Make an Enquiry

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

  • We were delighted with all aspects of our holiday in Chalet Les Sauges. Accommodation was first class and the sauna, steam room and jacuzzi were superb. The food was of the highest quality and the variety and quality was maintained throughout the week. All credit to Jamie and Natalia.

    Claire Richardson, 05 April 2024 Chalet Les Sauges Meribel

  • Just wanted to drop you a line to thank you for a wonderful holiday! In particularly our hosts, were, happy, relaxed, thoughtful and kind! The food was amazing.The chalet spotless and everything always ready. Great to chat to and made us feel so comfortable and at home. Just perfect in every way.

    Debbie Stewart 18 Feb 2024 Chalet Covie, Meribel

  • Lovely chalet and fantastic location – just a minute to the main lift . Wonderful area to ski – we have been to Meribel quite a few times now and it never disappoints. Food delicious and facilities very good.

    Jenny Sanders, 09 Mar 2024, Chalet L'Erine, Meribel

  • We all had an excellent time in Chalet Foehn. It was lovely; cosy, homely and providing everything we needed. The resort was great. This was my first visit to Meribel and I'm impressed with the number and variety of the runs available over the three valleys. We managed to ski everyday albeit not quite all day every day. Particularly; I'd like to thank our hosts. They both looked after us brilliantly. The food was delicious, the packed lunches just right and the cakes wonderful. I am still shocked how nice vegan brownies can be!

    Nick Leigh, 25 Mar 2024 Chalet Foehn, Meribel

  • I can safely say that all 3 families, had an absolutely fantastic holiday from the time we arrived at the chalet to when we left. From the great customer service, that Janey afforded us while organising the holiday, to the face to face contact with you all while there. We have to make a very special mention to our hosts who made our stay extra special and who were fabulous chalet hosts. They make the perfect team, both friendly and professional, ensuring that each and every one of us was catered for…which is quite a task given we had quite a few dietary requirements! Their food was excellent….the children deciding to eat with us rather than eating a separate menu is testimony to that!

    Richard Thomson, 01 Mar 2024 Chalet Charmille, Meribel