A legendary track is a story, a feeling, great landscapes, anecdotes, commitment, a unique atmosphere or a touch of madness... something indefinable that has made it a legend.
From locals and holidaymakers to 3 Vallées addicts, all opinions were taken into account when it came to getting your spatulas tingling on the legendary slopes of the 3 Vallées.
Are you a family, a sportsman, a contemplative or an amateur? There's something for everyone, so let's get together and share some of the treasures of the 3 Vallées. But first, a bit of history!
What is Les 3 Vallées?
The 3 Vallées ski area is made up of 7 interconnected resorts: Courchevel, Méribel, Brides-les-Bains, Les Menuires, Saint Martin de Belleville, Val Thorens and Orelle for the very best in skiing and mountaineering!
"That's why we come to Les 3 Vallées, where the exceptional is just around the corner or around the crest of a ridge".The word of a holidaymaker.
One idea, 3 valleys, 75 years of history...
In 1925, Arnold Lunn (British inventor of the slalom) made an incredible geographical discovery: an exceptional site made up of three valleys: Saint-Bon, les Allues and les Belleville.
Many visionary and intrepid pioneers took up the daring challenge of making these three valleys the largest ski area in the world. A challenge taken up and perpetuated by other champions and visionaries such as Jean Blanc and Emile Allais, among the most famous.
Visit a few figures is :
- 600 km of pistes the equivalent of a trip from Val Thorens to Paris
- 45,000 hectares the surface area of the Seychelles
- 105 km2 of pistes more than the Greater Paris region
- 318 tracks from 1,300 to 3,230 metres above sea level
- 172 ski lifts
- 50% of easy tracks (green and blue) and 50 % of expert tracks (red and black)
- 1 joint package The famous 3 Vallées ski pass
- 25 peaks accessible on skis!
- 1,200 agents ski lifts at your service
- 62,000 metres of vertical drop 7 times the height of the Himalayas...
What's more? Download the 3 Vallées app to get all the practical information you need, restaurants, weather, list of groomed runs, piste map, lift closing times... And the icing on the cake, join the largest community of skiers connected to SKI + by taking part in challenges, recording your performance, vertical drop, distance, altitude, speed and sharing it all with your friends!
Application available on the App Store and Google Play.
Essentials in your rucksack for a 3 Vallées day out:
- A bottle of water
- A few cereal bars or chocolates for when you're feeling peckish
- A tube of high protection sun cream
- A map of the pistes
Les 3 Vallées is yours!
The legendary slopes of the 3 Vallées ski area:
Béranger, piste Rouge (Val Thorens)
Difference in altitude 600m
Named after one of the greatest figures in French skiing (and Val Thorens!): Jean Béranger. A key figure in the founding of Val Thorens, he also set up the ESF and was director and chairman of the Tourist Office. Coach of the French Alpine ski team during the Goitschel sisters' successful years, he went on to preside over the French Ski Federation for a number of years.
When you reach the Péclet Funitel, turn right. There, a rhythmic descent awaits you, with a bird's eye view of Val Thorens and the mythical Péclet glacier at your back! Don't hesitate to take breaks to enjoy the magnificent views all the way down.
Goitschel, piste Noire (Val Thorens)
Difference in altitude: 300m
The Goitschel sisters, Marielle and Christine, wrote the legend of French skiing. Each a multiple medallist at the Olympic Games and World Ski Championships in the 1960s, and both officers of the Légion d'Honneur, their respective careers will remain etched in the memories of alpine skiing. The two sisters were also pioneers of the Val Thorens resort, helping to create it in the 70s.
The Goitschel piste is a reflection of the sisters' brilliant career: you'll need a bit of commitment and technique to venture down this black-sided slope, with the reward being an unbeatable view of the majestic cirque of mountains that is home to the Val Thorens resort.
La Masse, piste Rouge (Les Menuires)
Difference in altitude: 1,000 m
The pointe de la Masse is one of the highest points in Les Menuires at 2,800 metres. La Masse, the outlying island of Les Menuires, offers a different skiing experience to the south-facing slopes, with optimum snow conditions throughout the season thanks to its northerly aspect. You'll love the wide choice of little-used pistes, with a slight preference for the red Fred Covili piste followed by the blue Vallons piste, which follow on naturally from one another. For the more sporty, take the La Masse ski lift and ski down the black Dame Blanche piste.
Yves Bonnemains, Director of the Vallées des Belleville ski area, advises you to ski there in the morning because of its altitude and ideal exposure. A must: " a breathtaking panorama of Mont Blanc and the entire Belleville valley! "
Léo Lacroix, piste Noire (Les Menuires)
Difference in altitude: 1,000 m
The famous downhill run that has hosted numerous international competitions. The resort of Les Menuires chose to rename this run in honour of Léo Lacroix, a great name in French skiing and an Olympic downhill medallist.
A must for experienced skiers, it runs from Mont de la Chambre to the centre of the resort. The upper part is the most interesting. The snow is exposed to the sun's rays from its south/south-west exposure. It has a series of big curves and steep slopes. A long, varied run to build up your thighs, and after a descent like that, be proud you're one of the champions 😉
Grand Lac, piste Bleu (Les Menuires)
Difference in altitude: 550 m
Meet at the top of Les 3 Marches and follow the signs to the Grand Lac piste. The great advantage of this run is its westerly aspect, which means you can take advantage of the exceptional quality of the snow. Suitable for all tastes, it alternates pleasant curves and schuss while maintaining a good width, and will delight all skiers. It's a slope for leisurely skiing, to be enjoyed without moderation at any time of day! Open your eyes wide and take out your cameras for an endless panorama of the Belleville valley.
Jerusalem, Red trail (Saint Martin de Belleville)
Difference in altitude: 440 m
A bit of history. This is a fine tribute to the victims of the Second World War who were helped by the people of Savoie, in particular by hiding them from the Germans in the barns that lined this track. It was an important site for the Resistance and is now a place of pilgrimage and remembrance for the families of the victims.
An unmissable itinerary for leisurely skiing in the 3 Vallées. The run starts from the Méribel summits (Tougnete and Cherferie) at an altitude of over 2,100 m and reaches the village of Saint Martin de Belleville without difficulty. Take to the slopes on this pleasant, undulating route suitable for everyone (this red run is more of a dark blue run), accompanied by quality snow; you'll feel like you're skiing off-piste.
La Combe du Vallon, piste Rouge (Méribel-Mottaret)
Difference in altitude: 960 m
From Mont du Vallon at an altitude of 2,950 metres, the highest skiable peak in the Vallée de Méribel. The Combe du Vallon, renowned for its wild and inviting side, is over 3 km long and has a regular slope that is both tough and undulating. Thanks to its northerly aspect, it retains excellent snow quality throughout the season. Without a doubt, this is THE mythical run to ski down at Méribel Vallée, and you're sure to love it, especially those who love beautiful curves!
La Mauduit, piste Rouge (Méribel)
Difference in altitude: 1,200 m
Take the Saulire Express gondola up to the summit at 2,700 metres, and you'll be treated to a unique panorama of the Alpine peaks. Put on your ski boots and head for the red Mauduit piste. Its name refers to the great local alpine ski champion, Georges Mauduit.
This trail is renowned for its steep gradients and varied, sustained route, while also taking in pleasant stretches of forest: the perfect way to enjoy yourself in complete peace of mind!
Roc de Fer, Bleu piste (Méribel)
Difference in altitude: 700 m
A champion piste. It was the Ladies' Olympic piste at the Albertville Games in 1992 and the Piste du Roc de Fer will host the finals of the 2015 Alpine Skiing World Cup!
The Roc de Fer and Olympic chairlifts take you up to the top, where you can enjoy breathtaking views of the Tarentaise Valley. It descends over 800 m in altitude, from the Roc de Fer summit at 2290 m to La Chaudanne at 1440 m. You'll love the change of pace.
Combe de la Saulire, piste Rouge (Courchevel)
Difference in altitude: 620 m
From its summit at an altitude of 2,700 metres, Courchevel's star slope unfurls a 3km-wide route. Whether you're looking for a fun, challenging or leisurely run, this piste is renowned for the quality of its snow. Known as "the glacier of Courchevel", it's generally the piste to go for at the start and end of the season. From the summit of La Saulire, you can also climb 1400 m to admire Mont Blanc, less than 50 km away as the crow flies, and end up in Courchevel 1850.
Little secret: it's a carving enthusiast's paradise as soon as the slopes open.
La Jean Blanc, piste Noire (Courchevel)
Difference in altitude: 680 m
A little history: The Jean Blanc was named after one of Courchevel's founding fathers when it hosted the World Cup in 1966. It was the first time that the average speed on a downhill run exceeded 100 km/h.
Also known as the descent of truth, this is a technical run for experienced skiers. Don't be taken by surprise by its steep wall with over 40% of slope. The mogul walls are a great way to build up your thighs, while the forest trail offers a magnificent view of the Saint Bon valley and the village of Le Praz.
Les Chapelets, piste Rouge (Courchevel)
Difference in altitude: 450 m
The piste is accessed by the Chapelets and Signal chairlifts from Courchevel 1650. At the western end of the 3 Vallées, the Chapelets piste offers a breathtaking panorama of the Vanoise glaciers and the crumbling gypsum mountains, so don't forget to look up to enjoy the view. Here you have a rendezvous with Mother Nature, lined with fir trees, you descend without ever coming across a single ski lift in your landscape.
The mix of steep sections and easier flat sections gives you a long, varied run for leisurely skiing.
La Folyères, piste Bleu (La Tania)
Difference in altitude: 515 m
Originally designed by Emile Allais, the piste ran from the Col de Loze down to Brides-les-Bains. When the resort of La Tania was created, Jean Bérard and Gilbert Garnier redesigned the route, keeping the identity of the piste, which was wide and straight. The run starts at the top of the stadium and finishes in the centre of La Tania.
You'll enjoy skiing through pine forests on a pleasant trail over 3 km long. La Folyères is the perfect example of family skiing, at a pace to suit everyone and in a splendid setting.
Here's a little tip: ideal the day after a snowfall! Fall under the spell of the sumptuous fir trees carrying thick layers of fresh snow at arm's length, enough to fill the whole family with wonder.
Now it's your turn to ski! Don't forget to take a map of the slopes and to note the closing times of the ski lifts so that you get into the right valley 😉
PS: Some time ago I wrote a full article on the slopes of Val Thorens and Orelle, the highest point in the 3 Valleys, I invite you to discover it and react: The legendary slopes of Val Thorens.