Courmayeur in the Italian Alps is quite unlike any other ski resort I have ever visited. That’s because, while it has more than its fair share of excellent, challenging skiing, wintersports is only one small part of this Alpine village’s special appeal.
The fact is, Courmayeur is much more than a ski resort; it is an exclusive, elegant holiday destination which knows full well that satisfying its elite Italian and international clientele requires more than just great skiing. That is why, despite being a small Alpine village, it boasts an extraordinary concentration of some of the region’s best restaurants, which in turn attract some of the world’s leading chefs to come and cook for them. As it turns out, for the fashionable Courmayeur crowd skiing is just something you do between fine-dining meals to work up an appetite.
So, by all means, come to this beautiful resort to ski, but don’t forget to book a table at some of these wonderful eateries well in advance, or you could find yourself left out in the culinary cold.
Ristorante Pierre Alexis 1877
Described by The Times as Courmayeur’s “leading gourmet experience” and boasting the accolade of being Heston Blumenthal’s favourite restaurant, Pierre Alexis 1877 is more than just a restaurant – it is a fine dining experience.
Set right in the heart of the village, down one of its pretty, cobblestone streets, Pierre Alexis specialises in traditional Aosta Valley cuisine using the very freshest seasonal, local produce. Its refined dining room is a great place for an elegant dinner after a day on the slopes. Its wonderful cellar boasts plenty of fantastic local wines, as well as many classics.
Another excellent eatery further up the mountain in the tiny village of La Palud is Dandelion. Again, the food here is an exquisite fine-dining take on the local Aostan cuisine, with highlights including salt cod lasagne and Aostan beef fillet with foie gras.
While the food is arguably as good as Pierre Alexis in town, Dandelion has a smaller, cosier, more traditionally Alpine atmosphere. This is thanks to its smaller dining room, complete with welcoming roaring log fire and traditional décor.
This being Courmayeur, even the mountainside restaurants are a cut above your usual ski resort fare. Nowhere is this truer than in the rustic dining room and fabulous terrace of La Chaumiere on the slopes above the resort.
Local cuisine, made from the freshest seasonal ingredients, is served with flare and wonderful attention to detail by the Grivel family, in a restaurant which The Telegraph describes as “the best mountain restaurant in Italy”. I’d have to agree – after a morning’s skiing there is nothing more welcome than their home-made ravioli with mountain butter and walnuts. Delicious!
Keen skiers can spread their culinary and skiing wings with a day trip to the French resort of Chamonix to be rewarded with a fantastic lunch at the two-Michelin star Albert 1er.
Set in the centre of Chamonix, the chef Pierre Maillet prides himself on showcasing local ingredients such as porcini, Arctic char and snails from the Arve Valley, all enhanced by locally-sourced mountain herbs.
There is also an excellent wine collection here, so maybe you should pack up your skis and take the twenty-minute taxi ride back through the Mont Blanc Tunnel to Courmayeur instead. That way you can really enjoy a long leisurely lunch before heading home.
How to Get to Courmayeur
The most convenient way of getting to the Italian ski resort from the UK is by flying to Geneva Airport. There are a number of airlines which offer the one-and-a-half-hour flight from a selection of London airports. Airlines flying to Geneva include easyJet, British Airways, Lufthansa and Swiss.
The transfer from Geneva to the Italian ski resort takes around an hour and a half, so it makes sense to do it in comfort and style. Book an executive or premium car transfer online with Shuttle Direct and one of their chauffeurs will be waiting to meet you when you land, ready to accompany you to a premium car in which you can relax for the duration of the transfer.
If you will be bringing skis or snowboards with you, just let Shuttle Direct know when you book and they will ensure that the car which meets you is big enough to transport you and all your equipment in style and comfort.
Where to Stay
Hotel Croux – For authentic Alpine charm at the heart of Courmayeur village, book a stay at the Hotel Croux. Just 900 yards from the ski lifts, this family-run Italian hotel offers great hospitality with beautiful views of Mont Blanc. During the ski season a free ski bus is available to drive you directly from the hotel to the resort’s lifts.
About Shuttle Direct
Shuttle Direct is the premier airport transfer provider across Europe and northern Africa helping several million passengers get from the airport to their final destinations. Our Executive and Premium service guarantee un-marked, high-end cars (or minibuses if you are travelling in a group) with a personal chauffeur who will meet you in the arrivals lounge at the airport.