The luxury surrounds of Courchevel and the party hotspot of Val Thorens may be among the first resorts skiers think of when planning a trip to the Three Valleys, but Les Menuires – sandwiched in the middle of the vast ski region – is the perfect compromise.
Founded in the sixties, the resort of Les Menuires consists of nine distinct quarters, namely La Croisette, Preyerand and Reberty. All linked by pistes as well as gondolas and lifts, the different areas differ slightly in their architecture, with modern constructions dominating La Croisette and more traditional chalet-style buildings in Reberty.
It may not have the glitz and glamour of other resorts, but Les Menuires does have Alpine charm – especially in its range of traditional Savoyard lunch spots and cosy bars. It is hugely popular with families as well as real ski aficionados who want the largest ski terrain in the world on their doorstep – all 600 kms of it, linked by lifts from the farthest corner of Courchevel to the heights of Val Thorens – for the best possible price.
The local lift pass for Les Menuires and Saint Martin – a pretty, quaint Alpine Village at the foot of the main ski slopes – is more than enough for most skiers, costing a very reasonable 170 euro per person. It includes over 80 well-groomed pistes, ideal for all levels.
For 37 euro (the daily rate) you can upgrade your lift pass for the entire Three Valleys ski region – a great option if you just want to explore one or two of the neighbouring resorts for the day. We had several perfect days skiing between Les Menuires and Courcheval, where we could enjoy the pistes without the price tag (lunch is markedly more expensive here!).
As an experienced skier I was very impressed by the resort and the variety of slopes on offer, from the great runs on the Pointe de la Masse Mountain region, (the resort’s highest point at 2,804m, overlooked by the resorts icon, the Alpine Ram) to the fun snow parks where I attempted small jumps and speed runs (albeit unsuccessfully).
Having a guide for the day was a great option early on in the trip, and our ESF guide Laurent expertly guided us around the resort, both on and off piste (there’s a huge amount of terrain to explore off the beaten track) ending up in a great sun-drenched terrace restaurant for lunch.
My base for the week was the Neige et Ciel Belambra Club. A sprawling set of buildings, the Belambra Club’s best feature is its location, a few minutes’ walk from the main lifts in the La Croisette area. It’s not glamorous, but it was real ski-in-ski-out accommodation, which as any keen skier knows, is the number one priority for a ski holiday (lugging skis and boots around is a real pain).
So next time you plan a ski trip to the Three Valleys – give Les Menuires a go!