The Charm of Courchevel
The French ski-resort of Courchevel is definitely one of the world’s most famous Alpine resorts and a much-favoured destination for ski and snowboard enthusiasts all over the globe. But what is it about this stunning ski resort that brings people coming back time and time again?
The main attraction
The biggest lure for snow seekers has got to be the location and skiing conditions this beautiful resort offers, as well as breath-taking Alpine scenery.
Located on the north-facing side of the Trois Vallées, Courchevel reportedly has some of the best snow of all three of the valleys and with access to 600 km of piste and the world’s largest lift-linked resort, there is a huge choice of slopes on offer. However, many visitors to Courchevel rarely feel the need to go beyond the wide range of piste and off-piste skiing within Courchevel as it has slopes to suit all ski- or snowboarding abilities, from complete beginners up all the way up to expert level.
Naturally, these attributes for a ski resort attract a great deal of guests and demand a premium price, particularly where there is such an affluent clientele that includes the Royal Family, Leonardo DiCaprio and David and Victoria Beckham.
Location, location, locationTo cater for such discerning guests, the resort of Courchevel has become home to some amazing six star hotels, Michelin star restaurants and high-end luxury shops that provide VIP treatment for anyone who wants the best après ski money can buy. Throughout the resort, there is no shortage of accommodation, whether you want to stay in one of the resorts top hotels or you prefer to rent a luxury chalet or apartment to yourself.
However, when looking at Courchevel, it’s important to note its geographical layout, as it consists of four separate villages located at different altitudes. Previously the villages were named by the altitude in metres, but a rename in 2011 saw these replaced with actual names, although they are often still referred to by their original names. These villages consist of Courchevel Le Praz (1300), Courchevel Village (1550), Courchevel Moriond (1650) and Courchevel (1850) that are all linked by a frequent bus service.
The lower villages are much quieter than Courchevel (1850), yet still have a plenty to offer in terms of plush accommodation and good restaurants. However, the highest Courchevel is where you’ll find the best choice of prestigious hotels, luxury boutiques, classy restaurants and bars with a bustling social scene where you can splash the cash and indulge yourself.
Amazingly, Courchevel 1850 is home to the largest number of luxury hotels in France with the exception of Paris; offering three Palace rated hotels that offer an exceptional experience in the French Alps, as well as another sixteen five star hotels.
Exquisite fine dining
Of course, if you’re venturing to Courchevel, dining out is a must as there is a great deal of choice for fine cuisine, including no less than five two Michelin star restaurants.
Three of these are located at the Palace rated hotels - Hotel Les Airelles which is home to the elegant and intimate Pierre Gagnaire pour les Airelles; Le 1947 at stylish Hotel Cheval Blanc, where a lucky 25 guests per evening will enjoy chef Yannick Alleno take on Nouvelle Cuisine; and Hotel Le K2 that houses Le Kintessence restaurant serving up Asian infused cuisine alongside vintage wines.
The other two restaurants are also situated in luxury hotels, La Table Du Kilamanjaro serves up French delicacies perfectly complemented by an extensive wine list, while Le Chabichou a four-star family run hotel serves up locally sourced cuisine with flavours from all around the world.
Besides the potential for gourmet dining, there are plenty more superb restaurants in the upper resort, as well as the lower ones that will tantalise your taste buds and leave you feeling satisfied.
Luxury Après SkiBesides dining out in some of France’s best restaurants, Courchevel also offers plenty of other après ski activities, including a plethora of spa hotels, where you can relax, unwind, swim and get a personal massage to ease the aches and pains from a hard day’s skiing. There is also the Aquamotion centre at Courchevel Moriond has a whole host of water sports to keep you entertained.
Alternatively, if you wish to unwind with a few drinks in a swanky bar, down in Courchevel Morion (1650), you can wrap up warm and enjoy a drink in the crisp fresh air at Portetta’s open-air bar Fire and Ice; soak up the atmosphere at Tremplin Restaurant and Bar in Courchevel (1850). After hours, most of the luxury hotel bars will provide a comfortable lounge bar, while the Grange nightclub will keep the party going well into the early hours.
Courchevel is an absolutely charming mountain resort that has it all, excellent skiing conditions, an abundance of hotels, restaurants and bars with a great social scene that suits all manner of clientele.