History of skiing in Courchevel

Early History

Located in the Savoie region of France, Courchevel's skiing history is deeply rooted in the Tarentaise Valley, a site of significant importance for the development of skiing. This valley, with its rich tapestry of natural beauty and challenging terrain, has contributed to the evolution of winter sports in the region. Courchevel's story began as a modest village and has since blossomed into one of the world's premier ski destinations.

The inception of Courchevel as a ski resort is a testament to vision and ambition. With its top elevation reaching 2,738 m (8,983 ft) and a base at 1,100 m (3,600 ft), the area was destined for winter sports excellence. The resort was meticulously planned to integrate seamlessly with the natural landscape, providing an unmatched skiing experience for enthusiasts.

Tarentaise Valley Skiing

The Tarentaise Valley's historical significance in skiing development cannot be overstated. It has always been a cradle for Alpine skiing, with the vast and varied terrain offering perfect conditions for both beginners and seasoned professionals. The valley set the stage for what would become a transformative era in the history of skiing, with the advent of Courchevel and its sister resorts in Les Trois Vallées.

Courchevel's unique position in the Tarentaise Valley, part of the French Alps, has made it a gem among ski resorts. Its strategic location ensures a consistent snowfall and a long skiing season, much to the delight of winter sports aficionados worldwide. The valley's contribution to the sport's evolution is celebrated every year as thousands flock to its slopes.

Development of Courchevel

Since its early days, Courchevel has undergone significant transformation. What started as a visionary project in a remote valley has now become a bustling hub, replete with 58 lifts capable of transporting 67,254 people per hour. The resort is a part of the iconic Les Trois Vallées, the largest linked ski area in the world, and it includes the villages of Courchevel 1300 (Le Praz), 1550, 1650, and 1850.

The resort's lift system and trails were designed to cater to all skill levels, offering 19 beginner, 35 easy, 34 intermediate, and 8 difficult trails. This conscientious planning has ensured that skiers and snowboarders of all abilities can enjoy the mountain's offerings. As a result, Courchevel has become synonymous with luxury, diversity, and premier skiing conditions.

Development Through the Ages

Part I: 1945 to 1955 The People's Resort

In the wake of World War II, Courchevel sought to establish itself as a resort for the people. The focus was on creating a space that was accessible and enjoyable for a wide range of visitors, not just the elite. This ethos helped to shape the resort's development, ensuring that facilities and amenities were built to welcome a diverse group of winter enthusiasts.

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During this decade, Courchevel experienced a surge in popularity, with an influx of tourists attracted to the combination of excellent skiing conditions and a welcoming atmosphere. The resort's reputation as a destination for all skill levels and social standings is a legacy that has been carefully preserved through the years, contributing to its ongoing success.

1992 Winter Olympics

The 1992 Winter Olympics marked a pivotal moment in the history of Courchevel. Hosting the world's foremost winter sports event solidified the resort's reputation on the international stage. The infrastructure and facilities developed for the Olympics, including state-of-the-art ski jumps and racing tracks, have left a lasting legacy.

Post-Olympics, Courchevel continued to leverage the momentum gained from the global exposure. The event catalyzed further development, attracting more visitors and leading to greater investment in the resort's amenities and skiing infrastructure. The 1992 Winter Olympics remain a source of pride and a key chapter in Courchevel's storied past.

2023 Alpine Ski World Championships

Continuing its tradition of hosting premier skiing events, Courchevel was chosen as one of the venues for the 2023 Alpine Ski World Championships. This prestigious event is a testament to the resort's world-class facilities and its ability to attract major competitions. The championship is expected to bring a new wave of visitors and athletes to the Tarentaise Valley.

Preparations for the 2023 Alpine Ski World Championships have seen Courchevel once again upgrading its facilities and infrastructure to meet the exacting standards of international competition. This event will not only showcase the resort's capabilities but also its commitment to maintaining its status as a top-tier winter sports destination.

Recent History

2019 Fire

The 2019 fire was a significant event in Courchevel's recent history. It was a stark reminder of the challenges that come with managing a large resort. The incident prompted a review of safety measures and infrastructure, ensuring the well-being of guests and residents remains paramount.

In the aftermath of the fire, Courchevel took decisive action to rebuild and enhance safety protocols. This response demonstrated the resort's resilience and dedication to providing a safe and secure environment for all its visitors, a commitment that is reflected in its modernized facilities and services.

See also  Snow lodge hotel Courchevel 1850

Resort Expansion and Modernization

Following the 2019 fire, Courchevel embarked on a path of expansion and modernization. The resort has continually invested in its infrastructure to improve the visitor experience. This includes upgrading lifts, expanding trails, and enhancing the overall aesthetic and functionality of the resort to meet the expectations of a discerning clientele.

Modernization efforts also encompass integrating advanced technologies for lift systems and snowmaking, ensuring that Courchevel remains at the forefront of ski resort innovation. These improvements are a reflection of the resort's commitment to excellence and its desire to offer guests the pinnacle of skiing and snowboarding experiences.

Environmental Initiatives

Courchevel's location in the heart of the French Alps, near national parks and protected areas, underscores the importance of environmental stewardship. The resort has implemented various environmental initiatives aimed at preserving the natural beauty and ecological balance of its surroundings.

These initiatives include sustainable development practices, energy-efficient operations, and waste reduction programs. Courchevel's approach to environmental care ensures that it not only provides a premier skiing experience but also contributes positively to the preservation of its pristine alpine environment.

FAQ on Courchevel History

  • What is the top elevation of Courchevel?
  • The top elevation of Courchevel is 2,738 meters (8,983 feet).
  • How many ski trails does Courchevel have?
  • Courchevel has a total of 96 ski trails, including 19 beginner, 35 easy, 34 intermediate, and 8 difficult trails.
  • Is Courchevel part of a larger ski area?
  • Yes, Courchevel is part of Les Trois Vallées, which is the largest linked ski area in the world.
  • Does Courchevel have its own airport?
  • Yes, Courchevel has its own airport, which enhances its accessibility.
  • What kind of dining and nightlife options are available in Courchevel?
  • Courchevel offers a variety of bars, clubs, restaurants, cafes, and delis, featuring both local and international cuisine.


  • What is the maximum elevation of Courchevel?
  • A) 1,100 m
  • B) 2,738 m
  • C) 3,600 m
  • How many trails are available at Courchevel?
  • A) 58 trails
  • B) 96 trails
  • C) 67 trails
  • Which notable event did Courchevel host in 1992?
  • A) The Alpine Ski World Championships
  • B) The Winter Olympics
  • C) A significant fire
  • What levels of skiers can Courchevel accommodate?
  • A) Beginners only
  • B) Intermediate and advanced only
  • C) All levels
  • What is the hourly capacity of Courchevel's lift system?
  • A) 58,000 people
  • B) 67,254 people
  • C) 75,000 people
  • What is the name of Courchevel's official website?
  • A) www.courchevel.fr
  • B) www.ski-courchevel.com
  • C) www.courchevel.com
  • To which large ski area does Courchevel belong?
  • A) Les Quatre Vallées
  • B) Les Deux Alpes
  • C) Les Trois Vallées
  • What is the name of Courchevel's airport?
  • A) Courchevel Airport
  • B) Les Trois Vallées Airport
  • C) Tarentaise Airport
See also  Le grand Couloir Courchevel

Answer Key:

  1. B) 2,738 m
  2. B) 96 trails
  3. B) The Winter Olympics
  4. C) All levels
  5. B) 67,254 people
  6. C) www.courchevel.com
  7. C) Les Trois Vallées
  8. A) Courchevel Airport

The history of skiing in Courchevel is a tale of transformation from a small mountain village into one of the world's most luxurious ski resorts, part of the Les Trois Vallées in the French Alps. Before World War II, the area was primarily agricultural, with high-altitude pastures used for grazing. The potential for tourism was recognized in the 1930s, but development began in earnest after the war.

In 1946, the first hotel in Courchevel, Hotel des Trois Vallées, opened its doors. This marked the beginning of Courchevel's journey toward becoming a premier ski destination. The resort was planned from scratch, unlike many other ski resorts that evolved gradually from existing villages, allowing for a thoughtful layout and design that catered to skiers' needs.

The creation of Courchevel 1850, named for its altitude in meters, was driven by the vision of Laurent Chappis and Maurice Michaud, who aimed to develop a resort that was sympathetic to the environment and integrated well with the mountain terrain. They implemented revolutionary ideas for the time, such as 'ski-in, ski-out' access, where accommodations are situated on the slopes for easy access to skiing.

Over the years, Courchevel has expanded to include four different levels named for their altitudes: Courchevel Le Praz (1300), Courchevel Village (1550), Courchevel Moriond (1650), and Courchevel (1850). Each level offers a different atmosphere and experience, from the traditional rustic charm of Le Praz to the high-end luxury of 1850.

The resort has hosted numerous high-profile ski competitions, including events for the 1992 Winter Olympics, which were held in nearby Albertville. This further cemented Courchevel's status as a top ski destination.

Today, Courchevel continues to invest in its infrastructure, with constant improvements to lifts, slopes, and facilities. It is known for its wide range of runs suitable for all levels, its advanced ski lift system, and its luxury accommodations and services. The resort remains a favorite among celebrities, royals, and ski enthusiasts from around the world.

James Tomron
James Tomron
Articles: 49

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