30 Jul Your guide to choosing the right ski resort
The Three Valleys – France
The three giant bowls that make up the Three Valleys (Courchevel to the east, Méribel in the middle, and Belleville to the west) rival any elite ski area in the world. The chic resorts that stud the mountainsides draw every type of skier. It truly is a fascinating array of royals, celebrities, and international glitterati.
The Three Valleys has it all…
I’m going to start with the obvious—The Three Valleys is the largest ski area in the world and it offers an unbeatable promise: The largest number of open connected runs in Europe for the whole season.
By the numbers—
- Nearly 2,400 snow cannons (covering over a third of the ski area)
- Over 70 grooming machines (1,500 hectares of groomed runs)
- Altitude from 1,300 meters to 3,200 meters (80% above 1,800 meters)
- An eye-popping 600 kilometers of pistes
- More than 180 ski lifts (capable of moving 260,000 skiers per hour)
We believe, it’s simply the best place to ski the French Alps because there really is something for everyone. It’s all supported by a truly impressive lift infrastructure to maximise your snow time.
And if you’re looking for a ski lesson to brush up your skills (or learn a few new ones) or a crèche for the kids, there are over 800 ski instructors in Courchevel. They include both the traditional French schools and innovative British ones.
And when it comes to après ski action, the Three Valleys are in a league of their own.
But let’s talk about Courchevel skiing!
A look at La Tania…
La Tania was built for the 1992 Winter Olympics, and at 1,350 metres. It’s part of the snow-sure area of Courchevel skiing. It’s a charming, car-free community dotted with friendly bars and restaurants and tasteful chalets. It’s quiet (but not too quiet!), relatively crowd-free, and very family-friendly.
La Tania has excellent connections to Courchevel (1850) and Meribel (1400) and the vast amount of pistes that make up the Three Valleys.
There’s a good beginner area with a free drag lift and nursery slope in the village. The green Plan Fontaine piste is gentle and winding and a great longer beginner’s run.
The famous Folyeres is an undulating blue that runs through the trees back to La Tania. The red Murettes and Lanches appeal to the more advanced skiers. The experts in your party can find plenty of off-piste excitement from the Dou des Lanches lift, and the Jean Blanc and Jockeys blacks provide a good challenge.
There’s a bit of accessible glitz about La Tania—fancy a Michelin star lunch at Le Farcon? Don’t forget Le Bouc Blanc famously once hosted Will and Kate for lunch!
More about Moriond…
Courchevel Moriond, the village formerly known as Courchevel 1650 is one of the better villages for beginners. There is a wide green at village level and nursery slopes served by a travelator at the top of the Ariondaz gondola.
For intermediate and advanced Courchevel skiing, Moriond offers easy access to some of the best skiing in the world. Linked by lifts to Val Thorens and Méribel, Moriond is a popular destination within the Three Valleys. It is renowned for its quiet, cruisy slopes.
The Chapelets piste at the edge of the ski area is a dream for powder Courchevel skiing, and advanced skiers can head off-piste at the Chanrossa Bowl or Les Avals.
Although it’s got a laid-back, mountain village vibe, it attracts a lively bunch of skiers and snowboarders. There are some seriously cool bars and restaurants for après ski action. One of our favourites is Fire and Ice (try the indulgent hot chocolate!).
There’s also plenty to do off-slope—Aquamotion is the largest indoor waterpark in Europe and it’s just outside Moriond. There are waterslides, surfing pools, and a lovely splashy area for smaller children as well as spa pools, Turkish baths, and even a cinema salt cave for the grownups.
It’s an ideal place for both catered and self-catered chalet holidays, with plenty of supermarkets, boulangeries, fromageries, and wine shops to tempt your inner oenophile.
A peek at Le Praz…
The charming village of Le Praz predates the ski scene that put Courchevel skiing on the map. It has an authentic, civilised Savoyard charm that makes it one of the most attractive places to stay in the Three Valleys.
The huge ski jumps and Olympic torch are a dominant sight, and international competitions still take place here. Eddie the Eagle visited just last year for a charity event!
The tree-lined pistes into Le Praz are some of the prettiest in Courchevel skiing. The black Jockeys run into Le Praz has a well-deserved reputation among Europe’s top skiers. There’s also excellent cross-country skiing.
The Praz telecabine lift is a 10-minute ride into Courchevel 1850 and the new Foret chairlift takes you to the summit at La Loze at nearly 2,200 meters, with Méribel at your feet.
Le Praz is a chic, grownup resort with upscale restaurants and bars—but it’s definitely not stuffy. Feel like dancing the night away? L’Elephant Pizzeria hosts an amazing selection of local bands and the British-run Drop Inn has great après ski action.
Beyond Courchevel skiing…
Although Courchevel is a skier’s paradise, it’s got plenty to offer the snowboarder in your group.
The Family Snowpark in Courchevel is just above Courchevel 1850 next to the Verdons piste, a fantastic place for freestylers. Beginners have their choice of the green boxes and kickers while the “Big Air” section has plenty to offer more advanced boarders.
There’s also an airbag for testing all your tricks.
Looking for more snowboard action? Val Thorens has its own snowpark and Méribel has Moon Park, a freestyler’s dream, and Elements Park. There are even free video cameras so you can record your run.
Are you beginning to see yourself in one of these iconic resorts?
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