Ports of Call
Courchevel Travel Guide
Paris, France © Benh Lieu Song
Courchevel is made up of four separate ski resorts, all within the Trois Vallées - or Three Valleys - ski area, which also incorporates Meribel and Val Thorens. Courchevel 1850 has been rebranded as simply Courcheval; it is the highest and most expensive of the four villages and is known as a playground for the rich and famous attracting celebrities and Russian oligarchs. Courcheval 1650 is now called Moriond, 1550 is now known as Courchevel Village and finally there is Le Praz at 1300 meters. La Tania is another small, purpose-built holiday ski resort situated on a ridge between Courchevel and Meribel. Courchevel 1850 is the smartest and most expensive of the resorts; it has the best restaurants, nightlife and access to the slopes. Courchevel 1650 and 1550 are quieter, more suited to families, and Le Praz is a pretty village with narrow streets, but due to its altitude has less reliable snow.
The Trois Vallées ski area is one of the best and most extensive in the world (10 times larger than Vail, the largest ski resort in the United States), and Courchevel offers arguably the best skiing within the area - the snow is more reliable than Meribel, which gets more sun. There are lots of easy slopes for beginners beneath the Saulire cable car base station, and there is lots of choice for intermediates in both Courchevel and neighbouring Meribel. Advanced skiers will enjoy the reds and blacks above La Saulire; there are also some challenging north-facing slopes above Val Thorens, which can be reached within a day's skiing. Snowboarders will find some great slopes for cruising and some exciting couloirs for experts. When the snow is fresh there is some good off-piste, but it is advisable to go with a knowledgeable guide. There are several good ski schools in Courcheval, in addition to the state-run ESF, such as New Generation which has offices in both Moriond and Courchevel 1850.
Courchevel 1850 offers the best shopping, ranging from ski shops to expensive designer boutiques. The lower resorts all have ski shops and mini-supermarkets as well as a fine selection of bakeries and delicatessens.
Courchevel 1850 has the best and most expensive restaurants in the holiday resort; however, all the resorts have a good choice of reasonably priced, good quality restaurants.
All the villages have their own nightlife to offer holidaymakers, although most visitors make the trip to Courchevel 1850 for the liveliest clubs and bars.
Parasailing and tobogganing can be arranged for holidaymakers in Courchevel and for whiteout days there is a cinema, bowling, ice skating and an indoor swimming pool. Some of the smarter hotels offer spa treatments.
Courchevel 1850 is very expensive and no longer feels particularly French. As a rule, it is cheaper the lower you go; Moriond and Courcheval Villiage cost no more than other well-known resorts. During school holidays some slopes can get very crowded although the lift queues are rarely bad.