The Best Way to Ski and Relax in Méribel

Drag yourself away from your relaxing haven at Le Coucou to hit the slopes in Méribel
Drag yourself away from your relaxing haven at Le Coucou to hit the slopes in Méribel | © Le Coucou, Méribel France
Photo of Cassam Looch
Editorial Manager14 March 2022
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Part of the Three Valleys region, which is the largest ski area in the world, Méribel is a popular resort destination for all types of winter sports enthusiasts. It’s easy to reach via plane, train and car, with scenic drives which only add to the allure of the French Alpine holiday location on your approach to the slopes. A new hotel here is building on its well-earned reputation as one of the best family-owned collections in Europe, and has managed to capture the perfect Méribel experience for seasoned skiers and first-timers alike. Here’s a look at why everyone is going cuckoo for Le Coucou.

The Maisons Pariente collection of hotels consist of a small number of boutique properties across France. Le Grand Mazarin opens in summer 2022, and joins a list that includes the elegant Crillon Le Brave in Provence and Hotel Lou Pinet in sunny Saint-Tropez. The Maisons Pariente story started in 2013 with the purchase of L’Apogee in Courchevel, which is managed by Oetker Collection, a collection of luxury hotels which comprises 11 properties around the globe. The quirkiest member of the pristine family roster is Le Coucou on the slopes of popular ski resort Méribel. This ski-in/ski-out hotel has 55 rooms and two private chalets, with a number of exclusive amenities that are difficult to find elsewhere in Les Trois Vallées. It’s an excellent spot for beginners looking to get a few intensive days of lessons ahead of their first ski experience, as well as a great location for more seasoned skiers to attempt the challenging routes the region is known for.

Relax in the comfort of your own chalet when you book Le Coucou | © mrtripper

Méribel has something of a mixed reputation for skiers. The resort is part of the Allues valley and is the oldest of all the established resorts in the Three Valleys – the other two valleys here are Saint-Bon and Belleville. A fourth valley has recently been included in most listings: Maurienne is apparently delightful, but does rather ruin the precise poetry of the name Les Trois Vallées.

Wake up to picturesque views like this in the Three Valleys | © Le Coucou, Meribel France

Méribel is arguably the best known of all the resorts – but also one that garners as much criticism for its raucous après ski activities as it gets praise for its excellent accessibility. It’s a fun place, but perhaps a little too fun in peak season? Well that’s up to the type of holidaymaker you are and the sort of experience you want. For many visitors, winter sports here should have an element of getting together with like-minded travellers to enjoy days on the slopes and nights on the town. For others, however, this is a more relaxing experience – and that’s where Le Coucou comes in. Elevated from the main town, which is where you will find most skiers at any hour of the day, the hotel is purpose built for serious skiing and relaxation.

Head to the pool after a busy day on the slopes | © Paris with Charlotte

The claim that the Three Valleys is the biggest ski region in the world is backed up by the stats: it has more than 330 slopes and 155 lifts. There is everything here from flat surfaces for beginners to learn on, to some of the most challenging runs on the planet. For additional experiences you can tackle a number of dedicated sled routes – which are ideal for anyone not quite ready to ski or snowboard, but keen to feel the exhilaration of sliding down the slopes – and for the adventurous there is the off-piste challenge of heliskiing. One of the main advantages of Le Coucou over other resorts is the ski-in/ski-out format it offers, whereby you can strap on your skis and head straight onto the slops from the hotel itself. You don’t need to drive anywhere and can glide to the first set of lifts from your room. If you don’t want to spend hours travelling to get started every day, this is the ultimate way to experience the thrills of Méribel.

Try your hand at paragliding for your next winter sports adventure | © Le Coucou, Meribel France

Other experiences also aim to make a visit to the region an altogether more relaxing affair. The snowshoe walks take you away from the busy slopes and into the surrounding forests for a dose of tranquillity. The spas and saunas are always a welcome respite from the potentially party-fuelled hot tubs and outdoors pools you may find elsewhere, although we’ll let you decide if “snowga” is a real treat or something of a passing fad.

The spas and saunas at Le Coucou are the perfect place to unwind | © Le Coucou, Meribel France

You’ll find some high quality restaurants in Méribel, and its not just cheesy fondue on offer, either. The outdoor Beefbar gives you unbeatable views of the mountains, whereas Biancaneve offers classy Italian cuisine that is ideal for evening dinner. There are other options in the town itself for more budget-conscious travellers – and you can’t really say you’ve been to Méribel without at least one drink in Le Pub. The lively spot delivers exactly what it says on the tin, and the sticky floors combined with general ramshackle feel will take you back to fun nights in your local student bar from years ago.

Foodies will love a visit to Beefbar in Méribel | © Le Coucou, Meribel France

There are different ways to experience the best of this popular ski resort. But if you want a stress-free option that takes you right to the heart of the action, then head to Le Coucou and sample a little bit of everything that makes Méribel such a special destination for those in the snow.

Experience a different side of Méribel at Le Coucou | © mrtripper

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