The French ski resort of Méribel, popular with snow sports lovers of all abilities, was established by a military man named Colonel Peter Lindsay, who people might be forgiven for thinking was a little eccentric. |
Peter Lindsay’s Early Life
After starting life in 1900 in Scotland, Lindsay joined the higher echelons of education in Eton before leaving its safe environment in 1918 to join The Great War. Lindsay was a natural businessman and after finishing his education he launched a very successful career, while also developing his love for all kinds of winter sports.
Answering His Calling
It was on a holiday in the French Alps in 1936, while searching for better snow, that Lindsay found himself in the Les Allues valley. Some say he favoured Austria for skiing but, because of the political situation at the time, he turned to France instead. This, however, is disputed by his son, who wrote in 2009 that the reason for Lindsay choosing Les Allues was more likely because he had been advised by a well known ski enthusiast, Arnold Lunn, who had surveyed the Savoie region a few years earlier, that the Les Allues Valley had many positive attributes that made it the ideal location for a ski resort. Lunn told of exposed slopes and the potential to control avalanches in the area; both key elements to a good winter sports resort.
And so, it was here that Lindsay conjured up the idea that was to change the history of skiing holidays as we know them.
Falling in Love with the Les Allues Valley
It didn’t take Lindsay long to fall in love with the area, which at the time had no infrastructure and so necessitated him walking up the slopes in order to enjoy the exhilaration of skiing down them.
It wasn’t however, until he met the rather characterful Jean Gaillard de la Valdenne, a local Count, that Lindsay’s dream of creating Méribel was to be realised. With the Count’s resources and Lindsay’s business aptitude, a plan was concocted and the first lift opened in 1938. Typical of its time, the lift was made of 19 metal chairs and a crude mechanical sled and a rope, but it did the job.
Accommodation was then developed and the resort started to take shape – at least, that was until the war halted proceedings. Lindsay signed up to the Irish Guards, before joining the Special Operations Executive (SOE) and spending time in Europe, Southeast Asia and Burma.
Post War Méribel
After the war, both Lindsay and the Count returned to Méribel. Lindsay loved it so much and hated leaving, so much so that he turned down the chance to receive his DSO medal, leaving the British Consul in Lyon’s only option as to drive it up to him.
Lindsay remained in Méribel until he died in 1971. In honour of what he created, Méribel now hosts the Combined Services Inter Service Snow Sports Competition every year - a fitting tribute.
How To Get There
Méribel is a very popular winter sports destination and visitors regularly arrive by plane, train or by car. The majority of people choosing to fly arrive into Geneva Airport. A transfer from Geneva to Méribel only takes 2 hours and if you book with a reputable company, you can enjoy a door-to-door service.
Geneva receives direct flights form most UK airports, and indeed many other European airports too. easyJet offers reasonable flights from Gatwick, as do British Airways. Ryanair fly from Stansted.
Driving to Méribel is fairly straightforward, using the main autoroutes until you reach Albertville. From there follow the signs up the valley. Snow chains are a legal requirement, as are breathalysers, warning triangles and GB stickers. If you hire a car and drive from Geneva to Méribel, you should have all the equipment you need for travelling legally in Europe.
The train journey from London takes around 8 hours and there is only one change in Paris. The train gets you into Moutiers, which is only a 20-minute taxi drive from Méribel itself.
Lukas Johannes is a driver for Shuttle Direct, the number one provider of shared and private airport transfers all over Europe and northern Africa. If you need a transfer from Geneva to Meribel, Lukas and his colleagues can make sure that you get to and from the airport swiftly and safely with your ski luggage and ski equipment.
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