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Chairlift Chats With… David Lindsay

In the second of our new series of interviews, Iain Martin, presenter of The Ski Podcast, chats with David Lindsay, son of Sir Peter Lindsay, founder of Meribel in France 

Iain Martin: Perhaps you’d like to explain why the very British surname Lindsay has such a close link to the French ski resort of Meribel? 

David Lindsay: Well, my father is happily considered the founder of Meribel, a subject that I always like to mention to everybody I meet! He first went out there in 1937 after meeting the Frenchman Count Jean Gaillard de la Valdene in London. The Count had already seen the potential of the Meribel Valley, but he needed finance to develop it – and my father put himself forward, rather bravely, because I don’t think his means were enormous, especially after the war. 

A ski instructor in red ESF uniform smiles into the camera in a snowy setting, a cabin behind is visible

I read that when your father first went there pre-war, he skinned up to La Saulire with ski guides and then skied all the way down to Brides Les Bains, and that’s where he fell in love with the place…  

That’s true, and after my father fought in the war, he came back [to Meribel] in his colonel’s uniform, and helped create the resort. Meribel grew slowly, with almost an 50/50 mixture of French and British shareholders. Nobody at that time could have forecast quite how big skiing was going to become. My father wasn’t really a business man: he was more of a visionary.    

Not many people get to live in a ski resort. Did you spend all your childhood there?  

I was born in Chambery, but most of my childhood was in Meribel. I was brought up there with my two sisters and homeschooled by our mother through correspondence courses until I went to prep school in England. It was a slightly unusual upbringing, but with plenty of skiing! 

Living there for so long, you would have seen a huge number of changes. When did things really develop in Meribel?  

The seventies marked a big change. My father, who certainly wasn’t a property developer, sold to someone who was. That’s when all those large apartment blocks underneath the Rond Point went up and Meribel grew in a way that it hadn’t grown before.  

I also remember coming back for Christmas in 1986 and the six-man Tougnete gondola had been built, and the difference between a six-man and the previous two-man lift was quite startling.  

ski resort of Meribel pictured from above, it nestled on the snowy slope below

Is it right that the Poma family [who make ski lifts] have a chalet in Meribel, with its own private lift? 

David Lindsay: Yes, the original Pomagalski family, who came from Poland, had a small telecabine connecting their garage and the chalet [to the slopes].   

Iain Martin: And these days you’re an instructor with the ESF in Meribel?   

Yes, I qualified as a BASI instructor first and did my apprenticeship in Aviemore. I got my New Zealand certification and French certification soon afterwards. I hate to admit it, but I’ve now worked as an instructor for 46 years! 

This winter you’re running some masterclasses in Meribel. Could you tell us about those?  

‘Masterclasses’ is the new product launched by the ESF Meribel, still the largest ski school in the resort with 400 instructors. Launching something like this is wonderful, because I can select some of the very best of them.  

And I think building a new product that clients are going to like depends most of all on the quality of the instructors: how good they are; how much they like skiing with their clients; how much they like working as a group and exchanging ideas. Within Masterclasses, we’re covering slalom, moguls, technical exercises and biomechanics.  

The ESF Masterclasses are for a maximum of six people in a class and will only operate for four weeks in January. For your €500, you get two three-hour-plus mornings, two three-hour-plus afternoons and a whole day at the end of the week, which I think is very reasonable value. 

The Ski Podcast is an award-winning podcast with over 190 episodes. You can listen to all episodes on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or wherever you download your podcasts. Listen to the Iain’s full interview with David Lindsay here:  



About the author

Iain Martin

Iain first learned to ski in St Anton at the age of 5 and has loved the Alps ever since. He worked six winter seasons there, before founding recruitment website natives.co.uk. He now works as a freelance writer and consultant in the industry.

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