Pistes for committed skiers

Several runs in Méribel’s ski area offer impressive slopes. Amongst these is Maudit. This run, which starts on the Saulire summit, drops to Méribel Centre over 1,000m below.
As a bonus, it allows you to ski through diverse scenery, from the high summits to the lower slopes which skirt hamlets before reaching the centre of Méribel. It’s a piste unlike any other: varied, with changing gradients and is relatively little skied.

Another of the ski area’s most impressive pistes is la Face, a slope you have to commit to, especially the start. Originally a competition piste, it was used for the 1992 Albertville Olympic Games and, amongst other things, has two steep walls.

If you wish, you can continue down two other pistes: la Gélinotte which drops to Méribel Centre, or le Raffort: either choice offers over 2,000m of continuous descent! The top of the run is not the highest point in the valley, but even so it offers a superb 360° view and a feel of the high mountains.

As you descend, you find a very different atmosphere, with beautiful sections through pine forests…

On the subject of legendary pistes, you can also try out l’Eclipse in Courchevel, which will open this season and will be used for the World Ski Championships in 2023

The pistes without end

The greatest runs are not necessarily the steepest ones. They can be those which seem to go on forever...

Amongst these are la Combe du Vallon, which is very ‘natural’ in character. It may only be a red run, but it’s certainly a very dark red! It’s one of the runs you have to commit to fully, with steep walls that require good technique…

Above all, this run offers an immensely long descent as it starts from the highest summit in the Méribel valley and can be linked with other runs to reach all the way to Méribel centre.

The icing on the cake is the view from the top down the length of the Méribel Valley: an amazing sight!

Another sizable descent for good skiers is the Bartavelle piste which starts from le Roc de Tougne. It is consistently steep and the snow is usually high quality thanks to its northerly aspect. Next, you can continue along Coqs then Laitelet. As well as wonderful skiing sensations, this route allows you to return directly to Méribel Centre down an alternative route which avoids the busy slopes at the end of the afternoon!


For expert skiers looking for thrills, two possibilities stand out: the Vertical Xperience itineraries.

The vertiginous Tournier couloir (formerly Go-Pro couloir) plunges from the summit of Saulire towards Méribel.

On the opposite side is le Grand couloir which drops towards Courchevel. Avalanche-controlled but ungroomed, these two routes are pure, steep joy. But be warned, the slope reaches 85% in places. As they say here, these are ‘the ultimate pistes’…

In general, les 3 Vallées’ vast extent offers an incredible range of possibilities and in each resort there are entire sectors to delight freeriders. In Méribel, the Mont Vallon, Roc de Fer or Back to the Wild sectors are among the most famous. Steep, rocky slopes alternate with less rugged spaces, free of trees or boulders.

Skiing enjoyment should include some relaxation too: at the top of the Roc de Tougne chairlift, facing Mont Blanc, the Trappers' Cabin offers you a break (with or without a picnic) before setting off again on the slopes

3 questions for Flo Jauffred

Local freerider, Flo Jauffred has been skiing & off-piste for several years in the heart of the 3 Valleys, notably with appearances in the Freeride World Tour Qualifier. He gives us some tips to come back from a thrilling session with the desire to go back...

◼️ What are your favourite slopes in Méribel and les 3 Vallées ?

In Méribel, I like to ski around the Olympic Express and do Face; it's a beautiful piste which retains its varied terrain. I like Bartavelle too, the black at le Roc de Tougne. And then la Combe du Vallon, which is a beautiful long piste with a good aspect, often quite bumpy, with cold, high altitude snow, and finally Mouflon which has a fairly steep part and which is well groomed: the last two have natural snow, which makes a difference...

In Courchevel, there is Saulire, which is very varied in terms of slope and has interesting changes in terrain.

◼️ What are your favourite areas for off-piste?

"There are loads of them! They are all quite different. I like le Raffort: it's quite steep and with almost 1,000 metres off-piste vertical drop, this area really stands out. I also really like the high parts of the valley, Mont Vallon, Côte Brune, the Borgne valley: it's quite Alpine, you are well above the treeline and you can walk from the lifts…

In fact, for freeride, the Méribel valley is very extensive, but the scale of les 3 Vallées is really vast and complementary. For the Dent de Burgin for example, you can ski on the Courchevel side then hop to the Méribel side, and vice versa… And then there are also a few easy routes into the Vanoise National Park, where there is great skiing!"

◼️ What advice do you have for people learning freeride?

"It’s worth repeating that if you’re not accompanied by someone experienced, go with a professional. And of course, don't go out without your trio of transceiver, shovel and probe, and make sure you know how to use them! From having been the victim of an avalanche, I know that it's not the equipment that saves you, but the person using it ...

Several organizations can train you for freeride, The best known being Anena which offers freeride initiation and dedicated training in the use of safety equipment. Also refer to the weather conditions and progress at your own rythm to gain experience and practice. The mountain can be magic but also tragic ... So take pleasure in the heart of the 3 Valleys, but in complete safety!"