Located in the French Alps, Les Trois Vallees or The Three Valleys, are commonly visited resorts for ski holiday lovers. With 600 km of runs, it is the largest ski resort in the world and caters to a wide audience with a variety of ski terrain. The three towns at the center of the valleys are Courchevel, Meribel, and Val Thorens. As with most ski resorts in Europe, extra travel time is required to reach the end destination.
Due to their location, the Three Valleys can be done as a long weekend trip or a full week holiday. If traveling from outside France, the easiest airport to fly to will be the Geneva airport in Switzerland. The drive to the Three Valleys from Geneva is about 2.5 – 3 hours depending on traffic. If traveling with a group, consider booking a roundtrip private transfer. Prices range based on size of group and quantity of luggage, but a group of 6 can get a roundtrip transfer for approximately £600. Check snowcompare for deals available. We booked with Dom Tours which was efficient and quality service. Private transfers are especially convenient as they take you to your exact destination.
When in the Three Valleys, there is a free bus in each town to help you navigate the area. These buses do not travel between towns (i.e. between Meribel and Courchevel). Alternatively, there are taxis available or you may be able to walk to cafes, restaurants, apres ski spots, and the grocery store.
In order to travel between towns, you will need a car or plan to take taxis. Taxis can be pricey and priced per person if traveling between towns. However, this often is your only option especially if participating in apres ski after a day on the mountain.
Getting between the Three Valleys on the mountain is very easy. You can access all eight resorts (Meribel, Courchevel, Val Thorens, Brides les Bains, Les Menuires, Saint-Martin-de-Belleville, La Tania, and Orelle) easily with the many gondolas and chairlifts. Download the Les 3 Vallees app to see opening and closing times of the lifts. This changes throughout the season based on daylight and is especially important if trying to ski home to your accommodations. The app also has information on restaurants on the mountain among other helpful insights.
Les Trois Vallees consists of eight different ski resorts among three towns: Courchevel, Meribel and Val Thorens. All three towns are good options for visiting Les Trois Vallees so it is worth assessing accommodations and price in each. Meribel would be my recommended choice due to its location as it is the middle town.
Courchevel has six different areas, named for the height of the town on the mountain. Courchevel 1850 is the highest down and the ritziest, with very fancy hotels, upscale restaurants and high-end stores. Courchevel 1650, or Courchevel Moriond, is also very nice, but has a more relaxed atmosphere and normal ski holiday vibes. Courchevel 1550, or Courchevel Village, tends to be geared towards those looking for a quieter holiday as it is quite calm and peaceful. The newest village, Courchevel La Tania is at 1400m and is a popular family destination. Courchevel Le Praz is at 1300m and provides the alpine charm with quaint ski cabins and a rustic feel.
Meribel is the middle valley of the Three Valleys and also the middle in cost of the three towns. As it sits between Courchevel and Val Thorens, it is an ideal location to stay. It also has a fair amount of fun apres ski spots on the mountain including La Folie Douce – Meribel and Rond Point. Skiing down from La Folie Douce – Meribel, you essentially ski right by Rond Point and can make another stop before reaching the bottom where there are more apres ski bars at the base. Since Meribel is the middle, it is the best location for accessibility and provides great apres ski vibes, removing the need to taxi between towns.
Val Thorens is the third town and provides another option. It is known for being the most affordable of the three towns and provides diversity in options for accommodations. It also is known for having the most nightlife, drawing in those looking for a party, and ultimately is a great spot for young adults looking to save money and have a good time.
The Three Valleys consists of three main towns: Courchevel, Meribel and Val Thorens. For more information on each town, check out the accommodations section above.
If visiting in the winter time, you are likely planning to hop on skis or a snowboard to explore some of the 600 km of terrain. The mountain consists of eight resorts: Courchevel, Meribel, Val Thorens, Orelle, Brides les Bains, Les Menuires, Saint-Martin-de-Belleville, and La Tania. The mountain offers a complete variety of terrain, with approx. 15% of runs being the easiest terrain (green), 10% being the most difficult (black) and all the rest falling in the intermediate range (blue and red). The mountain is easy to navigate and the system of gondolas, chairlifts, and t-bars all operate very well making it easy to travel across different resorts and take advantage of all the terrain the area has to offer.
When visiting the Three Valleys, there are different options on ski passes to purchase. Since the Three Valleys consists of multiple resorts, it is recommended to by the full Three Valleys pass rather than one for any individual mountain (Courchevel vs. Meribel vs. Val Thorens). It is only slightly more expensive and is highly likely you will want to cover different areas of the mountain in the same day as it is very easy to travel between the resorts.
When buying tickets online here, select the option to pick-up passes at a machine kiosk. There are a variety of ticket options available so take a look and consider what is best for your trip. Note that there are discounts available if booking 6+ days with a group. Below are the approximate prices for multi-day consecutive adult tickets.
When purchasing your tickets, consider paying a few extra euros to insure your lift pass. This is beneficial for refunds if you are not able to use the pass (i.e. due to injuries or travel issues). The insurance also covers medical costs and pharmacy visits so well worth the additional expense.
When looking for rentals, make sure to pick a location close to your accommodations. This will make the pick-up and drop-off of rentals much easier. For those staying in Courchevel, Skiset has many shops throughout the town and provides rentals at a great price. Intersport is another reliable option with rental shops throughout the Three Valleys.
When renting equipment, similar to the advice on ski passes, it is recommended to pay a bit extra to add on the insurance package as it will cover damage or loss of equipment. This can be especially helpful if your equipment is damaged or taken, perhaps on the way home from an eventful apres ski!
This is the nicest mountainside restaurant in Meribel with stunning panoramic views. Although pricey, the food here is delicious. I can personally recommend the beef filet and fries as the restaurant is known for its charcoal grill, aged meat, and butchers block. Make sure to make a booking in advance for a nice lunch on the mountain.
This mountain restaurant has stunning views of the surrounding area, both with a beautiful outside terrace and cozy indoor restaurant. The restaurant is expensive, but provides a lovely experience after a long morning skiing. Be sure to make a booking in advance for lunch, enjoy a drink and have a nice, relaxing lunch.
This is the restaurant side of the well-known apres ski spot, La Folie Douce. You can reserve a table to order lunch and drinks, and be part of the apres ski vibes. As it gets later in the afternoon, expect to be dancing on the tables until it closes at 5 pm. Be sure to check which location you book as there are TWO locations in the Three Valleys. There is one in Meribel and one in Val Thorens. The venue and the restaurants each have the same name so be sure to book and show up at the right one!
In order to have a table in the restaurant area, next to the high-top tables which are not bookable, you will need to make a reservation in advance. If you are happy to just walk-in, try your luck in the area in front of the DJ where tables are free for all to grab, enjoy and then dance on.
Getting there: take the Pac du Lac gondola from the base of Meribel and get off at the halfway point. Walk slightly uphill and ski behind the gondola on a catwalk. Continue until you see Saulire Express gondola, taking a left and turning into La Folie Douce.
As mentioned above, this is the restaurant associated with the second La Folie Douce in the Three Valleys. Similar to the other location, reservations can be made for the restaurant or walk-ins can grab tables for fun apres ski vibes. Depending on what area you are staying in may impact where you end up as you will need to ski down (or use the gondoal) after apres ski. If staying in Val Thorens, it is easier to stay longer at this location to ensure you avoid the need for a taxi home if you end up enjoying apres ski longer than lifts stay open.
A big difference and benefit of skiing in Europe is the apres ski that comes with the experience and the Three Valleys in France is definitely known for its apres vibes. Skiing in the alps is not complete without also experiencing apres ski. Depending on your preferences, apres ski can consist of drinks and dancing at a spot on the mountain, a few casual drinks with friends at a cozy mountain restaurant, or partying at one of the resort dance clubs.
Apres ski is a tradition, especially for European ski destinations, and can start any hour of the day. The most common mountain apres ski activities commence around 2 pm, continuing to get more lively as the day continues. The apres ski spots on the mountain start earlier, as they close when the evening rolls around. Then the base town apres ski spots pick-up and carry into the evening.
Found in the heart of Meribel, Rond Point is a fun spot on the mountain with live music and DJs. For those who started apres ski at La Folie Douce – Meribel and choose to ski down the mountain will ski right by Rond Point. Stop here to carry-on the apres ski celebration before making your way to the base of the mountain.
A famous apres ski spot with locations spread across Europe, La Folie Douce is known for the mountain party it brings. From DJs to dancers to high altitude outdoor clubbing, La Folie Douce brings the afternoon apres ski on the mountain to a new level. As the day goes on, the party really kicks off so grab a drink and dance the afternoon away.
The Three Valleys is lucky enough to have more than one La Folie Douce location. If you stay at La Folie Douce until it closes (late afternoon – time varies based on the month), you will have to ski or take the gondola to the base of the town. By there being more tha one La Folie Douce, you may be able to ensure a ski down to the town you are staying in rather than requiring a taxi back to your accommodations.
Japanese restaurant in Hotel L’Apogee with excellent sushi. This is not a cheap meal and the menu prices do not fully make sense. For example, edamame is 19 euros while sushi rolls are also approximately the same price and miso soup 35 euros. Be sure to check twice before ordering.
It is a small additional cost to both the ski passes and rentals, but provides much needed security if something goes wrong. If you are participating in apres ski, definitely an increased likelihood of injuries, accidents, and loss or damage of ski equipment.
Check out the ski map to get an idea on how to navigate the mountain. It is also helpful to download the phone app as it will show which lifts are open and when they both open and close.
If looking to keep expenses down, consider a few points when planning the holiday. Booking accommodations with a kitchen will help keep costs down as you will have the opportunity to cook meals at home rather than dining out and expect Val Thorens to provide the most cost friendly options. Additionally, if planning to participate in apres ski, try to avoid using taxis as these can be expensive quickly. On the mountain, food will be more expensive. If you choose a fancier lunch, expect a big bill, but even some of the buffet options will be expensive for the value provided so pack snacks.
Transportation and Accommodations
Things to do and see
Food and Drinks