Courchevel the summer destination is much less famous than Courchevel the skier’s paradise, but it’s no less beautiful. In fact, there are many good reasons to visit Courchevel in summer for an altogether different style of holiday. |
The first things you’ll notice (besides the obvious weather and scenery alterations) are the number of people and the ratio of tourists to locals. Courchevel in winter is so heavily populated by holidaymakers and workers who are just there for the ski season that you’ll hear barely a word of French, and see barely a figure who’s not seeing the sights, on the slopes, or enjoying their après-ski.
In summer, however, you’ll find plenty of locals enjoying the weather as well as the occasional tourist, making for a very different atmosphere. Gone, too, are the seething crowds of high winter season, replaced by an altogether less urgent and calmer flux of people, living life at their own pace.
As mentioned above, Courchevel is much quieter in summer than it is in winter (although still busier than it is in spring or autumn, between the summer and winter holiday seasons). This makes for a pleasant, chilled-out atmosphere, but also means that many restaurants, shops, hotels and other businesses close for the winter. Many companies keep gorgeous self-catering and catered chalets open year-round, so you will be able to find high quality accommodation, but if your heart is dead set on visiting a particular Michelin-starred restaurant or a hotel, remember to check its opening dates before booking your holiday.
With that said, the places that do remain open are often excellent value in the summer: with the lack of après-ski crowds to keep business booming, you’ll find any number of cheap set menus, stacked with delicious cooking. Moreover, the comparative lack of restaurants is easily overcome by choosing a catered chalet or similar. Either way, summer is definitely the season to go for if you want to enjoy Courchevel on a budget.
As you might have guessed, adventure and nature are all but non-existent during a Courchevel summer. The once snow-blanketed landscape is now either soft and verdant or rugged and dramatic, making it a hiker’s paradise. It’s also perfect for nature lovers, artists and photographers: you could spend years wandering the summer landscape around Courchevel and discovering all its perspectives and secrets.
If you really can’t do without skiing, you can still go to the very highest peaks, well above the snowline, and do some ski-touring: while it’s not overly common in summer, it’s far from unheard of. Some of the ski-lifts continue to run in summer as well, meaning that you can explore the highest parts of the mountains without an enormous hike.
If you love the Alps but have only been in winter, Courchevel is a great place to start if you want to experience them in summer as well. Even if some hotels are closed, you’ll still be well-served for accommodation, as a good many high quality hotels and catered chalets serve customers outside the ski-season. Summer alpine adventures are a must for mountaineers and nature-lovers of all kinds.
Belinda Smythson works for Ski Amis, a specialist ski travel agency and booking service that has been helping avid skiers craft their perfect winter holiday for over a quarter of a century. If you're looking for the best catered chalet accommodation in the Three Valleys, Paradiski, Espace Killy or Chamonix Valley, Ski Amis is the go-to company for winter sports fans searching for the holiday of a lifetime.
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