Improving weather and excellent snow in Courchevel and the 3 Vallées

21st March 2018, by Chris Gill

The sunny main slopes of Les Menuires, seen on Tuesday from La Masse

The sunny main slopes of Les Menuires, seen on Tuesday from La Masse

I’m now in the northern Alps with son Alex and nephew Nik, based for the week in Champagny (on the back side of La Plagne). We’re staying in a splendid CGH apartment arranged by our friends at Peak Retreats – the UK’s leading agency for French apartment holidays. More about that in the next blog.

But we started our week with two or three days skiing in the 3 Vallées. Alex and Nik had no quibble with this – both have good memories of Courchevel, being guilty of ‘working’ a season in the resort in their respective juvenile years.

The slopes of Courchevel, our default destination in the 3V, are gloriously visible from parts of Champagny – is there a better view of a ski resort and its slopes in the Alps? The trip takes about half an hour by car. La Tania, with quick access to both Courchevel and Méribel, is even less.

Courchevel – the bits formerly known as 1850 and 1550 – from Champagny

Monday brought low cloud, which made Courchevel an excellent place to be heading for – in particular, the forest above Le Praz and La Tania. The Dou des Lanches chair-lift at the top was disappearing into thick fog, but we enjoyed the lower mountain.

Before enjoying this sector’s two excellent black pistes – Jockeys and Jean Blanc – we first checked out the Folyères blue piste to La Tania and confirmed that it is right at the tough end of the blue spectrum – a fine thrash for a confident skier, but an ordeal for the nervous.

Lunch, naturally, was at the only affordable mountain restaurant in these parts, the excellent Bouc Blanc – given the piste and terrace conditions, we were lucky to get a table.

Tuesday brought much better weather. I was to be on airport chauffeur duty in the afternoon, meeting latecomers from Bristol and Paris, but in a long morning we skied from La Tania, through Méribel over to La Masse on the far side of Les Menuires.

La Masse – an archive shot taken before the top blue run was created

Our mission was to check out the recently created Bouquetin blue run from the top, which links at mid-mountain to the existing Vallons blue to the bottom. As you might expect on a quite serious mountain like La Masse (with a vertical of over 1000m) the run is not easy, but it is rightly classified blue, widening the appeal of a sector that has traditionally been a bit neglected.

Our quick three-valley tour didn’t reveal much else new. As all the world knows, there is plenty of snow this year, but these days it’s the quality that counts more than the quantity. And as usual, the snow on the sunny runs from Courchevel into Méribel left a lot to be desired – way the least satisfactory conditions of the day. As so often, the return to Méribel from Les Menuires on the red Mouflon was delightful – packed powder shared with few other customers.

On Wednesday we were joined on a tour of the easy slopes above Courchevel and La Tania by our specialist blue-run inspectors hot off the plane and train from Bristol and Paris – but managed to sneak off for a bit of fun on the black runs on Vizelle; Pylones and Suisse were in excellent recently-groomed shape.

We now have two days to devote to the slopes of La Plagne. More news anon.

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