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Courchevel, France

Courchevel is the name of a ski resort located in the commune of Saint-Bon-Tarentaise in the French Alps, in the Tarentaise Valley, Savoie, Rhône-Alpes region. It is a part of Les Trois Vallées, the largest linked ski area in the world. Courchevel also refers to the towns of Courchevel 1300 (Le Praz), Courchevel 1550, Courchevel 1650 (Moriond), and Courchevel 1850, which are named for their altitudes in metres. They are situated on the commune of Saint-Bon-Tarentaise. The resort centre of Courchevel is in fact at 1,747 metres (5,732 ft),. The therefore somewhat misleading name Courchevel 1850 was chosen for marketing reasons to compete with arch rivals Val d’Isère. It is not the resort centre but the Jardin Alpin area of Courchevel 1850 which is actually located at 1,850 metres (6,070 ft).

Within the Tarentaise Valley you find the biggest concentration of world-class ski resorts in the world. Most well known neighbour systems are Paradiski (Les Arcs, La Plagne) and Espace Killy (Val d’Isère and Tignes). A weekly lift ticket in Courchevel/Les Trois Vallées gives you a choice to ski one day in each of the other two systems mentioned. There were once plans to interlink all systems and resorts to create the – by far – largest ski area in the world. However that vision was ended with the creation of the Vanoise National Park.

Resort

Courchevel is the most eastern resort of the Three Valleys, the biggest connected ski area in the world. It is renowned for its excellent lift system which is virtually queue free, even at the busiest of times. The UK newspaper The Daily Telegraph named Courchevel in 2008 the “best ski resort in Europe, if you can afford it“.

Although Courchevel consists of 4 satellite villages (Courchevel Le Praz, Courchevel 1550, Courchevel 1650 and Courchevel 1850) it is most famous for its highest resort, the exclusive village of Courchevel 1850. Named the St. Tropez of winter sports it attracts a select clientele of VIP’s and royal families including Prince William & Kate Middleton, the Beckham’s, Christina Aquilera, Geri Halliwell, Lionel Richie, the Saudi royal family, Peter Andre,Robbie Williams, Roman Abramovich, George Clooney, Georgio Armani, the King of Morocco and many others.

Courchevel 1850 has 11 hotels with a 5 star ranking. In 2011 France introduced a very prestigious 6th star ranking for hotels, named “palaces”. The palace 6th star ranking is only awarded to the most prestigious, exclusive and luxurious hotels in France. No more than 8 hotels in France have been crowned with this rating. Two of those 8 hotels are in Courchevel 1850’s tree lined Jardin Alpin area. No other ski resorts in France have hotels with the palace ranking.

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Courchevel is also known for its fine dining. It’s the ski resort with the most Michelin starred restaurants. A total of 7 restaurants share 11 Michelin stars, including 4 restaurants which have been awarded 2 Michelin stars, including Le Chabichou. It also hosts a variety of luxury shops including Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Valentino, Prada, Cartier, Fendi, Dior and Chanel.

Although the huge majority of Courchevel’s visitors are of British nationality the resort is also known for the wealthy Russian elite who flock to the resort during Russian Orthodox Christmas and Russian New Year. These are celebrated 2 weeks later than in Western Europe, on 7 and 13 January. Because of this Courchevel’s name has become synonymous with “winter playground of the rich and famous” in Russia. The first two weeks of January are high season weeks in Courchevel as a result here of.

Courchevel is known to be an expensive resort. One of the reasons for this is the high prices of residential and commercial property. Courchevel 1850 is the 6th most expensive place in the world. It leaves cities like Hong Kong, Cannes and Tokyo behind.

Courchevel has one of the largest bases for ski instructors and other seasonals due to the size of the three valleys area. Courchevel’s couloirs are renowned as some of the most difficult black runs in the world.

Courchevel’s sister city is Park City, Utah, USA, and as such Courchevel has a red-graded ski piste named “Park City”.

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With so many ski resorts worldwide, choosing the right resort can be very daunting and hard work, so why choose one, why not enjoy a skiing Tour?

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Après-ski comes from the French for “After Skiing” but is now used universally and refers to the socializing that is popular after a days skiing ends. When the sun goes down is when the ski resorts come alive and enjoying a steaming mug of hot Chocolate laced with rum or a glass of hot Gluhwein whilst watching the sunset over the snow covered mountain peaks is a memory which will last a life-time.

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