At the start of the new winter sports season, we were introduced to chic Courchevel. We explored the downright stunning slopes and enjoyed the conviviality on the many outdoor terraces. Courchevel is located in the renowned Les 3 Vallées, the largest ski resort in the world. The ski resort is known for its luxury and elegance. This is seen, among other things, in the large number of Michelin-starred restaurants and fancy boutiques. Also through luxury accommodation, high-end amenities and a vibrant après-ski scene. For us, it was all about the varied and impeccably groomed slopes, though. And in this we were definitely not disappointed!
Winter sports destination Les 3 Vallées in brief
Les 3 Vallées is the largest interconnected ski area in the world. You will find a total of 600 kilometres of slopes and an efficient lift system. The area includes several popular ski resorts, including Méribel, Val Thorens and Courchevel.
Méribel is located in the heart of Les 3 Vallées. From this ski resort you can also reach Val Thorens and Courchevel. The ski resort of Méribel is ideal for various types of winter sports enthusiasts. It offers extensive off-piste possibilities for advanced skiers. Less experienced skiers will also find what they are looking for on the sunny slopes of Méribel, thanks to the many blue slopes.
Val Thorens is the highest village in Les 3 Vallées and offers excellent snow conditions, thanks also to the height of the slopes and the presence of snow cannons. The area is ideal for skiers of all levels and offers challenging slopes for advanced skiers, as well as extensive off-piste opportunities. It is also suitable for novice or less experienced skiers.
Courchevel is known for its luxury appeal, with extravagant accommodation, first-class restaurants and high-end boutiques. The area offers a diverse range of slopes and is popular with experienced skiers for its challenging runs, off-piste possibilities and world-class facilities.
The chic ski resort of Courchevel
Courchevel consists of several villages, each offering its own atmosphere and amenities.
The lowest is Courchevel 1300 (Le Praz). This is the oldest village in Courchevel. Le Praz has a charming and traditional feel. The village has a picturesque village square, a historic atmosphere and good connections to the rest of the ski resort.
The next village up is Courchevel 1550. This village has an authentic Alpine atmosphere and offers a mix of traditional chalets and modern amenities. It is a popular choice for those looking for tranquillity.
If you go further up, you will end up in Courchevel 1650 (Moriond). This village offers a more relaxed atmosphere compared to Courchevel 1850, the last village. Moriond has a family-friendly feel with accessible slopes, cosy bars and restaurants, and a range of accommodation for every pocket.
Finally, Courchevel 1850 is Courchevel’s most famous and chicest village. It offers luxury accommodations, high-end boutiques, gourmet restaurants and exclusive après-ski venues. Courchevel 1850 attracts a wealthy international crowd and is known for its glamour and charisma.
Courchevel’s strengths and weaknesses
Having got to know the Courchevel ski resort well, we see the following strengths and lesser points of this ski resort:
Strengths of the Courchevel ski resort
- Like Méribel, Courchevel is a high-altitude, exceptionally large and versatile ski resort. You will find 102 slopes: 18 are green, 40 blue, 32 red and 12 black. In addition, there are many off-piste options. The highest point is at 2740 metres.
- Illuminated slopes: every Wednesday evening some slopes are illuminated until late in the evening.
- Modern lifts: Courchevel has modern lift systems, including gondolas and fast chairlifts that minimise waiting times.
- Snow guarantee: the region benefits from a high altitude, reliable snowfall and a particularly large number of snow cannons. This ensures good snow conditions throughout the ski season.
- Magnificent mountain scenery: at almost every piste here you can enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of the French Alps.
- Atmosphere: Courchevel is very atmospheric compared to some other ski resorts in the French Alps. Après-ski here is generally cosy and relaxed, not too noisy and certainly not just for the youngsters.
- With no less than 13 restaurants with at least one Michelin star, the ski resort is a true gourmet location
- Ski lessons: as with many ski resorts in Savoie Mont Blanc, you will find experienced ski instructors from the ESF ski school. There will be lessons in English.
Lesser points of the Courchevel ski resort
In our opinion, these are the lesser points of ski resort Courchevel:
- Some busy slopes: we were there during the quiet period and found some slopes quite busy. This was especially true of the lower slopes, which tend to be narrower than those higher up in the mountains. We therefore expect it to be very busy especially in the busy season (during school holidays).
- Pricey: Courchevel is generally an expensive winter sports destination, especially when it comes to eating out.
- Traffic jams: the road from Moutiers and Brides-les-Bains to the ski resort can be chaotic, especially during peak hours. This can lead to long delays especially during changeover days. For this reason, many winter sports enthusiasts choose to stay in Brides-les-Bains. They then take the comfortable, spacious gondola to Méribel to quickly move on to Courchevel from there.
- Travel time: like Méribel, Courchevel is a bit further away from motorways and airports. It therefore takes a little longer to get to your destination.
- Accommodation availability: accommodations in certain villages, particularly Courchevel 1850, can be exceptionally pricey and quickly get fully booked during the high season.
Other winter activities in Courchevel
Besides skiing and snowboarding, almost everything is possible in Courchevel. You can go sledging, snowshoeing, ice-skating, tobogganing, fat-biking through the snow and snowmobiling. And with 67 kilometres of well-prepared trails, even cross-country skiers can enjoy themselves for days on end. We also saw dog sledding on the Courchevel slopes and lots of paragliders. At the top of the ski lifts, you regularly come across a table with flags offering tandem flights with a parapenter.
And are you ready for some warmth after a half-day of winter sports? Even then you can have a great time in Courchevel. In Courchevel 1650, for instance, you have the large swimming pool Aquamotion. Next to this pool complex is Aqua Wellness: a great place to completely relax after a hard physical effort. It has a saltwater pool, sauna, steam bath and caldarium. And you can get a massage.
At the invitation of l’Office du tourisme de Brides-les-Bains and Les 3 Vallées, we stayed in Brides-les-Bains and visited the ski area of both Courchevel and Méribel. We compiled the content of the blog independently and objectively based on our own impressions.
This is what you want to know about a winter sports holiday in Courchevel
Courchevel is located in the Tarentaise Valley in the French department of Savoie. It is part of the Les 3 Vallées ski resort.
By car the fastest route is via Albertville. Once you leave the motorway, it is a good 45 kilometres on not always good, provincial roads. In high season (during school holidays), it is therefore better to avoid the busy changeover days.
We went by plane. Airports in the area include Lyon, Grenoble and the nearest one is Chambéry. From the airport, it is best to get a hire car. This is especially true of the more distant Geneva and Lyon airports. If you fly to Chambéry, getting the train is also a suitable transport option.
You can also take the train to Courchevel. The nearest train station to Courchevel is Moûtiers station, near Brides-les-Bains. From there, you can take a taxi or shuttle bus to Courchevel.
Yes, Courchevel is generally considered a snow-sure winter sports destination. This is mainly due to its favourable geographical location and the use of snow cannons. The Les Trois Vallées ski area, of which Courchevel is a part, generally has good snow conditions throughout the winter sports season.
Courchevel is known for its vibrant but also diverse après-ski. Although Courchevel has a reputation as a chic and exclusive destination, you will find many diverse après-ski options ranging from cosy bars to chic lounge bars and nightclubs. Some popular après-ski venues in Courchevel include Le Tremplin and Bar le Jump. There is a nice place on the slopes, too: La Cabana du 1928. We didn’t go inside but it looked trendy and really relaxed from the outside. In any case, the après-ski in Courchevel caters for both party-goers and those looking for a more sophisticated and laid-back vibes.
Courchevel is suitable for skiers of all levels, from beginners to advanced skiers. The ski resort offers an extensive network of slopes with different levels of difficulty. The ski resort therefore appeals to a wide range of winter sports enthusiasts.
Courchevel offers specially designated practice slopes and easy green runs, making it an ideal destination for the inexperienced skier to regain mastery of basic skiing skills. Note that we found some of the runs on the blue runs to fall more into the category of red runs.
For advanced skiers, there are plenty of challenging red and black runs, as well as off-piste opportunities and particularly steep descents.
In fact, you can eat out well with excellent food anywhere in Courchevel. With no fewer than 13 restaurants with at least one Michelin star, the ski resort is the culinary hotspot of the French Alps. There are even two three-star restaurants: Le 1947 à Cheval Blanc and La Bouitte. Other excellent restaurants in Courchevel.
Most accommodation in chic Courchevel offers a range of amenities and luxury, ranging from boutique experiences to opulent five-star hotels. Note that the price level is significantly higher in Courchevel than in the surrounding ski resorts. Depending on your budget, you can also choose to stay in Méribel. From here, you can quickly get to the Courchevel ski resort by gondola. Another excellent affordable option is to stay in Brides-les-Bains. From this town, lots of gondolas go to Méribel, from where you can quickly move on to Courchevel.
Still prefer an unforgettable stay right on the slopes of Courchevel? Here is some of the best accommodation in Courchevel:
- Hotel des Trois Vallées: this boutique ski-in ski-out hotel features a spa, swimming pool and ski shop. The hotel has a contemporary feel with retro touches and offers a delicious culinary experience. It is ideal for a relaxed stay, high in the mountains.
- Barrière Les Neiges: this opulent hotel offers exceptional service, spacious rooms and several dining options, including an Argentinian restaurant and a mountain-top brasserie. The hotel has a large ski room and offers luxury amenities, such as a spa and even a cinema.
- L'Apogée: this luxury hotel offers striking interiors, an extensive spa and rooms with stunning views of the valley. Located on the Verdons slope, the hotel offers a high level of service and comfort.
- Six Senses Residences Courchevel: these flats offer a unique experience in Courchevel, with spacious and stylish accommodation, a well-equipped kitchen and access to amenities, such as a spa and swimming pool. It is a perfect option for guests looking for privacy and luxury.