Whilst we all love visiting different resorts each season, to try out the different slopes, there are just a few destinations where people stop and say, “OK, this is my perfect ski resort, I want to stop looking now, I just want to keep coming back here.” For that type of destination just a few names keep coming up and one of those is Courmayeur Mont Blanc.
What captivates its visitors? Well, the skiing is fantastic, of course, the heart of the resort a pure, authentic place that somehow successfully blends its traditional feel with an elegant, cosmopolitan atmosphere. Then there’s the scenery, the food, the people – really it all boils down to Courmayeur’s true mountain soul. Italy at its peak.
Courmayeur has a fantastic range of terrain from perfectly groomed runs to endless freeride opportunities. Good skiers who enjoy a challenge will be pleased to hear that this winter there’s a new red run, descending from Arp down to Youla, which provides access to a very challenging black piste, one of the steepest in the Alps with a gradient of 70%. With north-facing slopes there’s exceptional snow here all season. It’s part of a €20m+ project to add runs and replace lifts in the sector, due for completion by 2021.
There are two world-renowned ski schools to choose from here, while the Società delle Guide Alpine di Courmayeur can guide you on many routes including the world-famous Vallée Blanche or even heliskiing in the Aosta Valley. Many world-famous routes, including the Vallée Blanche, can be accessed from Punta Helbronner (3,466m), which can easily be reached by the spectacular new Skyway Monte Bianco cable car that opened a few years ago after a three-year regeneration programme, replacing the old lifts with new state-of-the-art models costing in excess of €100m in total.
Not Just Skiing
Of course, there are lots of other activities on offer in and around Courmayeur, on and off the snow. First there was fat biking (cycling on snow with a bike with oversized tyres), now there is even e-fat biking (your riding is boosted with battery power), or snow biking (fat tyres replaced with skis). At a slower pace, snowshoeing is popular in Val Ferret, or you can try ice skating or dog sledding through the unspoiled natural wonderland. Whatever you do, don’t miss a visit to the warm thermal waters of Pré-Saint-Didier.
Fab For Foodies
Besides its fantastic freeriding, Courmayeur has a world-beating reputation for its winter food too that goes back a century or more. The secret: truly locally produced ingredients, traditional recipes passed down, sometimes given a modern twist by talented chefs, and some wonderful places in which to eat it all.
Exquisite local dishes include polenta served with local cheeses and carbonada, marvelous soups followed by Courmayeur’s signature desert, a Mont Blanc ice cream with chestnuts, cocoa and whipped cream!
These can be paired with a glass of the Valley’s local Blanc de Morgex et de La Salle (the DOC white wine made at the highest altitude in Europe), or perhaps with a unique brew from the Microbirrificio Courmayeur Mont Blanc, a small craft brewery whose star ingredient is water from a spring in Courmayeur.
All can be enjoyed in the Valley’s restaurants, in resort or up in the mountains, during the day or under the stars. Fantastic food to complete your Courmayeur holiday and ensure that you join those skiers who keep coming back.