Northern Alps

Courchevel Overview

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Overview

Courchevel is a winter playground for the rich and famous – attracting a steady influx of stars from Beyonce to Beckham. Ironically, the resort was originally planned to create jobs and skiing for the masses, but somewhere along the lines it morphed into the luxury resort of The Alps.

There are 50 five-star hotels in the whole of France and nine of them are in Courchevel. As well as top hotels, the resort now boasts three Michelin-star restaurants. The multi-level resort, complete with heated pavements, is dotted with more than 100 boutiques - you’ll find as many diamond dealers here as ski-hire shops. The tourist board does stress they offer a range of amenities for a wider clientele; it’s not all Hermès, Louis Vuitton and Valentino.

The resort consists of four ski villages: Courchevel 1300 (La Praz), Courchevel 1550, Courchevel 1650 and Courchevel 1850. While 1850 has the most high-end hotels and shops, its modern development is decidedly lacking in charm. Fans of the traditional French feel should head to Courchevel 1650.

Courchevel is a good all-round resort. Its ski area offers a good selection of runs for all levels and it is also popular with families, off-pisters and non-skiers. The resort’s 150 kilometres is enough for most, but the avid skier can buy a pass to the vast Three Valleys ski area, opening up 600 kilometres of lift-linked runs. Ski Pass for access to the vast lift-linked ski area in the world (600km).

Airports:

Geneva International Airport (150km/2hrs) Route de l‘Aéroport 21, 1215 Genève 15, Switzerland. Airlines: British Airways, easyJet, and Swiss Airlines fly from London airports; bmibaby.com and easyJet fly from regional UK airports.

Chambery Airport (110km/1hr) Rue Antoine Montagnole, 73420 Viviers-du-Lac, France. Airlines: SnowJet flies direct between London and Chambery.

Grenoble Airport (130km/1.5hrs) 38590 Saint-Étienne-de-Saint-Geoirs, France. Airlines: easyJet flies direct from London to Grenoble

Lyon International Airport (187km/2hrs) Aeroport Saint Exupery, 69720 Saint-Laurent-de-Mure, France. Airlines: British Airways and easyJet fly direct to Lyon.

Airport Transfers:

By bus: Altibus.com (+33(0)4-7968-3296) runs three or more buses a day from Geneva Airport (4hrs) and Chambery Airport (2hrs), and five buses a day from Lyon Airport (4hrs).

By train: The nearest station is Moutiers Salins, from here it's a one-hour bus ride to Courchevel (€10-14). There are five buses a day Monday to Friday and 15 a day at weekends.

Shared/Private transfers: Available from all airports. Expect to pay around €150 per person, return from Geneva. AlpLine (+33(0)450-743-842); Mountain Drop-offs (+44(0)207-043-4874); resorthoppa (+44(0)134-230-5677).

By car: Hire cars are available from all the airports. Roads are open year-round but driving can be treacherous during snowstorms. From Moutiers follow the narrow roads 915 and 75 to Courchevel - the road ends at Courchevel 1850. The town has many covered car parks.

Getting Around:

There is a free ski bus service ‘Navettes' serving all four villages of Courchevel. The journey time is approximately 25 minutes between Le Praz and Courchevel 1850. Buses run frequently during the season, from early morning until late at night, every 10 minutes between Courchevel 1650 and 1850. Alternatively, pick up a walking map from the tourist office and explore the 12 mountain paths.

Transportation

High End

Sivoliere, Rue des Chenus, Courchevel 1850 (0479-080-833/lasivoliere@sivoliere.fr). This five-star authentic Savoyard chalet has 24 rooms, 11 suites and an apartment. The chef at The 1850 restaurant offers a creative twist on Savoyard specialities, such as the duck foie gras on brioche, chicken broth with amagnac and candied kumquats or the potato gnocchi, porcini cream sauce and grilled Iberian ham.

Le Bellecote, Route de Bellecote, Courchevel 1850 (0479-081-019). This four-star hotel was among the first slopeside properties in Courchevel. Its 52 rooms, suites, duplexes and apartments are decorated in a Savoyard style. The new spa features a sauna, hot tub, pool and pampering treatment rooms. Enjoy panoramic views from the restaurant while chowing down on Chef’s specialises, like slab of bass with clam broth and thyme, Bresse poultry, and scampi roasted with bitter chicory. After dinner, head to the piano bar, bridge room or lounge with fireplace.

Mid-Level

Hotel Courcheneige, Rue de Nogentil, Courchevel 1850 (0479-080-259/info@courcheneige). This three-star chalet-style hotel is popular with families for its quality accommodation and reasonable prices. This ski-in/ski-out hotel is located on the Bellecote ski slope (1900m). Take après-ski aperitifs by the log fire and tuck into local dishes in the restaurant.

Economy Lodging

Hotel Tovets, Rue du Rocher, Courchevel 1850 (0479-080-333/info@courchevel-hoteltovets.com). This two-star hotel located at the foot of the slopes at La Croisette offers spacious rooms, friendly staff at an affordable price. Amenities include satellite TV, free WIFI access and a bar. The restaurant serves a buffet breakfast and brasserie menu at lunchtime.

Condo / House Rental Options

Courchevel may be synonymous with high-class hotels, but the multi-level resort also offers a good choice of apartments, house rentals, and catered or self-catering chalets. Some of the most popular include the Montagnettes Chalets de la Mouria above 1650 with sauna and hot tub; the lofts above the Portetta hotel in 1650; and the renovated Chalets du Forum in central 1850 – a Pierre & Vacances Premium residence. Browse a full list of rentals at Ski Amis, Erna Low and Ski Collection.

Restaurants

Breakfast:

La Table du Jardin Alpin, Hotel de Charme Les Airelles le Jardin Alpine, Courchevel 1850 (+33(0)479-003-839). The breakfast buffet doesn't leave anything out: pancakes, waffles, eggs cooked to order, giant fruit baskets, tarts, and hot chocolate made the traditional way (thick and chocolatey).

Chez Kinou, Rue de la Chapelle, Le Praz (+33(0)479-084-290). Open from 8 a.m, this friendly creperie serves sweet and savoury pancakes to eat in or take away.

Lunch:

Courcheneige, Piste de Bellecote, Courchevel 1850 (+33(0)479-080-259). On the Bellecote ski slope, the Courcheneige brasserie offers hearty lunches on its sunny, south-facing terrace at 1900m.

La Cloche, Place du Rocher, Courchevel 1850 (+33(0)479-083-130). Right at the heart of Courchevel 1850, La Cloche is open for lunch and dinner and serves a special high-energy ski menu for the most active on the sunny terrace.

Dinner:

Le Chabichou, Rue des Chenus, Courchevel 1850 (+33(0)479-080-055). This two Michelin-star restaurant offers a fine fusion of Savoie and international dishes created by chef Michel Rochedy. Mouth-watering mains include the Tournedos steak, smoked over larch wood, with jus of spiced wine, oxtail compote, foie gras marrow and creamy potato puree with truffles.

Le Bateau Ivre, Rue des Chenus, Courchevel 1850 (+33(0)479-001-171). Courchevel is one of the few places where you'll find two-Michelin-star restaurants right next to each other. Le Bateau Ivre, next door to Le Chabichou, is on the sixth floor of the Pomme de Pin Hotel. Chef Jean Pierre Jacob prides himself on creating "inventive cuisine rich in flavour".

La Petit Savoard, Rue du Marquis, Courchevel 1650 (+33(0)479-082-744). This is a great place to head for inexpensive local dishes and wood-fired pizzas.

La Normandise, Rue des Rois, Courchevel 1550 (+33(0)479-081-618).Pancake house serving an extensive selection of sweet and savoury pancakes. Open 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Be sure to try the hot wine.

Après / Nightlife

Bar le Jump, Place du Forum, Courchevel 1850 (0479-080-900). Part of the Hotel de la Croisette at the bottom fot he slopes and the place to be as the lifts close. Great atmosphere, but, like most of 1850, it's not cheap. Open until 1 a.m.

Les Caves de Courchevel, Immeuble Porte de Courchevel, Rue des Tovets 73120, Courchevel 1850 (+33(0)4-7908-1461). This energetic nightclub, open 11 p.m to 5 a.m, up at 1850 is where the high rollers tend to head. It is known for its Jeroboams (3ltrs) of Dom Perignon or, if you are really thirsty, a Nebuchadnezzar (15ltrs) of Moet.

Terrain

The Mountain

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.

Powder Day

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.

Beginners/Intermediates

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.

Freestylers

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.

Inside Scoop

Courchevel 1850 has the majority of smart hotels, Michelin-star restaurants, designer boutiques and nightlife, but it also has a lot of traffic and English voices. Courchevel’s other villages make up for this: 1650 has a more pleasant centre with a quiet square off the main road and traditional-style buildings; 1550 is quiet and spacious; and away from the road, La Praz (1300) offers a low-key, friendly atmosphere with rustic restaurants.

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.

Be sure to take the cable car up from Courchevel 1850 to the summit of Saulire (2,700m) and savour the views. Advanced skiers can then take the red and black runs all the way back down.

Fans of cross-country skiing will find a total of 60 kilometres of trails. 1300 is the most suitable village, with trails through the woods towards 1550, 1850 and Méribel. Given enough snow, there are also loops around the village.

Non-skiing activities include the two-kilometre evening toboggan runs (until 7:30pm) between Couchevel 1850 and 1550; snow rafting in an inflatable dingy; as well as snowmobiling, dog sledding, snowcat driving, ballooning; contact White Tracks (+33(0)686-123-417).

Taste the local cuisine: regional specialities include raclette, tartiflette and fondue – all of which are delicious and will replace all the energy you’ve expended on the slopes.

Plan Your Trip

Courchevel Lodging
Ski Lessons

Best Time for Snow

Total Snowfall

111cm
69cm
46cm
23cm
0cm
0cm
Dec
92cm
Jan
17cm
Apr

Terrain Overview

19%
Beginners Runs
38%
Intermediate Runs
33%
Advanced Runs
10%
Expert Runs
109
Runs in Total
150 km
Runs in Total
9 km
Longest Run
150 km
Skiable Terrain
23 ha
Night Skiing
3 km
Night Skiing
282 ha
Snow Making
87 km
Snow Making

Total Lifts: 55

10
Gondolas & Trams
11
High Speed Sixes
4
High Speed Quads
2
Triple Chairs
28
Surface Lifts

Elevation

2738m
Summit
1388m
Vertical Drop
1100m
Base

Important Dates

December 04, 20212021/12/04
Projected Opening
April 22, 20222022/04/22
Projected Closing
140
Projected Days Open
140
Days Open Last Year
75
Years Open
800cm
Average Snowfall
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