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courchevel resort guide, french alps

Courchevel is one of the most impressive ski resorts in the French Alps & is part of the famous Three Valleys ski area.  It has a "swanky" reputation to go along with its excellent skiing, however there are other, better for value options out there.  Courchevel is made up of five different resorts at different heights with each village having a different atmosphere & differing prices.  Wherever you choose to stay, there is first class skiing available for all abilities & some because of the north facing aspect, you will find fantastic snow conditions whenever you go in the season.
Courchevel (formerly Courchevel 1850) is by far the liveliest village with great shops, award winning restaurants & serious nightlife.  Apres-ski activities here include a toboggan run, parachuting, bowling alley & a cinema. There is a huge concentration of luxury hotels & it is a great place for people watching & celebrity spotting plus royalty pay regular visits.
Courchevel Moriond is the home of British chalet companies offering mid-range accommodation & a vibrant nightlife.  The village is expanding at a huge rate & the glitz & glamour of Courchevel is spreading down the mountain to this village.
Courchevel Village offers affordable accommodation for those looking for a quieter nightlife, at the moment!  Work on a 6 swimming pool complex was started in the summer of 2013 including a surf pool.  The Village is at the bottom of the toboggan run that starts in Courchevel so connections between the two villages are excellent. There are a few bars in the Village but of course there is a free shuttle bus service between all of the villages.
Courchevel Le Praz is a real French village & therefore has retained its Alpine charm.  In recent years, there have been many luxury catered chalets built including a sports centre.  As many of the ski instructors live here, nightlife is lively & you will find everything you need in the village.
La Tania – a purpose built, modern resort that caters for the family ski holiday market. 

Winter in Courchevel

Courchevel takes up one third of the world's largest ski area, the Three Valleys. There is a wide variety of pistes to satisfy all abilities with free lifts operating on the beginner slopes. It's north facing aspect makes this one of the most snow sure ski resorts in the Alps.  If you choose Courchevel for your ski holiday, you will have access to over 600km of pistes shared with Meribel & Val Thorens all connected with a modern & efficient lift system.
Above Courchevel (formerly 1850) you will find excellent beginner slopes, a family snowpark & wide pistes, perfect for cruising along at speed, plus the famous Saulire couloirs for serious off piste skiing.  The slopes above Courchevel Moriond are a little quieter as it is located at the far end of the Three Valleys.  There are plenty of red runs, & some amazing tree lined off piste skiing – it's a good place to end the day as it catches the last of the sunlight.  It is also worth noting, that although Le Praz is lower, due to the investments in snow cannons, it is possible to ski back to the village all season & if you ski from the top of Saulire all the way to Le Praz that's a massive, leg trembling 1400m metres of descent. Le Praz is excellent if there is low visibility or fresh snow due to its tree lined pistes.
As you might expect there are numerous ski schools in Courchevel including:
  • Snow d'Light – Anglo-French ski school established in 2001 offering group & private lessons
  • Magic in Motion – a good reputation for fun lessons
  • Supreme Ski & Snowboard School – the original British ski school in resort.
  • BASS ski school – British Alpine Ski & Snowboarding school – all native English speakers for groups, individuals, children & corporate skiing
  • New Generation Ski School – offering award winning instruction for adults & children in small groups with English guaranteed.
  • ESF Courchevel Ski School – the main French ski school offering ski or boarding lessons either in groups or privately.  Lessons are also held in English. 
  • RTM Snowboarding – a specialist snowboarding school for beginners up to advanced
  • First tracks ski coaching – a small ski school offering specialised group or private lessons for all ages.

Summer in Courchevel

Activities range from the wild and fun white water rafting to the more gentle and relaxing hiking. There are activities which are great for families, groups and those that you can just pop out on your own and enjoy. Whatever you decide to do there is plenty to enjoy in the mountains in the summer:
  • Canoe rafting,  white water rafting, hydro-speeding & canyoning
  • Road cycling or mountain biking – cycle hire is available
  • Glacier walking or hiking
  • Helicopter tours
  • Spa relaxation days
  • Paragliding or parapenting
  • Sky diving
  • Climbing
  • Flying School (Courchevel has its own small airstrip)
  • Fishing
  • Hot air ballooning

Accommodation in Courchevel

Chalet Hotel Dahu, Courchevel from Mark Warner – situated right in the centre of Courchevel (formerly 1850) & close to the ski lifts.  Suitable for families with children over the age of 7. The bedrooms are all en-suite & many have balconies. Offered on a fully catered basis including breakfast, afternoon tea & 3 course evening meal with wine. 
Hotel Courchevel Olympic, Courchevel from MadameVacances – a 2 star hotel with 28 en suite rooms all with balconies in Courchevel (formerly 1850) within 200m of shops, restaurants & ski lifts. Offered on a Bed & Breakfast basis. Each room sleeps 2 or 3 people. If you book online, children stay for free.
Les Chalets de Courchevel, Courchevel Village (formerly 1550) from MadameVacances – self catering traditional chalets sleeping up to 10 guests & available to book as a whole only.  There is a short shuttle bus ride to the ski lifts plus a fully catered chalet service is available to book before arrival.  
Crystal Ski in Courchevel also offers a range of accommodation in all of the villages of Courchevel.  They offer a private nanny service for all guests staying in their chalets in Courchevel when booking the whole chalet. Catered chalets, self catered apartments & hotels are all available for all budgets.  An excellent choice.
Inghams in Courchevel offer an excellent choice of accommodation across all the villages. Accommodation includes half board hotels, self catering apartments & catered chalets.  They offer an accommodation only service or a full package including flights & transfers. They offer a crèche service for both skiing & non-skiing children from the age of 18 months up to 12 years.
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Article By Lucilla Paull

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