My mum was the one who passed on the passion for skiing to me. She worked three seasons in Courchevel and Meribel in her twenties and since then the allure of these infamous resorts have dragged our family back time and time again. I have been skiing in the Three Valleys on family holidays since I was 5. I remember the first time (aged 10) that I skied from Courchevel to Val Thorens and back in a day and I was hooked. Since then I have been exploring every nook and cranny I can find in this massive resort and here are some of my favourite runs.
Jardin Alpin, Courchevel [Green]
The Jardin Alpin is a beautiful steady green slope that is perfect for all types of beginners. It runs through the trees from the top station of the Jardin Alpin lift to the centre of Courchevel 1850. If your going to be a beginner on any slope this wide slope is both accommodating and beautiful.
Biollay, Courchevel [Blue]
The Biollay is a steady blue run which starts at the top of the Biollay chair and is a good progression from the Jardin Alpine.
Rhodos, Meribel [Green]
Rhodos is one of a few green runs which go through the trees towards Meribel centre. Other options include Blanchot and Foret. There are also some nice restaurants to be found in this area.
For hardcore carving:
Loze, Courchevel [Red]
This is my favourite warm-up run from the Plantrey chair. It preserves the snow well in the morning and has a good slope to build up some speed and warm up those big turns.
Combe de Vallon, Meribel [Red]
Often the Combe de Vallon can be closed for parts of the day as it takes longer to prepare the slopes after a snowfall. This means if you hit this part of the resort at the right time of day you can be one of the first on the slope. It’s a very long slope so there’s plenty of space to spread out and get in lots of practice with both long and short turns.
Mauriennaise, Orelle [Red]
Perfect for a sneaky downhill practice on a steady slope. This run is often less busy as it lies on the far edge of the ski area, however, this makes it perfect for building up speed without too many people around.
For easy cruising:
Jerusalem, Saint Martin [Blue]
This slope is perfect for cruising. A gradual slope and smooth rollers make it fun for everyone. In addition, the areas surrounding this slope can make a super fun playground on a powder day. Because it is relatively low this slope warms up faster on an icy morning so can provide some light relief from skiing on hard packed snow
3 Marches, Les Menuires [Blue]
Another cruisy run with a few small steeper sections and corners just to keep things interesting.
Lac de la Chambre, Meribel [Blue]
A run that’s easy on the legs on the way home if returning from Val Thorens to Meribel or Courchevel. When it snows, there are some fun patches to be found off the sides.
For powder hounds:
Chapelets, Courchevel [Red]
Chapelets is on the far side of Courchevel and is a seasonaires little secret. At the end of a great powder day, once everything is skied out, untracked patches will still remain around Chapelets. Whilst everyone heads towards the big popular runs, those who are in the know head to the far reaches of Courchevel for their own private powder patch.
Chamoix/Falaise, Val Thorens [Blue/Red]
Chamoix is a blue run which can be accessed from the Orelle side of the Grand Fond. When it snows the sections between this curving blue run are great for some steeper but relatively safe powder skiing. From here link onto the Falaise to make your way back to the bottom of the Grand Fond.
Combes des Pylones, Courchevel [Black]
In cold weather, the snow on this black run can hold a beautiful texture. This steep run can be a challenge on the legs but very satisfying all the same. It is a good alternative and often less skied-out than piste-M. Beware for hidden rocks under the soft snow at the top of the run.
The Grand Couloir is possibly the most famous couloir in Courchevel and most of the time it is only worth skiing for the chance to say that you’ve skied it. Access to the Grand Couloir is via a knee-tremblingly thin and bumpy track with steep drops on either side starting from the top of the Saulire lift. In fact, the Grand Couloir is arguably the easiest of the couloirs. For real bragging rights, the Sous-Pylons and Emille Allais (the narrowest) are the more impressive lines.
In reality each slope changes due to conditions and snowfall and in such a large ski area it is definitely worth doing some exploring of your own. On winter mornings head to north-facing slopes which won’t have melted during the day and re-frozen to become hard and icy. On spring mornings take it slow don’t bother hitting the slopes too early when everything is still frozen. Hit the south-facing slopes mid-morning and the cooler north-facing slopes in the afternoon. In addition, I have also mentioned some areas off-piste. Remember to never go off-piste somewhere you don’t know without a guide and to make sensible decisions on the day based on the conditions.