Ski instructor in Val Thorens in winter, mountain bike instructor in Courchevel in summer, accomplished freerider: Timothée Théaux knows the Three Valleys like the back of his hand! Appointed ambassador of the largest ski area in France, the man known here as "Timy" shares his advice, his favourites and his good addresses in the Alps with France.fr.
France.fr : Eight resorts are grouped together under the name of Trois Vallées. With 600 km of pistes, it's hard to find your way around! How do you advise choosing your resort?
Timothée Théaux : As they are all easily connected, I think that the sporting criterion should not be the first one: it is better to choose your resort according to the spirit you are looking for, the atmosphere. For example, Les Ménuires is a resort particularly well adapted to families. The most sporty, those who are on the slopes from opening to closing, will choose Val Thorens instead: it is also the resort where people party. You choose Courchevel when you want to ski in a superb place and stay in a posh address. The atmosphere is more oriented towards luxury, gastronomy and spas. Méribel is a very good choice because it is the resort in the heart of the Three Valleys area: from there, it is very easy to go skiing in the whole area.
The advantage of a large area like this is that you can adapt every day to the weather conditions, but also to the mood of the day.
France.fr : In one week in the Three Valleys, can you really enjoy the whole domain?
T.T : With a "blue slope" level, you can ski the whole area and go from one resort to another without any problem. Not in one day of course, it's huge! The very good skiers also have a great time, it is an unlimited playground. The advantage of a large domain like this one is that it can be adapted every day to the weather conditions, but also to the mood of the day: to ski in the forest, head for La Tania, Le Praz in Courchevel, or the bottom of Méribel. Fancy some big, fast runs? Go to the Saulire piste in Courchevel, the Masse in Les Ménuires, or the Mont-Vallon in Méribel-Mottaret. There is something for everyone!
France.fr : What are your favourite slopes in the Three Valleys?
T.T : My favourite is the Petit Dou in Courchevel, next to the slalom stadium. It's steep and hilly, but be careful: it's a technical run reserved for experts! I also really like the Jean Blanc piste in Courchevel, in the forest: it is never regular, it turns, it is varied, with breaks in the slope. It is very pleasant to ski. In Val Thorens, I also like the Boismint slope, a long slope with 800 metres of difference in height. In Les Ménuires, I have a small preference for the Dame Blanche, a pretty black run, well supported and very well exposed, with good snow.
France.fr : A point of view which fills your eyes?
T.T : Without hesitation, the top of the Col chairlift in Val Thorens! You arrive at the edge of the Chavière glacier: from up there, you can feel the power of the glacier, the strength of the high mountain, it's striking. It's immense, beaten by the winds, sometimes plastered with snow: it thrills me every time. Another viewpoint I love is from the top of the Signal chairlift in Courchevel-Moriond. From here, you have a view of the Portetta breach: for us Savoyards, it is an atypical landscape which looks more like the Dolomites, with ochre teeth and breaches. On the right, the view opens on the Avals valley, a large wild valley which is great to discover in ski touring or in freeride. On the left, you can see the Mont Blanc and the Dent du Villard. If I have to impress my friends who are discovering the Trois Vallées area, this is a place where I will take them for a picnic!
France.fr : After a day of skiing, where do you go for a drink and dinner?
T.T : For a drink, I like the Alpen art in Val Thorens, or the Cave des Lys in Courchevel le Praz. Then, we go to La Maison, a restaurant run by friends in Val Thorens, accessible on skis. It's warm and the food is good. At La Tania, I want to go to Farçon, on the snow front: the chef Julien Marchet has a Michelin star. I haven't had the chance to go there yet, but I'm planning to! There is also the Bistrot du Praz, in Courchevel le Praz. Si on veut sortir après, et faire la fête, direction Val Thorens : par exemple au Wild & Savage, ou au Malaysia. Mais je ne fais pas beaucoup la fête !
*Ask beforehand to know the opening conditions of these tables in relation to the health situation.
France.fr : How to limit your ecological impact during a stay in the mountains?
T.T : In my opinion, it starts with transport. If you can avoid driving to the resorts, that's better! You can take the train to Moutiers, then there is a bus to Brides-les-Bains, where you can choose to stay. From there, there are three sections of cable car which go up to Méribel: afterwards, you can go wherever you want in the domain. In the same way on the Maurienne side, in Orelle. Beyond transport, we apply the same gestures in the mountains as elsewhere: favour local producers, be very vigilant in taking your waste with you, don't leave anything lying around in nature. And always take your water bottle! That way, you can enjoy good Savoyard water rather than bottled water.
Learn more :
- Preparing your stay in Savoie
- Discover the Trois Vallées ski area : this area includes the resorts of Courchevel, La Tania, Méribel, Brides-les-Bains, Les Menuires, Saint-Martin-de-Belleville, Val Thorens and Orelle (Maurienne valley). With 600 km of slopes, it is one of the largest ski areas in the world!
Read also: 9 must-see ski runs in the Alps