If you are new to the world of Alpine skiing, you may not know a lot about Courchevel. If you are familiar to the world of skiing, you already know the Trois Vallees or Three Valleys ski area, which is one of the very best in the world. It is often described as one of the best maintained and as having a large number of runs suitable for novices to experts (including more than 600km of pistes and over 170 lifts), but there is so much more to the story.
Courchevel features four separate villages. Once denoted by their heights, today they are uniquely named and include Le Praz (at 1300 meters), Courchevel Village (at 1550 meters), Moriond (at 1650 meters) and Courchevel, which is also often called Courchevel 1850. With a northward facing orientation, it does have some of the snows and conditions as well as idyllic terrain.
A highly efficient shuttle service links the Courchevel villages, and a trip from bottom to top allows a skier (or non-skier) to savor amazing conditions, charming villages, gourmet dining, and fairly vibrant nightlife. For the most part, skiers need never leave Courchevel to experience the very best skiing.
As one of the “Big 4” resorts, and as the famous gateway to the Trois Vallees, it was created as a resort roughly 75 years ago. The many chalets, some remarkably luxurious and all of them attentive to the needs of skiers, were placed to enhance skiing on the mountain.
Many chalets open to the slopes or stand just steps from lifts and pistes. However, if you are unfamiliar with the skiing of Courchevel, here are some useful facts:
Evolution Zones are the slopes for beginners, and the finest are found in Courchevel 1850 and just below in Moriond. There are many green and blue runs throughout the property, but most will want to experience Praline (reached from the Ariondaz lift). It is noted as one of the finest Alpine greens. There is also Indiens, which is a very leisurely blue trail running through the trees.
Intermediate skiing is found at Moriond, and features some of the longest steep runs from the peak of the Chanrossa lift. This is also a good area for those who want off piste opportunities. More challenges can be uncovered by taking the runs down to Le Praz at 1300 meters.
Advanced skiing is also readily available, and one of the most frequently chosen runs for those who want some scenery along with their red or black challenges is Col de la Loze. It is part of the standard extreme ski challenge competitions, but also takes you into Meribel.
Freestyle skiing is also possible near the Biolley lift, and racing is available at the La Loze trail.
Naturally, most areas have additional trails and some apres ski opportunities. For instance, Courchevel 1850 is home to a ski rink, Moriond is noted for ideal children’s conditions and later sunsets, the Village is where you can catch the speed bubble lift back to the top, and Le Praz has a ski jump remaining from the 1992 Olympics.
Remember too that Courchevel is famous, so those who want powder need to hit the slopes early and catch the Vizelle gondola or the Suisse chair before too many tracks ruin the good snow. Whether beginner or seasoned pro, the skiing at Courchevel is world famous for many reasons, and now is the time to discover them all.
The 3 Valleys in numbers
More than 600 km of marked runs divided into 327 slopes:
49 green , 135 blue, 110 red, 33 black and beginner areas.
2189 snow cannons
186 fast and high-standard ski lifts
42 snow-parks, boarder-cross, ski-cross and fun areas