Ski Les 3 Vallées on A Budget
Is it possible to ski Les 3 Vallées on a budget.? Having had the Epic Pass for years now, this 2019/2020 season was the first time I finally worked up the courage to venture out to Europe to snowboard with a friend. Making this a budget friendly trip was my goal!
Les 3 Vallées Resort
Les 3 Vallées is included on the Full Epic Pass along with 7 days of riding. You can tell this place is massive by just taking a look at the map. My Local Epic Pass auto-renews at the end of every season ($699 USD). With 10 buddy passes and 6 ski with a friend passes, this is a great deal considering a day in Vail costs $200+. After confirming my flight details for the trip, I called customer support and was able to upgrade to the FULL Epic Pass for an extra $340. Nevertheless, if you plan on skiing for more than 7 days, an individual day pass is approximately 63€. Click here for the price sheet for Les 3 Vallées.
Travel Cost Breakdown
Flight from LAX –> GVA (Geneva)
Air Canada Business Class: 55,000 aeroplan points + 202 USD tax
Where To Stay On A Budget
There are many places to stay to ride Les 3 Vallées – Courchevel, St. Martin De Belleville, Meribel, Les Menuires, and Val Thorens.
AirB&B in Saint-Bon-Tarentaise near Le Carrey Shuttle Stop -$99/night for 7 nights = $795
Out of luck, I found this sweet budget friendly AirB&B which comfortably sleeps 4. Within 3 minutes walk to the FREE shuttle stop, you can reach Le Praz after a short 10 minute ride up the mountain. This particular stop will give you access to the resort. After a quick google search for hotels in Courchevel area, it seems the going price was about $500/night.
Even though our location was budget friendly, the area lacked restaurants and night life. For this upcoming season, Val Thorens area is where I’ll be.
Transportation from GVA
Option 1: Rent A Car
But is it really worth it? You will need an international driver’s permit, know how to drive manual, and be comfortable with navigating through windy roads. Parking at the resort is costly. Furthermore, gas is insanely expensive.
Option 2: AlpyBus
Seems like this is the best budget friendly transportation service from GVA airport. In order to reach the AirB&B in Le Carrey, book the ticket stop for Moutiers. Finally, after a 15 minute taxi ride you’ll reach your destination.
Here are the estimated prices for the following routes in Les 3 Vallées from the airport.
- Moutiers: 52.50€
- St. Martin De Belleville: 52.50€
- Les Menuires: 52.50€
- Val Thorens: 52.50€
- Courchevel: 375€ (Private Transfer Only)
- Meribel: 395€ (Private Transfer Only)
The bus ride to the 1st stop Moutiers is approximately 2.5 hours depending on weather conditions. There are no bathrooms on the bus however there’s a bathroom break at the first drop off.
Moutiers drop off is at a bakery:
Boulangerie Marie Blachére
fbg de la Madeleine, 73600 Moutiers, France
Book a taxi in ADVANCE. When we got dropped off, there were no taxis. Due to that reason, don’t make the same mistake. Here are some contacts for taxis in that area:
Marie: +33 6 29 57 53 57
Soditra Taxi Moutiers: +33 4 79 24 45 55
Cost from bakery to the Airbnb is 40€. (P.S. not sure if the accept credit cards because I didn’t bother to ask but make sure to have some cash in hand)
Although a free shuttle is a great thing to have, it seems like the shuttle doesn’t run as often as it should. I always had to carry the schedule around with me. Sometimes the bus can be late, therefore wait the extra 5 minutes. If you’re staying at the Airbnb I suggested, the shuttle stop “Le Carrey” is just a 3 minute walk. The first night we arrived, we went to the SPAR grocery store in Bozel – meats, cheeses, wine, cracker and granola bars – basically survival food for the week. Don’t forget to push the stop button so the driver knows when to stop. It’s located up on the hand rail or on the side of the bus.
Every single local that we met told us hitchhiking was pretty common. In fact, we did hitchhike after missing the bus in the evening. If you decide to do this, please be safe!
Skiing/Snowboarding Les 3 Vallées
Want to read about which areas are best for which type of riding? You can read more about it here.
To get to the resort from the Airbnb, take the bus from Le Carrey and get off Le Praz (10 minute bus ride) Go inside Alpinium Center.
Lockers starting at 15€/day. The longer the rental period, the lower the rate. Because I rented for 6 days, my total was 63€. This locker fits up to 4-5 pairs of skis. Furthermore, there are dryer racks for your boots.
Lift Tickets Office (9am – 6pm)
As an epic pass holder, the physical card is REQUIRED to be present. The associate will issue another card of their own. After that, keep the card on the left side of your body away from any other credit cards and your phone. DO NOT LOSE THIS because every lift requires a scan.
Trail Map Key
Download Les 3 Vallées app on your phone. You’ll find this app very helpful while navigating your way around.
If you’ve only been skiing in North America, you’ll notice that the symbols in Europe are different. Below is an example of the different symbols.
- This place is predominantly 90% skiers.
- Sundays are usually the busiest day on the mountain
- A lot of people do not have a respect for personal space. Therefore, while waiting in line for the chairlift, don’t be surprised if the person behind is pretty much straddling you
- Once sitting down on the chairlift, expect the safety bar to come down right away. People don’t even give you a warning
- Thirsty? I couldn’t find a place with a water fountain so either bring your own bottle or buy a water which will cost around 3.50€
- Traversing from Courchevel all the way to Val Thorens is approximately 1.5 hours. Above all, don’t get stuck after the gondola closes. A taxi back will be costly and that is if there are any willing to take you.
The wildest après-ski party is La Folie Douce on the Val Thorens side. The energy starts to really pop off around 3pm and closes at 5pm. All bags will be checked therefore no liquids are allowed. The best bang for your buck is bottle of the rose wine (40€) to share with friends. A drink will cost about 15€ and a beer is 10€.
If this is something you’re interested in take a look at the price sheet. Prices are negotiable.
Where To Eat
No one wants to pay 28€ for a pizza or 16€ for an Irish coffee. Those are prices if you want to eat in Courchevel – INSANE.
After riding all day, we would always stop by The Drop Inn for drinks and have dinner at L’Elephant. These two places are located in Le Praz (about a 5 minute walk from the Alpinium building.)
The Drop Inn (9am – 1am)
Here is a snap of their weekly specials. Tuesdays is 3€ wine night AND FREE TAPAS. Drink prices are reasonable here.
L’Elephant (3pm – 2am)
We ate here everyday and never got tired of it. It’s a cool spot to chill, listen to live music, play darts and foosball.
If you do decide to stay out late, the last bus is at 2:30am. Ski Les 3 Vallées On A Budget
Returning Back To The Airport
Book with the same company – Alpy Bus. Again, you’ll have to call a taxi and arrange a ride from the Airbnb to the bakery in Moutiers. A hotel night in Geneva was booked just in case there was a snow storm. I hope you enjoyed my Ski Les 3 Vallées On A Budget guide.