Les Menuires - slopes
Ski highlights for all levels
Beginners: Les Menuires is a popular place for beginners in the Three Valleys, in part because of its good value, but also because there are nursery slopes right in the centre of the village just above La Croisette. You can access this gentle area from a number of chairlifts and there is an easy progression from here onto neighbouring blue slopes.
Intermediates: the whole valley face below Mont de la Chambre has long blues and reds that are perfect for putting your foot down. Pluviomètre and Gros Tougne are long, cruising blue runs while the red Allamands has some good pitches to help you get a bit of speed down into the valley. Beyond the local area, the 600km of the Three Valleys network is an intermediate’s paradise.
Experts: be sure to head up to the Pointe de la Masse. This really is an unspoilt treasure of the Three Valleys, since most visitors from Méribel and Courchevel ignore it in their headlong rush to ski the entire network in a day. Here, you will find several not-too-challenging blacks that tend to have plenty of good snow.
Head up to Pointe de la Masse for the most satisfying and generally uncrowded off-piste opportunities. There are some good routes down into the Vallon du Lou and also down towards St Martin de Belleville, although you will want to check with a guide about snow conditions before you set off.
Ski schools and guides
The ESF (00 33 479 00 61 43) has a branch in Les Menuires and St Martin de Belleville with around 200 instructors, many of whom speak good English.
Six full days of lessons cost €170 for children and €180 for adults and there are beginners packages including lift pass for €272,50.
If you prefer something different, try the Dutch-run Snowbow (00 33 684 89 04 11), which has international instructors who are fluent in English (and French).
The local Menuires and St Martin de Belleville area encompasses 160km of slopes, served by 33 lifts operated by Sevabel. The lifts are a mixture of high-speed detachable chairs, gondolas, slower chairlifts and a small handful of surface lifts, including five magic carpets for children.
Snow reliability and snowmaking
With Les Menuires sitting at an altitude of 1,850m and above, the snow here is as reliable is virtually anywhere you will find in the Three Valleys, with the exception of higher-still Val Thorens. The area has more than 400 snow cannon covering the slopes in the event of poor snow.
The resort also offers a snow guarantee – if the coverage is less than 80% (as decided by the Tourist Office) and you opt to leave the resort, you can have your accommodation reimbursed and your local area ski pass reimbursed on a pro-rata basis.
At the top of the Becca lift, Les Menuires has an excellent 1.5km long skiercross course with banked turns and moguls. The course also includes a zone with a range of fun park features to try, including slides and handrails, big airs, table tops and a quarter pipe. Overall, the course has a vertical drop of 160m and the course is due to be extended in winter 2009-2010 by another 400m.