Courchevel, 3 Vallées

France

Courchevel might be better known for its glitz and glamour, but along with this is an exceptional ski resort that will keep all levels of skier happy.

Scout Loves

  • More über luxurious accommodation than any other ski resort.
  • There are a few wooded ski runs, which is unusual for the Alps.
  • Many of the hotels have easy access to the slopes.
  • With seven restaurants featuring Michelin-starred chefs, this is a serious foodies’ heaven.
  • Watching the aircraft take off from what must be one of the most hair-raising slopeside tarmacs in the world.
  • Luxury retail shopping if you’re that way inclined.

Scout Tips

  • Prices of almost everything, from a beer to a room, can be shockingly high.
  • If possible avoid peak holiday periods such as Christmas, New Year and Russian Christmas (second week of January) when prices are even higher and accommodation is heavily booked.
  • Courchevel is split over four quite distinct and different villages, the higher the altitude, the higher the price of accommodation.

Scout Review

Welcome to Courchevel and what is undoubtedly one of the most glamorous ski resorts in the world.

Courchevel was the first stop on Scout’s 2013/14 European scouting trip and the first hotel room we saw went for a heart-stopping €16,000 a night. Although this was easily the most expensive room we saw, rooms in Courchevel can still reach pretty astronomical prices.

Yet thankfully, with four villages in the valley, Courchevel does offer a wide variety of accommodation. The villages used to be named after their altitude (1850, 1650, 1550 and 1300) but have since been renamed Courchevel, Courchevel Moriond, Courchevel Village and Courchevel Le Praz respectively. Each village is quite separate, so it’s not possible to wander between them, but they all have direct access to the slopes. So regardless of where you choose, you’re never too far from the lifts.

The hero village is Courchevel 1850 (or Courchevel). Being the highest of the four, it’s also where you’ll find the most luxurious hotels, expensive designer stores (think Louis Vuitton and Chanel), gourmet restaurants and several nightclubs. The base area lacks some charm – a busy road runs through the center and most activity is centered around La Croisette, which is a big building with garages, lifts, offices, retail and a few shops and restaurants. The area above La Croisette called Jardin Alpin is where you’ll find the most expensive hotels and chalets, scattered amongst the woods and with most having direct access to the slopes.

Courchevel Moriond (1650) is a more relaxed, yet lively, village area and is better suited to those without big budgets. It has the advantage of being the location of some great beginner and lower intermediate ski slopes and the Ariondaz gondola creates fairly quick access to the rest of the mountain.

The most traditional of the villages is Le Praz (1300) although accommodation here is pretty much restricted to chalets.

Courchevel Skiing

Courchevel in its own right is a fantastic ski resort offering superb off-piste skiing, steep terrain, wide, open groomers and even some tree-lined runs. Yet it is also well linked to the rest of the 3 Vallées resort ensuring you will have endless opportunities for exploring a wide selection of ski runs each day.

Strong intermediates and advanced skiers will head straight for the Saulire cable car and challenge themselves on the Grand Couloir run as well as some steep reds and blacks around the Creux valley and Suisse run.

Intermediates and beginners have plenty of terrain to play in, especially around the lifts centered on 1850 or on the Signal Mountain above 1650/Moriond.

There are two access points to Méribel Valley, one at the top of Saulire and the other at the top of the Col de la Loze.

Courchevel has a huge number of fantastic restaurants throughout the mountain. Scout’s pick is Le Bel Air on Moriond for its outside terrace with sensational views, and good food at reasonable prices.

Courchevel For Families

Courchevel is an excellent choice for families and proudly touts is “Famille Plus” accreditation meaning it fulfills criteria to make it family friendly. We particularly love point No. 6 on the list: “Children pampered by professional staff”. There’s a well organized ski school, some fun terrain and family friendly ski areas, and many of the lifts are ‘Magnestick’ which mean, when the child wears a special magnetic vest, they’re nice and secure.

There’s a wide range of activities for when they’re off the slopes and each village has childcare facilities. More details, including contacts and price guides are in the 3 Vallées Scout Field Guide.

Courchevel Accommodation

Those looking for high-end luxury will be spoilt for choice - Courchevel 1850 has two of France’s 10 6-star palace hotels and 16 hotels with 5 stars. It’s quite mind-boggling how many rooms there are attracting such high rates - and that doesn’t even include all the high-end private chalets. Even more mind blowing is how often the village is booked out. The hotels truly do live up to the standard. They are luxurious, opulent, beautifully designed and have exceptional service and facilities.

Skiers not on a 5 or 6-star budget will find plenty of other options, particularly in Moriond, 1550 and 1300, where there’s a mix of large, chain apartment complexes, chalets and smaller hotels.

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Resort Activities

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Courchevel offers a generous range of non-skiing activities – and one of the highlights is a scenic flight from the private airport on the slopes. Other options for getting airborne are helicopters, hot air balloons, paragliding and parachuting.

And there are plenty of activities back on the ground, from the usual cross-country skiing, ice-skating, snowmobiling and snowshoeing, to the more adventurous ice-climbing, heli-skiing, to the more sedate shopping, galleries, cinema and cooking courses.

Finally, be sure to take the 2km-long sledge run between Courchevel and Courchevel 1550. It’s lit at night and has a descent of 300m. Just make sure you know how to brake and turn before taking off!

Getting There and Around

Unless you’re coming via private plane or helicopter, the best way to get to Courchevel is via bus transfer from the nearest main airports (Geneva and Lyon –three hours, Chambery and Grenoble – 2 hours) or via train to Moûtiers, just 24kms from Courchevel. There are direct trains to Moûtiers from London, Paris and Chambery. A taxi from Moûtiers to Courchevel costs about €70.

More details, including contacts and price guides are in our Courchevel Scout Field Guide.

When To Go

Courchevel opens at the end of the first week of December and operates to the end of April each season.

Christmas, New Year and Russian Christmas Holidays (second week of January) are incredibly busy and prices are steep. The village can be booked out at this time. However, the lift systems cope well and even during these peaks you’ll rarely see queues.

Mid-term (from mid-February) is also hectic.

Other key events for the 2014/15 season are:

  • December 12-14,  2014: FIS Ski World Cup, Ladies Alpine

Facts & Figures

Mountain Information       Terrain    
Base Elevation 3608ft / 1100m Lifts 58 Green 19%  
Summit Elevation 8982ft / 2738m Cross Country Trails 66km Blue 36%  
Vertical Drop 5374ft / 1738m Mountain Restaurants 11 Red 35%  
Pistes 93miles / 150km     Black 8%  
3 Vallées Ski Area 4410ac / 1785ha          
12-13 Snowfall 0000in / 8m          
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