Meribel - Having Fun without Skiing!
A Non-Skier's Guide to Meribel, France
I was first introduced to Meribel six years ago by my then boyfriend (and now husband). His family owns an apartment in this beautiful little resort town in the French Alps and he grew up skiing in the winters and hiking in the summers. Now I love to go hiking (although I start to whine if we hit the 4-hour mark), but skiing is really not my thing. It's taken me years to get my husband's family to really understand that this little fear I have of skiing right off the edge of a mountain means I just can't enjoy the sport! But, I've discovered that Meribel has lots of great activities other than skiing. Read on for the non-skier's guide to Meribel!
The following activities can be done during the winter and the summer:
Hiking in Meribel
There are lots of great hiking trails around Meribel ranging from easy strolls to serious overnight treks. You can pick up a walking guide (in English) from the tourist office in the center of town, which will show you where to pick up a trail as well as how difficult that trail will be. If you're hiking in the wintertime, the guide will also show you whether a trail is frequently groomed, will require snowshoes or is inaccessible during the winter months.
For safety reasons, you should always wear layers and bring additional clothing with you when you go hiking in the mountains. It can become cold very suddenly. You should also bring food and water and wear sunscreen.
The Tueda Natural Reserve
The Tueda Nature Reserve in Meribel Mottaret is a great place to start your day, whatever type of hike you're looking to do. The natural reserve is intended to protect the local plant life and wildlife, which means that development (such as ski lifts) are prohibited and you can enjoy a very peaceful commune with nature! You can take a free bus from Meribel up to the Reserve. From the bus stop it's only a short walk to the beautiful Lake Tueda. You could spend your afternoon meandering around this flat but stunning location and even stop for a bite to eat at the small restaurant overlooking the lake. This is a great option if you have kids, a small dog or are just feeling a little bit tired.
And if you're feeling more energetic, you can take one of the many trails around the lake that go up into the mountains. Some are small, twisty trails through the forest and others are large paths leading directly to amazing views!
- BelleLumiere's Zazzle Store
Do you love the picture above? Check out my Zazzle store to buy a poster, postcard, stamp or other product featuring my personal photographs of Meribel!
The Pool & Spa
Meribel's Parc Olympique has an indoor, heated olympic size pool as well as a jacuzzi open to public use for a fee. The jacuzzi is in a room with large windows overlooking the ski slopes, so you can watch all of the skiers and feel very happy with your choice of activity as you relax! A sauna and a steamroom are also available and if you're feeling sore from all of the hiking you've been doing, you can schedule a massage.
Address: Parc Olympique, La Chaudanne, MÃ©ribel, 73550, France
Telephone: +33 (0) 479 00 58 21
Shopping in Meribel
There are many cute local shops in the center of Meribel that you can spend your afternoons visiting.
As can be expected, many of these stores tend to focus on sportswear, gear and accessories, but there is also regular clothing on offer. There are several specialty food stores, selling delicious pastries, chocolates, sausages, cheese, liquor and other local delicacies and I highly recommend you try out some new snacks! You can also stop by a few of the home goods stores selling cutesy items, such as heart-shaped ornaments and lampshades with skiers on them. There are a few souvenir shops in town, selling postcards, t-shirts and other trinkets in addition to newsagents, laundromats and grocery stores.
Restaurants in Meribel
Meribel has lots of great restaurants where you can spend a few leisurely hours over lunch, an afternoon snack, evening cocktail or dinner. The food is generally delicious (this is France, after all!) and English menus are available so you won't have to point and hope for the best.
- Meribel Restaurants
Check out this link for a list of many restaurants in and nearby Meribel.
I think I've had the best steak of my life at Chez Kiki! Many of the meat dishes here are cooked on a grill over an open fire in one of the dining rooms. It's a pretty cool sight to see. Also on offer: salads, foie gras, fondue, etc.
Kiki, who has run this restaurant for over 50 years, still mans the fire and likes to stop by to say hello to his patrons. Be sure to make a reservation!
Address: Chez Kiki, Morel, Meribel, 73550, France
Telephone: +33 (0) 479 08 66 68
La Taverne du Crocodile
I recommend visiting "the Crocodile" in Meribel Mottaret for its warm and friendly atmosphere and delicious braserade. This is a local specialty. A small grill will be brought to your table, along with plates of meat (steak and chicken) and vegetables (mushrooms, onions and peppers), a trio of sauces and a large bowl of french fries. Add some local red wine and you'll have a great meal! The owner, Brigitte is very friendly and speaks English quite well. If you chat with her and say goodbye at the end of your meal, she'll likely offer you a parting glass of gÃ©nÃ©pi, a local liquor made from alpine plants. GÃ©nÃ©pi is definitely an acquired taste, but is worth trying at least once.
Interesting side note: there are numerous crocodile figurines throughout the restaurant that Brigitte's friends and patrons have given her from around the world. They are made of wood, plastic, pottery; some are large, others are small. There are a few stuffed animals and even a few real crocodile heads!
Address: Immeuble Creux de l'Ours Mottaret 73550
Telephone: +33 (0)4 79 00 45 85
If you've already spent a few days hiking, have visited the spa and the shops and are looking for something new to do other than skiing, you could try a day of dog sledding.
I was a bit nervous to go dog sledding (I really hate the possibility of losing control), but ended up having a lot of fun! We were in Meribel on my birthday and my husband skipped skiing for the day to take me dog sledding. The dogs are beautiful, sweet and eager to run! We were given clear instructions on how to handle the sled and the dogs and then we headed out for almost an hour through the woods, up and down hills. Going down is definitely the most fun and it really isn't difficult to maintain control.
- Whitetracks Dog Sledding
Visit this website to learn more about dog sledding near Meribel and how to book.
What's Your Favorite Wintertime Activity?
Would you rather be...
Summertime is the non-skier's ideal time to visit Meribel. With no snow, nobody can expect you to go skiing! There are still lots of activities and while the resort is far from empty, you can easily avoid other tourists if you want to. What's more, the weather is usually gorgeous during the summertime: you can expect bright blue skies and lots of sunshine.
That's a picture of me enjoying the sunshine and mountain air in Meribel.
The Croix de Verdons Via Ferrata in Meribel
The via ferrata is another activity that initially made me nervous. In fact I was feeling a little bit queasy right up until I started climbing! But it's really not so scary (as long as you're not afraid of heights) and the views are amazing. You'll need to rent a harness, ropes and a helmet in order to do this activity, which are available at La Varappe (phone : +33 (0)4 79 08 65 65), a sports store in Meribel.
From Meribel you take the Saulire gondola up the mountain. You get off at the second and last stop on the lift and follow the notices for the via ferrata, which will be to your left. You follow a fairly standard hiking trail at the beginning of the experience, before arriving at the bottom of Le CurÃ© where you start your ascent. This is the most difficult part of this via ferrata as you climb up and then climb down the other side of what is essentially a sheer cliff. As long as you go slowly and don't lose your cool, I promise you can handle it and you will be so proud of yourself at the end! After Le CurÃ© you can either continue on to climb additional summits or you can head back down to Meribel. To complete the entire via ferrata will take 2-3 hours, not including the ride up or walk back.
This via ferrata is classified as difficult, which is the second easiest level.
Note: you don't need a guide, but you should speak to someone at the Tourist Office before you go. Always bring food and water and wear sunscreen.
This site has lots of information about via ferratas around the world, including the one near Meribel.
Video of the World's Most Difficult Via Ferrata
No, this isn't the Via Ferrata near Meribel, but it's a pretty cool video. This is supposedly the world's hardest via ferrata and is located in Austria.
What's Your Favorite Summertime Activity?
You're most likely to be...
Is that it?
I've only written here about the activities that I've done myself, but there are many other things that you can do in Meribel. For example, during the summer you could play a round of golf on what I've been told is a gorgeous golf course, or head down into the valley a bit and spend your afternoon whitewater rafting. There's also mountain biking, horseback riding, paragliding, fishing, tennis, rock climbing, you could even go paint balling! And there are often sporting events and concerts going on.
Websites with Useful Information about Meribel
- The Official Meribel Tourism Website
This website has been put together by the Meribel Tourist Office and is a great resource if you would like to read more about places to stay and things to do in Meribel.
Merinet.com is a comprehensive guide to Meribel and the Three Valleys. Not only does it provide detailed information about the resort, it also has up-to-date suggestions of places to stay, places to eat and what to do with your day during the winter
Mottaret.com offers holiday apartments for rent in the center of Meribel Mottaret in addition to providing tourist and travel information.
Book Your Stay
- TripAdvisor's Guide to Meribel
Travelers rate Meribel's hotels and restaurants and discuss their stays.
Meriski rents a variety of chalets in Meribel sleeping between 6 and 17 people. Each chalet has a dedicated host and guests are provided breakfast, afternoon tea, multi-course dinner and unlimited alcohol. Meriski will pre-order your skis and ski-pas
- Powder White
Powder White has a good selection of self-catered apartments to rent in Meribel.
Easycabs is a car service that provides transfers between the three valleys ski resorts (including Meribel) and nearby airports in Geneva, ChambÃ©ry, Grenoble and Lyon.
SquiDirectory - A categorized Squidoo directory featuring an interesting variety of different subjects ranging from arts and literature, shopping, and eco friendly tips, to vehicles for sale, travel, and everything in between.
Have you been to Meribel before? Tell us about your experiences!
Planning to visit sometime soon? What are you dying to try out?