Meribel is in the centre of the Trois Vallées, which also incorporates the ski resorts of Courchevel, La Tania and Val Thorens. Together they form one of the largest ski areas in the world. Unlike most French resorts, Meribel has retained an atmosphere of the traditional skiing village, despite having grown enormously in recent years. Meribel consists of a number of different villages. The main village is known as Meribel Centre and is home to the main shops and après ski scene. The outlying resorts of Les Allues (1,200m) and Meribel Village (1,400m) are connected by regular shuttle buses. Meribel-Mottaret is situated two miles up the valley and is well positioned for the skiing, but not the nightlife. The resort was founded by a Scottish skier in 1938 and is still very popular with British holidaymakers. Meribel is a two-hour drive from Geneva airport.
The Trois Vallées ski area is one of the best and most extensive in the world (10 times larger than Vail, the largest ski resort in the States), and Meribel is in the middle, between Courchevel and Val Thorens. Meribel has a vast choice for beginner and intermediate skiers, and those with more experience will want to test out the slopes in Courchevel and Val Thorens. Snowboarders will find lots of challenging slopes and couloirs and, when the snow is good, there is some excellent off-piste skiing.
Meribel is stuffed with lots of good-value ski shops and those with more expensive taste can ski over to Courchevel 1850. There are plenty of mini-supermarkets for self-caterers as well as a fine selection of bakeries and delicatessens.
There are some seriously good restaurants for skiers to enjoy in Meribel, both on the mountain and in the resort. It's best to get local advice on arrival and to book early for the better restaurants. There's more choice for those happy with a simple fondue and nice carafe of local wine. Visitors should try Aux Petits Oignons for it's welcoming atmosphere and homely food, or Tsaretta Spice for some tasty Indian food.
The nightlife in Meribel is not as wild as in some holiday ski resorts, but there's still plenty going on. Dick's Tea Bar is the best-known nightclub and the queues can be long. Meribel-Mottaret has few choices and closes up for the night earlier.
Paragliding can be organised and is a great option for skiers wanting to get down to Meribel when the snow's not so good. For whiteout days there's a cinema, bowling, ice-skating, a gym and a swimming pool. Some of the smarter hotels offer spa treatments.
Meribel is quite spread out and much of the accommodation is far from the slopes, meaning visitors need to queue for a bus. The main resort is quite low and it is often not possible to ski to the main village.