For a gentle first day or as a transition from nursery slopes to the main slopes, head for the easy runs around La Tania or St Martin de Belleville, on either side of Méribel's valley. These smaller satellite resorts are straightforward to reach but will give you a sense of a journey. For the best selection of lunch spots go to St Martin taking the four-person Roc de Fer chairlift from Méribel, which connects to the Olympic lift to reach the peak at 2,290m. From here, Verdet, a gorgeous blue run, merges with two others, Biolley and Loy, to wind all the way down to St Martin. There are few better places to spend a blissful morning practising turns and gaining confidence than on these generously wide, treeless, and usually relatively quiet, slopes.
For more of a challenge take the St Martin 2 chairlift (accessed via the St Martin 1 bubble) and from the blue Cretes turn left on to Jerusalem, a long red run. Alternatively, take Pramint from the top of the chair instead, which merges into Pelozet lower down. There are plenty of good value lunch places in St Martin, or splash out at La Bouitte (la-bouitte.com), a Michelin-starred restaurant overseen by chefs René and Maxime Meilleur in Hameau de St Marcel.
For a satisfying afternoon return, take the blue Gros Tougne from Tougnete, reached from St Martin by the chair of the same name, to get up to the peak of 3 Marches by the Roc des 3 Marches chair for blues to Mottaret and finally the long, green Truite, a fantastic run which comes all the way down to Chaudanne.
Alternatively, if you fancy tree-lined, sheltered runs, take the Rhodos gondola up from Chaudanne (stay on until the top) and head down Blanchot, a lovely green to Altiport. From here you can try the blue Lapin to Méribel Village for the high-speed Golf chair to return to Altiport. Once you’ve tried a few blues in this area, take the Loze chair to Col de la Loze at 2,305m and head down the blue Arolles for a quiet, wooded green or blue descent into La Tania (avoiding the challenging red and black Lanches pistes).
Le Bouc Blanc, with its south facing terrace, is a great choice for lunch – reached by an enjoyable blue, Arolles. From here you can go back up and over to the boulevard de la Loze. Don’t take a wrong turn onto Tetras, an unforgiving black. For simple blues and greens in Courchevel, head down Lac Bleu from the Loze: the pistes are wide with plenty of space for beginners to hone their skills.
For fantastically wide motorway runs head up the Saulire gondolas from Méribel, to the peak at 2,700m overlooking the Dent de Burgin top. You can’t beat these pistes for wide open space and sunshine, if the weather’s clear. Opt for Chamois, red, or Biche, blue, to get to Saulire mid-station and the adjacent La Folie Douce.
Once you’ve warmed up on these slopes, head down towards Courchevel by way of the red Creux from the Saulire peak (don’t be put off if there’s a scrum at the top, it thins out). This is also a great run for intermediates, leading to 1850 where there's a wide selection of restaurants. Better yet, take the Creuz all the way down, past the Chamrossa chair and wiggling down through the valley (still on the Creux piste) for a classic rolling run. At the bottom take the Roc Mugnier chairlift and link up with the Pyramide lift that drops you beneath the Roc Merlet peak at 2,734m. This area is usually quiet, with plenty of blues – the best time of day is late morning as the sun softens the pistes.
Once you’ve had your fill of these runs head down to the village of Moriond at 1,650m where The Bel Air, with its sun terrace and classic French food, is a great lunch spot – booking recommended, especially if it's sunny. In the afternoon, if you’re feeling brave and energetic, have a go at the black Suisses run by taking the Aiguille du Fruit chair. Return to Méribel by way of Courchevel 1850 – catch the Verdons lift up to Saulire for the long red Chamois down into resort, though you might be tempted to spend the afternoon relaxing on the green runs that weave down this side of the mountain.
Alternatively from 1850, take the Chenus cable car up to Loze for the winding Boulevard de la Loze run back home. At this stage of the day, when legs are weary, it will seem like miles, but it’s a lovely rewarding route.