Les Menuires – Pretty On the Inside
No matter what your personal thoughts may be on the architecture of the place, Les Menuires is about as good as it gets when it comes to winter sports. Nicknamed ‘The smile of the French Alps‘ for its questionable overall design and layout, this fully purpose-built town has split critics down the middle from the very start and will in all likelihood continue to do so indefinitely.
But let’s be honest, it’s only a select few that head into the French Alps just to look at the resorts – the rest are more bothered with the skiing and boy, does this place deliver!
Skiing in Les Menuires
Just to throw a few facts and figures your way, a trip to this corner of the Alps means being on the doorstep of the Three Valleys Ski area. And if that means nothing to you, try 200 ski lifts taking the punters up to nearly 500 marked runs that add up to a staggering 600 km of pistes. You’ll find yourself within spitting distance of some of the most popular resorts on all of the French Alps like Val Thorens, Meribel and Courchevel which in turn opens the door for as many day trips and excursion as you’d like.
There are plenty of pistes that go over an altitude of 2,500 metres, which in turn means that snow is usually a guarantee for the whole season. And as far as getting back into town goes, the resort itself is up at 1,500 metres so you can ski right back to the doorstep of where you’re staying!
Chances are you’ll be a bit overwhelmed when you get started as from your base in Les Menuires, you’ll find slopes shooting out in every direction all over the place – spoilt for choice doesn’t begin to describe it! You really can’t go wrong and for anyone just getting to grips for the first time, the beginner’s village created by the Ecole de ski Français is simply the best of its kind anywhere.
Après Ski in Les Menuires
There really is no denying that Les Menuires looks a hell of a lot prettier when you’re in the heart of the resort surrounding by festive-looking lights and the smell of hot wine. Further up the mountain, it’s a bit of a grim looking affair that’s never sat well with some purists, but to be honest it’s more about the action than the aesthetics.
In town, the streets are lined with bars, cafes, shops and restaurants which for the most part aren’t nearly as expensive as you might expect. The towering hotel blocks at the heart of the town’s controversy might look a bit dodgy, but score yourself a room in one of the top floors and your reward will be one of the best views the resort has to offer.
The main square is also the perfect place for people-watching and just lazing an evening away with a hot drink…or two.
Getting Into Town
You can take an organised airport transfer service from either Grenoble or Chambery Airport and be in town in less than an hour and a half, so it’s a great choice for quick breaks and weekends away. Just be sure to book ahead and don’t take any chances with timing in peak season – ‘The smile of the French Alps’ gets very, very busy.
Photo sources: fr.wikipedia.org – flickr.com/photos/titounet – flickr.com/photos/laser2k