Discover the animal slope

To discover the Animal Piste, let’s follow a ski instructress who knows every inch of it. Méribel ESF instructress Ludivine Charles has been taking beginner (and more experienced) skiers under her wing for 27 seasons. She says: “The Animal Piste is the ideal slope for learning to ski, and my favourite in the whole 3 Vallées!"

Located at the Altiport sector (accessed by the Altiport chairlift or Saulire Express 1 gondola), this slopes starts at around 2,000m, in a treeless area well above the forest. Here, an ibex patiently awaits us, the first in a long series of wild animals.

“The animals, which are often larger than those that actually inhabit the forest, are highly realistic... You sometimes have the impression they’re going to come to life and leap away or take flight, that’s what gives this piste its magic…” Along the trail, you will successively discover marmots, a wild boar, a magnificent Bearded Vulture, an impressively large deer, a black grouse and two foxes ("my favourites")...

Easy and fun!

Thanks to its enchanting setting and gentle slope, the recently revamped Animal Piste is ideal for making your first turns… and many subsequent ones!

“In addition to the piste’s gentle slopes and wide turns, the animals dotted along it allow me to set the rhythm of our descent. When I’m skiing with a family, for example, I can easily send the children down to wait by this or that animal, and then turn my attention to their mother…”

On breaks, children never get bored around the animals, as these are all equipped with fun features that teach you about animals’ habitats and way of life. As well as short explanatory signs, some allow you to hear animal cries (by pressing a button, powered by solar panels), and others teach through games. You have to touch different furs to work out which animal they belong to, or discover smells by opening little boxes which give off different odours.

All your senses are called upon to learn about each species and children are keen to ask questions. They especially want to know what goes on in this protected forest at night, while everybody is asleep.

The star trail...

As well discovering animals’ different ways of life, the trail was also designed to explain why and how we can conserve animals and disturb them as little as possible ...

"It has an educational side, of course, since some children, especially city kids, know very little about wildlife. For me, as an instructor, the animals have another function: beginners soon forget they are on skis in this magical environment, and their fears evaporate. Because their minds are elsewhere, they make faster progress as instead of being focused on their skis, they are engrossed by the reassuring and magical world of the forest, and carried away by their desire to get to the next animal… ”

In addition, the feeling of security provided by the forest is quite real: “The gentle slope prevents one from gaining too much speed, so experienced skiers or snowboarders who prefer steeper runs don’t come down this one. As a result, we sometimes see parents and children who have never been on snow before, managing to ski together in just a few days..."

Like an air from Canada...

In addition to these assets that make the Animal Piste perfect for beginners and learning about the mountain environment, the trail offers an amazing atmosphere. When the weather is fine, the sun's rays filter through the branches, and the fact that you can’t hear the ski lifts and there’s not a sound, make it feel like an enchanted forest. It's magical too when it’s snowing: you feel far from it all, in a soft, padded atmosphere - you feel you’re on a forest track in Canada! Once or twice, I’ve found myself here in unusual weather, surrounded by spruces blowing in a warm southerly wind, with heavy skies and the whole forest suffused with an orange light – it’s something I’ll never forget… ”.

"Finally, don’t forget this enchanting setting can also be discovered on foot in summer and on snowshoes in winter. “The forest is also an area for walkers, you often meet grandparents with their grandchildren ... You can go all the way up the trail to the Col de la Loze chairlift, then go to le Clos Bernard chalet restaurant, which is one of my favourites… ”