by: Patrick Thorne - 22nd January 2007

  • 4
  • Beginner
  • Intermediate
  • Advanced/Expert
  • 5All-Mtn. Terrain
  • 3Family Friendly
  • 2Aprés Ski
  • 5Terrain Park
  • Overall Value

Full review

Definitely lacking in the fur-coated snobs who frequent some of the other resorts nearby, Les Menuires is usually the cheapest place to stay on the giant 3 Valleys circuit, attracting the younger, less pretentious crowd, and families. The resort offers everything from excellent facilities for first timers (skiers and boarders), to access to some of the toughest mountain terrain you’ll find anywhere. Les Menuires is divided in to 'quarters' - although there are eight of them. The main facilities are in La Croisette, the original centre, and les Bruyeres. Some of the older and uglier parts of the resort began to be demolished in 2006/7. Les Menuires is an integral part of the Trois Vallees, the world’s largest ski area, with more than 600km (375 miles) of linked trails served by 200 lifts, all on one ticket. Must do trails include Covili, formerly known as Longet, but renamed in 2002 in honour of Frédéric Covili from the resort, who was World Cup giant slalom winner that year. It’s an exciting red, you take the La Masse 1 lift to reach it. The David Douillet run, also a red, starts in the Mont de la Chambre sector and is well worth the effort. To get there, take the Les Menuires chair, then the Mont de la Chambre lift or alternatively go via the Bruyeres cable car. Another great red, also in the Mont de la Chambre sector, is the Lac des Combes run. It’s now easier to reach, as three drag lifts have been replaced by the new six-seater detachable Becca chair: reach it via the Combes chair. The ski slopes run from East to West so you can follow the sun through the day. Check out the runs of La Masse for some of the toughest trails, often with bumps and the deepest powder. From the top of the Masse, you can join several legendary off piste itineraries in the direction of the Lac du Lou, the Teurre, the Col de la Fenêtre or the Vallée des Encombres. Summits with breathtaking panoramas over La Vanoise, les Ecrins and even le Mont Blanc, these all offer unforgettable descents in infinite open space. For experts, one day and half day off-piste tours of the Three Vallées are available and the Company of Guides, which is attached to the ski school, in the winter offers additional off piste courses and tuition, ski tours and glacier treks. The ESF has an international section especially set up to deal with foreign guests.
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