History of Courchevel
Originally a group of small hamlets, the resort of Courchevel was born in 1942, when the French Commission of Tourism decided to form a “super resort”. The ski area was linked to Meribel and Val Thorens in 1973 and the area became popular with French visitors from Paris. The spread of high-end accommodation began to attract the rich and famous from further afield and Courchevel earned a reputation as a luxury ski resort.
Courchevel still comprises five distinct villages, all of which have their own character. Families flock to La Tania, Courchevel 1850 is known for glamour, Courchevel Moriond is the place to head for the nightlife and Courchevel village has more budget-friendly options.
The fifth area, Courchevel Le Praz is a beautiful authentic Alpine village with a more rustic atmosphere and chalets which are specific to the region. With a large permanent population it is less affected by tourist seasons and has a strong community feel.
Whatever you’re looking for in a mountain holiday, you’re sure to find it in Courchevel.
The fashionable mountain resort of Courchevel is in the Trois Vallees ski domain - one of the largest in the world. With 600km of pistes and 166 lifts, the snow is some of the best in France, meaning there’s plenty of variety for skiers and boarders of every level. The high-speed lift network is designed to cut down on the queues, so that you spend less time waiting and more time on the snow. And with a single lift pass covering the whole domain, there’s plenty to discover, from pastures and forests to peaks and glaciers, when you spend your holidays in Courchevel.
Most of the slopes are north-facing, and with 85% of them above 1800m, and 50% covered by snowmakers, you’re sure of snow from December to April.
The Le Praz Gondola, opened in 2019, means guests can enjoy all the charm of this authentic village while still being able to get to Courchevel 1850 in six minutes! The covered chairlift goes directly from the Olympic ski jump in Le Praz to the top of the La Tania bubble, and then on to Meribel via the Col de la Loze.
Courchevel is full of activities, so you'll be spoilt for choice! Here are some activities that we strongly recommend (you can find details on each of them below):
Make a splash! - Courchevel village is home to Aquamotion - the largest mountain waterpark in Europe. As well as the 25m pool, you’ll find indoor and outdoor lagoons, a diving pool and baby pool and a five-lane waterslide. There’s also a wonderful spa and wellness centre, with steam rooms, sauna and a seawater cave! At the other end of the scale, you can try indoor surfing, climbing or aquafit classes. There’s also a bar and restaurant so that you can make a day of it. The centre is open in the summer season only - check the website for times and entry prices.
Go sledging - A wonderful fast and long sledge run links Courchevel 1850 and Courchevel 1550 - and it’s free to use! Take the Grangettes gondola from 1550 and hire a sledge for €5. Then hold on tight as you head back down the winding track through the forest. For even more speed, try the newer sledge run that has been added in 1650 - speeding through tunnels and around bends from the top of the Ariondaz gondola, you’ll need a helmet for this one. You’ll also need €15 per person (four descents for €44), which includes your sledge.
Snow fun - There’s plenty to interest kids of all ages at Courchevel 1850’s family fun park, alongside the Verdon piste. Youngsters can build an igloo, explore the ice maze, race on the skier cross or try the tubing jump, while there are more challenging jumps for more confident skiers. On Wednesdays, the park and the Verdon piste are open after dark, with floodlights, music and a great party atmosphere.
Take to the sky - You’ll get a whole different perspective on the mountains when you skim the peaks and plunge into the valleys on a thrilling helicopter ride! Whether you’re after a transfer from the airport, a panoramic sight-seeing flight, or even a stylish arrival at a Michelin-starred restaurant, this will be a ride you won’t forget.
A day at the lake - Summer or winter, the stunning turquoise Lac de la Rosiere, in the heart of a forest, is a memorable trip. In the winter, put on snowshoes and explore the lakeside and ravines (get a trail guide from the tourist office). In the summer, take a picnic and enjoy the lakeside walks - you can even follow the boardwalk right across the lake. Swimming is not allowed, but kayaking is. There’s also a barbecue area and a cafe. In Le Praz, the lake at the foot of the Olympic ski jumps is popular with walkers and anglers. The path around the lake is the perfect place for a gentle evening stroll, perhaps followed by a meal at a lakeside restaurant.
Via ferrata - You don’t need any experience of climbing to conquer the mountains when you try via ferrata - a sort of vertical hike around cliff faces on wire trails. It’s all totally safe as you’re attached to the rocks by a wire harness. Start off with the beginner’s route at Lac de la Rosiere, or if you’re feeling more confident, head to the more challenging course at La Croix des Verdons - one of the highest in France!
Dog sledding- Whether you want to sit back and let someone else do the work on a ride led by a musher, or take control of your own sled and dog team, this is a real mountain adventure. Look for animal tracks as you wind through forest tracks on the Plateau de Prameruel.
Take to the ice - Skate in the tracks of Olympians at this rink in the Place du Forum in Courchevel village. As well as skating sessions, the venue also hosts ice hockey matches and spectacular ice shows. Check the website for the latest events and opening hours.
Get out for a walk - Whether you’re looking for a gentle stroll with young children or something more challenging, there’s lots of choice of footpaths and trails in the Courchevel area. The tourist office will be able to help you with maps and advice.
Party time - Round off a day on the mountain at La Folie Douce bar. This outdoor bar/nightclub is on the piste at the mid station of the Saulire cable car, and is accessible by skis from the Courchevel Valley. Blankets, duvets and cosy sofas keep you warm when the temperature falls, and heated beer pumps ensure the drinks keep flowing! The venue, which has two restaurants, is open all day, with acrobats, live music and performers through the afternoon. The apres-ski fun starts at 3pm, and the music builds towards the evening.
Visit an Indian village - One of the last things you might expect to see on an Alpine ski slope is an Indian village, compete with teepees! It’s a great place for a lunch stop if you’ve got young children - they will love dressing up, choosing their chief and having a go at crafts such as bead making, drawing and pole-fishing. The village is on the Indiens piste beneath the Verdons gondola.
Azimut (273 Rue de la Madelon, Le Praz, tel +33 4 79 06 25 90) This Michelin-starred restaurant is rightly popular for its great food, relaxed atmosphere, friendly service and reasonably priced fixed menus. A three-course lunch will set you back €40, and at the other end of the scale, the chef’s surprise tasting menu is €108. The children’s menu is €19. Closed on Mondays.
Le 1947 (Le Jardin Alpin Hotel Cheval Blanc, 73120, Courchevel, tel: +33 4 79 00 50 50) Three Michelin stars are pretty much all you need to know about this stylish restaurant at the Cheval Blanc hotel. Book VERY early - there are only five tables and the restaurant is only open for dinner. Expect to be greeted by innovative chef Yannick Alenno, who is happy to give tours of the kitchen. Main courses at this sleek restaurant cost upwards of €140, but you’re paying for an exclusive experience that you’re unlikely to forget.
Petit Savoyard (rue du Marquis, 73120, Courchevel France, tel: +33 4 79 08 27 44) If you’re looking for good local cuisine, this Moriond restaurant called Le Petit Savoyard would seem a good place to start. But there’s also a good range of pizzas and pasta dishes, steaks and burgers. A great family choice.
Bistrot le C (122 Rue Notre Dame des Neiges, 73120, Courchevel France, tel: +33 4 79 41 32 55) This bar and restaurant is next to the Aquamotion waterpark in Moriond, making it the perfect stop for dinner after a day in the water. Classic French cuisine (foie gras, snails) share the menu with burgers as well as vegetarian and vegan choices.
Le Bel Air (On the pistes, Courchevel 1650, tel: +33 4 79 08 00 93) This snack bar and restaurant is a popular lunch stop for skiers, as much for the stunning views as for the food. The snack bar serves sandwiches, soups, burgers, chips etc, while the upstairs restaurant (booking advised) offers local specialities such as tartiflette, local cheeses and charcuterie as well as steaks and pasta. Vegetarian options are available.
Le Bistrot du Praz (Rue de la Chappelle Le Praz, tel: +33 4 79 08 41 33) This fine dining restaurant has a great lakeside location at the foot of the ski jumps in Le Praz. The menu is short and changes regularly, making the most of seasonal produce and Alpine influences. Make sure you book.
Designer names jostle for space in Courchevel - bring deep pockets and a credit card. Hermes, Fendi, Louis Vuitton and Prada are just a few. But there are plenty of smaller boutiques, delis and wine cellars which are just as tempting. Here are some of our favourite shops.
Le Baricou (Rue des Verdons, Courchevel) If you’re looking for a fine wine to accompany a great meal, Antoine Petitcolas at Le Baricou will be able to point you in the right direction. He has a range of more than 1,500 wines, and extensive knowledge to match.
Olympic Sports (Le Praz) René Sallier has been supplying skis and snowboards in Le Praz for almost 40 years, and as a former member of the French ski team and an ex-ESF instructor, he’s well placed to give you the best advice on what suits you. There’s a great range of technical and sportswear too, as well as accessories to complete your outfit.
Blu & Berry (Rue du Rocher, Courchevel 1850) Get the latest looks from top French designers at this boutique. If you’re not sure what you’re after, book a session with a personal shopper. The store also offers alterations, so that you can be sure of the perfect fit.
Cooperative Laitiere Le Praz (Rue de la Chapelle, Le Praz) Fabulous mountain cheeses and honey as well as a great range of wines makes this a great foodie destination. Fresh produce can be vacuum-packed if you want to take some home at the end of your holiday.
Maison Lespinasse (Rue des Tovets, Courchevel 1850, tel: +33 4 79 08 20 08) Pick up superb charcuterie, truffles, fish cheese and meat from this popular deli, supplied by the owner’s family farm in St Martin du Lac. If you’re planning a special meal, this is where to come for your ingredients. You can also have your order delivered to your chalet.
Bus - During the day, the ski lifts are one of the easiest ways to get around the various parts of Courchevel, but there’s also a reliable network of free shuttle buses. Real time information is displayed at the bus stops, but you can also download a timetable so that you can plan your journey from the comfort of your chalet.
Taxi - There are also plenty of taxi firms for local journeys or airport transfers.
Train - The nearest railway station to Courchevel is in Moûtiers, 24km from the resort - there’s a regular Eurostar ski train service from London via Paris. Local buses run from the station to Courchevel several times a day.