Courchevel Ski Resort Information
There is a wide choice of activities in Courchevel besides skiing and snowboarding. Staying outdoors; snowshoeing, quad biking, ice karting, toboggan runs, snow rafting or a leisurely sleigh ride are available to those with expendable energy. While indoors, Le Forum at Courchevel has an Olympic-sized ice-skating rink, 13m-high (45ft) climbing wall, games room and a bowling alley. Spa facilities are available at multiple locations.
For those with a head for heights, paragliding and hang-gliding is available, with the same views accessible by helicopter, balloon or scenic plane flight – with the option of learning to fly the plane yourself.
Unlike many purpose-built ski resorts, culture is a key part of life in Courchevel. More unusual opportunities include a cultural tour of Courchevel, cookery courses with Michelin-starred chef Michel Rochedy, or language lessons in a resort where some 60 different nationalities are normally present. And, after years of collaboration with the renowned Galeries Bartoux, Courchevel has established itself as a centre of contemporary art in the mountains, with galleries in the resort and ski area.
From 18 months upwards, children can be cared for by the École de Ski Français (ESF) (tel: +33 479 080 772; www.esfcourchevel.com) at its nurseries in Courchevel and Courchevel Moriond. Here, children can discover the joys of playing in the snow and, for the most adventurous, the first thrills of skiing. A full list of nurseries and childminders is available from the tourist office.
The resort has also initiated a world first on the slopes, with a clever system involving magnets helping to keep kids safe on chairlifts. When the lifts close, toboggan runs are set up in front of the villages; the longest is 2.3 km (1.8 miles) running down from Courchevel’s slopes. After 10 minutes of descent through the forest, tight bends and many thrills and potential spills, participants reach the main village, from where they can take a fast gondola back up – this is free after 1645.
Off the slopes, Le Forum sports centre in Courchevel has a rope swing and ‘mini-guides' course for children. There's also a specially designed bowling alley for children aged five and over, and the resort's cinemas show family films in school-holiday periods.
With more than 150 shops in Courchevel as a whole, the resort is a shopaholic’s paradise. The majority of stores are concentrated in the main Courchevel resort and, as you would expect given its upmarket reputation, these include the kind of designer fashion, jewellery, lingerie and perfumery boutiques you would find in the most exclusive districts of Paris, London or New York. Among these are Christian Dior and Louis Vuitton (beside the Hotel Cheval Blanc), Hermès and Valentino (place du Tremplin), Quiksilver (Le Forum) and jewellers Julian Joailliers (Espace Diamant).
There are, of course, plenty of non-designer establishments available too, ranging from souvenir shops to bakeries. Among these is Cooperative Latière de Moûtiers (tel: +33 479 080 361; www.beaufortdesmontagnes.com) on Rue de la Chapelle, a purveyor of tasty local food produce in Courchevel La Praz.
Courchevel's Animation Services (tel: +33 479 220 107; www.animationservices.net) can organise amazing treats and feats limited only by imagination and budget. Its ‘Declaration of Love' concept involves a series of 20 increasingly wonderful surprises, many set against spectacular mountain scenery, with the aim of leaving the woman or man in your life lost for words.