Just inside the northeast corner of the Parc National de la Vanoise, and part of the Trois Vallées linked ski area, Courchevel in a great place for skiers of all skill levels, with an abundance of choice, especially for intermediate skiers – and a few of the most challenging black runs in the world.
Just an hour and a half from the airport in Chambéry, or two hours from Geneva, Courchevel is easy to get to, with travel time from London (by plane and bus) coming in at four to five hours total. Not bad.
There are several villages in the area, but the best known are Courchevel 1300 (renamed Le Praz in 2011, but still known locally by its older name), Courchevel 1550, Courchevel 1650 (likewise renamed Moriond in 2011, but still known locally by its older name) and Courchevel 1850 each originally named for the area, and their altitudes. All major sites in the area are linked by lifts, you can ski from one to the other, and of course you can move between them by car or bus.
There are a lot of renovations going on for the 2019/2020 season, so areas that had started to show some age will be bright and shiny for us again. Courchevel 1650 (Moriond) is a great place to base yourself, both for skiing and après skiing fun. The area is rich in shops and bars, lots of places to eat, and Aquamotion is located here – more on that below.
To experience the luxury shops (there are just a few of these) and chalets the area has to offer, head to Courchevel 1850, the hub of the ski area. Staying (or playing) there will cost you though, and since access is easy from locations lower down, an occasional foray into this area is the way most us go.
Courchevel is an excellent choice for a group with wide variance in skiing ability, or for those whose preference is for intermediate difficulty runs. Though fewer in number, some of the black runs are famous for their technical demands. Courchevel is, of course, linked to the other resorts of the Trois Vallées ski area, so you will always have the option of exploring further afield, but for the convenience of having your favourite runs right off your doorstep, choose a resort that caters most to your type of skiing. This is a great all-rounder.
Many of the pistes are north-facing, which means less direct sunshine – and better snow. This is important, as the modest altitude of some runs would otherwise make snow reliability an issue. As it is, the resort is open from about 8 December to 22 April, a good season with excellent conditions.
Clubs in the area include La Grange, the Funky Fox, Folie Douce, and Caterail, for live music and DJs; La Boulotte, Verdons, or Mangeoire, for a quieter (and fairly expensive) evening of drinks and live music. If it’s a wilder party you’re after, Folie Duece is a great place to start.
There is a lot of choice for food in the area, but be careful if you’re watching the budget – much of it is fine dining, and priced accordingly. For that kind of thing, Chabichou is good (two Michelin Stars), as is the more casual (only one Michelin Star) Azimut.
For something less showy, try Petit Savoyard for pizza and rustic-chic local food at a reasonable price. Chabotté is good too, as is Bouc Blanc (right on the mountain) and Verdons, which has a terrace with a view from the top of the Verdons gondola.
There are the usual non-skiing activities, tobogganing, snowshoeing, etc., but this location has a special claim to fame. It is the home of Aquamotion, the largest aquafun centre in Europe. Aquamotion, is a great place to spend some off-slope time. Be sure to check out the swim-through passage from the indoor to the outdoor pool, so you can move between just watching the stunning outdoor scenery, to swimming in the midst of it. Very cool. There is a full spa there too, so replacing those sore muscles with relaxed, energized ones will be as simple as an hour on the table.