For keen piste-bashers who like to rack up the miles but dislike tacky post-war resorts, it's difficult to beat: unlike other modern purpose-built resorts, Meribel has always insisted on chalet-style architecture. But other 3V resorts have the edge in important respects. For better snow opt for Courchevel or Val Thorens; for lower prices, Les Menuires or St-Martin.
Meribel was founded in 1938 by a Brit, Peter Lindsay, and has retained a strong British presence and influence. It consists of two main resort villages. The original resort is built on a steepish west-facing hillside with the home piste running down beside it to the main lift stations in the valley bottom, slightly below the village centre. The resort now spreads widely away from the centre and the piste; various quarters can be identified - among them Mussillon, beside the road in to the resort, where many individual chalets are located. A road winds up from the centre to the top of the main village. Then one road goes on through woods to the altiport (a snow-covered airstrip) while another goes under the home piste to the suburb of Belvedere. These higher suburbs are now known collectively as Meribel les Hauts, while the lower levels are called Meribel Centre.
The satellite resort of Meribel-Mottaret is a mile or two up the valley. The hamlet of Meribel-Village, on the road to Courchevel, has grown into a pleasant, quiet micro-resort. A gondola links the valley-bottom spa town of Brides-les-Bains to Meribel via the village of Les Allues. A car is useful for outings to other resorts such as Les Arcs, Val d'Isere, Tignes and La Rosiere; you can access La Plagne via Champagny.