d never usually see on your skis. On a bike you’ll discover all the little villages dotted around the mountain. For instance, very few people who have skied Méribel for the past 20 years have ever heard of, let alone been to, my ‘adoptive village’ of Villarlurin. Villalurin is at the end of the awesome endurotrail: ‘Degage à Moutiers’. It’s very cool to get another perspective on the Three Valleys when you visit in the summertime.
Finding new tracks
On a bike, we don’t need to be limited to the Three Valleys; there’s lots of MTB potential in the astonishing surroundings further afield in the region, in this little corner of paradise. The Vanoise, Tarentaise and Beaufort areas are among my particular favourites. Breathtaking views and golden trails are just waiting to be discovered. In fact, the real reason I came here – aside from sharing my passion with others as a MTB guide – is that the area is so unexplored. Personally, I think that the less manufactured trails are the best, so I’m always looking at the mountains from a biking perspective. For instance, sometimes my daughters and I head into the mountains for a walk or to pick mushrooms, and a perfect shape for a new trail just jumps out at me – the rocks, the roots, the curves. So I head back later with a rake, shift some stones, remove some dry branches and hey presto: my latest homemade trail!
I love testing out my new trails with friends (luckily they’re very patient with me!) and if they work out well, sometimes I’ll even take clients along.
Making it easier
It’s a shame that the ski lifts currently only operate for bikers in the school holidays – July and August. Maybe one day that will change as MTB gains momentum, but in the meantime we chose to find our own solution: from 1st June until 31st October we run shuttles to the top of the mountain.
We have formed a partnership with Sport 1600 who can rent equipment for our guests during this extended period as well as service and repair bikes, and we’ve teamed up with Alpine Ethos who open their chalets especially for our groups. Feel free to get in touch if you’d like to get out into the Three Valleys on a bike, we’d love to hear from you.
We look forward to seeing you on the mountain next summer!