World renowned for their incredible skiing and beautiful resorts, the French Alps are a skiing enthusiast’s heaven. Once an area only frequented by the rich and famous, it is now very possible to ski on any budget, large or small. Whether you have skied for the past three decades and relish long, steep runs or are a total beginner taking to the nursery slopes for the very first time, you will find something to suit you in the French Alps. Every budget, ability, group size and age is catered for.
The purpose built resort of Les Menuires is located a two and a half hour transfer from Chambery airport and three and a half hours from Geneva. It started out as a cluster of high-rise apartment blocks on the mountain built solely for the pursuit of incredible skiing and is now a much larger resort frequented by the most serious skiers.
In the village you can see lifts in every direction leading to the unbeatable skiing offered in the Three Valleys, the largest ski area in the world. With its high altitude, the snow in Les Menuires is guaranteed to be excellent, even later in the season – so if you want to ski in March or early April it is an excellent choice.
To list all the highlights of the Three Valleys would take hours, there are quite literally activities for any age or ability to tackle throughout the week. For intermediate and expert skiers in particular, the possibilities are endless. The Three Valleys is the home of The Wall, one of the world’s toughest black runs.
Make sure you attempt it earlier in the day rather than later, as by mid-afternoon the mogul situation can really slow you up. Boarders are also extremely well catered for. If you are a total beginner, then there are still plenty of opportunities for you. A good ski school and plenty of wide, easy nursery slopes are available for new skiers and young children and you will be surprised how quickly your skills will progress with practice.
Accommodation in Les Menuires are mainly apartments and hotels en-piste, due to the purpose built nature of the resort. The ‘Hotel Les Bruyeres’ is a luxurious choice and offers an unrivaled location (you can practically ski in and out of your front door) and offers gourmet meals and a sauna and steam room for those aching limbs after a hard day on the slopes.
A week in this hotel at peak season based on four sharing will set you back around £500 per person, including flights. If you are on a tighter budget and do not mind self-catering, then what you lack in luxury you will certainly not lack in location. The ‘Residence Le Necou’ offers no frills self-catering accommodation with ‘ski-in-ski-out’ convenience and a week at peak season based on four sharing will cost you around £250 per person which is incredible value.
Les Menuires is a resort built for skiing and you will probably not be in the mood for a heavy night of clubbing after a day tackling the Three Valleys, but for those who are more energetic and in the mood for apres-ski, there are still a few good options. A couple of discos are tucked away in hotel basements, these tend to be frequented by young skiers and boarders at the resort. The best of these is ‘Leeberty’ which is in Les Bruyeres.
Dining options in Les Menuires are good and there is something for every budget. ‘L’ Etoile’ is a pleasant venue with tables set around a giant fireplace. It has one of the best chefs in the region and you will find great traditional French fayre. Most of the ‘La Croisette’ restaurants are simple and good value.
You might like to try ‘Le Belleville’, ‘Le Chaudron’ and ‘l’Isard’ for simple food at great prices. ‘Le K’ is the gourmet restaurant based at the Hotel Kaya. The lunches, en-piste, are exceptional value and the presentation is second to none, well worth checking out! ‘Restaurant La Loy’ is above the town of St-Martin de Belleville, during the day this eatery is definitely a decent place to stop for lunch or a drink right as it is situated right alongside the run.
With so much unbelievable skiing and a wealth of excellent restaurants, it is hard to imagine what else you will have time to do in Les Menuires; but if you fancy a break from the piste then the town has a leisure centre with an indoor pool and for those who just cannot stay away from the gym, it has a fitness centre. There is also an ice rink in the town for you to let out your inner Torvill and Dean. Visitors who prefer to see the scenery at a more sedate pace can enjoy snow shoe walking in the resort.
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