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A snowHead
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Location: snowHeadLand
Resort : Courchevel 2006
Country : France
Domain : 3 Vallees

Date : 3rd week January 2006
My holiday : Only my 2nd ski holiday in 20 years. Past holidays have been (not in any order): Soll x 2, Mayrhoffen x 2, Obergurgl x 3, and Sauze D’Oulx and last year Courchevel 1850. Approx 17 weeks in all.
This was a return trip to the 3Valleys and Courchevel, different accommodation though and wider ski-ing base.

The journey: Manchester – Courchevel, independent travel, driving. My 900 mile journey is listed in a 2006 La Tania report. No dramas.
4 days on La Tania prior to this period.
Sunday - Journey to Courchevel, just a short hop up the hill, road conditions excellent. Dropped bags at hotel Dahu, parked the car in the Croisette underground car park (hotel provided voucher, saved 20 euros on price, only 70 euros), went ski-ing.
Sunday (7 days later) – The return journey to UK as per last years trip. This followed 3 Hours ski-ing on the Sunday, return to UK via overnight stop in Calais. Remember no shops (retail\ supermarkets) of any worth, open in France on Sundays. Beer and cigs top up prior to PM ferry


Other useful sources:

Basics : To the east end of the 3 Valleys area approx 3 ½ hrs from Geneva. Other nearby airports are Lyon Saint-Exupéry 2 hours, Chambéry/Aix 1 ½ hrs .
Driving - 9 hours from Calais, less if stops are minimised and speed maximised. With 2 drivers easily do-able in one day from UK.
Via the main access road from Moutiers, you go through CV1300, CV1550 and CV1650 on the way. CV1850 is considered the hub of a group of resorts common referred to as Courchevel. Primarily chalets of all grades and prices, but a scattering of medium quality chalet hotels and a few very expensive hotels.

Lift system: See my Courchevel 2005 report for detail. Summary:
Part of the 3V’s domain.
Mainly gondola and chairs, 1 large cable car to La Saulire
A hands free automated lift pass system.
Passes can now be purchased over the internet.
All but beginners should consider a 3 Valley pass.
Intermediates or better skiers it’s a ‘no brainer’ get a full 3V.
Daily mini maps of groomed slopes.

The terrain : See my Courchevel 2005 report for detail. Summary:
Amazing views from La Saulire and Viselle.
Huge range of slope type, for ALL levels.
Expert and off piste delight.
Intermediate skiers heaven.
Excellent for beginners, slopes below the altiport.
Several Snow Parks, Epicea, Pralong and Verdun.
Speed camera ‘Stop Zone’.
Floodlit World Cup quality Slalom course.

The snow: Extensive snow cannons coverage on the main runs makes it almost snow sure. It was another poor build up to the season, with little snow up until mid December. It looked like it was going to be a poor holiday. The resort pavements and roads were snow clear. Pistes were still good, very few icy patches, except for the odd heavily trafficked areas. Despite no snow during my stay, ski-ing didn’t disappoint. Just make sure you keep your edges sharp, what a difference it made.

Off-piste: There are many excellent off piste areas. They run a weekly Avalanche camp training area, usually Wednesday PM. Definitely worth a look, if you are considering any off piste adventure. Many Ski schools offer off piste group, when conditions allow.

The resort : CV1850 centre. Most of the main facilities are in a 15 minute walk from the Croisette lift office and the resort centre. The Forum has several fast food, sandwich, croissant outlets, coffee bars etc. Bowling, indoor climbing wall, disco. It also has the Kalico restaurant and shooters bar, live music and theme nights, open till 4:00 am. Other bars range from basic, such as Le Jump, bar l’Equip or TJ’s through to the expensive Piggys. Most venues seemed too small and well overcrowded. You are more likely to speak to someone from Russia as you are a Brit. The number of visitors from Russia appear to be increasing; and you are as now as likely to see a Russian menu as an English one.
All the usual range of après ski activities, with the odd expensive alternative. Why not try ice driving in a Porsche 996, to Parapenting. Such activities are only limited by the capacity of your wallet. Shops of all kind, but don’t expect a ski bargain.

Food: How much do you want to pay? For other than stodge, prices tend to start expensive and get even more so. For meals during the day you can find reasonable café food options. Expect to pay > 10 euro min for everything though. Snacks and sandwiches are available from Le Forum. Still no McDonald type establishments, the nearest to a takeaway was bar L’Equip and Kalico, who do pizzas to go. You can get everything here from Breakfasts to full meals. It’s one of the more reasonably priced establishments in CV1850. Do not forget to make bookings for the weekly staff night off if you want any real choice. The reasonably priced restaurants book up early.

On the mountain, keep your eye open for PDJ – Plat du Jour or for fixed price menus. These are sometimes the best value.

Accommodation : Huge variance in accommodation types from basic hotels, chalets hotels, chalets large and small to true French 4 star hotels with Michelin quality restaurants. You get what you pay for! If it reports a 10 minute ski to resort centre or quiet hillside location or ‘you can ski from’; it does really mean a 1 hour walk back up the hill!

I stayed at Chalet Hotel Dahu run by Mark Warner Travel. It is located no more than 100 yards from the main ski lifts. The staff were all very friendly and professional, they couldn’t do enough for the guests. For example, although the room wasnt ready, (it was only 8:15 am), they pointed me at the breakfast and even offered to send someone for my ski pass (I already had it though), provided me with a discounted car park ticket. I dumped my bags, parked the car, grabbed a bite to eat and went off ski-ing. When I returned mid afternoon, bags were in my room ready. One disappointment was the quality of the room - clean but rather dated. The paper thin room doors allowed ‘every sound’ in from corridor, and presumably out. The shower was the smallest cubicle I have ‘ever’ encountered. Apparently, some of the larger, front facing, rooms are of a better standard.

If you stay here just request a front facing room with a balcony, rear facing room views are uninspiring. Unless that is, you prefer looking out over the back end of other buildings.

Another major plus was the excellent ski ‘guiding’ service provided by the hotel, Two daily group options available (intermediate and good), were available 5 days out of 6, during my stay. This isn’t a substitute for lessons but it does give you a crash course on the resort area. Despite little fresh snow, the conditions allowed visits to ALL the 3V’s, with strategic lunch and rest stops. If you are past the ‘must have ski school’ stage then this is highly recommended opportunity. Many other companies only offer such a service on 2 or 3 days of the week. Be realistic on your ability and you will not be disappointed. I only went out with the groups on two days during my stay, I wish I’d been on more.

Would I go back to the Dahu? Yes. Tried to book for January 2007, but the dates I could go (and afford) were already booked. This was only May 2006, so, book early. Apparently they were accepting bookings as early as December 2005!

Worth the money? Yes, the convenience of its location, was worth the money.

Costs :
Accommodation: £700 for one week (booked Nov 2005). Single, ensuite, rear facing.
Road tolls (Peage): approx £110
Fuel for 1700 mile round trip: approx £150.
Undercover parking (a must): £60
Ski pass 3 Valley 7 1/2 days (not usual of 6 days with a tour operator): £185.

Conclusion : Similar to my 2005 report. Driving gave me greater flexibility, and allowed me to visit other local areas. Key difference this year was a distinct lack of fresh snow during the stay. Despite this, conditions remained good. An excellent location, I continue to be impressed with the area, its space, uplift capacity and also snow. It’s never impossible to have very bad snow weeks anywhere, but in the last two years, despite relatively poor November \December snow falls CV1850 appeared pretty good to me! Easily drivable from the UK. Resort can be expensive but on balance, the ski facilities it offers make it worth the money.
I can recommend Mark Warner Chalet Hotel Dahu and would have preferred a longer stay.
Would I go back to Courchevel again? Definitely.


Courchevel Resort Report Feedback Thread

Last edited by A snowHead on Sun 16-03-08 9:37; edited 2 times in total
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