Zen Altitude: Recharging in Méribel without Hitting the Slopes

In the heart of the world’s largest ski area, Les 3 Vallées, with its 600 kilometers of connected slopes, winter offers much more than skiing or wellness. In recent years, an increasing number of people are booking a Zen Altitude holiday, where they enjoy the mountains without even hitting the ski slopes.

Text by Anja Van Der Borght – Pictures Sylvain Aymoz and Y.Hann.

Hotel Le Coucou at Méribel.
© Sylvain Aymoz
© Sylvain Aymoz

Zen Altitude – as the name suggests – focuses on activities that induce a sense of Zen at (great) heights, and there are plenty in Les 3 Vallées, particularly in Méribel. Snowshoeing for a contemplative experience or a peaceful horseback ride; these are unique ways to discover and appreciate the mountains differently. We tried several activities and began our multi-day trip with a yoga walk in nature, with views of the mountain peaks. The activity, named ‘Listening to the Silence,’ lives up to its name, as all we heard was the crunching of snow under our feet and a distant bird’s cry, occasionally interrupted by the sweet voice of yoga instructor Marcela. Even the simplest yoga poses in a ski suit are not practical, and the Zen atmosphere turns to adrenaline when we notice a deer buck watching us from the trees. Yet, we never expected that yoga in the midst of nature at sub-zero temperatures would bring such a profound sense of Zen and well-being. Truly unique!

© Sylvain Aymoz

We never expected that yoga in the midst of nature at sub-zero temperatures would bring such a profound sense of Zen and well-being. Truly unique!

Connecting with Your Deepest Self The next day, a shuttle drops us off at the Plan de Tuéda nature reserve. After a half-hour walk through the snow past a frozen lake and a babbling river, we arrive at a chalet. Surrounded by snow-capped Alpine peaks, we participate in a meditation journey led by Rachel and her leather shaman drum. Sage and other scents, burning candles, and the rhythm of the drum help our thoughts drift and seek out the most intense dreams or experiences we’ve ever had with a specific animal, meeting the creatures that, according to the belief of native peoples, guide us in our lives. It’s fascinating to learn about this belief, but it’s the moment of peace and connection with our deepest selves that we enjoy the most. Other activities include the ‘Circle of Conscious Breathing,’ Hug Therapy with horses aimed at being in contact with the animals and sharing a loving moment in their company, Brazilian dance, and more. Each activity emphasizes nature, meditation, or peaceful exploration.

Delicious food @Le Coucou Méribel.

Raw Food in Winter Day three features a CRUsine workshop led by Marie Strickleton of Ginger Moon Rawfood. Initially unsure what to expect, we quickly discover it’s a raw food workshop where everything we prepare, from drinks to dishes, is made from raw greens and fruits. The workshop’s goal is to learn to cook with raw food and see food in a new and original way. Marie teaches us to make vegetable spreads and how to preserve fruits and vegetables easily, ensuring a savory and healthy snack is always on hand. Her new cooking method has greatly changed her energy levels and life, she shares. It makes us think while chopping and preparing the simple lunch. For gourmets, Méribel is the right place. The French ski resort is known for gastronomy and refinement.

Here are some top addresses we tested:

Fifi, the best restaurant we enjoyed in Méribel. Italian with a modern twist.

Le Coucou, a beautiful and atmospheric five-star boutique hotel with rooms overlooking the ski slope, immediate access to the slope, and delicious restaurants. Try the 45 Days Dry-Aged Beef Black Pearl, Baltic sea at the Beef Bar (the first beef bar on the ski slopes of Méribel) and order freshly made ice cream in a pot to share for dessert. No wonder this hotel is so popular with epicureans and celebrities.

Swimming pool @ Le Coucou Hotel Méribel.
Outside wimming pool @ Le Coucou Hotel Méribel. © Y.Hann

Le Refuge de la Traye, since its renovation in 2019, can be considered the first luxury refuge in the French Alps. Nestled in the heart of a protected massif, you are immersed in luxury and authentic charm far from the inhabited world. We particularly admire the straw walls dotted with hundreds of daisies, each hand-inserted. We also enjoy the wellness here, with hay wellness and high-tech medispa treatments like Mostleds, Iyashi dome, and Wellsystem.

Hay wellness treatment at Le Refuge de la Traye, Les Allues.

Antarès Méribel, 63 exceptional apartments ranging from three to eight rooms spread over seven chalets with five-star service for a tailored stay. The apartments combine modernity with authentic charm, and during your stay, you can use the ski room, lounge bar, Biologique Recherche wellness center with pool. The view from the 25-meter-long pool of passing ski lifts instantly induces Zen.

Swimming pool with a view at Antares Meribel. © Y.Hann
Wellness with singing bowls at Antares Meribel. © Y.Hann

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