Arguably France’s most exclusive resort, well located at the eastern end of the world’s largest truly inter-connected ski area (Trois Vallées) and with some of Europe’s best on and off-slope in-frastructure, Courchevel would rate in the top 10 selection of resorts around the world for most dedicated skiers. Unsurprisingly Courchevel shares the reputation of St Moritz, Aspen or Lech for exclusivity and high prices but, equally unsurprisingly, the tourist board is keen to point out that it is possible to stay at and enjoy Courchevel ‘on a budget’.
The view from a distance gives little clue to the presence of exclusive boutiques, luxurious chalets and the wonderful restaurants serving dishes of high gastronomic calibre. The first winter tourists arrived in the valley in the 1930s, with the resort ‘taking off’ in terms of popularity in the late 1950s and the ’60s, particularly with the opening of the Saulire cable car in 1950.
Today Courchevel has its own special Charter which ensures hotels, restaurants, shops and other businesses provide the best possible service and open as advertised throughout the season. The resort is made up of five different base stations, all self-contained villages and all known by their altitudes, (1300 which still calls itself Le Praz and the other authentic Savoyard village Saint Bon). The best known of the five, and the one on which the resort’s reputation is based, is the highest and largest – Courchevel 1850.