Courchevel 1850 is one of the glitziest and most ski exclusive resorts in the world and unless you’re rich, you’ll probably just want to pass through to see how the other half live. Its five star hotels and Michelin starred restaurants are largely filled with wealthy Russian oligarchs and their fur and designer label clad wives. They do also occasionally spill out onto the resort’s immaculately groomed corduroy pistes, although these are usually fairly deserted between 12 and 2 when the other half are eating foie gras and sipping champers on the terraces.
However, there is much more to Courchevel than the glamour of 1850. Venture down to 1650, 1550 or Le Praz and you’ll find that it’s much less pretentious, and much more affordable. They’re also well linked to the rest of the area and indeed the entire Three Valleys.
There’s also much more to the mountain than perfectly groomed pistes. The freeriding is fantastic, with cliffs, couloirs and open bowls, although, as always, make sure you check that it’s safe to head off piste and ideally take a guide.
Although not as good as the Moon Park in Meribel, the Courchevel Fun Park is well maintained and has a good range of jibs and kickers to suit all abilities. It’s also got an air bag so you can try out new tricks, and if you’re ready for more of a challenge, it’s easy enough to head over to the bigger park in Meribel.
Courchevel has a good après scene and nightlife, and it’s not all champagne and fine dining (although there is plenty of that too). 1850 is the liveliest village and more laid back bars include Prends ta Luge et Tire-toi, which is also a snowboard shop, and The Milk Bar. If you do want to rub shoulders with the rich and Russian head to Le Stanley bar in the Hotel Kilimanjaro or blag your way into Le Mangeoire. Just make sure you take plenty of cash with you! If you’re further down the valley, the best spots are The Drop Inn in Le Praz, The Taverna and L’Escourchevel in 1550, and the Funky Fox in 1650 where you can party until 4 in the morning.
If you want a taste of the high life as well as some epic riding, Courchevel certainly won’t disappoint.