With the season just around the corner, we thought we would have a look at the latest news and developments in the worlds biggest ski area, The Three Valleys in France. Perennially popular with many of our guests, the numerous resorts that make up this ski domain have something for everyone. Firstly, lets have a little look at the facts and figures:
- 600km of pistes accessible on skis
- 321 downhill skiing pistes
- 1,512 hectares of maintained pistes
- 62,000 total difference in height
- 169 ski lifts
- More than 2,100 snow canons
- 35,000 hectares of nature
- 105km2 (or 10,500 hectares) of skiable area
THE THREE VALLEYS OPENING DATES
This season La Tania will open a week earlier than normal and close a week earlier too. The decision was based on many previous years snow conditions, local business requests and the fact that lift company resources are in place making it easier to open earlier.
Easter will also be early in 2016 and with resorts generally on the wind down the a couple of weeks after this period, the shift in the season dates make sense all round.
Val Thorens: Sat 21 Nov 2015 to Sun 8 May 2016
Orelle: Sat 28 Nov 2015 to Sun 8 May 2016
Les Menuires: Sat 5 Dec 2015 to Fri 22 Apr 2016
Saint Martin de Belleville: Sat 12 Dec 2015 to Fri 22 Apr 2016
Mottaret & Méribel: Sat 5 Dec 2015 to Sun 24 Apr 2016
Brides-Les-Bains: Fri 18 Dec 2015 to Fri 15 Apr 2016
Courchevel 1850: Sat 5 Dec 2015 to Sun 24 Apr 2016
La Tania, Le Praz, Courchevel 1550: Sat 5 Dec 2015 to Sun 17 Apr 2016
Courchevel 1650 Moriond: Sat 12 Dec 2015 to Sun 17 Apr 2016
SKI AREA - 6 NEW PISTES
This summer has seen a huge amount of work being carried out on the mountain and 6 new pistes will have been created and added to the piste maps ready for opening in December.View Meribel
The Lory Piste is one of the most exciting new developments, running down from the Val Thorens Funitel to Orelle in a previously popular off piste area. This new run heads underneath the zip wire and is a new official route down to the Orelle area, which is often referred to as the 4th Valley.View Val Thorens
After lengthy discussions between the lift companies finally a link from Val Thorens below Pluviomètre near to the Les Menuires area to the Boulevard Cumin and the (new last year) Plan de l'Eau chair lift has been created. This new run, called Chasse will also provide ski in ski out access from the piste to Restaurant Chez Pépé Nicolas.View Val Thorens
Over in Les Menuires there has been a lot of work at the top of La Masse. This fantastic and under visited part of the 3 Valleys will now feature some gentler pistes so blue run skiers can enjoy the summit on the Bouquetin and altered Choucas pistes.View St Martin de Belleville
In the centre of Les Menuires there are improvements for beginners with the new green piste specifically marked out now - The Montagnettes Piste.View St Martin de Belleville
The return of the Plan du Vah piste from "Fruit Junction", between Courchevel 1650 and 1850 at the bottom of the Roc Mugnier & Aiguille du Fruit lifts, down to the road at the hairpin on the way up to 1850 from 1650. Currently this run will just go down to a bus stop as it did when marked on the 2012/13 piste map - it was a blue run then, now it's a red. Plans for a future lift and/or continuation to the new Aqua Centre at 1550, opening in December are also rumoured.View Courchevel 1850
SKI AREA – 5 NEW LIFTS
The new St Martin Express 6 seater chair – hopefully removing one of the last bottlenecks in The 3 Valleys and meaning an extra drink down in St Martin de Belleville.
Much of the old 4 seater lift is being used in the new Bettex lift.
The new Bettex lift (ex St Martin 2) is now longer and goes up to La Violette piste giving direct access in to Les Menuires.
The new 2 stage Combes 1 & 2 chair lift with mid-station for beginners, the new green floodlit pistes Little Himalayas and the Yeti Park plus the Arolles beginners drag lift.
The old Combes, Arolles and Table Vert chair lifts have now been removed – with direct access to Les Menuires from the top of the new Combes chair via Roc de Tougne drag lifts or Tougnete2 chair.
WHAT'S NEW IN RESORT
All the latest news and developments across the 3 Valleys.
Improvements to the green La Tania resort run continue with Plan Fontaine widened in place to reduce the steepness around the bends and the hairpins are smoothed out a bit more.
There are some new snow cannons over near the Signal area of 1650 – The Three Valleys boasting nearly half of its area now covered with snow making kit.
As well as night skiing on a Wednesday on Verdons and the Family Park there will be the opportunity to ski late in to the evening with the Ski Patrol this Winter in Courchevel and learn about their work. It will be marketed as Last Tracks.
A parallel slalom run for all skiers is being created – building on the BMW times/video run last season. The Olympic medallist himself will be attending the Alexis Pinturault Cup at the end of the season so you can take him on.
The large new building near the Biollay and Coqs chairlifts has been under construction this summer but what it is has not been formally announced – it looks like a new restaurant complex similar to the base of Mount Vallon.
New on the piste maps for 2016 is a new marking on certain runs with a PEUF logo. According to the key “These runs (when open) are powder guaranteed after snowfalls”. Which looks like it means they won’t be groomed following a decent snowfall.
Pistes in the Courchevel Valley include Jockeys, Jean Blanc, M, Combe des Pylons plus the runs down from Chanrossa and the Creux Noirs lifts (always last to open following heavy snow on any case).
The development of Courchevel 1650 including the area where the pistes come in to resort along with new gondolas is expected to start next summer.
As well as the new Yeti Park and Himalaya piste experiences detailed above, there will be 2 magic carpet type lifts accessing green pistes in resort.
Night sledging from the top of the new Combes chair is promised along with a dedicated evening sledge area in the centre of resort near the bars and restaurants.
The automated timed/video parallel slalom run in Méribel has moved from the Moon Park to the Altiport area. Another photo opportunity to share automatically on social media has been placed at the top of the Olympic chairlift.
The Altai Dragon trail in Méribel is another fun piste from the Loze Express chair with “full-size dragons”in the forest! How big is a dragon anyway?
A lot of work this summer on developing new easy routes down to resort level, a new Combes chair with 2 stages, a new beginners drag lift, new green piste, night skiing and a new sledge run.
The resort is going to develop the beginners’ areas in the ski area, adding new pistes and new spaces just for them. Les Montagnettes slope in the Croisette area will be the first. The Forêt piste in the Masse-Bettex area will follow and a new magic carpet will be installed for beginners at Le Pelvoux piste in the Croisette area. The project will be spread over several years.
A new Aquafun and Wellness Centre opened in Les Bruyères centre with pool, slides, games, waves, jets plus adults only Jacuzzi, hammam and sauna with full spa treatments too.
There’s a push on family friendly (but fun) runs being made, starting with the Funslope which will be almost 1km long with jumps, tunnels, banked turns and even sound effects!
Dedicated areas are to be made available for the growing sport of Ski Touring. A different piste will be allocated am & pm for ski touring and will be open outside the normal hours.
Digitalized Snow Groomers are new this season – Looks like it’s a GPS tracking system for the piste bashers that should lead to better snow and water management for the snow cannons.
New augmented reality binoculars will be freely available at the Cime Caron and Col de le Chambre summits – makes those orientation tables look a bit old hat as the surrounding mountains will be named as you look at them – can’t wait!
The Thorens & 3 Vallées Funitels have been refurbed in the shape of plane wings – “innovative architecture”!
Other new activities this season see language lessons with your ski lessons (French or English lessons available), snowshoeing with a bit of yoga thrown in and new ice driving facilities at the Alain Prost Ice Driving Track.
Aquamotion near Courchevel Village 1550 opens on 14 December 2015 after being under construction for 2 years. A very impressive place with indoor & outdoor pools, 25m training pool, aqua-bike fitness, sauna, hammam, spa, diving boards, wild river rapids, climbing wall and indoor surfing wave! Several packages with spa, beauty treatments, hairdressing & massages are available but basic adult charge for pool access will start from €22.
La Bouitte at Saint Marcel neat St Martin de Belleville has been awarded a 3rd Michelin Star – The first restaurant in the Savoie region to gain a 3rd star (bare in mind there are only around 120 in the world, only 4 in the UK). Open for lunch with transport for skiers from Wed to Sat.
Other Michelin Star news is that L’Epicurien in Val Thorens and the L’Ekrin restaurant at the Kaïla Hotel in Méribel are the latest 3 Valleys restaurants to be given a one star award.
La Casa is a new Italian Restaurant and wine bar in Courchevel 1550. The restaurant in Orelle (aka The 4th Valley) now has a snack bar / takeaway facility for quicker refuelling when time is short (it’s a long way back!).
Le Farçon in La Tania has a few interesting changes to their menu this season with desserts to takeaway and eat on the lifts! Michelin-starred chef Julien is also preparing food for The 3 Valleys promotional parties in Brussels, London & Lyon.