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Méribel > History
Meribel today is 5 village resorts located in the heart of the 3 Valleys ski area, the largest connected ski area in Europe. Meribel offers a wide range of accommodation possibilities, this guide will help you better choose your holiday resort.
Meribel was born among the jewels of Savoyard resorts with its cousins of the 3 Valleys, thanks to the will of a Scot! For it was indeed Major Peter Lindsay who initiated the creation of a ski resort in the village of Les Allues in 1936. The skipper was a skiing enthusiast. He then crisscrossed the French Alps in search of the ideal site, repealed by the rise of Nazism in the Austrian Alps annexed by Hitler.
Guided by then world champion Alphonse Allais, Peter Lindsay ended up stopping on the valley of the Allueswhere he found all the qualities for his future resort. A real estate company was created, a hotel, Le Doron and a ski-lift came out of the ground in 1938. Peter Lindsay immediately set the bar high by entrusting the hotel's interior decoration to a student of Le Corbusier, Charlotte Perriand. The second world war slowed the development of the station to a dormant state.
In 1945 it was no longer the Major but Colonel Peter Lindsay that returns to the site to continue to develop his dream of a ski resort purely "British" in the heart of the French Alps. But it was French people he chose to design the future Meribel: Christian Durupt, Paul Grillo and André Dutour, Parisian architects, will advocate, in a visionary way, a non-invasive architecture inspired by the traditional Savoyard habitat.
Thus, chalets of limited height, built with wood, the country stone and the lauze roofs, emerge from the ground. Meribel will be a postcard village resort, in this post-war period the three French architects have already laid the foundations for sustainable development and integrated architecture in their own way. A founder's choice for Meribel, which will be a ski chalet resort, in contrast to certain major Savoyard resorts that bet on large ensembles.
The beginnings of the resort are those of the English bourgeoisie. In the 1950s, about forty chalets and twenty hotels were occupied by English elites but also French, in a quiet and discreet atmosphere.
But as early as the 1960s things accelerate throughout the Savoy region: development of road and hotel infrastructures, extension of the ski area, expansion of the clientele. Nevertheless the development of Meribel is not frenetic: it is done gradually and always on the model of chalets of modest size.
The only concession to the dominant model is with Meribel-Mottaret, the highest of the 5 resorts at 1 750 meters above sea level, which adopts the principle of the snow front and access to ski-in / ski-out accommodation. Created in 1972, Meribel-Mottaret also names Meribel as the "heart of 3 Valleys", allowing quick access to the resorts of Courchevel and Les Menuires. The 3 Valleys ski area has also earned itself a reputation for excellence.
The resort's clientele has grown considerably but it remains high-end: they come to look for the authenticity of the chalets and the tranquility of the village resorts. The founding architectural project was always respected and has paid off. The omnipresence of the English is still in order, even if Meribel welcomes a French and international clientele.
The Olympic Games of Albertville organized in 1992 bring a new breath to Meribel and its neighbours of the 3 Valleys. A cable car, the Olympe gondola, is built to link Brides-les-Bains, Les Allues, Le Raffort and Meribel. The Olympic Games in Albertville represent a total of 12 billion of investment which will significantly accelerate the development of Savoyard valleys. Roads and highways, TGV high-speed train), accommodation and tourist infrastructures are coming out of the ground. Brides-les-Bains welcomes the Olympic Village and invests 200 million in the construction of a new town hall, the renovation of the Grand Hotel des Thermes, the casino, the city centre, the construction of a school and an animation centre.
For its part, Meribel hosts the ladies alpine skiing event and builds for the occasion the ski slope of the Roc de Fer. The resort also hosts the ice hockey event and builds an impressive ice rink, a complex of 24 000 sq.m. for a capacity of 2 500 seats. With Les Menuires obtaining the men's slalom, the 3 Valleys do not have a media exposure comparable to that of Val d'Isere who obtains 4 alpine skiing events on its mythical Bellevarde face, but still enjoy a spotlight and of course the infrastructures brought by the games.
The Olympic Games were also an opportunity to upgrade abandoned dwellings on the territory of Meribel. This reconstruction makes it possible to complete the aspect of the village resorts and finishes giving the face of the resort as it is known today.
From 1945 to the present day, the history of Meribel was marked by the vision of its creator Peter Lindsay and the trio of architects Durupt - Grillo - Dutour: a progressive, linear, integrated development concerned with the Savoyard identity.
A visionary project and a winning bet, since today it is the vision that imposes itself in terms of architectural development, to the detriment of the large concreted ensembles that flourished in many resorts in the 50's, 60's and 70's.
This winning bet makes today Meribel a popular resort: beyond its high-quality ski area, its privileged location in the heart of the 3 Valleys, the resort is highly sought after for its village atmosphere, its unspoiled landscapes. The clientele is international and relatively upmarket, the resort of Meribel differs from the noisy Courchevel by its discreet charm. In short, Meribel knew how to build an identity of its own and counts many loyal holidaymakers among its clientele, conquered by its authenticity and its tranquility, which does not prevent the 5 resorts of Meribel to be located in the heart of one the most beautiful ski areas in the world.