We are a family of five aged from 15 to 51 and have been skiing for many years. We have skied in many resorts around the world, but come back to the Three Valleys and specifically Meribel, as we know the area well and enjoy all it has to offer.
It is always a risk booking the first week of the season (this year it was 16-23 December 2017) and the last few years have not had great snow. We knew this could be the same this year but we also know that there is always plenty of skiing to be had higher up the mountains. And it would be quiet, with no queues and restaurants pleased to see you!
So we booked our week online through the Ski Cuisine website back in September. We chose Chalet Veronica as it is located in perhaps the best location in Meribel, right next to the Doron piste, that is a short run into La Chaudanne, where all the main lifts run from. If you haven't had ski-in/ski-out before, I cannot recommend it highly enough! You really can ski right back to the door!
The chalet can take 10 guests in five rooms and we were only five, so we expected to be rattling around a bit. That was until some close friends told us that they were thinking of Meribel for a pre-Christmas week, and then we were ten! It was now exceptional value and we knew the evenings would be great fun too!
SATURDAY – Arrival day
We flew into Geneva airport and were met by the very helpful John from Three Valleys Transfers. It's fair to say that there are probably cheaper ways to get to and from the resort (such as buses or shared coach transfers) but from a convenience and relaxation perspective, the private minibus transfers were superb. We had two brand new VW Caravelles with loads of space for everyone and their luggage. We had a lunchtime arrival at Geneva and had to wait for one of our party to arrive on a different flight, but we had a really easy run to resort and the guys even carried our bags down to the chalet.
We were greeted by our chalet hosts Matt and Danni who served us some much-needed cake and tea whilst showing us to our rooms and giving us a chalet briefing. The Ski Cuisine resort manager, Tor, then arrived to say hello and give us our lift passes that had been organised in advance. This is a great free service offered by Ski Cuisine and they even get you a €15 discount on the full adult pass! Click here to access this service.
Another great tip is getting your skis delivered to your chalet. We booked our skis through Slide Candy (using the CUISINETEN discount code to get 10% off) and they arrived late afternoon. Not only do you avoid the schlep to the ski shop, but also the ensuing chaos when you get there! From the comfort of the chalet, each person gets fitted at your pace whilst you eat more cake! The other great service that Slide Candy offer is that they will come back to the chalet for any request you may have. We had them back several times to replace lost poles, refit boots or bring up a complete set of boots and skis for someone who didn’t think they would ski (but couldn’t resist the incredible conditions!)
It was soon dark, and champagne and canapes were being served as everyone's excitement increased for the day ahead. A fabulous four-course dinner was served which left us all completely stuffed and wondering how we would bend down in the morning to do up our boots!
SUNDAY – first skiing day
The excitement in the chalet was palpable. It had been snowing solidly the week before and the conditions were perfect. The sun was peaking out from the behind the few clouds and we couldn’t wait to get on the piste.
After a hearty breakfast, everyone squeezed into their warm boots and walked across the garden at the bottom of the chalet and onto the piste. It doesn’t get much easier than this! Then it's a 90 second run down the blue Doron piste into La Chaudanne where all the main lifts run from.
We had a gentle morning's skiing and ended up back in Chaudanne having lunch at Les Castors where the food was really tasty and the service very friendly. Someone even had the tartiflette!!
After lunch some of the group went back up the mountain whilst others made their way slowly back to the chalet (a lift to mid station and an easy ski down) where more cake was waiting for us!
MONDAY – the day it snowed
We awoke to fresh powder on the pistes and grey skies full of snow. This generally creates two reactions. The first is huge excitement from the younger skiers and the second is disappointment from those who don’t enjoy white-out conditions.
So we split into two camps, the powder hounds and the yoga hounds! The snow boys went to the top of the mountain and had a great morning getting stuck in ever-deepening snow whilst some peaceful stretching was had back in the chalet.
Lunchtime, we all got together for an excellent meal at Rondpoint (known locally as Ronnies) and then the non-skiers went for a walk through the woods near Altiport.
The snow was deep and crisp and even! We had a fabulous and tiring wander around the golf course (you would never know with all that snow on it) in stunning tranquillity. There is just nobody about at this time of the season.
TUESDAY – off-piste heaven
Stunning scenery on the way to St Martin de Belleville
Naturally, we had to stop for hot chocolate and that gives you a chance to rest your legs and catch some rays!
We all came together at lunchtime for another visit to Castors (its location at Chaudanne makes it very convenient) and the rest of day was fairly sedate as everyone was exhausted after their expedition!
It was a quiet evening, to say the least. After a lovely dinner, you could see all the heads nodding off and so it was early to bed!
WEDNESDAY – a bluebird day
Perfect condition once again so the main team decided a trip to Courchevel down our old favourite, Creux, was in order. Meanwhile, the girls had booked an outdoor yoga session at the Folie Douce, just by mid-station.
Yoga at Folie Douce
The yoga was invigourating and a great way to spend a few hours. We all met up at the top of Saulire at Le Panoramic. A quick and pricey hot chocolate later and we were storming into Courchevel 1850 for lunch.
We decided on Le Tremplin due to its position at the bottom of the slopes next to the lift stations and we had a delicious lunch sat outside watching the world go by.
After lunch, we messed about a bit in Courchevel before taking the Vizelle bubble back to top of Saulire and skiing back to the chalet (in the sun!).
The younger members of the group all stopped by Ronnies to start their evening off early as Wednesday is the staff's day off so we were booked into the Barometer for dinner.
It proved to be an excellent choice of venue (it's been renovated since last season) and the Ski Cuisine minibus took us back to the chalet making it a very easy night out.
THURSDAY – another bluebird day
We chose our runs based on our lunch destination, which was to be the Bou Blanc in La Tania. We have always found it to be a good value and reliable lunch stop and we weren't disappointed.
With the Loze chair closed, we took Creux down toward Courchevel and the Roc Mugnier chair up toward 1650. No-one thanked me for then taking everyone on the longest button lift up toward Pyramides, but it was worth it for the run down to the Bel Air restaurant. Eventually, we skied into 1850 and up the Plantrey chair before heading down into La Tania and lunch.
The run home was also through 1850 as the Loze runs back into Meribel didn’t open until the next day (your ski pass is cheaper in the first few weeks as not all runs and lifts are open).
Matt and Danni had produced more lovely cakes and a superb dinner to make sure we stayed stuffed until bedtime!
FRIDAY – last skiing day
Our last day of skiing is always greeted with some sadness as it signifies the end of a holiday and this one had been one of the best ski trips ever.
We skied over into the Les Menuires and St Martin areas before heading back up to the Altiport run to find the route to our lunch stop.
We had been recommended the Clos Bernard restaurant but it was a ski through the trees from the bottom of the Loze chair (that was now running). It was well signposted but give yourselves enough time as it is much further than we thought, a good twenty minutes on skies, polling through the trees). But that isolation has resulted in a beautiful building in the middle of nowhere which serves excellent food and wines. We had a great lunch there.
The ski back didn’t quite go according to plan (to say the least). We should have just followed signs for Meribel Village but decided to take a shortcut through the woods and that added, not only about 40 minutes, but also some hairy off piste traversing to our journey. The calls of 'I can't stop' could be heard across the valley!
But we all got home safe and sound and hung our boots and skies up for the trip. They were collected by Slide Candy that evening without us even knowing – what a great service!
Our final dinner from Matt and Danni was again, excellent. They looked after us so well throughout the week.
SATURDAY – departure
We had a lunchtime flight so we had to leave at around 8.30 with 3VT. Again, they carried our bags to the vans and our trip was uneventful and comfortable.
The flights were all on time and we were home just after lunchtime. It really doesn’t get much better than that!
We had a fantastic ski holiday with Ski Cuisine. We love the location of Veronica and will definitely stay there again to be looked after by such great chalet hosts. All the Ski Cuisine staff go out of their way to make your holiday as perfect as it can be – and they are truly successful in that! We will be back!