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Courchevel ist ein beliebter Wintersportort in Frankreich, Bild: Olga Gavrilova / shutterstock

Courchevel – a white playground not only for celebrities

Courchevel, a pearl in the middle of three wonderful valleys in the French Alps, adorns itself with a remarkable nickname: “St. Tropez of winter sports”. With six hundred kilometres of slopes, Les Trois Vallées is the largest ski area in the world, and Courchevel, together with its neighbours Belleville and Méribel, is proud of this superlative. This place is glamorous and it refers to fourteen hotels, each of which has been decorated with five stars.

If you come here for a stay in the cold season, it can happen that the person sitting next to you in the chairlift is quite prominent. After all, even the British Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton are sometimes drawn to this region. Their compatriot, show star Robbie Williams, has also been spotted in Courchevel. And on the slopes, George Clooney or one or the other sheikh from the Orient sometimes weaves. Courchevel is the winter domicile of the rich and beautiful. But even holidaymakers with a not quite so bulging wallet can look forward to unforgettable winter days here.

318 runs – another superlative

Courchevel, France
Panorama of Courchevel valley and ski resort with mountain peaks of Champagny-en-Vanoise, Image: Sergey Novikov / shutterstock

Originally, this place also officially afforded itself an altitude indication. Until 2011, there were Courchevel 1300, Courchevel 1550 and Courchevel 1850. That was probably a problem in terms of mail, because today it is left in the three valleys at “Courchevel”. The names of the respective heights were now given the addition of Moriond, Village and Le Praz. Winter sports outshine everything here, because if you want to test all the slopes as a skier, you should be prepared for a longer holiday. 318 descents have been counted by the connoisseurs of the white scenery. There is no greater challenge in the Alps. Courchevel can boast of hosting winter sports enthusiasts from all over the world. If you are not necessarily a beginner, you can transport yourself and your boards to the highest peak. The Pointe du Bouchet reaches an impressive 3,420 meters.

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Two-thirds of the slopes are “easy”

The range of slopes in Courchevel is wide-ranging. If you want to enjoy your skiing pleasure in the high alpine, you can go on a breathtaking slope on the rocky Saulire mountain massif. But beginners and less experienced skiers are more drawn to the typical forest slopes. The alternative to the moderate descents is the summit of La Vizelle. However, the tourist managers of this region have found that about two-thirds of the runs can be described as “easy”. But this can hardly be reconciled with the image of this highlight of winter sports. After all, World Cup races take place in this white paradise, and the neighboring town of Méribel even wants to host the World Ski Championships in 2023. By the way: Courchevel is a place that was created on the drawing board in 1850. But its current character has only existed since the end of the Second World War.

High society comes by helicopter

Courchevel Airport
Not every ski resort has its own airport, Image: raevas / shutterstock

Very early on, the planners of this ski resort decided to dispense with the bed castles found in many French winter sports resorts in Courchevel. Here, concrete was not used, but numerous chalets were built in addition to the luxury hotels. But there has always been one thing in this part of the French Alps: the celebrities rarely reach the ski area by car, but float in by helicopter or plane. The aim was to spare high society the more than two-hour journey from the airports in Lyon or Geneva. At an altitude of just over two thousand meters, an airport was built that is one of the most dangerous in the world. Due to the demanding runway, which was only extended for the Winter Olympics in Albertville, only turboprops are allowed to approach the Altiport.

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Peasant parlours and techno sheds

Quite a few holidaymakers come to Courchevel, not necessarily because of the fantastic winter conditions, but because of the culinary delights. In the first-class restaurants, world-renowned chefs are in the kitchen. The abundance of these star chefs made the place a Mecca for gourmets. Here, haute cuisine, the world of Japanese cuisine and fine menus alternate. But even in the numerous huts on the edge of the slopes, champagne sometimes flows in streams. When the lift operation in the three valleys around Courchevel stops at 4 p.m., something like the “fifth season” begins in the rural parlours and in the techno sheds. And since the lift operators are relentless in adhering to their closing times, it sometimes happens that even experienced skiers miss the last cable car and end up in the wrong valley. The return to the hotel is then quite expensive.

Guaranteed snow until the end of April

The three valleys guarantee snow until the end of April, and if the “white splendour” fails to materialise, then the modern snow-making systems come into action. If you avoid the 38 red and eleven black slopes, you can start in Courchevel in the so-called “Fun Park”. It is divided into Family Park, Snake Park, Wood and Bio Park. Recently, another attraction has been waiting: the Western Ski Park, where winter sports enthusiasts meet Indians and cowboys. Freeriders are drawn to the Avalanche Park, where the cracks among the skiers are taught about avalanches and how to rescue buried victims, among other things. Thanks to a joint ski pass, holidaymakers in this region have access to the entire range of slopes. If you are looking for other sporting activities, you will find them on a two-kilometre-long toboggan run, Nordic walking, hikes with snowshoes, paragliding and ice climbing. All this is a white playground not only for celebrities.