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History of the Three Valleys

History of the Three Valleys

A visitor to the Three Valleys of Meribel Les Allues, Courchevel St Bon and St Martin de Belleville just fifty years ago would have looked in vain for signs of the modern ski resorts that today attract skiers from all over the world to ski Meribel and the 3 Valleys. Only a collection of small isolated hamlets and chalets would have been found nestling in the high open pastures that were the result of over seven centuries of deforestation by farmers trying to scratch a living from the mountainside.

An ideal resort for winter sports

This began to change in 1941 when a government commission was set up with a brief to study scientifically the essential requirements for 'an ideal resort for winter sports'. The 83 page report published in 1942 proposed the development of purpose built resorts perched in high snow fields, an innovation in Europe, in order to compete with the then fashionable resorts of Sestrieres in Italy, Sun Valley in the USA and Davos in Switzerland.

The report proposed development in the Three Valleys on the edge of the Vanoise National Park. The area offered a high annual snowfall on north facing slopes to ensure good conditions. There were also many slopes whose aspect allowed one to 'ski in the sun on pistes in the shade'. The terrain was relatively even and uniterrupted allowing a variety of pistes of differing grades. There were suitable flat areas for the construction of villages.

History of the Three Valleys

The original plan was to commence in the Belleville Valley where Les Menuires now stands with later development around Meribel and finally Courchevel in the St Bon valley. However local opposition prevented building in the Belleville Valley and the initial development in Meribel collapsed from a lack of funds. The first operational ski lifts opened in Courchevel in 1946.

Tourism in the Three Valleys

There was in fact a history of tourism already in the region. The latter half of the 19th century saw the growth of alpinism and also the opening of fashionable spa towns. Both Brides Les Bains and Salines Les Thermes located at the bottom of the valley gained their reputations during this period. Higher up the mountains the first hotel in St Bon was opened in 1908. As with alpinism throughout the alpine region, the British were never far away. One of the first on the scene was Arnold Lunn who had already had much to do with the establishment of winter sports in Austria and Switzerland. He settled on the Allues valley when touring France to study the possibility of winter sports programme in the Savoy Alpes

The development of Meribel

The development of Meribel as we know it owes much to two French architects, Christian Durupt, and Paul Jacques Grillo, and a British ski enthusiast called Peter Lindsay. They felt it essential to maintain the existing authenticity of the Savoyard resort. Only wood and stone were used for the main body of the Meribel ski chalets and mountain slate for the sloping roofs. To this day Meribel chalets owe their beauty and charm to such foresight, and it is this above all that sets it aside from the majority of purpose built resorts.

A village atmosphere

Today in Meribel you will find something for everyone, although maintaining a village atmosphere Meribel has developed into a cosmopolitan and friendly resort, with many fine bars, regular live music and a couple of nightclubs, numerous shops, relaxation spas, and a great selection of restaurants. Of course it enjoys a wonderful setting in the heart of the Three Valleys ski area.

Chalet highlights:

  • Top ski destination – Meribel, 3 Valleys.
  • Prime location – All chalets within minutes of the ski lift.
  • Delicious chalet catering & wine plentiful!
  • Friendly & personal service from start to finish.
  • All have hot tubs, cosy log fires, sun terraces.
  • Wifi at your fingertips, IPod docks, all bedrooms ensuite.

What our customers say

  • Just wanted to say what a fantastic time we have had at Chalet Foehn. We were looked after so well. They went out of their way to make sure the children had something they liked to eat each evening and they were always very friendly and chatty. It was our first time being 'hosted' in any holiday situation - one that I wasn't sure about - but it was a pleasure. Meribel Les Allues seemed to us to be the perfect setting for a ski holiday. The bubble made a lovely trip each morning from just a few yards away, our lessons with Magic, couldn't have been better. They looked after the group perfectly. I don't think any of us thought that we would be skiing down slopes in such a way after just 4 lessons. The courtesy minibus service came in very handy and again worked perfectly. All in all it was an absolutely incredible week ( and I hope we'll be able to repeat it next year!) Thank you to all of you for making it so. Best wishes

    L Raynor 03 Mar 2018, Chalet Foehn, Meribel.

  • Our chalet hosts were brilliant and the location and accommodation is fantastic and we are already planning next year!!

    S Johnstone 23 Feb 2018, Chalet Les Sauges, Meribel.

  • Thanyou once again for an amazing time with Ski Blanc in Chalet Foehn. As ever, the chalet hosts were brilliant and the food - catering for allergies, vegetarians, children and the rest - as always, generous, tasty and top quality. The week was enjoyed equally by those in the 4th year with Ski Blanc as much as the newbies. With the amount of interest already expressed since returning home - we might need two chalets next year! The count down has already begun.

    A Glover 15 Jan 2018, Chalet Foehn, Meribel.

  • Just wanted to say what a fantastic week we had at La Vieille Scierie - brilliant hosts, food delicious, Les Allues a great location. Ski Blanc was spot on in organising ski passes, transfers etc. Many thanks!

    J Clarke 25 Jan 2018, La Vieille Scierie, Meribel.

  • We would like to say a great big 'Thank You' for such an amazing holiday. Please could you pass on our thanks to our amazing chalet hosts in La Vieille Scierie who provided such fantastic food. We really appreciated all your help in organizing our group and for all the advice and arranging lift passes etc. Looking forward to coming again next year.

    S Castle 24 Feb 2018, La Vieille Scierie, Meribel