Courchevel: in 72 hours

15th January 2011, by Chris Gill

Convenient, classy, Courchevel – this is La Croisette at 1850

Convenient, classy, Courchevel – this is La Croisette at 1850

Courchevel prides itself on being France’s most glamorous resort, with its own airport, ritzy hotels, fine dining, even a top polo event. Visitors can spoil themselves rotten or simply enjoy a quality break in one of the four distinct villages. The ski area credentials are impressive too: access to the world’s largest domain, the Three Valleys, as well as its own extensive and reliably snow sure slopes. We had three days …

We left home on a Friday morning and laid down our first turns of the season after lunch. In the following 48 hours we skied across two valleys, checked out the deserted runs at 1650 and the slopes above La Tania, as well as made fantastically uninterrupted arcs down Courchevel’s most challenging descents. All this came wrapped with Flexiski’s flagship hotel, the Saint Louis – conveniently positioned in 1850, steps from the main lifts and offering mid-week and weekend breaks throughout the season (even on peak dates).

Getting there

Most people arrive via Geneva airport. It’s a 2-2.5 hour journey to Courchevel, but plentiful flights and transfers help to maximize your slope time. Alternatively, Chambéry airport is closer (1.5hr), served by a few charters and budget airlines. Tour operators often include transfers in short stay packages, or Three Vallee Transfers ( can arrange shared shuttle-buses. Helicopter transfers into Courchevel’s airfield are the ultimate in deluxe arrival of course, if you can afford it.

Staying there

Staying centrally in 1850 is sensible if timing your break early or late in the season. Three big gondolas will get you to different parts of the mountain quickly. La Croisette is convenient for tuition, as well as being handy for shops, bars and restaurants. The 3-star Saint Louis hotel is almost beside the Bellecôte green run and has been smartly refurbished in contemporary style, including a swanky new bar and lounge area. Three nights half-board in January starts at £530pp (Sunday-Wed), including cakes, canapés and a four-course dinner each night. Higher on the slopes is the 4-star Chabichou. Courchevel 1650 is quietly positioned – Flexiski or Momentum offers the 3-star Portetta there, a good family choice.

A three day area lift pass costs £118 (via Flexiski), but local Courchevel passes are also available.

Skiing there

The extent of the local slopes, never mind the whole Three Valleys, is more than you’ll know what to do with in three days. And it suits all abilities. Reliable snow and woodland runs spice up the attraction. Courchevel has its own lift pass if you prefer not to venture beyond the local area. Novices will aspire to the wide green and blue runs, such as the broadly gentle Bellecôte above 1850 served by a free lift, and the higher slopes around the Altiport.

The highlight for competent skiers is La Vizelle, with splendidly wide blacks such as Suisses – a favourite of ours. Saulire the top point at 2740m provides good, testing north-facing runs too. The terrain above 1650 offers quieter carving. Linger at the Bel Air hut – delightfully positioned above the resort, with a lovely terrace, good food and reasonably priced drinks. Lunch at Le Pilatus is a good alternative to the Russian jet-set experience by the airstrip too.

Après-skiing there

Aprs-ski Courchevel-style is sophisticated and fairly low-key. You’ll treat that all-important pint like gold dust though, given the price in some 1850 bars. But there’s affordable fun too. The trendy Mangeoire piano bar is the place to try. South American influenced Ku de Ta at La Croisette has good food and occasional live music. Rocky’s and the Bubble at 1650 are lively at close of play.

You can dine very well in Courchevel if you wish, either by splashing out on top menus or finding a quieter, more traditional corner. One of the finest establishments to satisfy any gourmet appetite is the Chabichou, boasting two Michelin stars. Adult menus start at 28 euro, children 18 euro. The Saulire is another fine option, or head for the more traditional Eterlou at 1650. The pocket dining / bar guide is a useful starting point when short of time.

Links: Flexiski

Links: Courchevel resort review

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