SkiBike Tour 2013-14 - Le Praz

Posted: Sunday, 16 March 2014 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , , ,

Today John Andree re-joined myself and Thierry to have a final skibike session, I think we have a new skibike addict and I am his "pusherman". As we roamed around the three valleys, riding in the bright sun I had plenty of time to gather my thoughts on this area.

We have a new skibike addict and I am his "pusherman"

Almost two decades ago I turned my back on the Three Valleys and never expected to return; but return I did. So what conclusions would I draw from the experience?
At the moment there is still a bewildering lack of agreement between the many lift companies. As far as I am aware, this means that skibikes with a seat cannot be used on the chairlifts in; Meribel, Mottaret, Les Menuires, St. Martin de Belleville and Val Thorens. This isn't such a big issue, as there are so many gondolas to choose from. However, it does remove some key interlinks between the sectors and therefore removes the three valley's key selling point, its vast range of mountain to mountain cruising runs.

Meribel, was a big disappointment; much like its slopes, the town has a thoroughly skied out feeling to it and with everything permanently ramped up to 150%, all ambience has been stripped away too. This isn't "Supermarket Skibiking", it's a whole level higher, let's call it "Out Of Town Hypermarket Skibiking". Furthermore, I don't think the high prices justify the product on offer. For one week in Meribel, you could have two in Austria or three in Bulgaria. Yes, it's part of a huge domain, but if that means virtually unridable snow, when the neighbouring resorts have it aplenty, the only conclusion is to avoid it at all costs.

The big surprise was to find Courchevel so skibike friendly, this is something I would never have expected. It has always been a playground for Millionaires, these days they are as likely to speak Russian as English or French. So it is not the sort of place where you would expect us dirty skibikers to be welcomed and allowed to use the lift infrastructure without hassle.
Providing you are able to afford the lift ticket you can access all of this playboy's garden and potentially rub shoulders with the stars. Although pricey, it is not bad value when you consider the varied selection of runs both on and off-piste, all in great condition with plentiful snow and little or no crowding for chairlifts or gondolas.

My recommendation would be to stay in the delightfully unpretentious town of Brides les Bains and use its gondola, or drive up to La Praz or La Tania and stick to that side of the domain.
You can save some money by buying a ticket for just the Courchevel area alone and enjoy riding away from the crowds, on slopes that won't be better suited to ice skates. Who knows you might even spot George Clooney or Scarlet Johansen whilst you're there.

Courchevel - a playground for Millionaires

On a final note, if there are any Millionaires reading this who need a personal skibike coach, driver and drinking buddy (with PowerPoint experience), please use the contact form, my rates will be very reasonable and modest four star accommodation will be perfectly adequate.


  1. R Platt says:

    Skibike Ltd started opening up Courchevel in 1999 with our first visit and now by careful and patient diplomacy and persuasion have opened the whole of the Three Valleys to skibiking with Brenter Snowbikes with footskis (STRMTG AVEL 771). This has taken considerable effort and now we just have 2 chairlifts left in Meribel Alpina that are not skibike friendly yet. The secret is to have footskis so that you can be effectively classed as a skier.
    Contact me if you want more details on what the French claim is the largest ski area in the World.
    Regards, Richard Platt

  1. Richard, you are a living legend for your tireless dedication to the skibike sport. But I think that the reason for "skier only" lifts has gone, now that most are slow loading detachable types. I also see a trend for the mountain to become a more inclusive place, where pedestrians on snow shoes will be a common sight. Therefore the use of the lift systems must change, freestyle skibikers can get on and off the lifts perfectly well without resorting to foot-skis, if only the operators would let us.

  1. Unknown says:

    je suis surpris par la réponse de Richard PLatt,dans le mail que j'avais reçu il n'était pas question d'utiliser les télésièges de Méribel et quelque soit le skibike utilisé,seul les cabines l'étaient.