When the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William sloped off for a snowy winter break with her family just months into their marriage, it was to the much-loved ski resort of Méribel in the French Alps. So here at HELLO! we couldn't resist an invitation to experience the high life at this deservedly popular destination in the famous Trois Vallées.
Situated at the heart of the world’s biggest linked ski area, the pretty Alpine village has been attracting A-list celebrities and royals since Brigitte Bardot helped to put it on the map in the 1960s.
Brigette Bardot in Méribel
As well as the Middletons, the stars who have enjoyed its charms include the Beckhams and Harry Potter actress Emma Watson, who splashed out a cool £1million on a chalet when she turned 18.
It's easy to see why so many people – not just the rich and famous – have fallen under its spell. Giving access to 600km of pistes, it is an intermediates' paradise with something for everyone who loves their skiing. But it's more than its enviable position right in the middle of the Three Valleys that keeps people coming.
Sunrise over Méribel
Dotted with attractive stone and wood chalets, Méribel has a less rarefied atmosphere than its swanky neighbour Courchevel – with its Cartier and Chanel boutiques – but it's not quite as earthy as Val Thorens, Europe’s highest ski resort, on the other side. Founded by a Brit, Peter Lindsay, in 1938, it has retained a strong British presence ever since.
We visited early in the season, when the late arrival of the snow meant that we couldn't get serious mileage under our skis, but we were nevertheless shown a good time by expert guides Mountain Tracks (tel +44 208 123 2978; visit mountaintracks.co.uk), who found great snow on the highest slopes.
HELLO! magazine co-editor Ruth Sullivan
Méribel offers access to a wide variety of winter activities and anyone looking for pristine pistes amid dramatic scenery will not be disappointed.
Keen skiers who fancy an extra challenge can even try ski-joëring – being pulled along by a horse – courtesy of Le Couer Equestre (coeurequestremeribel.com), which also offers horse riding in the snow.
One of the rooms available in the stunning Mont Tremblant
Our base for a long weekend was the well-appointed Chalet Bellevue, the perfect home from home, only with comfier sofas, much better food and a far superior wine cellar.
Meriski, the luxury catered chalet operator, prides itself on its five-star cuisine and we’ll raise a glass of Paul Boyer’s fine wines to that.
There are five rooms in Mont Tremblant which comfortably sleeps 12
Resort accommodation ranges from serviced and self-catering apartments to hotels and luxury chalets. And they don’t come more deluxe than Mont Tremblant, which sleeps 12 very comfortably, with five double bedrooms, a master suite, spacious living areas - all soaring beams and picture windows - cinema room, heated outdoor pool and hot tub.
Meanwhile Meriski's concierge service is on hand for your heart’s desires, from pampering massages to restaurant bookings. If all that mountain air makes you hungry, top of the list for eating out is Michelin-starred La Bouitte in Saint Martin de Belleville (+33 4 79 08 96 77), while other dining options include Chez Pépé Nicolas in Val Thorens (+33 6 09 45 28 35) and La Cantine d'Alvar in Méribel (+33 6 50 68 60 76).
After a fun day of skiing, relax in the pool at Mont Tremblant
For DJs, dancing and letting your hair down, try the après ski at Folie Douce under the Saulire lift and, in the centre of Méribel, Le Poste de Secours, which is celebrating its 10th birthday this year. Just try not to fall off the chairlift in the morning… Meriski (tel 01285 648518; Meriski.co.uk) offers a week in a luxury catered chalet from £662 per person, based on two sharing, including breakfast, afternoon tea, four-course dinner and all drinks, plus chauffeur service. EasyJet (visit EasyJet.com) flies a high-frequency service from London airports to Geneva from £22.99 one way. Meribel tourist office (+33 4 79 08 60 01; meribel.net)