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Quick Guide: Skiing in Courchevel
November 24th 2020 | By Matthew Williams
Courchevel is one of the most popular Alpine ski resorts and for good reason. It is part of the Three Valleys ski area, one of the world’s largest linked ski areas with over 600 km of pistes, offers a fantastic variety of pistes for beginners, intermediates and advanced alike and has a brilliant mix of facilities from exclusive five-star hotels and Michelin star restaurants to budget apartments and eateries. There is something for everyone at Courchevel!
In this quick guide we will cover some of the most important aspects of the resort to help you plan your trip and judge whether skiing in Courchevel is right for you. We will take a look at the options for beginners, intermediates and the more advanced, offer some advice on choosing a ski school, give you some top tips on accommodation and things to do off the slopes and show you how to get to the resort. Read on for all you need to know about ski holidays in Courchevel!
There are four villages in the Courchevel Valley that make up the resort and each has its own special characteristics. At the lowest altitude you will find Courchevel Le Praz (Courchevel 1300), a traditional Alpine village packed with character and the place to stay if you are looking for budget accommodation. As it is so low down, it is good to keep in mind that it is quite a long gondola ride from here to the main pistes at 1850 and bus connections between the resort villages are not great.
Next, we have Courchevel Village (1550) which is a bit higher up and is currently undergoing some redevelopments. It is another good option for cheaper accommodation and gives better access to the slopes around 1850.
Courchevel Moriond (1650) is the village to head to for fantastic beginner slopes. It is situated away from the main resort slopes but this means that it offers some respite from the busy slopes during the peak periods. It is also offers a quiet nightlife, so if you are looking for an exciting night out, you will need to head over to nearby Courchevel (1850).
The final and most exclusive of Courchevel’s villages is Courchevel…its new name is a bit confusing so we will stick with its altitude 1850. This is where the super-rich head for some of the most expensive accommodation and amenities in the Alps with five-star hotels, luxury villas, high-end shops and Michelin star restaurants. It also enjoys some of the best beginners’ slopes in the resort and easy access to the main spine of the resort’s slopes and the rest of the Three Valleys.
No matter which village you stay in, you will still have access to the full range of Courchevel’s pistes. You may simply need to account for longer journeys to the main slopes!
Snowsports for Beginners
There are some fantastic beginners’ ski areas to be found at Courchevel 1850 (also known as just Courchevel, including two ZEN areas or zones for the ‘Evolution of Novices’. The Pralong ZEN is a great place to start with easy access to the short Ferme drag lift and the Altiport drag lift which is a bit longer. Begin on the Ferme, find your feet and then try your new skills from the Altiport.
For younger beginners, the Golf ZEN at the Jardin Alpin bubble lift is a good place to start as it offers two magic carpet lifts.
Courchevel Moriond is an excellent area to build your skills as a beginner with the Mickey ZEN offering a free drag lift and the quiet slopes giving you a stress-free practice.
Once you are ready to try something a bit more challenging you can head to some of the wide and shallow green pistes that surround 1850 and Moriond.
Snowsports for Intermediates
Courchevel is also known as a paradise for intermediate skiing with its well maintained, wide and gentle slopes making the perfect setting for developing new skills with confidence. The central areas of the resort’s slopes are where most of the best greens and blues are located, but make sure to get here early or late to avoid the crowds. The popularity of these great runs can be their own worst enemy, especially during the peak periods and it is best to be an early bird on the first lifts or try your luck when everyone is heading back.
One of the favourite slopes at the resort is the Combe Saulire, a red run considered one of the most fun in the Alps! It is a wonderful top to bottom run with beautiful views all around. Again, make sure to hit the slope early for the best experience. For more excellent blue runs, head to the slopes above Courchevel Moriond for relaxing cruising and some sublime views down the valley.
Snowsports for Experts
Courchevel does not disappoint when it comes to advanced skiing options. A firm favourite for those seeking out a challenge is the Grand Couloir at the top of the Saulire cable-car. It is actually one of the steepest black runs in Europe and is only just marked down as a run! The level of difficulty will of course depend on the snow, but if the initial narrow access route is icy, you will face a real test of your skills.
For more great on-piste advanced skiing head to Chapelets. This area is almost always quiet, offers amazing scenery and is an enjoyable ride. The run starts steep and then becomes gentler towards the bottom.
If you are looking for an off-piste adventure, we recommend you hire a local guide to access the best that the mountains have to offer. You will find some good options above Creux and under the Chanrossa and Roc Merlet chair lifts.
Finding the Right School
As we have seen, Courchevel is a great place to learn the ropes with excellent beginners’ areas and fantastic gentle greens and blues to build up your skills. The resort is also home to an excellent variety of ski schools and instructors and you will have little difficulty finding the right one for your needs.
Some accommodation providers will also set up lessons for you with their partner schools, but make sure to check them out online beforehand. It is important that the ski school can provide you with the right guidance for your needs.
Choosing your Accommodation
Courchevel’s four villages each offer a variety of accommodation including apartments, dorms, chalets and hotels. Costs vary but a general rule of thumb is the higher up in the valley you stay, the more expensive it will be. As we saw above, Courchevel 1850 is home to the most exclusive accommodation, while Courchevel La Praz at the bottom of the valley offers the cheaper options.
As the main slopes are located at 1850, you are effectively paying for the convenience of being nearby. If you do not mind early mornings and a bit of a commute on the gondola or the intervillage bus service, staying lower down the valley will not be an issue. Plus, La Praz has an active year-round local community and it offers you a more authentic Alpine experience with cobbled streets and quaint old buildings.
If you are planning on going to Courchevel at New Years or during the February holidays, make sure to book well in advance. These are the busiest periods and the best accommodation options are snapped up quickly!
Things to do in Courchevel Off the Pistes
If you are looking for a bustling party scene after a long day on the pistes, you may be sadly disappointed at Courchevel. The resort is rather quiet at night, which is ideal for families, but a bit of a challenge for younger travellers.
What nightlife there is, is located at Courchevel Moriond. It has a great selection of bars playing live music, such as Le Bubble Bar and Le Caterail. If you are looking for a late night, then try the Funky Fox with its great DJ nights and live bands that is open until 2am.
Families can head to the Aquamotion water park at Courchevel Moriond and enjoy a great variety of water activities. You can swim and surf, there is a spa and gym and even a climbing wall!
Getting to Courchevel
There are four main ways to travel to Courchevel and the best option for you will depend or how much you are willing to spend and how long you are willing to travel.
Flying to Courchevel
If you are flying, the best option to fly to Geneva and then transfer to Courchevel. Geneva is by far the largest airport in the region and offers a great range of flight routes across Europe.
From Geneva you can transfer to the resort in around 2 hours and a half and transfers from here compared to other nearby airports are a lot cheaper. One of our favourite private transfer companies is Transport Prestige. With friendly, professional drivers they will take you from the airport directly to your accommodation in their fleet of luxury Mercedes and Volkswagen vehicles. You will be in good hands with Transport Prestige and can easily reserve your transfer on their website.
You can also fly to Grenoble which is around 2 hours away from Courchevel, Lyon also around 2 hours away and Chambery which is just one hour and half away. Although the closest airport, Chambery doesn’t offer such a great variety of flights and therefore fewer transfer options to Chambery. Transfer Prestige also provide tranfers from these airports and many more in the region.
Flying is the best travel option based on total transfer time and cost compared to the other options.
Taking the train to Courchevel
You can take the Eurostar or a TGV from Paris to Moûtiers station where you will need to transfer to Courchevel. The transfer from the station to the resort takes around an hour and your best option is to hop on one of the local buses. The buses run regularly throughout the day and cost €13.50 for a one-way journey.
If you want a relaxing journey with great views and a low carbon foot print, this is a great option!
Drive to Courchevel
You can easily drive to Courchevel with excellent motorways all the way to the Alps. The journey up into the mountains can be a bit trickier, especially during bad winter weather. However, if you are well prepared with snow chains for your tyres and the right equipment in case you have to stop or break-down, there should not be an issue.
The main benefit of driving is the flexibility in being able to determine your own itinerary and option of visiting other ski resorts during your stay. The downside is the challenge of difficult weather, having to pay for parking and potentially more than one day’s travel if you stop along the way.
Take a coach to Courchevel
Coach travel is a great budget option with multiple carriers serving Courchevel and the Three Valleys from major European cities. Flixbus is a great example. While it is the cheapest and most environmentally friendly option, it is also the least convenient. Journeys can take 20 hours or more with changes and sitting on a coach for this period of time is not the most comfortable way to travel.
We hope you have found most of the basic information you need to plan your trip to Courchevel in our brief guide. However you decide to plan your trip to this magical Alpine destination, you are sure to have an unforgettable experience in one of the world’s best ski resorts!
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