HOW TO SKI LES3VALLEES ON A BUDGET
5th December 2019
Last modified on December 27th, 2019
Going skiing is never the cheapest of holidays once you buy flights, transfers, accommodation, lift passes, kit rental and pay to eat out.
Etc… etc… etc…
And the exchange rate isn’t exactly benefitting British skiers at the moment.
But there are some good deals to be had if you look hard enough, even in Les 3 Vallees.
While there are numerous high-end hotels and 17 Michelin star restaurants in the region, many other places offer some decent value for money, with plenty of affordable activities available, too.
In conjunction with Les3Vallees here’s our insider tips guide to making your hard earned cash go further.
WHERE TO STAY ON A BUDGET
HO36 is a modern and hip designer hostel in Les Menuires close to the centre of the village.
Opened in 2018, it has a fun and relaxed atmosphere.
It has 62 beds in dorms, 17 hotel rooms and four lofts sleeping between 4 and 10 people.
And the best bit ?
It costs from just €20 per night.
If you think about it, that’s less than a round of drinks for three friends.
Probably one of the most surprising deals is in Orelle where free accommodation – in a self-catered apartment – is available to skiers buying a 6-day 3 Vallées Pass Tribu which costs €297.
You read it right; free lodging in a ski resort.
This mega offer is available from 4 to 11 January, 11 to 18 January and 28 March to 3 April.
You best hurry to book here
If staying in a hotel is more your bag, then there’s loads of good value options available.
• The 3-star hotel Alphotel in Saint-Martin de Belleville has rates starting from €128 per room per night.
• The Blanche-Neige Hotel in Courchevel Moriond – also 3-star – offers full-board for a week from €455 per person – in other words, €65 per day.
• A room for two with breakfast at Les Bleuets Hotel in Courchevel 1850 starts from €92.
• In Méribel, the Adray Telebar Hotel is charging €270 for a two-night stay for a couple.
• In Val Thorens – the highest ski resort in Europe at 2,300 metres – a double room at the 4-star Le Val Chavière Hotel starts from €148 per night for two with breakfast.
• The oldest hotel in Brides-les-Bains and a flagship of the local hotel industry since 1870, the Grand Hôtel des Thermes is ideally located in the heart of the village and very close to the Olympe cable car which gives direct access to Méribel.
WHERE TO EAT ON A BUDGET
An obvious way to keep costs down is to buy what the French are famous for – fresh baguettes, cheese and salami.
That means making sandwiches.
There are several indoor picnic areas across Les 3 Vallées which are free to use.
There’s one in Les Menuires at the bottom of La Masse, a second one at Plan Bouchet, next to Chalet Chinal Donat, and a third at 3,000m by the Rosaël chairlift.
Meribel’s indoor picnic place is at La Chaudane located at the start of the Saulire Express gondola.
Courchevel has one at the departure point of La Vizelle lift.
On sunny days, there are many excellent outdoor picnic spots to choose from:
• Again, in Les Menuires, there’s one at the top of Roc 1 lift.
It has high tables, deckchairs with beautiful views and even a charging station for mobile phones.
Another good spot is the Becca area, next to the snow park.
It has a ‘chillout’ zone with colourful puffes and music.
• In Val Thorens, there are two picnic zones – one just above the snow park and another on the south face of the ski resort, just before you ski over towards Méribel.
Look at the Les 3 Vallées piste map for all picnic locations as they are marked.
As you might expect, all the resorts have excellent bakeries also selling delicious sandwiches if you don’t fancy a bit of DIY.
- Red Square, a new delicatessen in Val Thorens, has fresh products from artisans and local producers, mainly organic, as well as a good selection of wine. They can also make packed lunches and sushi.
- Croc Vallées in Les Menuires has good sandwiches and snacks.
- The so-called ô P’tit Snack – it is spelt like this – is a small snack bar in the village of Saint Martin selling pizza, burgers, crepes, sandwiches and paninis and the Bell’Savoie, located in the Caseblanche hamlet, offers similar things.
- Chalet Chinal Donat, located on the slopes of Orelle, serves delicious mountain specialties as well as tasty patisseries. The Formule Skieur at €20 includes a plat du jour and a coffee or tea. Chalet Chinal Donat also has a self-service option where skiers can enjoy a 3-course lunch for €20.
WHERE TO FIND MICHELIN FOOD ON A BUDGET
While ordinarily going to a Michelin star restaurant is pricey, in Les 3 Vallées, food lovers can eat at one for €42 only.
Le Farçon in La Tania has a special lunch deal called the Ski Pass which is offered every day between 12.00 and 13.30.
This includes nibbles followed by a set 3-course lunch.
It’s best to book and wine is obviously extra.
GUIDED SKIING ON A BUDGET
Brides-Les-Bains, in partnership with the ESF Meribel, is running guided tours of the whole ski area every Sunday morning and afternoon.
It’s to help guests get their bearings and show-off the hidden gems based on the local knowledge of ski instructor guides.
To book, visit the Brides-Les-Bains Tourist Office on Saturday before 17.30.
Tickets are only €25 per person.
Groups of eight people will be guided but you can reserve with fewer people and you’ll be buddied up with others.
Skiers must be intermediate level or higher.
Every Monday morning in Orelle, skiers can meet at the Place du Télécabine and discover the local ski area between Orelle and Val Thorens accompanied by a guide.
This is free for people holding a valid lift pass.
FROZEN 2 FOR FREE
For an even more magical 2020 season, Les 3 Vallées is branding itself in the style of Frozen 2, the new animated film from Walt Disney studios, released in cinemas on November 20, 2019.
We reported about it last month on PlanetSKI:
Family, entertainment, sharing, starry-eyed children – both brands have these things in common.
So, it was only natural for the world’s largest ski area to be associated with the new film.
The partnership with Disney has seen a unique free programme developed so that children can have a magical time following Elsa and Anna’s tracks in the snow, including:
• Renamed Frozen 2 themed ski runs;
• Gondola lifts redecorated in Frozen 2 branding;
• 4 Frozen 2 branded photo spots in Meribel, Les Menuires and Val Thorens.
• 14 fun adventures marked on the ski map which includes fun places to find – a real skiing treasure hunt – such as an ice grotto, maze and cabin. Kids collect stamps as they visit each location and will receive a Frozen 2 medal and certificate once they have completed it all.
• A mystery location where you might just find Olaf hidden away – accessible using GPS co-ordinates.
For more details, look online here.
Finally, to make the absolute most of this obvious film sensation, Frozen 2 themed holidays are available in each of the ski resorts.
In addition to 7 days accommodation and a 3 Vallées ski pass, cinema tickets will be provided so families can watch the film.
As well as take advantage of a range of entertainment opportunities: ice rink, snowman-making workshops, wood sculpting and so on.
For further information, see here.
OTHER ACTIVITIES TO DO ON A BUDGET
Everyone likes to grab a bargain and you can in Courchevel.
Between Courchevel 1850 and Courchevel Village, visitors can hurtle down a 2-kilometre luge run for free.
The route runs through the trees and is open day and night as the run is floodlit from top to bottom.
In 2012, Courchevel was the first French ski resort to create a groomed and marked out 3.2 kilometre ski touring route.
There is a 500 metre vertical climb and markers every 10 metres to show you how long you have to go until the end.
In 2014, the resort extended this by creating the first groomed and safe vertical kilometre route – if you have the lungs for it.
This is a 1,000m climb over a distance of 5km.
These two marked, safe ski touring itineraries are free to use.
Courchevel also has 90km of cross-country ski tracks which are free to access as well.
Orelle has a 300m2 ice-rink, located at the bottom of the cable-car.
Entry costs are €3 which includes skates.
Val Thorens runs a loyalty programme called Club Val Thorens which currently has about 32k members.
Free to join, it offers visitors exclusive deals and money can’t buy experiences.
There’s the chance to go behind the scenes of the resort and meet the operational staff – the very people who make Val Thorens such a renowned destination.
Sign up at the Tourist Office or go online to join.
The loyalty card lets members enter various prize draws such as discovering life as a piste-groomer at sunset, following a ski patroller at work, and even shadowing the guardian of a mountain hut.
These experiences are available for a lucky few, selected at random.
There’s a Club House in Place du Caron where you can get information about the experiences which is open during the week and school holidays.
About Les 3 Vallées
Les 3 Vallées is the largest ski area in the world with 600 km of pistes and more than 160 lifts.
Open from Dec 7, 2019 to April 26, 2020, Les 3 Vallées includes seven resorts: Courchevel, Méribel, Brides-les-Bains, Saint Martin de Belleville, Les Menuires, Val Thorens and Orelle.
More than 85% of the ski area is situated over 1,800m.