Meribel in the French Alps is one of the best-known ski spots in Europe and part of the biggest ski area in the world. It attracts a huge number of visitors each year, from families on their annual skiing holidays, to a party crowd looking to ski the day away and party until dawn. Christmas and New Year at the resort are extremely popular so if you’re looking to arrive around that time you need to book early (and expect to pay some pretty steep prices!). January is a good time to visit if you like empty slopes, as the French don’t tend to ski at this time of year, so you will have the place to yourself. February and March are also popular and April is probably the month of the most snow. From May to October, Meribel is a beautiful alpine village (a la Heidi) but not particularly great if you’re looking to ski as there’s not much snow!
Due to its popularity as a ski destination, you’ll find plentiful Meribel chalets, hotels and hostels where you can rest weary limbs after a day of boarding or skiing. The resort caters for all budgets so if you want fully catered high-class luxury, that’s as available as something more modest but still as cosy. The broad range also extends to eating out and you’ll find a restaurant to suit all cravings here. All the local specialties that you would expect from an alpine village are available, including fondue, raclette, pierre-chaud and fish cooked in the meuniere style. You can pick up a snack half way through your day of skiing at one of the mountain top restaurants that are a godsend for hungry boarders and skiers looking to load up on energy for the next session. If you want something a little more sedate, you can purchase a Gluwein or a hot chocolate and sit and drink in the views whilst you enjoy your beverage.
In terms of practicalities, Meribel has been operating as a ski resort since the 1930s so everything is covered. There are equipment rental shops for everything from snowboards to gloves and you can also buy your lift pass, in pretty much any denomination from groups to elite individual. It’s worth bearing in mind that the beginners’ lifts are free.
Surprisingly, Meribel is also a pretty good spot for shopping, with all the best ski brands available, as well as some more designer-orientated threads from the likes of Prada and Dolce & Gabbana. There’s a bi-weekly market in the town, which adds to its traditional charm and is a good place to pick up trinkets and gifts.