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Mottaret - a ski resort in the Three Valleys

Mottaret is a ski resort that is found in the Three Valleys ski area of the French Alps. The Three Valleys ski area is known as one of the best in the Alps and is certainly famed as the biggest linked ski domain in the world. Mottaret is officially called Meribel Mottaret (not to be confused with Meribel), but for the purposes of this guide the resort will be referred to as just Mottaret.

Facilities can easily be shared

While there are some distinctions to be made between Meribel and Mottaret, and Mottaret is considered by some to be a ski resort independent from Meribel, if you are thinking of enjoying a skiing holiday or considering a property purchase in the area, they are perhaps best taken together, as all facilities can easily be shared to make the most of both worlds. Indeed, Mottaret and Meribel are so close together that most holidaymakers happily hop between the two. (The permanent population given includes that of Meribel.)

Mottaret (Meribel Mottaret) - made up of three parts

Mottaret, at 1700m, can seem confusing at first glance, as it is made up of three villages rather than the expected one. The villages, or areas of Mottaret as it may be easier to see them, include Le Laitelet, on the east facing side of the main piste area, and Le Chatelet, on the west facing side, at the entrance to the Parc de la Vanoise nature reserve. Le Hammeau sits above the two.

An attractive and authentic design

Developed in 1972, the designers of Mottaret adhered to strict style rules, refusing to throw up high rise concrete blocks and building the villages from traditional materials thus creating an attractive, authentic look. They also made almost all the properties ski-in/ski-out, or at least situated them within a couple of minutes of the lifts, which is a big bonus to the keen skier.

Meribel - one of the largest villages in the area

Meribel (Meribel les Allues Property Guide) meanwhile, lying a few kilometres lower on the mountain than Mottaret at 1400m, is also a purpose built resort, being the brainchild of Colonel Peter Lindsay, who initiated its development in 1938. And like Mottaret, it is a resort which has been traditionally styled and sympathetically designed to sit in harmony with the authentic villages and hamlets of the valley. It is the largest of the "villages" in the area, and the most lively in terms of après ski. Meribel les Allues and Meribel Village make up the resort of Meribel.

Fast access to the ski slopes

With fast access to the entire and massive Three Valleys ski domain, the skiing on offer in Mottaret is as good as it gets. The resort links, in terms of skiing, to the facilities of Courchevel (Courchevel Property Guide) and Val Thorens (Val Thorens Property Guide), and its location, central to the ski domain, is perfect for making the most of this access.

Ski pistes and ski lifts in Mottaret

In Mottaret there are three green runs, suitable for the less experienced or nervous skiers, nine blue and twelve red runs for intermediates, and two black runs for the experts. Mottaret has twenty-one lifts, which include button lifts and chair lifts. The pisted area attributed to Mottaret is eighty kilometres. A pedestrian gondola links to Meribel, with local free buses running regularly between Mottaret and Meribel too.

Ski pistes in Meribel

Meribel, meanwhile, has similar facilities with four green runs, fourteen blue, seven red and three black. Meribel has also the advantage of extensive nursery slopes, perfect for taking those first terrifying glides and perfecting the all important snow plough before going on to the more challenging runs. Regarding ski lifts, Meribel has fifteen high capacity gondola lifts, nineteen chair-lifts, fourteen drag-lifts, eight telebabies and one moving walkway. And like Mottaret, Meribel has eighty kilometres of pistes, though both connect to the Three Valleys ski area offering six hundred kilometres of pistes.

Ski schools cater for all

Both centres are served by the same three ski schools, two of which can conduct lessons in English. There are specialist lessons available for children too. As the two are inextricably linked, with buses, lifts and pistes connecting them, it is unimportant in skiing terms which you should choose as a base. However, Mottaret may be seen as the better centre for experienced and expert skiers or for families looking for a quieter base, while Meribel has more appeal for beginners or for the young and trendy who place as much emphasis on après ski nightlife as on the skiing itself.

Enjoy snowboarding at Mottaret's snowpark

The resort is popular with boarders as well as with skiers, but this isn't the only alternative to downhill skiing that is on offer. However, snowboarders certainly will find themselves in heaven in the state of the art snowpark on Mottaret's higher slopes, where they can practice half pipes, jumps and "360s" to their hearts' content.

Activities on offer other than skiing

Other sports include the possibility of sky diving (for the brave of heart only!), ice karting, snowshoeing, husky sledding and more. In fact, think of a snow sport and it is almost certainly available in or near the resort! Off the snow altogether there is still plenty to do. In Meribel a superb leisure centre offers a swimming pool, a bowling alley and a cinema. Then there are spa treatments to be enjoyed, perfect for easing the aches and pains of a hard day on the piste.

Visit in summer and try canyoning

In summer, the resort is still functional, with gondola lifts taking you to the higher areas, perfect for walking. Various summer activities can be found around Mottaret, including paragliding, canyoning, mountain-biking, horse-riding, golf, tennis and swimming. The scenery is some of the most stunning in Europe, with the Tueda Nature Reserve on your doorstep.

Explore the Vanoise National Park

The nearby Vanoise National Park also deserves your attention. Wildlife you may come across in the highly protected inner zone of the park includes ibex, chamois, marmots and golden eagles. The flora is also often deeply unusual and very beautiful. Well appointed visitor centres will advise you of the best way to enjoy the park, with maps of walking and nature trails, and basic rules for your own, the animals' and the environment's protection.

Après ski is alive and well

Après ski means different things to different people, but whatever your idea of a perfect evening out may be, the resorts of Meribel and Mottaret can supply it. Down in Meribel, the nightlife is as fast and furious as you want, with plenty of clubs and discos where the young (or young at heart) can dance the night away, if they still have the energy after all the skiing and boarding! Mottaret is traditionally calmer, with more of an emphasis on socialising in cosy bars and restaurants.

Wining, dining and shopping

Speaking of restaurants, within these two villages there are plenty of choices to be had, with everything from fast food to gourmet fare available. In addition, there are even bars and restaurants situated on some of the slopes, accessible only by ski or snowboard! Shoppers too will have a whale of a time. Both Meribel and Mottaret have a full complement of shops of every type, with a range of supermarkets providing the everyday needs, specialist shops for trying local goodies like Savoyard cheeses and purchasing crafts, and an endless supply of ski and sportswear hire and sales outlets.

Out and about

If you decide to have a day or two off the slopes and want to get in a little sight seeing, there are a number of options within easy reach of Mottaret. Nearby Moûtiers (Moûtiers Property Guide) is an obvious destination, with a mediaeval centre and many excellent museums to help recapture the rich history of this lovely town.

How to get there

The airports of Chambéry (Chambéry Property Guide), Grenoble (Grenoble Property Guide), Geneva and Lyon (Lyon Property Guide) are all convenient for accessing Mottaret, with Chambéry the closest at just a one-hour and twenty-minute drive away. Fans of train travel can go direct from London to Moûtiers on the ski special or via Paris, continuing on by road transfer, while drivers can find the resort after leaving the auto route system from Calais (Calais Property Guide) to Albertville (Albertville Property Guide), then following the N90 to Moûtiers and finally the D90 for Meribel and Mottaret. A further option is to take a coach from London to Meribel, but it is a long journey and you may arrive exhausted! The financial savings can be significant though, and the travelling is hassle free as you don't have to watch out for road signs. (Travel France.)

Property prices and availability in Mottaret

If you want to buy a property in the resort, be prepared to dig fairly deep into your pocket, as property in popular and respected ski resorts such as Mottaret are rarely cheap (Alps property). The lack of high rise blocks means that premium prices apply, but the advantages are that you have a far more attractive environment. In terms of price, there isn't much to choose between any of the villages of the resort, however, property around Mottaret and the hamlets may be slightly cheaper than that in central Meribel. Rental values for the chalets and apartments are good in the resort, and the fact that there is a summer season as well as a winter one means that summer rentals are another way to offset costs.

Additional articles which may be of interest:

Ski Chalets for Sale in France
Ski property
Leaseback Property in France
French leaseback property - Top 10
Brits in France
Driving in France
Holidays in France

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Meribel Mottaret AT A GLANCE

WHERE IS Meribel Mottaret?

Mottaret is found in the north of the Savoie department.

Meribel Mottaret Property Map


Rhône-Alpes Guide

Rhône-Alpes Property Map


Savoie Guide

  Savoie Map

Population: 2,000

Access: By air: Fly to Chambéry, Grenoble, Geneva or Lyon. By train: Take the ski special to Moûtiers. By road: Follow the N90 to Moûtiers and then the D90, or take a coach to Meribel.

Economy: Ski tourism is the mainstay of the economy.

Interesting fact: The Le Chatelet area of Mottaret was developed for the 1992 Olympics.

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