Les Trois Vallées is huge, the largest ski resort in the world.
600 kilometers of trails (over 370 miles) on 200 interconnected lifts
among 8 ski areas builds a hunger for French cuisine. There are dozens of French
chalets and restaurants in the 3 Valleys, but they are not all created equal.
Some are charming and authentic, others modern and très chic, or bland ski
factory style. Here are our top picks of haute cuisine – top alpine ski
restaurants and on mountain chalets in Courchevel, Méribel, St Martin de
Belleville, and Val Thorens for lunch.
Le Chalets de Pierres is a beautiful mountain lodge in
Courchevel 1850 on the popular Verdons
trail – along the flats, just below the Verdons gondola. The Chalet is easy to
find on the slopes, and the interior offers grand, gorgeous blonde alpine wood
fantastically decorated with ski and mountain artifacts. Pierres’ wait staff is clad
in jaunty French berets. The wine and food menus are extensive. The roasted
chicken is delicious, so is the fondue, and the tartiflette – a Savoyard dish of
potatoes, onions, ham and local cheese baked in a creuset. Pierres’ dessert
buffet is a feast for the eyes …. and the tastes. In fact you might just want
French Champagne and dessert. Downstairs is a Montcler boutique if you need
something furry and fabulous for your afternoon of skiing. The outdoor deck gets
lively on sunny afternoons
Soucoupe in Courchevel is a traditional chalet atop the Loze
poma lift at Courchevel 1850.
The woodwork and décor oozes elegant old world mountain hut. We suggest a
table upstairs by the open fire. The specialties of the house are grilled meats
cooked by the chef on the open fire. Along with your grilled steak, veal, lamb
of chicken comes a side of the local potatoes with cheese. You can also just ski
in for a fireside toddy and snack lounging on the furry couches.
Chez Pépé Nicholas at Val
Thorens is an authentic hillside farmhouse located of the Chasse trail in
Les Menuires – you either ski from Les Menuires, or climb up from the Plan De
L’Eau lift. It’s hard to find, but so worth it. This truly hsitoric and
humble chalet in a scenic valley serves deliciously traditional cuisine,
tartiflette, local meat and cheese boards, fresh salads and meat dishes – all
very filling and delicious. The views from the terrace are extraordinarily, so
is the service. Save room for some dessert, and the house made Génépi – a
digestif alcohol made from native alpine flowers. Salute!
Les Etoiles De Neiges in Saint Martin de Belleville - the lower
ski region of Val Thorens is just off
the ski slopes, making it difficult to discover and therefore special. Ski down
to the base of St Martin’s poma and its 50 meters across the road to Hotel
Edelweiss. Etoiles de
Neiges is worth seeking out - a Michelin gem with delicious cuisine and white
linen service. The salads are plentiful, fresh and delicious, so is the menu
plate du jour. For a sweet ending, ask for the Génépi and riz seul pastries –
the Grand Mere’s specialty.
La Cave Des Creux is on the ski slopes of
Courchevel 1850 near the base of the
Suisse lift off the Altiport trail, a very chic alpine chalet with exceptional
cuisine. Owned by two brothers, the extensive menu has everything from local
specialties to seafood. The fish and chips - with hand cut delicious French
Fries, are a 10! The dessert display is incredible, even if you just watch the
pastry chef and never ingest a single beautiful sweet creation.
Bel Air is a delightful lunch spot at the top of the Ariondaz
lift in Courchevel 1650 with a grand
sunny deck and cozy interior. Beside the outstanding view, and the “beautiful
air”, the food is fantastic, and the service is friendly – try the tartiflette
or the daily plat du jour.
Fahrenheit 7 is very modern, a chic new 4-star hotel at
Val Thorens overlooking the central
slopes at Cascades. “7’s” terrace for lunch or après ski here is huge, perfect
on a sunny afternoon with amazing slope views. The Chef’s menu is eclectic,
including local beef, Asian noodle dishes, and “New York Lobster” as a special
when we visited (from our home in Maine). This is a great spot for an après ski
aperitif as you watch the skiers descend the vast terrain of Val Thorens.
Le Farcon at the La Tania base area is a very fancy Michelin Star
restaurant, accredited since
2006. Its pricey for lunch, but the prix fixe menu is the Chef's inspiration and
your culinary treat - don't be in a rush to get back out on the ski slopes. La Tania is
located on the east side lower base area of Courchevel.
Sunny’s at Les Menuires is casual but cool. Ride the Sunny
chair and ski down to this chalet with a big deck, and great views of the valley
- Val Thorens. The traditional menu is
not fancy - but good food and service, and fun music outside on sunny days –
For Après Ski at 3 Valleys: La Folie Douce, reached by the Saulire gondola in Méribel, is a
must ski to and see at least once in a lifetime. At
2pm am 80's style cabaret kicks off an afternoon party, they say its “soft après ski”
meaning its not too wild. Apparently that translates to - you can bring the kids
but we don't recommend that. La Folie Douce has become a sort of après ski
franchise - you will find the same party format in neighboring Val Thorens and
Another wild après party is at Rond Point in Méribel. The dancing and drinking
the hook at Rond Point starting at 5 just above Méribel village where live bands
play outside on the deck and the crowd goes bananas - including banana costumes
and crowd surfing in ski boots.
Remember, this is the French Savioe region, noted for its farm
cuisine – sample local charcuterie dried meats, and cow cheese in fondue or raclette featuring local Beaufort, Gruyere, and Reblochon, best enjoyed
with the local French wines of Gamay, Pinot Noir and Moneuse grapes.