Located in the largest linked ski area in the world, the sprawling Trois Vallées, the French Alps town of Courchevel is known for its superb skiing and other winter sports. With 150km of alpine runs in Courchevel itself and access to 450km more, the options are endless for skiing fanatics. And with 58 lifts, there are hardly ever any queues at Courchevel, even during busy times.
The Playground of the Rich and Famous
But aside from its superior skiing, this resort has another, equally pervasive reputation: as the playground of the rich and famous. Courchevel consistently attracts a select clientele of VIPs, royals and the super-wealthy. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have been spotted at the exclusive resort, as have David and Victoria Beckham, George Clooney, Giorgio Armani, the king of Morocco and the Saudi royals.
The resort town known as Courchevel actually consists of four satellite villages: Courchevel 1330, Courchevel 1550, Courchevel 1650, and Courchevel 1850, so named for their altitude in metres. Though the resort underwent a rebranding during the 2011-2012 season, the villages are still known largely by their elevations, especially the exclusive 1850.
Ski in Luxury
Nicknamed “the St. Tropez of winter sports,” Courchevel 1850 is one of the most expensive places in the world. The village streets are lined with luxury shops like Chanel, Prada, Cartier, Fendi, Dior, and Valentino. The resort is also home to two of only eight hotels in France awarded the prestigious six-star or “palace” ranking. France introduced the sixth star in 2011 for hotels of superior luxury and exclusivity, and Courchevel 1850 is the only ski resort in France that has any hotels of the impressive palace calibre. If the six-star hotel is a little out of your price range, you can always settle for one of Courchevel’s eleven five-star hotels.
How to Get to Courchevel
Ready to be a Courchevel jetsetter? The elite crowd gets to Courchevel by small plane or helicopter, setting down on the steeply sloped runway high up in the Alps.
Can’t manage to charter a helicopter? Luckily, it’s possible to fly from London to Courchevel’s nearest airport, Geneva, in only an hour and a half. Once there, you’re best off arranging for a Geneva airport taxi to take you up to Courchevel. Shuttle Direct offers private and shared transfers (for you and all your ski gear!) from Geneva to Courchevel, with journey time averaging just over two hours. Shuttle Direct drivers are well acquainted with the area’s mountain roads, so all you have to do is sit back and enjoy the view while your driver does the rest!
If you’re keen for a road trip, it is possible to drive from London to Courchevel. The eleven-hour journey can easily be split over two days, with the route taking you through such cities as Dijon and Lyon. Remember that you’ll have to book ahead to cross the Eurotunnel, which costs a minimum of £23 each way per vehicle. Also remember to do your research about driving laws in France. You’ll have to make sure your vehicle contains a breathalyser, reflective jacket and warning triangle at all times, and your headlamps will need beam deflectors (if you’re driving a British vehicle) to avoid dazzling drivers on the other side of the road.
Where to Stay
L’Apogée Courchevel – For the hotel that truly has it all, you can’t beat L’Apogée. With ski-in ski-out access, mountain vistas, a sprawling wellness centre and spa, hair salon, three fine restaurants, on-site luxury shops and a calendar full of glitzy soirees, this five-star hotel provides virtually anything the discerning ski holidaymaker could possibly desire. With rooms furnished in a modern but cosy style, L’Apogée offers the perfect combination of alpine hospitality and contemporary chic.
Le Seizena – At the heart of Courchevel Moriond (formerly Courchevel 1650), you’ll find this warm and welcoming three-star hotel. With classic chalet-style architecture and wide balconies facing the slopes, Le Seizena boast top-quality modern facilities in a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere. The hotel’s name refers to a Cessna model of light aircraft, and an aviation theme runs through the hotel’s decor. With brushed aluminium plane-shaped plates bearing the room numbers and wall prints recalling aviation history, Le Seizena is happy to welcome you aboard.
Madame Vacances Hôtel Courchevel Olympic – Only 200 yards from the world-class ski slopes of Les Trois Vallées, Madame Vacances Hôtel Courchevel Olympic is the ideal combination of location, convenience and value. With clean-cut, modern decor and warm tones of magenta, gold and royal blue, this chalet-style hotel is a welcoming place to return to after a long day on the slopes. Unwind your mind and body in the bar and lounge with a glass of champagne and savour the Courchevel experience!