Review of Les Menuires

23rd March 2008 by Ian C 

I visited Les Bruyeres, one of the easier on the eye sub-villages of Les Menuires, during the first week of March. Bruyeres is just up the valley towards Val Thorens from Les Menuires, really more of a self contained mini resort. We stayed right on the piste by the Bruyeres gondola with Ski Amis. The location was fantastic with the two stage gondola offering an impressive and fairly quick 1000m vertical to the peak of Mont de la Chambre (one of the best lifts in the three valleys). From here you have direct access to the Bruyeres area, Les Menuires centre, Meribel and Val Thorens. In short Bruyeres offers all of the piste options available from Croisette (central Les Menuires), but with much quicker links in to the others resorts of the 3 valleys area. The only problem with the Bruyeres gondola was regular morning queues, a problem we also encountered at the Mont de la chambre chair lift (the other way to the same peak). This aside our location couldn’t have been better and consequently we could cover huge amounts of terrain every day. We spent lots of time in Menuires itself but we could also cover most of the Meribel and Val Thorens sectors within our week.

Of the slopes we covered some of the best were found in the Meribel valley, especially the area around Tougnette, and also the fantastic and quiet red runs down from Mont de la Chambre to Mont Vallon gondola station. Mont Vallon itself of course offered fantastic snow in an otherwise patchy, freeze thaw week. The slopes of Val Thorens were also impressive; our mixed beginner/ intermediate group loved the easy progression runs served by the Moraine chair. The only problem some found was negotiating the crowded slopes of central Val Thorens to get there! In Les Menuires La Masse was easily accessible from Bruyeres and offered good snow and quiet slopes, but the light got very flat in the afternoon. The afternoon sun side of the valley suffered a bit from lack of snow during our stay and the blue runs down to the villages were really crowded and treacherous at the end of the day. The safer option which some of our group took to was riding the Bruyeres gondola down from the mid station.

My fiancee took snowboard lessons with the ESF in Bruyeres but was rather disappointed with her experience. She found herself in a large, mostly French speaking, group and the group changed instructor twice in the week. On one day in particular she was left behind with several others after stopping for someone who had fallen. Most of the 30 strong group ( and two instructors) had disappeared ahead and nobody came back for them. They simply had to wait and were eventually rescued when another group arrived and incorporated them. This was not the only occasion when people were left behind or lost. We have had much better experiences elsewhere with schools and instructors. Our chalet hosts also said that the school in Croisette is reputedly better.

Food in Bruyeres and on the slopes was good and not bad value for the three valleys, especially at lunch. The mountain restaurants at the Bruyeres mid station on the 4 vents piste offered good value and very efficient self service. In Bruyeres the Potiniere Restaurant was recommended to us but was rather disappointing. The bar and club next door to it in Bruyeres had some really lively ‘Disco’ nights and a pool table for the quieter evenings.
Overall I would say that a holiday in Les Menuires would be fine, offering a wide range of pistes from a good value and convenient base. However by opting for Les Bruyeres you avoid the ugly Croisette centre and gain the excellent 3V links of the Bruyeres gondola. The only time our group visited Croisette was on snow during the day to catch lifts, which I think is probably the best way to keep it.

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