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A History Of Ski Holidays In Meribel

Aug 20, 2008
Meribel is situated in eastern France, in the Allues region of the Alps close to the Swiss border. The name Meribel is derived from the Roman name Mira Bellum, meaning beautiful view and this opinion was shared by the founder of the resort, the Englishman Peter Lindsay. He stumbled on the land in 1938 as he migrated south from Austria after the annexation by Hitler.

This was technically the first of many ski holidays in Meribel. Previous to this it did not have such a rich history as some other resorts in the region did. Many other resorts had their foundations in the mid to late eighteenth century and had celebrity endorsements from the outset. Ski holidays in Meribel did not truly take off until after the second World War.

Ski holidays in Meribel originally were just located around the one valley village, which was a community of farmers. Many of the inhabitants of the village gladly gave up their land to develop the resort and it began immediately in 1938 with the construction of the first fixed rope sled. This was followed shortly in 1939 by the construction of the first hotel and chalets.

As with many things, the sudden outbreak and severity of the war halted progress of Meribel however it was picked up again in 1945. The authenticity of the village resort was the primary concern and much of the raw materials that were used in the construction were locally harvested, a feature that has remained constant to this day.

In the post war period 1946 to 1954 rapid construction took place. 17 hotels, 40 chalets and 4 lifts were constructed and ski holidays in Meribel started to become increasingly popular. This was put down to the foresight of the planning, the natural beauty of Meribel and the way the resort had maintained the village community feel.

The increasing popularity of ski holidays in Meribel was also put down to the opening of a cable car linking Meribel to Courchevel, called the Burgin Saulire telebenne. This was the neighbouring valley and the community spread even further ten years later with the linking of Meribel to Tougnete, which linked the three valleys together.

Ski holidays in Meribel continued to grow in popularity until 1972 when a satellite resort was opened to cope with the growing demand. This resort named Mottaret was built in a similar style to Meribel however people can ski to and from their front doors. There is a tangible sense of community in the resorts that has been maintained throughout the decades.

During the 1992 Albertville Winter Olympic Games, Meribel hosted 52 of the 122 events. Ski holidays in Meribel improved dramatically due to the massive investment made in facilities such as the hockey stadium, which is now open for general use. There are over 40, 000 beds in the three valley resort and it remains some of the best skiing in the world.
About the Author
Shaun Parker organises ski holidays in Meribel and has years of experience in the tourism industry.
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