TRAVEL | Après-Ski Like the French + Best Ski Resorts in the Alps
We started off the new year with our first trip snow skiing in the French Alps. Airbnb actually chose our location for us, as Ben had found the chalet on a quick “French Alps” search for the days we were looking to go. Our chalet ended up being a perfect location in the Trois Vallées, or Three Valleys, which is the largest ski area in the world with 180 ski lifts connecting eight resort towns, including Courchevel, Méribel, and Val Thorens. Besides the massive area to ski, this area is also known for the après ski events, including soirées with live DJs on the pistes at La Folie Douce, cozy wine bars, luxury spas, yoga classes, and an abundance of restaurants.
Les Trois Vallées really caters to everyone. The resort of Val Thorens is the party area and is perhaps most known for La Folie Douce, an open-air dance party/restaurant at high altitude all day long. At the bottom of this post, I'm sharing a few clips of our afternoon there. Needless to say, I had never had that kind of experience on the ski slopes! Courchevel is geared towards exclusivity with its seven Michelin star restaurants and luxury hotels. Meribel has something for everyone, including paragliding with skis from the top of the mountain. Being in Méribel, the middle valley of the area, enabled us to experience a bit of everything.
How we got there
There are a few ways to get to the Trois Vallées; however, we decided to drive from Paris. It was an easy six-hour drive on highways with tolls. This area of the French Alps is so vast and having a car was especially helpful to us since our Airbnb was not directly in the village.
The villages are served by buses, and another option would be to fly into Geneva and get a bus directly to Méribel Village, or one of the other six resorts.
How we got around
We used the car in the evenings when we drove to Meribel for dinner and were also happy to have it for a few stops at the grocery store. There are shuttles and taxis within and between the villages, and we did take a quick taxi ride from the closest village to our chalet a few times.
Shuttles and taxis access between the villages, as well. We learned the hard way, however, that it’s important to pay attention to the times the lifts close and not end up on the other side of the mountain, or else you’ll have to pay a very expensive taxi ride back to the resort.
Where we stayed
Even though we had planned our stay just a few weeks prior to our trip, we really lucked out with our week falling just after the school holidays had finished. We scored our Airbnb at an “off-season” price and enjoyed low crowds on the slopes. I can no longer find the link there, but I’ve found it here. Since we went with two other couples, we got a place big enough for all of us.
The best part about it, (besides the awesome fireplace that we used every night and its incredible view), was that it was ski-in/ski-out. We really loved getting to put our skis on right at the door and hop on over to the pistes.
As an added bonus, our host organized everything for us so that our ski passes with access to all three valleys were waiting for us when we arrived at the chalet. Our ski and snowboard equipment was delivered right to us in the evening we got there. I would stay here again in a heartbeat.
If you’re looking to have more of an all-inclusive stay in the mountains, there are lots of options with resorts like Club Med.
Where we ate
Since we were closest to Meribel, we ended up going into the village restaurants for dinner. During the day we enjoyed lunch on the maintain and we also ate in the resort town of Courchevel one day. Our favorite place to eat on the mountain was the Coeur de Cristal, where they have slippers waiting for you so that you can kick off your ski boots and feel at home right on the slopes--we went back three times during the week!
As expected in the Alps, we got our fair share of fondues and raclette. Our favorite was at La Taverne. A fair warning that one serving of fondue in the Alps does not equal one serving if you’re not used to eating this cheesy delicacy. Four of us sharing a serving for three barely finished half of our pot of fondue!
Les Trois Vallées is known for its party atmosphere, and a highlight of our stay was definitely at La Folie Douce in Val Thorens. Situated high in the mountains, this restaurant/bar/discotheque is hopping every day until 5 pm after the lifts close. When we went, in addition to the band and dancers, there was a live DJ encouraging his “party people” to get up on the tables and dance. Paragliders also made the Folie Douce a fly-over on their trip down the valley. I hope they weren't as nervous as I was seeing them up-close and personal just over our heads.
Other bars and cafes we visited had a more relaxed, cozy vibe, but vacationers have plenty of places to enjoy an apéritif and good food.
Ski resorts will be welcoming skiers through the spring. There is also plenty of non-snow activities for when the weather warms up. I’d love to go back and do some horseback riding and hiking through the mountains.
I’m always looking forward to more trips exploring our newly adopted home in Europe, and this one definitely did not disappoint. If you have any favorite places in France, I’d love to hear more about them in the comments below!
Thank you so much for reading along and for sharing!