Our guide to Courchevel

Courchevel is located in the Tarantaise valley, in the Rhone-Alpes region of France. It is part of the famous Three Valleys ski area, which is the largest ski area in the world.

Courchevel in recent years has become associated with being a millionaires’ playground full of fur coats, designer shops and more Michelin stars than you can count. While this might be true for Courchevel 1850 there is still a lot to enjoy in this area of the 3 Valleys for us mere mortals! We will attempt to introduce the different villages of the Courchevel Valley and to give you some personal recommendations.

Let us start with the “odd one out”:

La Tania

When Albertville hosted the winter Olympics some of the events took place around the Three Valleys and they needed to build a base where some of the competitors and journalists could stay. Thanks to this the village of La Tania was born and opened at the end of 1990.

Since then it’s grown from strength to strength and it is a very popular destination. The advantages that La Tania offers is a ‘traffic free’ resort with a new area of lovely chalets. You get great access to the rest of the Three Valleys and lovely tree runs to ski back on at the end of the day. It is the perfect place for families and beginner skiers. It is also a budget-friendly way to stay in the Courchevel Valley. La Tania is small but offers plenty of entertainment. It has a few bars and plenty of restaurants to keep you happy after a long day on the mountain. Our favourite après-ski venue is the Ski Lodge at the bottom of the Folyères piste. They have a cheerful food menu, live music and the owner is a fantastic character. Say hello to Tim for us!

For a nice meal out in La Tania you have Le Farcon, the new Michelin star addition to La Tania’s restaurant scene. If you fancy something different then try La Taiga, the food is plentiful and delicious.

If you find yourself in the Three Valleys at the end of the winter season then make sure to head to La Tania for its famous Charity Day. It is what all seasonnaires wait for and it is a fun day helping a good cause. Beer has never tasted better!

Skiing around La Tania is also fantastic. The runs are very pretty mostly winding down between the trees back to La Tania. It is also very easy to pop over to Meribel from La Tania, it is only 2 lifts away. La Tania also offers plenty of great off piste skiing but please be careful. Never venture off piste without the right equipment and sufficient information about the area and potential dangers.

If you want to find out more about La Tania then check out this brilliant guide – http://www.latania.co.uk – we especially enjoy their Celebrity Watch section.

For private, shared or luxury airport transfers to La Tania please fill in the form on our homepage and you will receive no-obligation quotes from local transfer and taxi companies.

Courchevel 1300 (Le Praz)

Le Praz (also known as Courchevel 1300) is a lovely, traditional French mountain village that has plenty to offer. Le Praz has got a really nice buzz thanks to some great pubs and restaurants. When you arrive in Le Praz the first thing that stands out is of course the Olympic ski jump that is still in use for competitions today. Just next to the ski jump are the Le Praz gondolas. You can buy your lift pass from the bottom of these.

You can either take the Le Praz gondola which goes up to Courchevel 1850 or the Foret gondola which will take you above La Tania.

To ski or snowboard back to Le Praz you can choose between red and black runs so beginners should consider taking the gondola or the free ski bus back to the village. The Jockeys black run goes from La Tania back to Le Praz and if the conditions are good it is a fun piste to do! Avoid it on tired legs though.

After a long day on the slopes I’m sure you will enjoy a beverage in one of Le Praz’s pubs or bars. We recommend the L’Escourchevel (or better known as the Sports bar). They sometimes have live music on and they also show the main sporting events so you don’t have to miss out on your favourite football game. The food is plentiful, mainly burgers and pizzas. You should stick to these, for anything gourmand there are other great choices in Le Praz. Drinks are also rather reasonable here; we would avoid ordering the house wine though based on personal experiences.

For a nice glass of wine and some French-style tapas head to Cave des Lys. It is a small wine bar but the atmosphere is great and the wine is divine!

Our favourite restaurant in Le Praz is hands down the Bistrot du Praz, the quality of the food is amazing and their set menu is usually cracking value. They have an extensive wine list as well; you can find something for any taste (and budget).

For private, shared or luxury airport transfers to Courchevel 1300 Le Praz please fill in the form on our homepage and you will receive quotes from local transfer and taxi companies.

Courchevel 1550 (Courchevel Village)

Maybe the lesser known part of Courchevel is 1550.  It is a mixed bag of traditional-style chalets and bigger (uglier) hotel and apartment buildings. But the overall impression is good, it is a good base for a holiday. It is a quieter village than the others but it also means that accommodation prices can be cheaper. Courchevel 1550 is linked to the other levels by a free bus service and there is also a direct gondola between 1550 and 1850. The sledge run from 1850 finishes right at the gondola station so you can hop back on for another round. It is a real fun afternoon out! You can rent sledges from most ski hire shops.

The ski run coming back to the village is nice and wide, it is a good place for beginners to start. You can take the gondola straight to 1850 and start skiing from a bit higher as well.

For going out there is Le Caterail which has live music every Thursday or the infamous “The Bar”. It is where most seasonnaires hang out and make the most of the cheap drink prices. Our favourite restaurant in 1550 is L’Oeil du Boeuf. Steaks cooked on an open fire with delicious sides – what more can you want? Make sure you book ahead as this is a very popular choice between the hungry folks of Courchevel. It is not cheap but if you like beef then you have to try this. We found the service typically French but the food compensates the lack of smiles from the waitress. The guy who owns it is great, have a chat with him!

For private, shared or luxury airport transfers to Courchevel 1550 please fill in the form on our homepage and you will receive quotes from local transfer and taxi companies.

Courchevel 1650 (Courchevel Moriond)

Courchevel 1650 Courchevel Moriond France
Courchevel 1650 (Courchevel Moriond)

In Courchevel 1650 we are getting closer to the luxury levels, there are some very nice hotels and chalets based here but don’t fret – cheaper options are still available! 1650 is a good place to look for self-catering accommodation, which probably explains why there are 3 supermarkets in this small village. Maeva, Pierre Vancances and many individual owners rent out apartments on a weekly basis.

There is a regular bus service between Courchevel 1650 and 1850 until quite late but there isn’t a direct gondola between the two.

Skiing in Courchevel 1650 is truly excellent; it offers some great pistes for all abilities and also plenty of off piste itineraries. The pistes are nice and wide which beginners will appreciate. If you are here with kids then don’t miss the Indiens piste. You can stop half-way down and visit the wigwam, shoot arrows and even get some fighting spirit in you with the help of some facepaint. The red runs around the Chapelets chairlift are usually really nice to ski, especially first thing in the morning. One piste to avoid at all cost in the 1650 area is the Roc Mugnier, for some reason it is icy and bumpy pretty much throughout the entire season. Our favourite part of Courchevel 1650 is skiing down from the top of the Roc Merlet lift into the Valley that separated 1650 from 1850. If you like hiking and some back country then this is a good starting point.

There are a few bars in Courchevel 1650 that are run by British Tour Operators, like Rocky’s and the Bubble bar. For some French atmosphere we really liked having a couple of drinks in Le Schuss bar, it is also a restaurant offering typical Savoyard dishes. The Funky Fox has a pool table, live music and DJs, plus cheap pizzas. In terms of restaurants you have a great choice, most hotels take dinner bookings, Le Portetta and the Hotel Manali are famous for their haute cuisine. If you want to satisfy your meat and cheese cravings then head to La Table de Marie, Le Montagne or the Petit Savoyard, the latter also serves the best pizzas in the whole of Courchevel.

For private, shared or luxury airport transfers to Courchevel 1650 please fill in the form on our homepage and you will receive quotes from local transfer and taxi companies.

Courchevel 1850 (nowadays just referred to as ‘Courchevel’)

Courchevel 1850 France ski resort
Courchevel 1850

Here we go, welcome to the home of bling, fur coats and luxury hotels! Courchevel 1850 is one of the most expensive resorts in the World but you can still survive here (just about) without re-mortgaging your home.

It’s an interesting trivia fact that the centre of Courchevel 1850 is actually only 1747 metres high. They named it 1850 for marketing purposes to compete with the resort of Val d`Isere, which actually is 1850 metres above sea level! Apart from skiing and 5 star luxury hotels, Courchevel is also famous for its fine dining with 11 Michelin stars awarded (probably more by the time you read this) to 7 of its restaurants. All of these are absolutely fabulous and if you get the opportunity then you should try them. Out of the high-end restaurants the most famous ones are the Chabichou with 2 Michelin stars and Le Bateaux Ivre.

For a cosier affair check out Le Cloche opposite the church or La Fromagerie, both offer Savoyard cuisine with an emphasis on melted cheese. Restaurants in Courchevel 1850 are generally quite expensive so it is worth considering hopping on the free bus and getting better value for your money in one of the other villages. If you are self-catering and on a budget then it is a great idea to rent a raclette set from the local Sherpa supermarket. You get all your cheese, potatoes and charcuterie for a fraction of the price compared to a restaurant and usually you have enough left for raclette grilled sandwiches the next morning.

If you fancy a drink you can go to L’Equipe, this is where most ski instructors hang out based on our experience. Le Refuge is probably the most reasonable bar in Courchevel 1850 and its British run. They sometimes have live music during après-ski and this is where seasonnaires hang out as well. For more of a bar atmosphere you can head to L’Oxygen, they sometimes have a DJ on after 10 pm. Our favourite bar is the Le P’tit Drink at the entrance of 1850 opposite the fire station. This wine bar has some excellent tapas dishes and a fantastic selection of wines by the glass.

If you want to carry on enjoying the night then you can choose from two very expensive night clubs in Courchevel – La Grange and Les Caves. Both are great for spotting celebrities and Russian multimillionaires.

You can of course visit the luxury boutiques in Courchevel – if for nothing else but a bit of window shopping. Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Prada, Dior, Fendi, Hermes and many other luxury brands have shops here.

As we’ve mentioned before Courchevel 1850 is extremely popular with Russian skiers and the resort organises special celebrations and fireworks to celebrate Orthodox Christmas and the Russian New Year.

If you fancy owning a holiday apartment in Courchevel 1850 you might want to think about it twice, as Couchevel is the 6th most expensive place on the planet – on average you are looking at paying £25000 per square metre!

Skiing around 1850 is excellent though – it offers a quick access to the rest of the 3 Valleys and also great skiing around the resort itself. Our favourite areas in 1850 are the Creux valley and the Suisses black run. If you are an expert skier you can challenge yourself on the famous Grand Couloir from the top of the Saulire cable car. The entry in to the Couloir is very narrow with huge drops on either side and usually with big moguls making it even more difficult to navigate your way into it. After the entry it opens up into a wide and very steep mogul field. In other words – not our idea of fun.

There is also a fun Family Park under the Verdons cable car which is a great way to have some fun with your kids.

We hope our guide will help you get a better idea about what the different levels of Courchevel have to offer. One thing is sure though, skiing in Courchevel and the 3 Valleys is fantastic!

For private, shared or luxury airport transfers to Courchevel 1850 please fill in the form on our homepage and you will receive quotes from local transfer and taxi companies.

Distance of Transfer from Geneva Airport to Courchevel: 145 km
Transfer Time from Geneva Airport to Courchevel: App. 2 hr 15 mins

Distance of Transfer from Grenoble Airport to Courchevel: 180km
Transfer Time from Grenoble Airport to Courchevel: 2hr 10mins approx

Distance of Transfer from Chambery Airport to Courchevel: 109km
Transfer Time from Chambery Airport to Courchevel: 1hr 30mins approx

Distance of Transfer from Lyon Airport to Courchevel: 185km
Transfer Time from Lyon Airport to Courchevel: 2hrs 10mins approx

Mont Blanc and Glacier des Bossons

Chamonix

Mont Blanc and Glacier des Bossons
Mont Blanc and Glacier des Bossons

Chamonix is one of the original climbing and skiing destinations of Europe and home to its highest peak, Mont Blanc. The natural beauty of the Chamonix valley has been mesmerizing travellers for centuries and it is still one of the most visited destinations in France.

The first tourists apparently arrived in Chamonix in 1741 and they were two Englishmen, William Windham and Richard Pocock. They documented their journey and their discovery of La Mer de Glace glacier in a publication which influenced many others to endure the long journey to the ‘Sea of Ice’.

The new visitors brought with them their appetite to conquer the mountains but it wasn’t until 1786 that the top of Mont Blanc was summited by two locals, Dr Paccard and Jacques Balmat.

In 1770 the first tourist hotel, the Hotel d’Angleterre was opened and Chamonix has never looked back since.

After our introduction you probably won’t be surprised to hear this: There is a lot to do in Chamonix.

If you are not afraid of heights then take the Aiguille du Midi cable car to the viewing platforms at 3842 metres. You will feel like you could touch the peak of Mont Blanc and you will see groups of brave mountaineers attempting to conquer one of the stunning peaks around or ski the famous Vallée Blanche. You can even go over to the Italian side of the Alps and travel over the glacier on the Helbronner lift. This is our personal favourite and it is worth every extra penny to get this view!

If you prefer trains to cable cars then take the Montenvers rack railway to the famous Mer de Glace (Sea of Ice) glacier. You can go down to the glacier and into the ice grotto that shows you the history of the glacier along with some great ice sculptures. You do have to climb over 300 steps though in each direction. On the opposite side of the valley from Mont Blanc is the Brévent cable car. You get the best view of Europe’s highest mountain from here.

In the winter there is lots to do for non-skiers as well in Chamonix, which makes it an ideal destination for families and people who want to enjoy the snowy vistas. You can take the cable cars or the Montenvers railway up into the mountains of Chamonix and enjoy a leisurely lunch on the top. You also have a choice of some excellent spas in Chamonix if you are after something relaxing.

If you want a real bird`s eye view of the mountains then why not try a helicopter ride around Mont Blanc and the surrounding peaks.

There is also a leisure centre in Chamonix with a swimming pool, sauna and steam rooms, ice rink, indoor climbing and other facilities.

You can find a bowling alley in Chamonix, which also has pool tables and air hockey tables. Chamonix`s cinema also shows some films in English with subtitles.

If you like a bit of gambling then why not try the Casino in Chamonix`s centre? You can enjoy some blackjack or roulette but of course you have to be over 18.

The other great activity you can do is of course Shopping. Chamonix has many great shops. You can find anything from luxury boutiques to mountain hard-ware shops.

Chamonix also attracts many extreme sport enthusiasts. This is the perfect place to try your fist tandem parapente flight, learn to traverse a glacier, climb the highest peak in Europe, go canyoning, white-water rafting or try any other crazy adventure under the sun.

It is easy to enjoy the Savoyard gastronomy in Chamonix`s delightful restaurants. In the winter there is nothing better than a hearty meal of cheese-based dishes. Try a raclette, a fondue or a tartiflette – it should satisfy the biggest appetites!

A raclette, as you can see on the picture is a big block of cheese put under the grill and you get to scrape off the top melted layer. You then eat this cheesy goodness with boiled potatoes, charcuterie and drink some Savoie white wine with it. We recommend a cold glass of Apremont wine!

A tartiflette is a dish made with layers of potatoes, bacon and onions topped with a famous local cheese called Reblochon and grilled to perfection.

A cheese fondue needs no introduction, however a Savoyard Fondue uses local cheeses, like Beaufort and also Comté and Gruyere.

If you want to go for a day trip from Chamonix then try the beautiful town of Annecy, which is only an hour away. Your other option is the medieval town of Yvoire on the shore of Lake Geneva or Courmayeur through the Mont Blanc tunnel.

To get to Chamonix your best option is to fly to Geneva airport. From Geneva airport to Chamonix many companies operate shuttle services if you are after the cheapest option. If you are after a bit more flexibility or there are a few people in your group then ask for private transfer quotes to Chamonix from local companies.

Distance of Transfer from Geneva Airport to Chamonix: 104 km
Geneva Airport to Chamonix Transfer Time: App. 1 hr 10 mins

Distance of Transfer from Chambery Airport to Chamonix: 145km
Chambery Airport to Chamonix Transfer Time: 1hr 30mins approx

Distance of Transfer from Grenoble Airport to Chamonix: 225km
Grenoble Airport to Chamonix Transfer Time: 2hrs 30mins approx

Distance of Transfer from Lyon Airport to Chamonix: 220km
Lyon Airport to Chamonix Transfer Time: 2hrs 10mins approx

Have you got any insider tips for people visiting Chamonix? Tell us about your favourite ski runs, restaurants, activities!

New Ways To Help Solo Travellers Enjoy The Benefits Of Group Travel

Travelling in groups can be fun and cost effective. If you have ever gone on holiday on your own because friends or family could not get the time off to join you, or because you love skiing, sailing, sunbathing, hiking or golfing and they do not, then we have a few ideas for your next holiday.

Seats on planes are always priced per person, but getting from the airport to your destination is not so simple. You are often faced with the cost of paying for a private vehicle by yourself. FindTransfers.com is trying to help avoid this with a new Shared Transfers Forum.

Share The Cost Of Your Airport Transfers

The Shared Transfers Page on FindTransfers.com helps you to find other people travelling in the same direction and at the same time. You can then contact each other and arrange to share a taxi or airport transfer and split the cost. Sharing an airport transfer is better for the environment as it will be one less journey made by road, and it can also be a lot more entertaining as you will have someone to chat to on the way.

The Shared Transfers Page also allows local airport taxi and transfer companies to advertise any empty journeys they have in their schedule on a per person basis. This means that you may be able to jump in a taxi or minibus that would otherwise have been making a journey empty and pay a fraction of the cost of a private transfer.

Join A Group Holiday Club

So once you have got a great deal on your airport transfers, there is still the matter of single supplements in hotels to deal with. You may also prefer to be around other people who are in a similar situation to yourself, where you are passionate about a particular type of holiday but do not know anyone who shares your enthusiasm.

A great solution is to join a club that organises these types of holidays and negotiates away single supplements. You therefore get the benefits of group prices and meet people with similar interests.

One such club is www.singlesport.com which is run by Ruth Paul. Ruth organises a range of skiing holidays each winter and has also started to organise summer holidays to beach clubs.