Ski Courchevel! Ski holidays in Courchevel are a must have experience for any skier no matter whether you’re a beginner, intermediate or advanced. It’s one of those special resorts that has almost everything for everyone and it oozes character and charm. As a resort it is made up of 4 main areas, Courchevel 1850, Courchevel 1650, Courchevel 1550, and La Praz (or Courchevel 1300). Within the Courchevel valley you will also find La Tania, though La Tania is often thought of as a resort in its own right. Courchevel 1850 and 1650 are the main areas of the resort that you will find accommodation for your Courchevel skiing holiday.
Courchevel 1850 was actually one of the first purpose built ski resorts in France but unlike some other resorts such as Tignes or Val Thorens it has been built with traditional architecture in mind allowing it to maintain a pretty alpine feel. The purpose built nature of the resort also means that much of the accommodation in Courchevel 1850 is ski in ski out. A little known fact about Courchevel 1850 is that the resort altitude is actually 1747m rather than the 1850m that you would expect. Rumour has it that the resort developers named the resort Courchevel '1850' in order to rival Val d'Isere, the other main French resort of the time, which does indeed have a resort height of 1850m. However, it’s not all about 1850 and you will find plenty of decent accommodation in Courchevel 1650, Courchevel 1550, and Courchevel La Praz as well. Skiing holidays in Courchevel 1650 are very popular with British skiers as it has all of its own amenities such as bars, restaurants and a nightclub and it offers great value for money compared to the bright lights of 1850.
Courchevel 1650 was originally a little village called Moriond but as the resort of Courchevel has grown over the years so has 1650, until it became the full-fledged ski resort that it is now. It has is own character and style with easy access to all of the skiing in Courchevel. It is situated on the other side of the valley from all of the other resorts of Courchevel but a ski holiday in Courchevel 1650 is well worth considering. It offers a great value for money alternative to 1850 and it has its own amenities such as bars, shops, restaurants and a night club.
The biggest benefit of booking a ski holiday in Courchevel 1550 is that it has a direct link with 1850 via two lifts, the Grangettes bubble and the Tovets chairlift. In the morning you simply take one lift up and you are in the heart of 1850. From there you have the full Les Trois Vallees at you feet. At the end of the day you simply take one run down from 1850 and you are back home.
There is not a huge amount of nightlife in Courchevel 1550, but it does have a couple of bars which offer great happy hours deals as well as a handful of restaurants which offer great value for money dining. Courchevel 1550 is probably a better resort for families than groups who want to party during their ski holiday. Children will love the Louge, a huge sledging run which winds down through the trees coming down from 1850 to 1550. Its free to use as long as you have a sledge and these can be rented for a few Euros for the evening. To get up and down the run the Grangettes bubble lift runs through until 8pm. The added bonus of this is that it gives you easy access to and from 1850 in the evening. To get to the nightlife of 1650 and 1850 is a good 10 mins on the bus so a few minutes in the bubble is a nice luxury.
The ski Region that Courchevel is situated within is called The Three Valleys or the ‘Lse Trois Vallees’ in French. The Three Valleys is made up of four main resorts; Courchevel, Meribel, Val Thorens and Les Menuires, and between them there is around 600km of piste to be skied. There is almost enough skiing so that you won't have to ski the same run twice in one week if you don't want too. The amount of skiing to be done is mind blowing and is an experience to be had by all.
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* Locations are for guidance use only.
The skiing in Courchevel is probably the most varied in the region with easy green and cruising blue runs, through to steep and tough black runs. A Courchevel skiing holiday will keep everyone in your group happy and anyone who wants to venture further afield has the other fantastic resorts in the area to keep them happy as well. The Courchevel skiing is not the highest in The Three Valleys but the varied terrain both above and below the tree line is what makes it so special. If you need access to seriously high skiing then you can easily get to Val Thorens but most of the time you will have no need to leave the Courchevel valley except for the sake of exploring.
Beginners will love the skiing in Courchevel. There are some easy nursery slopes, which are ideal for getting to grips with your skis, right in the centre of 1850 just above the Croisette (the main lift station). These slopes can be used for free which means that beginners will not have to pay for a lift pass until they have done a couple of lessons. There are also free lifts in 1650 as well. Again these lifts are right by the main lift station in the centre of Courchevel 1650 making it very convenient for novice skiers.
With an abundance of Red and Blue runs there is plenty of skiing to keep an intermediate skier happy in the Courchevel ski area. You could easily spend an entire week without even leaving the Courchevel Valley if you don't want to fork out for a full area pass. 1850 and 1650 each offer enough skiing to keep you happy for a full day if not more, as does the amount of skiing between 1550, La Praz and La Tania. Most people end up buying a full area pass as the draw of the full Les Trois Vallees is too strong but if you are happy to just ski in Courchevel then you will not be bored.
With over 600 km of varied piste to be skied, a full area pass is a must for an adventurous advanced skier. There are over 50 black runs spread throughout the region on which to test your abilities. In Courchevel you will find yourself drawn towards Piste M and Suisses among just a few.
For those who like cruising around on a board then the gentle, wide slopes of 1850 and 1650 are ideal. Courchevel might not be a haven for freestyle riders but the snow park in 1850 is well maintained, albeit not the most demanding in the world. However, for those who are after a bit more of a challenge you can always head over to Meribel or Val Thorens where the parks are bigger and faster. On the other hand, if park riding is not your thing but you still want something a bit more adventurous than just cruising around then check out the humps and bumps underneath the Biolley lift. It’s a jibber’s paradise.
The most famous of all of the off piste ski runs that Courchevel has to offer is that of the Grand Coulior located at the top of the Saulire. It is quite a challenge in the Coulier at the top, but then opens out into a huge powder field at the bottom. The run down under the Chanrossa chairlift is also a favourite with the locals after a big dump of powder. It can get tracked out quite quickly though so if you know in advance that a powder day has been forecast you had better set your alarms pretty early.
There’s plenty of apres ski in Courchevel. Each of the villages which makes up the resort as a whole has its own apres ski to be sampled. From the sophisticated boutiques, exclusive clubs and restaurants of Courchevel 1850 to the amazing happy hour deals in 1650, 1550 and La Praz. In 1650 Rockies is the place to head while 'Le Bar' is where those in the know will be heading if they are staying in 1550. However, no matter where you have booked to stay throughout your Courchevel ski holiday you shouldn't overlook the apres scene in le Praz and La Tania. Both are easily reachable on your ski pass and getting home once the lifts have closed is just a case of getting the ski bus. The Ski Lodge in La Tania is great as is Les Courchevel in Le Praz. Especially when they have a live band on. Without venturing down to Le Praz at least once, a Courchevel skiing holiday is not complete! It is also possible to stop off for apres ski at the famous Folie Douce in Meribel and you can get home to Courchevel with one lift.
The main venues for apres ski in Courchevel 1850 are Bar le Jump near La Croisette and Le Milk Pub in Place du Forum both of which offer reasonably priced beers. Bar le Jump tends to get particularly busy given its location right next to the main lift station and right next to the piste.
After a few drinks in one of the pubs, many holidays makers and seasonaires alike head to La Ku De Ta. Restaurant by day and apres ski bar / nightclub by night. They regularly have live music and you will find plenty of people partying away still in their ski gear, dancing on tables and making the most of a great party atmosphere. For a slightly different crowd try Purple Cafe offering classy cocktails or Piggy's Pub for a much more chilled out vibe.
There are plenty of other swanky bars and restaurants in Courchevel 1850 and it is very easy to blow your entire holiday budget in one night if you’re not careful. However, if you are looking for some top class restaurants then Courchevel is the place for you. There are 7 restaurants in Courchevel 1850 that have been awarded Michelin stars and 3 of those restaurants have been awarded 2 stars each; Le Chabichou, La Bateau Ivre and Pierre Gagnaire pour Les Airelles.
Courchevel 1650 has a vibrant apres ski scene with Rockies Bar right in the centre of the village doing some great happy hour offers. They also serve Mutzig, which is a very strong larger and very popular with those who live in the Alps (for obvious reasons). As anyone knows who has ever had it before, you really need to watch how much you drink. There is a well known phrase....."Mutzig made me do it". Just make sure that you are not using it the morning after the night before.
Bubble Bar is also a popular bar for an apres ski drink which is also in the centre of the village and also does some great happy hour offers. For those looking to stay out a little later try the Funky Fox bar at the top end of the village which regularly has late night events with DJ's and the imaginative named nightclub "Le Club" is always open for a few late night drinks.
The apres ski in Courchevel 1550 is a bit limited but there are some good bars to be found. The imaginatively named "The Bar" is a great place to catch UK sport and offers a good variety of drinks. If you are looking for something a bit different then try Le Caterail which offers a great selection of cocktails.
The fact that you can easily get from Courchevel 1850 down to 1550 is worth thinking about if what you want from your ski holiday is apres ski. It is very easy to stop of at somewhere like Bar le Jump or Ku De Ta for some apres ski drinks in Courchevel 1850 and then either ski straight back down to 1550 after (provided you have not had too many) or get the gondola back down which runs through until about 8pm.