As I said in the introduction, this ski area is massive. I mean it makes Whistler or Vail seem like each is a small "town slope" from 1960. There are at least 167 lifts and most are trams, gondolas or high speed quads or sixes.
Les Trois Vallee (French for The Three Valleys) consists of Courcheval, Meribel and Val Thorens. Each has numerous villages whose lifts have been combined under a single lift ticket covering all three valleys.
Rentals: I was surprised to see that almost everyone was renting their equipment. The rental equipment ranged from typical American type rental equipment to the very high end. Many skiers were on brand new Salomon Croos Max Pilot 10 skis. Check these out at your local shop and you'll see that they sell for about US$1,000.00, marked down from US$1,150.00. In Ranch you can buy these skis for about 726 euros or about US$635.00. If I was doing this trip again, I would rent the top skis for the week and then have them apply my rental payments to the purchase. There are about ten shops in town that can handle this.
Skiing: Unless you plan on staying close to home I would highly recommend that you take a camelback. You can find yourself a long way from home. A quick sip of water is worth its weight in gold. It goes without saying that the higher you go the better the snow. This year Europe has not had a good snow season. At Courcheval the slopes above the Courcheval 1850 village (1850 refers to the # of meters in altitude) were hard packed Eastern Pennsylvania ice (Pocono powder). Below 1850 everything was slushy. The Meribel valley seems a little higher and had better conditions, while Val Thorens was the highest with nice snow. It took us three hours to ski from Courcheval 1850 to Val Thorens. Our speed was somewhat detered by the icy conditions that prevailed on Meribel in the early morning.
The trail marking system is not the same as in the US. Slopes are green, blue, red and black. Marking signs are confusing and even a map does not always help. The best place for use of a map is at the bottom of a run where you usually have three or four lifts to choose from, each going in a separate direction. The true delight is the ability to roll into a small town, ski up to a cafe, and enjoy a glass of wine, a piece of cheese and a loaf of bread while sitting in the sun. The critical issue is timing your day so as to not miss the last afternoon lift out of Meribel Monterret so that you can ski down to Courcheval.