A group of 25 Fund – Bank Ski Club members signed up for the Meribel, France, trip departing January 26 and returning on February 3, 2018.

Meribel is conveniently located in the heart of The Trois Vallees and  considered to be the largest ski area in the world!!! We stayed in The Hotel Tramplen****, a newly renovated, ski-in ski-out hotel, located in the center of the charming village of Meribel. After skiing a group of us went on a culinary/sightseeing trip to Lyon for a couple of days. Thanks to the post-ski journey the Club was able to attract a number of non-skiers to join the trip. The weather cooperated with us as well:  record snowfall allowed us to ski all challenging slopes, but it was also warm and sunny.

Overall summary
The trip was a tremendous success: we were lucky to have four days of sun, two days of powder (really fluffy powder when you dive down the slope effortlessly, not worrying about gravity), six fabulous days of skiing, and warm weather. Once on the slopes we explored all three valleys and then relaxed and had good time on an open terrace of excellent restaurants enjoying a great meal….sun…..and may be a glass of great French wine.
Our Apres-Ski presented unforgettable experiences: in the open-air bars on the top of the mountain, enjoying breathtaking views, watching the sun go down, celebrating the joy of skiing in French Alps…..not to forget!

Lodging
Meribel 2018The hotel accommodations were fabulous: newly renovated, tastefully decorated rooms, large warm out-door swimming pool, in-door and outdoor Jacuzzis, steam baths and saunas, as well as a SPA area allowed us to relax and prepare our muscles for the next day of skiing. 3 course dinners, as well as “all you can possibly imagine” breakfasts were a part of the package. The group chemistry was so good that we just glued together, meeting at the breakfasts, having lunch together on the slopes or in the village, socializing during gourmet dinners and enjoying the fact that we do not need to bundle up to go out for dinner.

The skiing
Meribel 2018Skiing in Meribel was at its best, offering challenging slopes, fantastic quality of snow, nicely groomed pistes,  endless off-pist possibilities, wide open bowls, comfortable skiing for all levels, sunny and warm  weather.  Now we all can endorse the statement that The  Trois Vallees  – Val Thorens, Courchevel & Meribel – is the largest ski area in the world!  Its’s actually not three valleys connected together, but…… four! And the fourth one – Orelle – presented the most challenging skiing.  Couple of the most adventurous skiers from our group even tried to take a zip-line shoot, but the wait was too long. The sun was strong and everyone got a nice suntan. Majority of the group skied 6 days, and we never got bored with the slopes, skiing most of them for the first time. Great advantage – there were no crowds on the lifts as we came one week before the Spring Break in Europe and enjoyed quiet times.
Meribel 2018On the first day of skiing the whole group gathered to take a mountain tour.  Meribel does not offer Free Mountain Tours, like almost all resorts in the US, so we had to hire two guides to show us the mountain.  The guides met with us on the eve of the mountain tour and walked through the details of the next day’s tour. The mountain tour was very useful for the skiers to get the feeling of different areas of this vast skiing area, to get to know each other and to find partners to ski with the next day.

We usually started our days by meeting at the entrance of the hotel at 9:00, taking Gandola all the way to the top, then switching to chair lifts during the day, and did not quit until 4 PM when the lifts were closing.
Endless skiing, endless challenges, endless fun. What more can a skier dream about? Only a nice après-ski and dinner!

Tourist Program in Lyon
Lyon is France’s “second city”, but it leads the way in a number of categories.  One of these categories is being a culinary capital of France. Lyon was Paul Bocuse’s (passed away in January 2018), home town and benefited from his culinary talents the most!. Paul Bocuse  hold a Michelin 3-star rating for more than 50 years and was named the Chef of the century and the Pope of gastronomy.  Lyon has  at least five world famous restaurants established by Paul Bocuse, as well as indoor market and food court named after him.  Some restaurants, such as Les Trois Domes, accept reservations a year ahead and we missed an opportunity to visit them. Due to the short stay we had chance to visit only 2 of them….. but it means we have to come back.

Meribel 2018Sightseeing was also fabulous.  Paris has Notre Dame, but Lyon’s Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourviereis more beautiful! Roman structures are almost as impressive today as they were in the days of the gladiators – especially the remnants of its public baths and the giant amphitheater on Fourviere hill.   The museum of the Roman ruins told the story of life and customs of that period in great details and left an amazing expression!
The Art Gallery pleased us with it’s permanent collection and surprised with a fantastic exhibition on French/Mexican trends in paintings.

The group also explored the city on foot, had lunch at Paul Bocuse Farmers Market and had an uplifting shopping experience in the authentic stores of Lyon.

I think all the participants will agree that the Meribel/Lyon trip was a great trip to go skiing, “fine dining”, sun tanning, sightseeing, exploring history and culture of France, finding breathtaking views, shopping, night life……and many-many more.