When people think of Courchevel, France, they immediately think of world-class snow skiing. Skiing is the big draw, but you don’t have to be a world-class skier to enjoy Courchevel, France. There are plenty of other activities to take in while enjoying the beauty of the French Alps.
The area of Courchevel includes four villages, Courchevel La Praz, Courchevel Village, Courchevel Moriond, and Courchevel which is the highest of the four resorts and is known as the Saint Tropez of winter sports due to the select clientele of international VIP’s it attracts. In addition to world-class skiing, Courchevel has eleven 5-star luxury hotels, as well as two 6-star exclusive luxury hotels, a distinction no other ski resort in France has. Courchevel is also known for its fine dining.
1. SnowLimits Ski School
SnowLimits British Ski School, one of the highest rated ski schools in The Three Valleys of Courchevel, La Tania, and Meribel in the French Alps, offers private, kids group, adult group, and corporate lessons. Courchevel is known for having some of the best pistes in the Three Valleys. No matter your skill level, black, red or blue, the SnowLimits instructors will help you find the run that will offer the best opportunity for you to experience the thrill of Courchevel skiing. Apres ski, join the instructors at Les Peupliers in Courchevel La Praz for some of the best Vin Chauds in the Three Valleys.
SnowLimits Ski School
Address: Place Clothilde, 73120 Courchevel, France
Website: SnowLimits Ski School
2. Forum Olympic Ice Rink
If skiing is not your forte, try out your skating skills at the Forum Olympic ice rink. Even if you are a beginner, special equipment is provided to help you master the ice. Or if you are more adept at ice skating, practice your jumps, spins, or turns choreographed to the state of the art sound and lighting equipment.
If you need to brush up on your skating skills, there are private and group lessons available. The ice rink, which has a capacity of 1,000 spectators and was built for the 1992 Winter Olympics, is also used for ice shows, ice hockey competitions and variety shows. The ice skating rink is open from December 20 to April 23.
Hours: Thursday to Tuesday from 3 to 7 p.m. and on Wednesday from 4 to 10 p.m. .
Forum Olympic Ice Rink
Address: Place du Forum, 73120 Saint-Bon-Tarentaise
Website: Forum Olympic Ice Rink
Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account
One of the newer non-ski activities, Aquamotion has been called “the biggest thing to happen for non-skiers in Courchevel.” Aquamotion is an aquatic center that offers a stunning array of water-centered activities. It is the largest European mountain water park set in pristine, natural environment.
Whether its sports and fitness, activities for kids, or relaxation, there is is a facility that will fit the bill. Here are some of the facilities available: Indoor and outdoor pools, indoor lagoon, counter-current pool, saunas, hydromassage, whirlpool baths, steam rooms, diving pools, river rapid slides, salt pool, hot tubs and indoor surfing. The center is divided into four areas: Aquafun, Aquarelax, Aquawellness Spa and Baleno, and Aquasports Activities.
The building itself is a futuristic architectural wonder. The spaceship shape structure, made of glass and wood, sits in a magnificent natural setting integrated into its surroundings among fir trees. The green roof appears as a huge green wave in the summer and transforms into a snowy cocoon in winter. The center is open from June 3 to September 30 in summer and December 11 to April 23 during the winter ski season. There are also restaurants on site.
Address:1297 Route des Eaux Vives, 73120 Courchevel, France
4. Dog sledding
Dog sledding is another outdoor winter activity that can be energetic and requires hard work. Don’t make the mistake that you will just sit back and let a team of experienced dogs and another driver pull you over the snow, up and down hills, and through woods. You are in control of your own sled.
Whitetracks, a winter activity and snow sports outfitter, offers three one-hour excursions daily during the season in Courchevel. The first at 11:30 a.m. is for late risers who still will have time to take in ski run in the afternoon. The second, at 2 p.m. allows you to get a morning ski run in and the last at 3:30 p.m. is a good way to end your day. The daily tours are available weather and snow conditions permitting. The one-hour runs are broken down into the following time slots: 15 to 20-minute tuition and brief, 40 to 45 minutes of driving the dogs or vice-versa and 5 to 10 minutes of handing in equipment and saying goodbye to the dogs.
During the first 15 to 20 minutes, one of the operators will guide and instruct you on how to control the sled and the dogs. You will be taught how to stand on the sled, how to balance and transfer your weight and how and when to use the brake in order to slow yourselves down not injuring the dogs in the process. When all the dogs are attached to the sleds, participants will follow in a line leaving enough space between you and the sled in front. There is no overtaking throughout the excursion. You must stay in your assigned spot.
Whitetracks Dog Sledding
Address: The dog sledding activity operates from La Plantin a small village about 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) on from Meribel Village. From Courchevel, the dog sledding activity is a 35 to 40-minute drive.
Website: Whitetracks Dog Sledding
5. Snow Shoe Walks
Snowshoe walking is the perfect non-skiing activity for non-skiers, skiers or snowboarders. Snowshoeing takes you away from the Courchevel resort area and the marked trails to quiet pristine areas that skiers never see. There are 14 walking tracks totaling 15 kilometers (9 miles) in the Courchevel area. You can go at a leisurely or more energetic pace. Snowshoeing is an excellent way to get in a good exercise activity and take in the mountain scenery.
Snowshoes, or “racquettes” in French, look nothing like snowshoes. They consist of a pair of tennis racket-like attachments that are bound and easily adjustable to your boots. If you want to strike out on your own, most ski shops rent them out and will give you brief instructions and advice on how to use them. Poles are also usually required. If you prefer to go without a guide you can get a winter hiking map at the tourist office.
If you prefer to take a guided trek, Laurence or Lolo of Snow Shoe Walks is a certified mountain leader who has been leading snowshoe treks in Courchevel since 2004. She leads private individual, children or family hikes around Courchevel and in the National Park that take you away from the busy ski slopes. She provides transport, snowshoes, poles, tea and cookies. You don’t need any previous experience. As she says, “If you can walk, you can snowshoe!”
Snow Shoe Walks
Contact: Laurence Poulet 73350 Bozel, TEL: 0033 (0)126.96.36.199.07
Website: Snow Shoe Walks (in French)
6. Torch Lit Descents
A perfect way to end your visit to Courchevel is to enjoy a delicious apres-ski event and partake of a traditional Savoyard Mountain dinner at Le Pilatus Mountain Restaurant Website: Le Pilatus Mountain Restaurant on the slopes of Courchevel 1850. Then, after dinner ski down with a First Tracks ski instructor carrying a burning torch or a colorful electric torch. You don’t have to be an expert skier to experience the thrill of a nighttime descent as the ski runs are on a green/blue slope. The meal includes the house aperitif, a Savoyard cheese fondue, wine and dessert.
Torch Lit Descents, Fast Tracks Ski Coaching
Address: Vanoise National Park, Rue des Verdons, 73120 Saint-Bon-Tarentaise, FranceDummy
Nearest airport: Chambéry, 90 minutes; Geneva, 135 minutes Nearest station: Moutiers, 30 minutes. Regular buses run from the station.
Highlights include a Ladies Alpine World Cup giant slalom in December, the International Fireworks Festival in February/March and the 3 Vallées Enduro, which invites teams of three to compete in various on-snow events in April. There’s also the Dynastar X3 mountain triathlon (cycling, running and skiing) in mid-April.
Enjoy this winter paradise
With its Three Valleys, the ski area of Courchevel is the largest linked ski area in the world. From world class skiing to 5 and 6-star resorts and 5-star dining, Courchevel is a winter sports paradise. While skiing is the number one draw, there are many other non-ski activities to keep any winter sports enthusiast busy off the slopes. Traditional winter sports are available such as ice skating and snowshoeing, and you can also drive a team of sled dogs or enjoy a surprisingly non-winter activity such as water sports. But the best activity is free, taking in the spectacular beauty and majesty of the French Alps.
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