With a prime location in the centre of the world’s largest ski area, its enviable snow record, with cover guaranteed and a reputation for offering some of the best value in French skiing, there’s plenty for Les Menuires to celebrate.
Les Menuires is one of the highest ski resorts in the Alps, the lowest part of it at 1,800 m. 85% of the terrain lies above 1800m and 52 % of the ski area is covered by snowmaking machines. With the ski slopes situated on two different sides of the mountain, you also have the option to move around through the day to stay in the sunshine!
The resort has a reputation for offering the best value for money in the 3 Vallées, offering a wide range of accommodation and services for all requirements and budgets.
Its success is also down to the fact that it makes your ski holiday easy, with everything 100 % accessible on skis. If you drive here you can park your car in one of the many car parks (free of charge if you park outdoors, paid covered parking also available) you can get most places on foot or skis or use the free shuttle buses.
Les Menuires has its own ski area of 160km (100 miles) of slopes, served by 31 ultra-modern lifts – as big or bigger than most other resorts. there are ski runs for every level from complete beginner to the most expert expert! But it is also, of course, a gateway to the 3 Vallées – the largest ski area in the world connecting 8 resorts with 600 km of piste and offering 50,000 metres of vertical descents, including from iconic summits such as Cime de Caron (at 3,200 m), Saulire (at 2,700m) and Mont du Vallon (at 2,952 m).
Bring perfectly located in the heart of the ski slopes and the comfortable, high-speed lift network of Les 3 Vallées, it’s easy to ski over to the Méribel or Courchevel valleys from Les Menuires, or up to Val Thorens from its slopes. But you may not want to with so much skiing for all abilities on your doorstep in Les Menuires anyway.
It’s not just fabulous for regular downhill skiing or snowboarding either, cross-country skiers and ski tourers are well looked after as Les 3 Vallées has something for every enthusiast.
In addition the ski area boasts an incredible 36 fun areas (theme slopes, snow parks, beginner slopes, etc.) and 10 sledging slopes for children and adults where fun and laughter are guaranteed.
Indeed, families are especially well looked after here. The resort was designed for family convenience from the start with affordable, functional apartment accommodation steps from the ski slopes. There are great kids’ areas, including the largest supervised area for children in France, and childcare is available for little ones from 3 months of age. No surprise then that it has been awarded the French government’s official Famille-Plus accreditation for going that extra mile (or kilometre).
The Original Designers Proved Right in The End
Looking back over the last six decades, it’s fair to say that the early years of Les Menuires were not a complete success. Creating an urban architectural style in the mountains didn’t please everyone, yet in the end, that concept proved very popular, delivering both convenience and high value making ski holidays affordable to all.
While architectural design in the mountains has moved on and the newer developments around Les Menuires are mostly modern takes on the traditional wood-clad ski chalet design. Those original concrete apartment complexes have become protected design classics and rather than remove them, they’re being renovated for the 21st century, a much more eco-friendly way of doing things.
It’s hard to believe that Les Menuires opened in 1964 with just 450 beds, a decade before Les 3 Vallées began. The first part of the resort at La Croisette was created in what was an uninhabited area at the time, although not too far from the village of Saint-Martin-de-Belleville and famed even then for its reliable snow cover at 1800m altitude. From the start, architect Philippe Douillet designed the buildings of Les Menuires to be urban, impressive and practical.
Although most critics were not kind to Les Menuires in the early years, its car-free design and ease of access from accommodation to ski slopes to everything else, at more affordable prices than elsewhere, were a big hit with skiers. By the 1980s the resort was really taking off and had grown more than 20-fold to over 11,000 beds. Entire new neighbourhoods were created, including Les Bruyères and Les Fontanettes. In 1992 there was finally official recognition with Les Menuires chosen to host the men’s slalom events at the Albertville Olympic Games.
Les Menuires continues to evolve and continues to challenge preconceptions. An elegant bell tower completed for the new millennium but built so high it could be seen from all over the resort drew fresh criticism before being awarded first prize in a design competition for steel architecture.
As it approached its 50th anniversary in the early 2010s views of Les Menuires’ original design began to change and in 2012 one original building was even awarded the ‘Heritage of the 20th Century’ label.
This new reputation has even been immortalised by artists from Nantes, Docteur Paper, whose exclusive artwork will be exhibited around the resort this winter.
Besides having great nursery slopes, terrain parks and skiing for all abilities right by the resort, Les Menuires also has its own ‘secret’ corner of Les 3 Vallées thanks to a new, cutting-edge lift, recently added, which provides access to the peak of La Masse. One of the fastest lifts in France with a speed of 25 km/hour, you can make the ascent in less than 8 minutes.
Intended to be a natural, wild and unique part of the ski offering here with three ski lifts supported by just 30 pylons to provide modern uplift that’s yet minimalistic in terms of appearance and sound. The area has long been famed for its particularly good snow record making for great freeriding opportunities besides the groomed runs, and there’s now the backup of an extensive snowmaking arsenal to guarantee snow cover.
60 years on Les Menuires today welcomes skiers from more than 62 nations each winter, keen to visit what’s become known as a cutting-edge, environmentally friendly resort – as well as just a great place to go skiing!