Good snow tires are a great idea in order to reach the summit village of Courchevel, which is perched—Dr. Seuss style—atop a winding road up a series of tight switchbacks in the Savoie region of the French Alps. Rustic yet superbly classy, portions of the resort are situated on various levels up the mountain, giving it a magically floating feel.
Part of the largest collection of linked ski areas in the world—Le Trois Vallees—you could spend an entire week exploring Meribel and the seven other areas and not come close to skiing half of the runs. The village of Courchevel begins with Le Praz at 1,300 meters and continues up the road with additional sections of town—Courchevel Village at 1,550, Moriond at 1650 and the ultimate ski access Courchevel resort at 1,850.
International royalty and celebrities are among the regular affluent guests, but the ski area itself, while offering a myriad of well-groomed easy and intermediate runs, is famous for possessing some of the steepest and most challenging couloirs worldwide.
WHERE TO STAY
Nowhere else in the world other than France are you likely to find a six-star hotel rating, but in addition to being home to nearly a dozen five-star hotels, Courchevel boasts two of the country’s nine six-star “palaces,” both located with easy access to the slopes at the 1,850-meter summit.
As you might expect of six-star hotels, these palaces are equipped with a full-service beauty and hair salon, massage spas, indoor swimming pools and fitness areas, saunas, indoor and outdoor Jacuzzis.
Les Airelles has a snow cave and showers with light and sound displays, children’s day care and private ice rink while Cheval Blanc has a private yurt. Both boast exquisitely decorated rooms, each equipped with oak antique furniture, thick, handmade quilts and each possesses two Michelin-rated restaurants, every dish featuring the finest locally made cheeses and Tarentaise Valley-grown ingredients.
In the Jardin Alpin summit of Courchevel, both palaces offer ski valet and on-slope services. In case you can’t spot it while taking in the panorama of luxury lodges (the most of any ski resort in the world) Cheval Blanc is unmistakable as its collection of unique artwork includes an enormous glass horse outside its property.