Val Thorens or Meribel or Courchevel

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Val Thorens or Meribel or Courchevel

Which resort should I pick: Val Thorens or Meribel or Courchevel? Skiers who want to visit this part of the French Alps often experience this ultimate trilemma: which 3 Valleys (3 Vallées in French) resort is the best? Read the rest of the text to get all the answers.

Val Thorens vs Meribel vs Courchevel – Slopes

Val Thorens, Meribel, and Courchevel are all parts of the 3 Valleys domain. This is the best skiing region in the world. It is also the largest interconnected domain on the planet. The pistes are 600 km long in total. Bigger is better when it comes to skiing areas.  Everyone can find suitable slopes for his technique, level of fitness, and style of skiing. Snow grooming is excellent.

You can’t go wrong with 3 Valleys, whichever resort you choose. If we are talking about skiing, there are small differences between the resorts and you can ski in either of them anyway. Of course, you will need to buy a ski pass for the whole domain. Meribel has the best position since it is situated in the middle, between Courchevel and Val Thorens. If you choose to stay there you will have fast access to all corners of the domain. But even if you pick Val Thorens or Courchevel it will take an intermediate skier only an hour and a half to get from one village to another.

Val Thorens is the highest-positioned village in the whole region, which covers 3 skiable peeks above 3,000 meters. Don’t worry about snow cover because of the elevation of slopes and abundance of snow-making machines.

3 Valleys are great for beginners. They all have easily accessible nursery areas and ski schools. Courchevel has a free ski lift ideal for people who are still learning. You don’t need to pay top Euros if you are going to ski on a few pistes anyway.

All 3 resorts have world-class snow parks with several difficulty lines suitable for all riders, from beginners to pros. You can find almost any element you can think of. Ski/snowboard cross slopes are also fun.  When it comes to free riding, only few domains can compare to Val Thorens, Meribel or Courchevel. However, be quick to hit the slopes after snowfall during high season, since off-piste skiing is gaining in popularity. The best terrains are criss-crossed quickly.

Val Thorens and 3 valleys Map
click to enlarge

Val Thorens or Meribel or Courchevel – Accommodation

Val Thorens is the most affordable of the three. It has a wide range of places to choose from. You can pick anything from cramped, self-catered apartments to luxurious hotels and chalets. Almost every building is ski in/out. Architecture is not that great, but it is getting better with new developments.

Meribel is mid-range when it comes to prices (if you compare it to Val Thorens or Courchevel). It is not a single, compact settlement. Instead, there are 6 different villages. Price of lodging depends of the elevation of the accommodation. The higher you stay, the more you have to pay.   

Courchevel consists of 5 villages. It is a synonym for pure luxury. Extravagant hotels and chalets dominate the area. It is the place where royals and celebrities find their accommodation.  Almost all chalets and hotels have pools and spa areas. Architecture and ambiance are superb. Before the war in Ukraine, wealthy Russians dominated this part of 3 Valleys.

If you are on a tight budget you can stay in Les Menuires. It is close to Val Thorens. Les Menuires has a great connection to other parts of the domain and can be an alternative for the more popular villages if you don’t mind its brutalist architecture and quieter nights.

In order to save even more money, you can stay in Orelle (connected to Val Thorens) or Brides les Bains (Meribel). Be aware that you will need a substantial amount of time to get to the nearest slopes and back. Although it is more affordable, it is time-consuming and not that easy if you want to explore the whole 3 Valleys domain.

Val Thorens Panorama

Val Thorens vs Meribel vs Courchevel – Après-Ski

3 Valleys have something for everyone. Val Thorens has the biggest number of bars and night clubs. You can end your day in the world-famous La Folie Douce on the slopes, and then continue your night in the village. If you are not exhausted, there is a long list of different available activities in the afternoon (bowling, billiards, ice carting, movies…). The choice of restaurants is excellent. You can pick from fast food places, where you can grab a kebab or burger, up to restaurants boasting Michelin stars. Le Malaysia Val Thorens is one of the biggest night clubs in the Alps.

Le Rond Point in Meribel is a well-known place on the slopes where you can end your day. The Olympic Sports Centre is worth visiting. You can swim, ice skate, and go to the spa or the gym there. The food and restaurants are lovely in Meribel. British-run bars are the centre of night life.

Courchevel is synonymous with luxury. It is full of expensive high-street boutiques and eateries. The choice of Michelin stars restaurants (cca. 8) is unparalleled by other resorts. Although it is posh, it doesn’t mean that it is stiff-upper-lip and boring. Courchevel has a substantial number of non-skiing attractions. Visit Aquamotion and try indoor and outdoor pools, water slides and the spa area. Go skating on Forum Olympic Ice Rink.

Val Thorens or Meribel or Courchevel – The final verdict

There is no ultimate answer to the question: “Which is the best resort in the 3 Valleys?” Your budget will influence your decision in a big way. Be assured that you cannot go wrong whichever resort you choose.

Val Thorens is more suitable for younger people who are not only interested in activities on the snow.  Its night life and non-skiing events are its main selling points. It is also the most affordable if you compare it to the other two biggest resorts in the area. Val Thorens is the highest village in 3 Valleys. Architecture is not great but it is getting better. If you think that Val Thorens is your next holiday destiantion you can book your accommodation here.

Meribel has the best position in the Domain due to the fact that it is situated in the middle. It is also in the middle when it comes to price range. The resort has great terrains for freeriding. On the other hand pistes are not that steep making it suitable for families and beginners. If Meribel is your cup of tea book your accommodation here.

If you want to feel like royalty and budget is not a problem, you should pick Courchevel. There is long list of after ski activities you can practice.  The village is fine dining heaven. Shopaholics won’t be disappointed after their visit to Courchevel. It is a great place for people who know how to enjoy life. Book your Courchevel holiday here.

On the other hand, if you are interested only in skiing you don’t want to be distracted by other things, and you don’t want to break the bank, go for Les Menuires. There are also Orelle and Brides-les-Bains where you can save even more but be prepared for longer gondola rides and less time for exploration.


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