Destination: France: Courchevel
Courchevel comprises five villages, all of which are known at least in part by their altitudes in meters above sea level: Courchevel 1850, 1650 and 1550; Le Praz 1300; and St. Bon 1100. While all have access to the same ski network and are only miles apart, the resort I’ll refer to is 1850. It is the highest up the mountain, so it has the best snow, and it’s where you’ll find the finest hotels, restaurants, chalets and shopping.
Ironically since it is now known as the St.-Tropez of snow, Courchevel was built in the mid-1940s, in the socialist spirit of the day, as a ski community for the average Frenchman. Some of the basic, bunkerlike housing remains, but most has been refitted in the Savoyard chalet style and has lauze stone roofs, timber façades and shutters and terraces carved and decorated by local craftsmen. In recent years the resort has focused on its most loyal client: the upmarket skier. In addition to aggressively encouraging new luxury hotels, the village has instituted programs to make the resort as a whole more hospitable to demanding guests. For instance, all four-star hotels now offer free shuttles that ferry guests around Courchevel 1850, most restaurants let guests charge meals to their hotel rooms and the multilingual ski guides are as adept at giving pointers on where to find the best foie gras as at suggesting which run will have the best morning powder.
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