Loveskiing’s Les Menuires Review
As part of the 3 valleys, Les Menuires doesn’t need any introduction. Often referred to as the ‘cheapest’ resort in the 3 valleys – Les Menuires offers an affordable alternative. However, this does not detract from its skiing with Les Menuires ski area boasting 77 pistes and 33 ski lifts. As part of the 3 valleys Les Menuires is part of the largest ski area in the world, with 600km+ of freshly tracked pistes. Although Les Menuires’ architecture has been criticised in the past, efforts have been made in recent years to transform it into a more traditional style resort. Another great aspect is the ability to ski straight through the village, with the village’s bowl offering a great meeting point with a cluster of superb restaurants and bars.
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- Great links into neighbouring valleys
- Superb pistes both sides of the resort.
- Cheaper alternative to those who want to ski in the 3 valleys but can’t afford the high prices of say Courchevel.
- Great run into and through the village.
- Great mini-toboggan run for the little ones.
- Purpose built resort, with its architecture not as picturesque as other resorts in the 3 valleys.
- Although the run into the main bowl is lovely, it can become very crowded at times.
- Not as good for experts compared to other areas in the 3 valleys.
- Those on a budget
- Those wanting to ski in the 3 valleys, but can’t quite hack Val Thoren’s altitude.
- Those who prefer a luxury, picturesque resort
- Those who are after a traditional, alpine experience
24 Hours in Les Menuires – From breakfast buffet through to last orders, here’s how to make the most of this underrated and great value corner of the Trois Vallées.
Written by Daniel Elkan (taken from www.metro.co.uk)
07:00 – Rise and slide
Wake up after a good night’s sleep at Chalet Hotel Kaya (0033 479 414200; www.hotel-kaya.com), located at 2000m in the Reberty area of Les Menuires. While La Croisette, the main part of the resort, is home to brash Sixties architecture, the wood-clad developments of Reberty 2000, three minutes up the road by regular free shuttle bus, are attractive. The four-star Kaya, with its mix of contemporary design and traditional materials, attracts a sophisticated French crowd and a growing number of discerning Brits. Prices start from €1272 per person for seven nights’ b&b, based on two sharing.
07:20 – Fuel up
Tuck into the hotel’s formidable buffet breakfast while admiring the view of the slopes from the restruant terrace. Les Menuires’ ski area is home to 160km mostly red and blue pistes, almost exclusively above the treeline. It forms the central part of the vast 600km Trois Vallées ski domain, linking into neighbouring Courchevel, Méribel, Val Thorens and La Tania. A six-day Les Menuires lift pass costs €179. Get out your piste map and plan your attack on the local slopes.
08:30 – Catch a ride
Take a few steps out of the Kaya’s locker room, snap into your bindings and it’s a handy 100m slide down to the six-seater Sunny Express chairlift. A 2.2km, 700 vertical metre jaunt later and you’re poised for some sweeping blue warm-up runs. Take either the Paturages piste to your right or Combes to your left. The latter passes through the terrain park and is a great vantage point for watching riders pulling tricks. Carve on down via the Petits Creux and Boyes blue runs, swerving past the ski schools, and you’ll reach Les Bruyères, a hamlet up the valley from Reberty, raring for more.
09:50 – Try some rouge
Ready for some reds now? From Les Bruyères, hop on the eponymous gondola, which spits you out at 2850m, the top of Mont de la Chambre. As this is the highest point in the Les Menuires area , take in the view before heading on to the 4 vents – a rolling run perfect for cranking up the speed and carving flowing turns. Come back up on the Mont de la Chambre six-seater chair and try the David Douillet Haut, a red piste with some steep sections that are more like a black run. Have another blast down 4 Vents, but don’t forget to pull up for a brew before you hit Reberty.
10:45 – Stop for a tart
There’s no better place to stop for coffee (€2) than the rustic cabin Chez Alfred, just off 4 Vents on the right, where it dips under the Bruyères gondola. There’s a log fire inside, a sun terrace outside and, most importantly, Madame Alfred’s delicious home-made apple tart (€4.50 per generous slice).
11.15 – Explore St Martin de Belleville
Step out of Alfred’s, go back to the Sunny Express and then the Roc des 3 Marches 2 chair so you can explore the slopes of St Martin de Belleville down the valley from Les Menuires. From the top of the chair, you’ve got a 1.3km thigh-burning vertical descent down three consecutive scenic blues – Grand Lac, Pelozet and the tree-lined Biolley, which ends in St Martin. From the village you take a gondola then a chair to reach the undulating Jerusalem run. Many miss this piste, which means you shouldn’t, as it’s often so quiet you can have it to yourself.
13:15 – Eat a bargain meal
Head back to Reberty by catching the St Martin 2 chair and taking the Gros Tougne piste to Granges chairlift. Jump on race to the bottom of the fast, Allamand red before rocking up at Chalet des Neiges above La Croisette. As in much of Les Menuires, restaurant prices here compare favourably with the eateries in the Trois Vallée’s more high-profile resorts. Indeed, a plat du jour, such as steak and vegetables costs a reasonable €12.
14:30 – Keep Exploring
Suitably recharged, it’s time to check out the slopes on Pointe de la Masse on the opposite side of the valley, away from Les Menuires’ main pistes. Drop down on Petits Creux and Boyes to reach the bottom of the Masse 1 gondola, switching to Masse 2 to reach the 2804m summit. From the panoramic top, the best runs are Cretes and Longet – wide steep reds with great views – while the black Dame Blanches is an often empty backroad slope, off the Masse button lift. This area’s runs are often gloriously uncrowded because, with all that the Trois Vallées has to offer, they tend to be overlooked. La Masse also has some great accessible off-piste opportunities. After a fresh dump there’s a bowl off the back that traps powder, from which you can exit on to a blue run back to the bottom of the Doron lift. If you want to venture further off piste, Les Menuires Ski School (0033 479 006143; www.esf-lesmenuires.com) offers half a day’s guiding from €162 for a group of up to six.
16:30 – Raise a glass
Take the Doron lift to return to Reberty, and pop into the Ferme de Reberty, an atmospheric bar-restaurant on the way under the top of the lift. The local aperitif is Kir Savoyard (€4) made with blueberry liqueur and white wine from the region.
18:15 – Take the plunge
After a quick change back at the hotel, loosen up your limbs in the Romanesque swimming pool of the Aquaclub at La Croisette (€13). Men have to wear speedos, but it’s worth it to enjoy the waterfall as well as three saunas, a hammam and two hot tubs (0033 479 010883; www.sogevab.com).
20:00 – Dine in style
Treat yourself to some fine dining at La Bouitte (0033 479 089677; www.la-bouitte.com) in the hamlet of Saint Marcel, near Saint Martin de Belleville, a 10-minute taxi ride away. This cosy two-star Michelin restaurant is run by father-and-son team René and Maxime Meilleur, who cook up wildly experimental fare. Dishes might include free range eggs with mountain ham and truffles, perch in almond vinaigrette and lemon bergamot and veal sweetbread with desserts such as caramel pudding with coulis and mousse. A four-course set meal costs €99.
23:00 – Have a chaser or two
At Le Challenge, a pub in La Croisette where you can rest your beers on upturned barrels, enjoy the atmosphere and hear local French groups cover bands such as Kings of Leon and Stereophonics to keep the mixed crowd of British, Dutch and French bopping.
01:00 – Dance on
Les Menuires is quieter than party-hard neighbours Méribel and Courchevel, but it still has its fair share of clubbing. New Pop in La Croisette (free entry) is your classic ski resort nightclub, with all the cheesy tunes and strobe lighting you could wish for while sipping a glass of Long Island Iced Tea.
02:45 – Have a nightcap
It’s a 10 to 15 minute walk from La Croisette along a floodlit footpath to reach the Leeberty nightclub in Les Bruyères. This free-entry club has dress-up theme nights and stays open till 5am. There are big chairlift seats, a vast circular bar and DJs playing disco hits. What more could you ask for?
04:30 – Time for bed
A three-minute cab ride and you’re back to Hotel Kaya and its welcoming duvet beds. After a quick kip you can start again.