Courchevel has come a really long way since the first draglift was installed there in 1946. What used to be a sleepy, little mountain village now offers the largest linked ski area in the world as it is part of Les Trois Vallées and is home to luxurious ski lodges and Michelin star rated restaurants. The village also boasts unique architectural heritage and is actually the only French resort to have six of its buildings listed as historic monuments as they are remarkable in terms of mountain architecture.
Helipads and Cable Cars
The French Alps ski resort’s reputation as a fashionable ski resort began in the 1960s, when international celebrities frequented it. To assure smooth arrivals for the stars, Courchevel’s altiport was built in 1961, the first undertaking of its kind in the world. Set at just above 2,000 metres, the altiport now oversees helicopter and hot-air balloon flights, as well as skydiving events. On the slopes, the ultramodern cable cars are legendary; one of them is able to carry 160 people, the largest in the world.
Back To Ski School
Do you feel it’s time to hone your skiing skills? Well, you are in luck as Courchevel has the highest concentration of ski instructors in Europe. For kids, the Children’s Village has the largest secure ski area reserved for children in France with specially designed cabins with fun themed zones. “When children discover this magical world in the middle of the woods, they can’t help but fall under its spell. It’s theirs and theirs alone!” James Gachet, French Ski School Manager, explains. There are also two, three, four-hour or full day sessions. “It’s a step closer to the tailor-made service that’s so important to Courchevel, with clients having the option of being collected from wherever they like and then taken back home at the end of the lesson,” Gachet says.
Sledding and Sliding
Of course, not everyone wants to ski the whole, and some people don’t even want to ski at all. The resort offers around 50 different activities aside from skiing. A 2.3 km sledding track is lit up until evening for a magical atmosphere in the middle of the forest. Nordic ski and snowshoe fans can explore the stunning landscapes at the gates of the Vanoise National Park. Or, try out the ski-scoot, a blend of a scooter and skis, to relive your childhood. For the brave hearted there is the airboard, a cross between a sledge and an inflatable mattress, to slide down on after taking a run up a hill.
Live A La Française
Aren’t you into skiing? Well, shopaholics are catered for big time at Courchevel. Here you can indulge in the world’s most exclusive brands such as Chanel, Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Bvlgari and Prada. Apart from the luxury boutiques, jewellery shops and exclusive art galleries there is also regional produce on sale, showcasing the village’s heritage. International art is also highlighted, and this winter, the sculptor Richard Orlinski will exhibit his work (some up to five metres high) in the resort as well as on top of the mountains. Plus, to mark its 70th birthday, Courchevel is staging a nostalgic exhibition in the Place du Tremplin, where a selection of stunning snapshots of the resort will be on display throughout the season.
If wellbeing and relaxation top your vacation checklist, the numerous spas in the resort are sure to satisfy with exclusive treatments and a wide array of packages ranging from chocolate massage to relaxation in an outdoor wooden hot tub. Last winter Courchevel opened the largest aquatic centre in a ski resort, Aquamotion, spread over a 15,000m² surface area, is nestled between pine trees on a mountainside. It features a spectacular surf wave, the first indoor example of its size in France, as well as sports facilities and wellness activities. The wellness area is equipped with a jet stream pool, a salt-water pool and a bubble pool – perfect after a day’s skiing to rejuvenate and ease aching limbs.
At the end of a sunny ski day head out on to one of the huge terraces to take in the dazzling views of the pristine white slopes. Then, when the sun goes down and temperatures drop, it’s time to head indoors for a little indulgence: a bowl of steaming hot soup followed by chocolate fondue. Between Michelin-starred gastronomy, cosy bistros and traditional and exotic cuisine, the resort boasts over 110 restaurants.
“Last but not least,” Nathalie Faure, Media Communication Manager, Courchevel Tourisme, says, “no need to say that most of the people in Courchevel speak English.” What more could one ask for, maybe guaranteed snow cover? Well, the first snowfall this year was in October and thanks to its geographic situation and cutting-edge snowmaking facilities, Courchevel guarantees optimum snow cover for the coming season.
Courchevel in Numbers
110 dining establishments
7 Michelin-starred restaurants (10 stars)
46 dining establishments accessible on skis
48 activities + Aquamotion
The Joys of Fine Dining: The Privilege of Choice
Courchevel offers an exceptional variety and quality of dining experience.
The resort has always been a pioneer when it comes to gastronomy. In 1979, Michel Rochedy’s Le Chabichou became the first restaurant in Courchevel to win a Michelin star. Five years later, in 1984, he received a second star. Today, seven of the resort’s restaurants boast Michelin stars, the densest concentration in the mountains. For years, the most famous Michelin-starred chefs have been in Courchevel managing to maintain the same level of excellence despite the seasonal nature of their work.
6 Cool Outdoor Activities in Courchevel
There are just so many outdoor activities ensuring fun for those who choose not to ski or snowshoe in Courchevel. There’s the extremely adventurous, like climbing on ice and test driving a snowcat, to activities for the whole family like dog sledding.
If you want to know what it feels like to fly like a bird, hang gliding is the activity for you! Attached to a delta-shaped wing, take off and discover new flying sensations while admiring the magnificent landscapes. Accompanied by an experienced pilot, it’s an alternative way for you to discover Courchevel.
By trying out a variety of over-snow vehicles, you can experience some real thrills! Test drive a snowcat, a snowmobile or a sledge, or try them all.
This is a wonderful outing on a sled, where Huskies pull you.
A horse, a pair of skis, and off you go for this ride off the beaten tracks.
Hot air balloon
A balloon filled with hot air is the carefree way for you to fly. Climb aboard a hot air balloon so you can discover the peaceful beauty of the mountains seen from the sky.
You can discover new sensations and try this new generation of mountain bike, especially conceived and adapted for the snow.