Courchevel is at one end of the world’s largest lift-linked ski area, the Trois Vallées, which has 600km of pistes and 166 lifts. With many north-facing slopes, the snow in the Courchevel valley is usually some of the best in the whole ski area, and there’s terrain to suit everyone from beginner to expert.

The local slopes comprise 150km of runs, of which 23 are green, 35 blue, 32 red and 10 black. There are also free lifts for beginners at most of the resort villages. The whole Trois Vallées lift system has lots of fast gondolas and chairlifts, for speeding around the huge area, which while catering for all standards is particularly good for mileage-hungry intermediates.

Courchevel’s six distinctly separate resort villages are linked by lifts, pistes and a road which winds its way up through Saint Bon, Courchevel Le Praz and Courchevel Moriond to the highest base, simply known as Courchevel. On the way it bypasses roads leading to Courchevel Village and Courchevel La Tania. All villages are also linked by an efficient and frequent free bus service.

Courchevel Le Praz is an old, rustic village at heart. The main landmark is the ski jumping hill, built for the 1992 Albertville Winter Olympics and still used today, in summer as well as winter. A gondola and a fast chairlift ascend from here to different parts of the slopes. The base area has been remodelled for 2019/20, with a new 10 person gondola replacing the old four-seater, and a two-level 500-place underground car park. The new lift connects Le Praz to Courchevel 1850 in under six minutes.

Next in altitude comes Courchevel La Tania, a good-value, family-friendly base from which to explore the slopes of its higher Trois Vallées neighbours. The resort was built for the 1992 Winter Olympics, and at 1,400m is about the lowest purpose-built French resort there is. Its wood-clad buildings sit comfortably in a pretty woodland setting – quite a contrast to the bleakness of many higher-altitude French ski stations.

Courchevel Village, set off the main road, is a quiet backwater, with a mixture of individual chalets and bigger block-like buildings and few facilities. It’s linked via the fast 10-seater Grangettes gondola or a fast chairlift to Courchevel 1850, and blue runs lead back into the village.

Although Courchevel Moriond is on the main road, the traffic isn’t intrusive and the village centre around the main lift base (a gondola reached by an escalator) has been attractively developed, and is lined with varied shops, restaurants and bars. Opposite the lift another much longer three-stage covered escalator serves a big area of chalets lower down the hill. There is a huge watersports centre, Aquamotion, just below here and a toboggan run, “Moriond Racing”. A new chairlift and blue run link this area, which includes a new hotel, L’Ecrin Blanc, to Courchevel 1850 for winter 2019/20.

The highest village, Courchevel – aka 1850 – is also by far the biggest, spreading a good way up the hillsides. It’s the prestige place to stay, where the rich Russians and Parisians head to be seen and to flash their cash. It's also the main lift hub with gondolas from the centre heading up in three different directions, and mainly easy pistes back down.
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