With the exception of Chamonix, the most lively ski resorts in France are undoubtedly those in the Trois Vallées ski area – Meribel, Courchevel, La Tania, Les Menuires-Saint Martin, Val Thorens and Orelle. Over the years, these villages have become well trodden tourist routes for skiers all over the world and as a result a range of activities have sprung up alongside the comfortable hotels and cosy alpine restaurants. Val Thorens, Meribel and Courchevel have earned the name ‘the blockbuster resorts’ and like the film genre of the same name they are packed full of action and things to see and experience.
Courchevel is probably the glamorous face of the Trois Vallées where you could find yourself rubbing shoulders with celebs in Gucci ski suits whilst you enjoy your post-slope martini. Courchevel has a huge range of accommodation options and more restaurants than you could possibly hope to eat in during the course of one holiday. The après ski centres around Les Caves, a flamboyant nightspot complete with podium dancers and litres of Dom Perignon. Slightly more down to earth is Kaliko, which tends to focus more on fun than fashion. There’s also Piggy’s, The Grange and Bubble Bar.
Meribel is another big resort and has a huge selection of activities, as well as the usual après ski fare. The Meribel Olympic Centre has a gym, ten-pin bowling and a climbing wall and you can also sign up for non-ski Alpine options like dog sledding, walking and snow biking. At night the resort really comes alive with holidaymakers enjoying their hard earned post ski partying. Le Rond Point is a hugely popular destination, particularly as it has a large sun terrace where you can enjoy a drink or two whilst listening to a live band. The Taverne has an excellent happy hour and there are several English run bars including Scotts and le Pub. In terms of clubbing, Meribel is well equipped with Dicks Tea Bar and Loft.
Val Thorens is another lively resort in the Trois Vallées and the highest in the area. The resort has a good selection of bars and watering holes, although perhaps not quite the same level of choice as resorts like Meribel. Le Tango and Ski Rock Café are two popular options and The Frog and Roastbeef is a good place for live music and club-wise, it’s all about New Pop.
Outside of the Trois Vallées, Chamonix ski resort inevitably deserves a mention. Chamonix town or Argentière provide the centre for the valley’s après ski activities, offering an international selection of bars, restaurants and pubs. Chamonix does have a pretty party hard reputation, from the happy hour at Chambre Neuf, to the fact that it has its own brewery – Canadian-owned Micro Brewery de Chamonix – so bring your Alka Seltzer if you want to be fresh enough to get onto those skis in the morning!
The fact that après ski has now become such big business is reflected in most ski resorts – the activities involved once the boots come off are now almost as important to a ski holiday as the skiing itself! As a result, you are likely to find entertainment in all but the smallest locations. But if you’re looking for the liveliest of ski resorts in France it has to be Meribel, Courchevel, Val Thorens or Chamonix.