A guide to the 8 ski resorts in The Three Valleys, France.
The Three Valleys ski resorts cover an area of over 600km. It’s often confusing if you don’t know an area, especially if it’s the world’s largest ski domain! Whether you are looking to buy a property in the Three Valleys Ski Resorts or looking to rent for a family holiday, let’s take a good look at all 8 options.
1. Courchevel Le Praz 1300m, Courchevel Village 1550m, Courchevel Moriond 1650m & Courchevel 1850m.
Courchevel is a sprawling resort ranging in altitude from the lowest village resort of Courchevel le Praz at 1300m up to the highest village resort of Courchevel at 1850m. One can access the Three Valleys’ 600km of ski pistes from all these villages but prices, accessibility and village “vibes” vary greatly.
Courchevel le Praz is a quaint Alpine village which is easy to get to through the winter months. The village has a strong local community which means it feels relatively less touristy than other ski resorts. That being said there are regular buses every 20 minutes up to the main ski area as well as a cable car and a chair lift. It is also home to 2 ski jumps which are often used for international competitions so there’s a strong chance you might see some professional ski jumpers at work. Depending on the snow coverage and time of the season, you can ski down to the village. A more affordable option than its Courchevel neighbours though there are fewer properties on the market. Prices around €8,000-9,000 per sqm.
Courchevel Village is slightly closer to the action and is a strong family favourite. A larger resort with a mixture of traditional chalet style buildings, some modern hotels and self catering apartments which follow the main road through the village. There is cable car access to the skiing in Courchevel 1850 from the centre of the village and a few lovely blue slopes that finish in the town centre. Courchevel Village is popular with renters and buyers as it offers all the amenities of a modern ski resort. In 2013 the Aquamotion, a new indoor pool complex was built here making it an even more attractive family option. At €10,000-16,000 per sqm prices are a step up from Courchevel Le Praz but are lower than Courchevel 1850.
Courchevel Moriond has always been a popular resort and is undergoing a development surge with a number of high-end apartments and chalets coming onto the market. It manages to blend the key ingredients of a family resort with gourmet restaurants and swanky bars and the atmosphere is more relaxed than that of Courchevel 1850. There is plenty of nightlife and the village is well known for its après ski. Prices circa €20,000 per sqm.
Courchevel 1850 is a fashionable and glamorous resort with a price tag to match, both in the rental market and the buyers market. It offers the ultimate in accessibility to the Three Valleys ski area as well as an abundance of luxury hotels, chalets and a shopping area stuffed with well known names. There is even an airstrip above the village for private jets and helicopters. Courchevel 1850 was the first French ski resort to be built from scratch rather than being built around a village that already existed. Meaning much of the chalet and apartment accommodation is ski-in ski-out. All of which adds to the price premium. €25,000+ per sqm.
2. La Tania – 1400m.
La Tania is the youngest of the Three Valleys resorts, and was created in 1990. Set among the fir trees with direct access to the slopes, it is a smaller resort than its neighbours Courchevel & Méribel and often referred to as the Three Valleys’ “best kept secret” . In order to respect its forest surroundings, the streets are pedestrianised and all buildings are clad in wood. The resort is deliberately kept small and intimate – by providing a secure environment it is a firm favourite of young families. Property for sale is quite rare to find and new building projects are discreet. A great village to rent or buy in if you are looking for something traditional in a peaceful setting. Small apartments are priced around €5,000 per sqm.
3. Méribel les Allues 1100m, Méribel Village 1400m, Méribel Centre 1450m & Méribel Mottaret 1750m.
Méribel les Allues was the original village, where the first ski lift was built in 1938 and has the reputation of being the “administrative centre” of Méribel. Les Allues is a pretty and traditional Savoyard village which caters largely for families who want to avoid the hustle and bustle of central Méribel. Property prices are slightly lower here, and if you are after a more tranquil environment with only a 5 minute drive on the shuttle bus or a quick hop on the Olympe gondola which links Les Allues with Méribel, this could be the resort for you.
Méribel Village, like Les Allues, is a popular destination for those seeking a quieter pace of life. Created in 1990, the village is designed around a pretty square and has a nice mix of chalets and apartments in traditional chalet buildings. Being slightly detached from the hustle and bustle of Méribel centre, it is favoured by families. Access to Méribel is via the shuttle bus or on the Golf gondola.
Méribel Centre says it all in the name! This is the focal point of the resort with ski lifts, ski school, bars, restaurants and shops. There is also an ice rink, a pool, spa facilities, a bowling alley and nightclub. The golf course is at the foot of the ski slopes and there is even an airport, the first alpine runway to be built in a French ski resort at 1700m at Altiport. If you are after a buzzing vibe and plenty of après ski, then this is definitely the place to be. The ski lifts here are modern, slick and fast and the village is stunning with picture postcard traditional buildings set within a pine forest. No high rise concrete here! There is a wide variety of rental accommodation available. and if you are lucky enough to be looking to buy, then expect to pay a premium price for your ski chalet or apartment.
Méribel Mottaret is the highest of the 4 areas and generally features apartment residences at the foot of the pistes. The area sits among pretty pine forests and it is a peaceful and authentic mountain setting. Mottaret is brilliant for snow sure skiing. Most of the accommodation here is ski-in ski-out and a major asset is its easy access to the other Three Valleys ski resorts. There are a few restaurants and the area is generally on the quiet side so après ski is limited.
As with Courchevel, property prices tend to rise with the altitude of the village. Prices range all the way from €5,000 to 20,000 per sqm.
4. Brides les Bains – 600m.
Brides les Bains is a low altitude resort which has a high speed link to Méribel on the Olympe gondola which can whisk you up to Méribel Centre in 25 minutes. The gondola is included in your lift pass so you won’t have to pay extra. Your journey to the slopes will be slightly longer if you choose to rent or buy here, but the affordability is a huge attraction. The town centre is pretty and Brides found fame over one hundred years ago as a spa town and wellness centre. It is home to the famous hot spring waters at Le Grand Spa Thermal, which attracts huge numbers on a yearly basis. The town has a lively mix of nightlife which centres around Centenaire Square, often with live music in the winter or just a family evening with games and marshmallows. There is a good variety of restaurants and bars and the town even has a casino, reflecting its illustrious past! Property to buy is scarce, expect to pay around € 2,500 per sqm.
5. Les Menuires – 1850m.
Les Menuires sits underneath Val Thorens and above St. Martin de Belleville and is a purpose built resort that has often been overlooked as a property destination due to architectural mishap! Recent buildings have a more sympathetic traditional style and attract many more visitors than in the past due to the relatively low cost of a ski holiday whilst enjoying the massive ski area of the Three Valleys. The lift infrastructure is superb with links to both Val Thorens and Méribel and because the resort has been developed from scratch, nearly all the properties here are ski-in ski-out. Accommodation here is mainly apartments but the skiing is second to none so a rental or purchase in Les Menuires is a fantastic way to enjoy all that the Three Valleys has to offer if you are a family on a budget. Property prices range from € 5,000-8,000 depending on resale or new build. You will find some new leaseback programmes with the potential for VAT recovery.
6. St. Martin de Belleville – 1450m.
St. Martin de Belleville is a charming little village down the valley from Les Menuires, with great access to the other Three Valleys resorts via the fast Tougnette gondola lift which takes you directly to the slopes of Méribel. This is a family-friendly, quiet village and relatively inexpensive to both rent and buy in compared to some of the Three Valleys resorts. The village is very traditional with a pretty church and a number of bars. Indeed it is acquiring a reputation with foodies, with La Bouitte the first restaurant to be awarded 3 Michelin Stars in Savoie. The resort has recently seen some additional building as it is becoming a more popular ski destination so if you are thinking of buying then this is definitely a resort you should consider, with prices rising. € 11,000-13,000 per sqm.
7. Val Thorens – 2300m.
Val Thorens is the highest of the 7 villages that combine to make the Three Valleys ski resorts and is also the highest ski resort in Europe. Situated above the treeline the resort is guaranteed snow from November through to May so is a popular resort for “hardcore” skiers. There is a lively night life and it is home to the famous Folie Douce which is known as “the dance floor on top of the world”. Families with small children are also well catered for with a range of family-friendly accommodation. However, due to its altitude Val Thorens is colder than many of the other Three Valleys ski villages. Val Thorens was one of the first purpose-built French ski resorts and suffered badly with a poor architectural reputation. This has since been rectified and even a pretty village church has sprung up to add to the appeal. Property here is mainly ski-in ski-out and there is a huge variety of accommodation to suit every budget. € 5,000-12,000 per sqm.
7. Orelle – 900m.
Orelle is considered the hidden gem among the Three Valleys ski resorts. It sits below Val Thorens but is linked by a fast pace gondola (one of the longest in the world) that whisks you up to the slopes in 15 minutes then connects to a high speed 6-seat covered chair lift that takes you on to Val Thorens. The village itself has an attractive Savoyard appearance and there are plenty of restaurants, cafes and shops. Orelle is more of a family destination than a party centre but if you are after a low cost property purchase or a budget ski holiday with superb access to the Three Valleys ski region then this is a really great base.
Everyone seeks something different when considering a ski holiday or a property purchase in the Alps.
Now the only thing to decide is which resort suits your purposes best either as a buyer or a renter. Things to consider are not only your budget but also the “vibe”, accessibility, proximity of ski lifts or shuttle buses, as well as the “prettiness” of the resort. Also, whether it’s a family resort or a buzzing vibrant social resort or a mixture of everything. If you are thinking of purchasing a home in the Three Valleys, all of the above will be important considerations. Hopefully this guide to the Three Valleys ski resorts will help you decide on the right place to be.