Meribel, a pretty resort nestled in the heart of the Three Valleys in the French Alps, has a reputation for vast skiing opportunities ideal for all ages and standards, and for relaxing holidays. But there is another, wilder, side to the ski resort that emerges only as the sun sets.
Some resorts have a token bar or two, cosy in their own way but providing not so much the opportunity of a bar crawl as a brief stagger from one bar to the other. Other, larger, resorts do have a greater assortment but often dotted around vast isolated satellites making it difficult to visit more than one in an evening, especially if not walking in a straight line!
Meribel could not be more different, with an appealing array of closely packed establishments to suit even the hardiest of bar-lovers and clubbers.
The fun starts as the slopes thin out and skiers everywhere can join in with a bit of après-ski. Le Rond Point halfway up the mountain (walkable across the piste from the “Rhodos” midstation) has become legendary with its raucous après sessions featuring the likes of Mullit and Livewire playing from 5 til 7 every day of the week. If you prefer to actually quit the slopes for the day before grabbing some après action, try Jack’s in Meribel centre (opposite “L’Eterlou” hotel) which hosts a growing list of talented instrumentalists such as Mikey Gray and Daisy B. These acts get everybody on their feet and create a buzzing atmosphere to kick off the evening.
Lodge de Village (LDV) in the separate Meribel Village area hosts similarly friendly après-ski events whose highlight is the group Bring Your Sisters playing on a Tuesday evening from 5 until 7. LDV serves good food in its restaurant downstairs and is only a two minute walk from the Golf chairlift so easy to ski down to for après. Meribel Village itself is serviced by a regular bus to Meribel proper which takes only a few minutes, so it’s easy to get back to the centre too.
After dinner at around 9ish the action starts up once again. Jack’s features a happy hour 9-10pm which virtually coincides with frequent themed evenings starting around 10pm… Sunday’s Toss The Boss and Thursday’s Bar Stock Exchange are popular regular events. Comedy nights, with line-ups including Al Murray and Marcus Brigstocke, plus fancy dress evenings (e.g. Back to School), regularly take place here.
Barometer, another central bar, often has special offers on its drinks (examples: Mutzig @1 euro and jaegerbombs @ 2.50) while Scott’s features a 2-4-1 cocktail menu between 10 and 11pm, but be sure to get there well in advance of 11pm – there could be queues. Pub’s happy hour is also 10-11pm and bands such as Livewire and Fourplay perform most evenings which get the crowds going and creates a lively atmosphere. Le Poste is opposite Pub and Scotts and is mainly frequented by a posher, more French clientele.
La Taverne (Tav) is a cosy, friendly bar with its free wifi and use of computers, which serves burgers, paninis etc in the bar and has a restaurant downstairs with a reasonable and varied menu. La Taverne has live music and accommodating DJs such as DJ Danz. Drinks are also very reasonable here with 1080s (a Meribel speciality of white wine, lemonade and a choice of fruit flavoured syrup) costing four euros compared to at least six elsewhere.
As it gets later and bars start to shut, the nightclubs come alive. There are two wildly differing nightclubs in Meribel: Dick’s Tea Bar is at the bottom of Meribel, plays mainly DnB and is largely frequented by the English. Dick’s offers free entry before 1am – although before this time it can be very quiet – and 10 euros afterwards. Les Saint Peres, by contrast, is very French and often has DJs such as Kraftikuts playing on a Monday evening.
So remember… once you’ve had your fill of Three Valleys piste-bashing, try to keep a little energy in reserve – you’re going to need it with such a wealth of choice. Meribel, with its varied bars and clubs all going practically non-stop until the small hours means you really can ski all day and party all night. As they say in these parts, tchin-tchin!