Courchevel Trail Map
Courchevel's 150 kilometres of local runs combine with Val Thorens, La Tania, Les Menuires and Meribel to make up the largest interconnected ski area in the world, the Three Valleys (600 kilometres/275 pistes). The huge network of lifts and runs extends out from Courchevel 1850. The main access route to the Three Valleys is via the Verdons gondola, leading to the La Vizelle gondola and the La Saulire cable car. Skiing in the Three Valleys reaches heights of 2740 metres.
Courchevel's local ski area offers well-groomed varied runs. You'll find pretty wooded skiing and great views from the upper slopes all the way to Mont Blanc. The resort's northerly orientation, height and abundance of snowmaking means reliable snow down to 1650 so ski-in/ski-out accommodation is often possible. The snow is superior to neighbouring Meribel which gets more sun.
The modern, reliable lift system in Courchevel means queues are minimal. There are only a few lifts to avoid: the Col de la Loze and the drags on the 1650 side of Chanrossa can be slow. During peak season, the Biollay chair serving the snowpark is very popular with the ski school so queues can build here too.
Courchevel offers a huge amount of off-piste terrain. In good snow conditions, it's possible to ski all the way down from La Saulire to Bozelm (2000m vertical). If you're a fan of powder in the trees, hit the runs off Dou des Lanches and head down through the woods where you'll eventually join the Creux piste. To explore more extensive off-piste terrain, a good idea is to hire a guide - the Bureau des Guides runs daily off-piste excursions.
Advanced/expert skiers can explore the infamous shady couloirs at the top of the Saulire cable car - all three Couloirs used to be among the steepest black pistes in Europe, now only the Grand Couloir remains a piste and is reached via a narrow, bumpy ridge. Alternatively, hit the powder fields of Mont Vallon. Other challenging black runs include Suisses, Chanrossa and the blacks above Le Praz with a 1000-metre vertical.
Families/beginners: Courchevel is a popular choice for families due to its convenient slope-side lodging and gentle nursery areas. Ski schools are well run and take children from 18 months up: ESF (+33(0)47-0807-72); New Generation (0844-484-3663) and RTM Snowboarding (+33(0)615-485-904) - the latter two run by British instructors.
Courchevel has a good selection of nursery slopes: the 1650 nursery area is located just above the village accessed via draglifts; the 1850 beginner area of Jardin Alpin is accessed by a gondola. You'll also find smaller nursery areas located at 1550 and 1300. The ‘Magnestick' system has been fitted to all fast lifts to hold children securely on chairlifts.
Freestyle for all the family: take the Biollay chair or the Rocher de l'Ombre drag up to the Family Park below Verdons and here you'll find a variety of jumps and obstacles. Two smaller fun zones are being built for the 2011/12 winter. Off the slopes, there's a popular ice rink and a ten-pin bowling alley in the Forum Centre.
Intermediates: There is a good choice of green and blue runs. Intermediates have plenty of long red runs and easy off-piste in Courchevel. There are challenging red runs from Vizelle and Saulire as well as long blue runs above 1650 and 1850.
Courchevel is popular among snowboarders, but more for the freeriding than the freestyle scene. There is however one main park: the Plantrey Snow Park. It is located next to the Dou de Midi piste in the Loze sector of Courchevel 1850, under the Plantrey chair. It is a big snowpark with two pipes and a range of tables and rails for all levels and is served by a free drag.
The Family Park below Verdons grows larger each year. It offers a variety of jumps and obstacles. Two smaller fun zones are being built for the 2011/12 winter.
Snowboarders will find plenty of natural freestyle terrain on the Combe Saulire (particularly around the Saulire gondola) and from La Vizelle to 1850. There are natural pipes, rollers and banks to play on.
Moguls and long flat sections are often disliked by snowboarders. The Suisses and Chanrossa black runs and the Marmottes red which often have moguls while the blue Pralon, Gravelles and Indiens runs have long flat sections where it's hard to maintain speed.