Courchevel Info

The popular image of Courchevel is of an expensive, jet-set type resort where the well-heeled and the famous go to play, and everything is consequently priced out of reach of the average holidaymaker. In fact this is only an aspect of Courchevel, and a minor one at that. True, if you could afford it, you could stay at the Hotel Byblos de Neige and rub shoulders with Richard Branson; but you can also find good accommodation, food, drink and entertainment at prices similar to those of other popular French resorts, such as Val d’Isere and Les Deux Alps. Generally Courchevel is lively and friendly, and has become very popular with British skiers over the years. You hear English spoken wherever you go. There are many Brits working in the bars and restaurants and most of the locals speak good English too.

And when it comes to skiing, Courchevel has the best of everything – a huge variety of easily accessible slopes to suit all levels of skier, plus access to the wider Three Valleys area (the largest linked area in the world), providing as much choice and variety as the most energetic of skiers could possibly want.

That said, Courchevel is far more beginner-friendly than many of the other prestigious resorts, for example Val d’Isere. In Courchevel novices and timid skiers have miles of easy blues and greens at their disposal, stretching across the 1850 area and into1650, so they can develop and gain confidence without facing any of those awkward over-challenging runs. And they can steadily graduate to harder blues and reds by degrees, as so many different runs intermingle over the vast terrain.

Structurally Courchevel is an expansive resort with a very large ski area accessible from five separate sub centres, or villages. They are known by their heights in metres as: Courchevel 1850Courchevel 1650 (Moriond), Courchevel 1550Courchevel 1300 (Le Praz), and La Tania (1350m). The five locations connect up by road, ski lift and piste, so you can get from one to another fairly easily.

The lifts running from Le Praz and 1550 to 1850 go both ways and are for pedestrian as well as skier use; they stay open into the early evening, so can be used for après-ski purposes. Also a frequent free bus service runs between the various levels from morning till late at night, so getting around is never a problem.

The map shows connectivity between the different parts of the Courchevel resort by road, lift and ski run (simplified and not to scale).

Courchevel 1850 is the largest of the group and the centre of the ski and après-ski action. Everything in 1850 revolves around the Croisette, a large hangar-like lift station which houses the Ski School HQ, lift pass sales, Post Office and banks. This where the skiing day in 1850 traditionally begins, and is often the first stop for skiers coming up from 1550 and 1350.

The 'village' of 1850 is strung around the Croisette in a loose horse-shoe shape, and if one is centrally based then everything of importance is within reasonable walking distance. The best of the bars, shops and restaurants are to be found in 1850, and this is where the serious après-ski happens.

Courchevel 1650, originally the hamlet of Moriond, is located in the next valley to the east of 1850, and is like a mini-resort in its own right, complete with its own ski area, set upon the sunny slopes of Col de Chanrossa. There are several links going both ways between the 1650 and 1850 ski areas, but none at resort level. This is no problem since the ski bus will take you from one to the other. 1650 has a pleasant atmosphere, and a good range of bars and restaurants which make it a useful daytime or early evening stopover point. Later in the evening though it tends to be rather quiet apart from one or two music bars.

Courchevel 1550 has less of an atmosphere than its two higher cousins and is in truth a purpose-built dormitory station with basic amenities. But it is well positioned, just a short lift ride away from 1850, and it does have a very good pizzeria and a couple of lively bars. Moonlight permitting, it is possible to ski back to 1550 from 1850 after dark – but don't try this if you've had too many beers!

Courchevel 1300, or Le Praz, is a real village with a rustic charm that predates skiing by hundreds of years. It has quaint narrow streets and buildings of ancient stone and weathered wood. There is a lake near the Olympic ski jump which is a beauty spot in summer, good for fishing. Le Praz is generally quieter than 1850, but it still has some okay bars on the fringe opposite the lift station, and a very good restaurant – Le Bistro du Praz. As with 1550 the easiest way to get higher up is by ski lift.

La Tania is a separate resort, not technically part of Courchevel, but since it shares the same ski area is deserves to come under the Courchevel umbrella. It occupies the west of the area, part way to Meribel, and is a good destination for some longer distance, not too hard intermediate skiing from 1850. It is similar in both height and quality to Le Praz, and tends to be a bit cheaper than the rest of Courchevel, hence its attraction; but as a base, its remoteness from the main Courchevel skiing area can be a drawback – especially when the lower altitude snow deteriorates later in the season.

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