Courchevel is of course one of the world’s best known ski resorts. It’s home to the planet’s most over-the-top luxury chalets, including several that cost over 100,000 Euros per week to rent at peak season and it has more five star hotels than any other ski resort on earth.
But whilst many dismiss Courchevel as all glitz and glamour, possibly out of their league, the reality on the ground is very different. This is a full service ski resort, in many ways much like any other world class resort. What’s more many people don’t realise that Courchevel is a resort with four separate bases and the difference between purpose built Courchevel 1850 up top, where all those posh chalets and hotels are located, and the traditional village of Courchevel Le Praz down below, is very great indeed.
The great thing though, is that wherever you’re based in Courchevel, the efficient lift system gets you up in to the heart of the world’s largest ski area very quickly, and off the slopes you also have access to all the facilities of the four different bases combined.
Courchevel Le Praz
Unlike Courchevel’s resort bases at 1550, 1650 and 1850 above, Courchevel Le Praz is a traditional mountain village which long pre-dates the arrival of winter sports.
Full of Savoyard charm and ambience it has an attractive square surrounded by narrow, winding, cobbled streets lined with traditional alpine chalet-style buildings – in short it’s by far the most attractive place to stay in Courchevel.
Although there’s certainly not the range of shops and restaurants you’ll find up at 1850 (and which are easy enough to access should you wish to) nonetheless Courchevel Le Praz has all the holiday essentials covered by local shops and there’s a range of attractive cafes and restaurants to meet most needs.
There’s a choice of a gondola and a new quad chairlift to whisk you quickly up the slopes. One of the gondolas heads up to the centre of Courchevel 1850 (great for accessing all the facilities up there), the other to the summit of La Loze (2196m) from where you are quickly in to the heart of the 3 Valleys via the Courchevel Valley then on to Meribel and Val Thorens.
The tree lined ski runs back down to Le Praz for lunch or at the end of the day are particularly good and one option, the Jockeys piste, is one of the best known black runs in the Alps.
No feature on Courchevel Le Praz is complete without mention of the village’s famous ski jumps, a dominant sight here, which featured on the 1992 Albertville Winter Olympics and continue to host international competition to this day. Eddie the Eagle was there helping training visiting Brits in a charity event earlier this month.
It’s also worth mentioning that a brand new €60m+ aquatic centre opened in Courchevel this winter at 1650 – a quick 10 minute bus ride away.
Finally, it’s worth noting that Courchevel Le Praz is well located if you want to visit neighbouring ski areas of the 600km of the 3 Valleys is inadequate for you !
Paradiski, another on the world’s three largest ski areas with more than 425km of runs divided between Les Arcs and la Plagne is only 20 minutes’ drive away, with access via a gondola from Champagny en Vanoise.
Where To Stay
Mountain Heaven have a selection of full catered chalets (Priced from £299 per person per week) and self catering apartment accommodation (price from £150 per person per week) in Courchevel Le Praz. Each is located within an attractive, traditional, wood and stone chalet-style building, but all with modern facilities within.
The company has built a reputation for excellence in ski holiday provision with nothing too much trouble for their dedicated staff, or the management team who are based on-the-ground in the region and are always on call if needed.
Chalet Emilie (from £499pppw), which sleeps up to eight in its four bedrooms and is located just 100m from the main lifts, is Mountain Heaven’s flagship property in Courchevel. It has a traditional wooden Alpine style outside but a bespoke interior set over three floors which is chic, elegant and contemporary.
The chalet boasts a luxurious spa with sauna, steam room and indoor hot tub (shared with the next door chalet) together with its own private outdoor hot tub.
The larger Chalet Jardin d’Angele which sleeps up to 16 in eight bedrooms and also costs from £$499 per person per week is another “Premium” catered chalet located in the heart of the village. Arranged over three floors it includes a spa with indoor Jacuzzi, steam room and sauna.
The company’s third chalet, Chalet Louis (from £299pppw), sleeps 10 in five rooms including a single and a triple along with three twins. Located on a cobbled street in the heart of Le Praz, five minutes’ walk from the lifts , it was a traditional farmhouse but has been fully converted.
The holidays include complimentary airport/train transfers (discounts are available if not required) with fully private transfers from any Alpine airport/station offered for whole chalet bookings (or shared transfers from Geneva for room by room bookings.
A cooked breakfast is provided on 6 days (self –service breakfast on the chalet hosts day off) and afternoon tea with freshly baked cakes every day. There’s a 3 (Chalet Louis), 4 (Chalet Jardin d’Angele) or 5 (Chalet Emilie) course evening meal on six nights all served with a selection of complimentary hand-picked bottled wine and beer.
Pre-holiday assistance is also available as required including help with booking your ski passes, discounted rental equipment, ski or board lessons and other services and activities available in resort, including massages.
A two bedroom self-catered flat is also available within Chalet Perle, sleeping up to four in a double and a twin. It is ideally located above the Ski hire shop as part of a small building which overlooks the Le Praz Olympic Ski jump and is only 100 metres from the main gondola.