St Bon’s valley starts at 1100 meters reaching the foot of L’Aiguille du Fruit at 3051 meters. 1945 is the famous year when St Bon’s mayor and his council gave up their mountain pastures to create a ski resort. This is how Courchvel 1850 saw the light of day becoming the first of the French second generation ski resorts. 100% – skiing for the door – and an economic benchmark developed entirely around the sport of skiing.
Courchevel (1300m – 1850m) – www.courchevel.com
On the border of La Vanoise national park, Courchevel looks out to Monte Bianco, the Italian face of Mont Blanc and is a multi level resort in the heart of the Three Valleys ski area that offers over three hundred acres of mountain entirely dedicated to all types of winter sports with access to six hundred kilometers of marked piste, not to mention the ten thousand hectares of off-piste skiing.
Since its creation in 1946 courchevel has learned how to develop and maintain a reputation for quality and prestige. 32,000 tourist beds are dispersed across four charming villages, each with their own individual magnetism.
Le Praz – Courchevel 1300 is a traditional village nurturing a family oriented and festive atmosphere. Courchevel 1550 is family orientated and Courchevel 1650 is nicknamed ‘sunny’ thanks to its open panorama and reliable snow conditions. Courchevel 1850, endowed with numerous luxury chalets and hotels, is at the beck and call of the most fastidious clients who come from all over the world, and who never tire of visiting.
Courchevel is the only ski resort in France developed on once virgin snow plains. In 1946, the developers, rather than look for a village where they could build ski lifts, decided to find an ideal place for skiing, where they could built a village. The result is a resort that offers a plethora of wide open space and immaculately groomed pistes with some seriously challenging runs, and due to mainly north facing slopes some of the most reliable snow conditions in the French Alps.
The highest point in Courchevel 1850 is only 1747 meters. The name was chosen for marketing reasons to compete with rival resort, Val d’Isère.
Has the reputation for being the world’s best ski resort. Immaculate pistes, superbly interlinked skiing on the vast 3 Valleys ski area amidst beautiful scenery are just some of its features. The secluded Jardin Alpin sector is where all the spectacular chalets and hotels are located. There are gentle free to use beginner’s slopes and a vast array of intermediate, advanced and off-piste couloirs to keep even the most accomplished skiers busy.
This exclusive resort is complete with sixty six ski lifts and over one hundred downhill runs, an total length in excess of one hundred and fifty kilometers. The lift system is without equal. Add to this an astounding range of bars, restaurants, chic boutiques and nightspots and it’s no wonder that Courchevel is so highly rated and where the rich and famous come ‘to see and be seen’. The resort’s nightlife is akin to St. Tropez, and you may well find yourself rubbing shoulders with a celebrity or two enjoying the variety of bars and restaurants. There are literally hundreds to choose from with cuisine ranging from gourmet French to takeaways of all descriptions.
The original village of Moriond forms the basis for the resort of Courchevel 1650, giving it a colloquial, friendly atmosphere which contrasts nicely with that of its near neighbour, the glamorous celebrity filled town, Courchevel 1850. It is lower down the valley, and less pricey and still has much to offer with a welcoming atmosphere encompassed its own unique character and style. Piste wise, there are some cruisy wide blue runs in 1650, where frequently you will often find some of the best powder snow and quietest slopes in Courchevel.
There are all the facilities you would expect in a top quality resort – numerous hotels, bars, restaurants, shops and three excellent supermarkets selling everything you will need and even its own local cinema and church. There is a weekly street market where you can buy local cheeses, meats and wines and the Tourist Information Office in the centre of the village will provide you with all the information you need on local activities and events during your stay in the resort.
Courchevel 1650 is much smaller than Courchevel 1850, but has a great selection of bars and restaurants. Some favourite haunts are Rocky’s bar, the Signal Bar, the Bubble Bar and the Space Bar.
Markedly quieter, with just a few chalets and hotels. A new high speed six person chairlift was installed in 2004-05 offering a very quick connection to the pistes of 1850. There is also a bubble lift which runs daily from 09.00 until 19.30 taking you into the centre of 1850.
Courchevel 1300 Le Praz
As the base for the skiing area, it is definitely the cheapest option for those looking to take advantage of the Trois Vallées skiing. From late December until early April, it is normally still possible to ski back to Le Praz on either the two red runs, or two black pistes, all of which are tree lined and some of the prettiest in the valley. Set amidst un-spoilt woodland and because of this quiet setting is ideal for a family holiday.
A fifteen minute gondola ride takes you into the centre of Courchevel 1850 where the gateway to the trois valley is yours for the taking! Apres ski and nightlife tends toward subdued and centres around several well established local bars and restaurants.
La Tania – www.latania.com
The most recent of the 3 Valley resorts La Tania started construction in 1990 with the view of welcoming journalists and athletes for the 1992 Olympic Games. Situated at 1400 meters in the heart of a forest, La Tania is first and foremost a convivial ski resort and an admirable alternative for those who want to combine skiing for all levels with a ‘personal approach’ resort. Different from Courchevel, La Tania is proud of its friendly atmosphere and warm reception. Yet from here, you can access the same fabulous ski domain. Grouches may object that its nightlife suffers compared to its bigger sisters, or that the resort’s northern exposure restricts its supply of sunshine however La Tania still represents a very special and off-beat way to explore the extraordinary ski area of Three Valleys.
The station has the utmost respect for the environment with a ‘no cars‘ policy. (A fourth generation resort built in the mountains where no previous village existed, fastidious in its use of traditional construction materials and sustaining minimal impact on the environment). Immediate access to the slopes from the apartments and chalets is an important comfort factor and of course fast access into the 3 Vallees skiing domain.