The snow guaranteed resorts, elegant villages and gorgeous landscapes makes of the Les 3 Vallées one of the best destinations in the French Alps. This region topped my bucket list for years, so I was beyond excited when we spontaneously booked a trip to to kick-off 2024 there. I had the highest expectations about skiing and exploring Méribel, Courchevel and Val Thorens, and I must say they were totally exceeded. The views, atmosphere and runs are simply immaculate. And in this Three Valleys travel guide, you’ll find the curated recommendations of best things to do, runs to ski, experiences, hotels, restaurants and more!
On the Southeast of France, in the heart of Savoy region, lies Three Valleys – the biggest ski area in the world. It comprises the resorts of Saint-Martin-de-Belleville, Brides-les-Bains, Les Menuires, Orelle. As well as 3 of the most magnificent ski areas in Europe, Courchevel, Méribel and Val Thorens.
It is possible to ski between the resorts and we had an unmatched experience doing so. The diversity of pistes, lifts and itineraries is simply impressive. For reference, there are 600km of pistes and 158 ski lifts between the valleys. Which explains why it felt like we barely scratched the surface, even though we skied intensively for 6 days!
There’s so much to see and experience in the Three Valleys area. And the best part is that you don’t need to be a ski expert to enjoy the best the resorts have to offer. As an intermediate skier, I was able to ski between resorts and enjoy some of the most amazing landscapes in the French Alps – an opportunity I’ll cherish forever. The Three Valleys really is a suitable destination for skiers of all levels, including families who plan to hit the slopes together!
Best experiences in the Three Valleys ski area
We had a blast exploring the extensive Three Valleys ski area. From skiing green runs surrounded by pine trees to challenging red slopes, our days were different and exciting in their own ways. Although all we experienced was fantastic, I can definitely pinpoint some favorites. So, here’s our list of the best things to do the in Three Valleys:
1) Ski the Jerusalem piste
Skiing the blue run Jerusalem all the way to Saint Martin Belleville was a highlight of our trip. This piste is about 2200m high, and crosses some of the most beautiful mountains in the Three Valleys area. The views were pristine from beginning to end, but some angles – like the ones below – were pure perfection. The stuff European winter dreams are made of. Skiing this piste felt like flying over on a cotton field and it’s an experience I’d recommend to all of you.
Go check our Instagram profile if you want to see more of our day skiing in the Jerusalem piste. It’s all saved on highlights!
As you approach Saint Martin Belleville, make sure to soak in the beautiful surroundings. We were just in awe. During lunch time, check the restaurant at Lodji Hotel, which is open to non-guests and boasts stunning views. If you’re looking for something simpler, Bistrot Simple & Meilleur may be the way to go.
This restaurant has many outdoor chairs to enjoy drinks and snacks in the sun. For us Swedes, sitting in the sun is simply heaven during winter months. So that’s what we did. But if you prefer, it’s possible to seat in one of the indoors tables for a proper meal and war-up time.
2) Ski from Méribel to Courchevel 1850
When it comes to skiing to Courchevel 1850, intermediate skiers have the privilege of choosing between two picturesque routes. Both are absolutely gorgeous, so I highly recommend planning for not one but two excursions to this epic alpine village. The first route we explored starts at Boulevard de la Loze and takes you to Col de la Loze at 2,304 meters.
The views from this mountain pass are stunning, and it’s a great spot for photos. We took our sweet time appreciating and photographing the most beautiful Alpine landscapes. From the top of Col de Loze you’ll have different itinerary options to get to Courchevel 1850. We picked the Anémones Blue Piste and had a blast skiing amongst imposing pine trees!
Another route we tried to get to Courchevel 1850 started at the last stop of Saulire Express followed by the Creux blue run. The views from the top of Saulire gondola, standing at 2,738 meters above sea, are simply breathtaking. To top it off, Creux was a delightful run to ski and actually ended up being my favorite in Three Valleys region. All in all, this was just a perfect skiing route and a must-do experience for all alpine enthusiasts. It’s totally suitable to intermediate skiers and families!
3) Fun snow activities
Besides skiing, you’ can’ll be able enjoy a myriad of fun snow activities in the Three Valleys. Dog sledding, snowshoeing, snow biking, tobogganing and cross-country skiing are some of the best options. But if you’re interested in an adrenaline-fueled experience, you may want to try a paragliding flight over the mountains. Or even go on an 8 hour ski safari with a professional, where you’ll explore the best off-piste skiing in a safe way!
4) Enjoy a spa after skiing
If you’re a frequent readerof the blog or an instagram follower, you already know we are BIG wellness lovers. Some spa time can never go wrong, especially after hours on the slopes. So, when visiting the Three Valleys, make sure to plan for some recharging time at a spa, even if your hotel or chalet doesn’t boast one.
We tried Thermal Spa in Brides-les-Bains and were not impressed. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a pleasant place that did provide us with great relaxation moments. But it’s far from being the upscale environment you may expect to visit while in the French Alps. So, if you’re looking for an elegant spa break, make sure to consider better options such as:
- Courchevel 1550: Acquamotion
- Courchevel 1850: Six Senses or Le Chabichou
- Méribel: Spa des Neiges or Deep Nature
- Val Thorens: Le Fitz Roy spa, Pure Altitude Spa at Altapura or Pashmina Spa by L’occitane
5) Aprés-ski like the French
Although the concept of Aprés-skiing seems to have originated in Norway, it was further evolved in France. So, when skiing in the French Alps, it’s only fitting to embrace this local tradition. And you’re in for a treat, because the Three Valleys is renowned for epic après-skiing. La Folie Douce, Bagatelle and the The Rond Point stands out as crowd favorites. However, if you’re interested in exploring a wider array of options beyond these classics, be sure to consult this comprehensive guide for the ultimate après-ski experience in the area.
Where to stay in the Three Valleys
As the Three Valleys span over 7 ski resorts, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed when deciding the best place to stay in the region. There is a wide variety of villages, hotels and chalets consider, and most of them are great choices. So ultimately, your decision will depend on who you’re traveling with, what you are looking for and your budget.
Generally, I would recommend staying in one of the “big 3” resorts: Méribel, Courchevel and Val Thorens. These are the most well connected and structured villages, with plenty accommodation and restaurants. However, there are other factors to consider, so you should check this blog post where I broke down the best options for you and created a highly curated list of best places to stay!
Check our comprehensive guide about the best places to stay in the Three Valleys, including best hotels and Chalets!
Best hotels in the Three Valleys
Here are my recommendations of incredible hotels in Courchevel, Méribel and Val Thorens. These are hotels I’d love to stay and I’m sure you’ll be 100% satisfied if you book. If you prefer to explore other options in different budget ranges, make sure to check this post.
In case you want to explore other hotel options besides the ones I recommended above, please research using our Booking.com link. When you book through this link, we may earn a small commission and you won’t pay extra for this. It’s a win-win, so thanks in advance! 🙂
Best ski runs in the Three Valleys
In total, the Three Valleys resorts boast 335 ski runs of different complexities. 57% of these runs are considered easy and are perfect for beginners and intermediate skiers. On the other hand, 43% of the runs in the Three Valleys are either red or black, which are perfect options for more experienced skiers and lovers of extra challenging pistes.
With such a balanced division, this has got to be the most democratic network of ski runs in the world. Regardless of your skill, rest assured there’ll be enough fun and challenging skiing opportunities in the Three Valleys. We had a lot of fun exploring the blues together in the mornings. While I attended classes in the afternoons, Eric had a great time trying some red and black runs. Here’s an overview of our favorite runs:
- Best green and blue pistes in the Three Valleys: Jerusalem, Creux, Altiport, Les Folyères, Anémones, Raffort, Biche, Lapin, Tête Ronde, La Roc de Fer, Moraine and Bouquetin
- Best red pistes in the Three Valleys: Venturon, Park City, La Col, Combe Du Vallon, Campagnol, La Covili, Les Chapelets and Cave de Creux
- Best black runs in the Three Valleys: The Grand Colouir, L’Eclipse, The M and Suisse
We recommend you hire a travel insurance with ski coverage before hitting the slopes in the Three Valleys. Get yours with 5% discount here!
What we like the most about Heymondo travel insurance is that they directly articulate payment with hospitals and clinics you use. This way you don’t have to worry about paying medical bills, which can be really expensive, and getting the refund later. Get yours now!
The Savoyard cuisine is delicious. Get ready for hearty meals centered around cheese, charcuterie, and delectable french bread – all that good stuff. Foundue, raclettes and Pierre Chaud are the most popular dishes in the region, and you should definitely savor them all while in the Three Valleys. In addition to the classic alpine dishes, I highly recommend leaving some room for beloved French staples like galettes/crepes and quiches.
Here are some of my restaurant recommendations in the Three Valleys:
- In Courchevel: Le Tremplin and Copiña
- In Méribel: Le Close-Up, La Terrasse du Village, Le Resto du Savoy and Le Cepe
- In Brides les Bains: Le Bis “trop” Savoyard, Crèperie La Montagne and La Fabrik
- On the slopes: La Cave des Creux and Chez Pépé Nicolas
Best time to visit
The ski season in the Three Valleys is one of the longest in the world. Although hard to believe, it’s actually possible to ski in Val Thorens from mid-November until end of April, and sometimes even May. However, to ensure you’ll be able to ski across resorts and enjoy most of the slopes in the region, plan your visit between the end of December until March. For fresh and abundant snow, prioritize mid-January to end of February.
We visited the Three Valleys in the first week of the year, which is one of the busiest due to school holidays break in France. Although I’d recommend steering away from this week, I also must confess the pistes weren’t as crowded as I’d expected. Since there’re so many different itinerary options between the valleys, it’s very unlikely you’ll feel like the runs are too crowded to enjoy. Surely, the lower pistes were very busy nearing closing time, and the areas where ski-school groups meet were quite packed in the morning. But that was not what we experienced in the actual slopes. So, if this week is the best for you and your family, I would recommend going for it!
How to get to the Three Valleys in France
Getting to the Three Valleys in France is quite straightforward. Typically, you can access the main resorts via car, a train journey followed by a transfer, or even by flying directly to a mountain airport in Courchevel. Oh la la!
For travelers coming from a distance, flying is often the most practical option. The closest airports to the Three Valleys are Geneva, Lyon, Chambéry, and Grenoble. From these cities, you’ll have several choices: you can rent a car and drive independently to the resorts, arrange a transfer service, or take a train to Moutiers and then catch a bus or transfer to your final destination.
We landed Milan, as this was the best option flying from Stockholm. With a rental car, we reached Méribel in about 4,5 hours, which was quite a long drive through the Mont Blanc tunnel. If you have the option, I’d recommend flying to Geneva for a more convenient commute. However, if Milan is a better option for you, I think it can be worth flying there. Especially considering rental cars are way cheaper in Italy than in Switzerland!
We recommend booking a rental car through Discover Cars. We have used their services multiple times never had a problem. Plus, they always have the best rates!
If you’re leaving from the UK, it’s actually really practical to reach the Three Valleys in the French Alps. There’s a direct Eurostar train connecting London to Moûtiers, with the possibility of traveling overnight. From Moûtiers, you can take a transfer or a bus and reach your destination swiftly!
How much is the Three Valleys skiing pass
In 2024, a daily pass granting access to all seven resorts in the Three Valleys region costs €75. As is common with most ski resorts, the daily cost decreases the more days you plan to ski. So, we decided to purchase the 6 days pass for 375€ per person, while the 5 days pass was priced at 350€. Please check the official site for updated information!
I hope this travel guide was inspirational and useful to you. If so, make sure to check other posts we published about the Three Valleys and book your trip using the links below.