Hi there its Gareth from PDS 3 Valleys.
If you are a new to skiing picking the right resort for your first trip can make all the difference. Not all resorts are all that beginner friendly, although sneakily they don’t always admit to it. The good news for complete beginners planning on heading to Courchevel is that it is one of the best picks for all levels of skiers, it scores highly across the board. If Courchevel was an artist it would be Leonardo Da Vinci Courchevel, a world class all rounder!
The Different areas of Courchevel
Courchevel is split into 4 different areas:
- Courchevel 1850
- Coruchevel 1650 (AKA Courchevel Moriond)
- Courchevel 1550 (AKA Courchevel Village)
- Le Praz (AKA Courchevel 1300)
We will cover La Tania on another post…..
Although there are 4 different areas the 2 best places to go for day 1 beginners are either Courchevel 1850 or Courchevel 1650, so that’s where we will focus this review.
Which Beginner slope to choose based off where I am staying?
One of the biggest things that will determine which beginner slope you are going to use will be where you are staying.
For all of you staying in either 1850 or 1650, your choice is easy. Stick to the beginner slope that’s in your resort.
If you are staying in Le Praz or 1550 then you do have a bit of a choice.
Advice for Le Praz
Le Praz residents have a choice between getting the free bus up to 1650 and 1850, or taking the bubble lift to 1850.
If you prefer not to have to walk far in your ski stuff then the free bus up to 1650 is a slightly easier way to do it. Once you are at the main stop in 1650 you have a very short walk, across a road and then on to two sets of escalators before you take the Ariondaz bubble lift up to 1650’s learner area, which is called the Westen Ski Park and is right outside the top of the Ariondaz lift.
The bubble up to 1850 from Le Praz has a 5-10 minute walk over to the Jardin Alpine bubble lift in the centre of 1850, you will then have to take Jardin Alpine up to the G3 station and have a further 5 min walk to the learner slope. Remember you will be doing this in ski boots and with skis, so 5 minute walk can seem longer. It’s not impossible and remember you will not have to do this everyday, as you will eventually move off the learner slopes, epically if you have lessons with us!
If you are keen on 1850, then you can also get the free bus all the way up to 1850 and then have a slightly shorter walk over to the Jardin alpine bubble lift, however the bus trip is longer than taking the bubble.
My advice if staying in Le Praz – purely based on it having the less faff and walking on your first day, take the free bus to 1650 and use the western ski park, if you really want to try 1850 then I would take the bus all the way up to avoid the walk. If you need to use the learner slope for the start of day 2, just to build confidence then head to 1850, as there are easier slopes running off the learner slope for when you are ready to go explore the mountain.
Advice for Courchevel 1550
For those of you staying in Courchevel 1550, you also have two options depending on how close you are to the bus stop or the Grangettes Bubble lift.
If you are closer to the bus stop going up to 1650, then take the bus and use the 1650 Wester Ski Park, or stay on and head to 1850. If you are closest to the Grangettes bubble lift then take that to 1850. Once in 1850 it is a very short walk to the Jardin Alpine lift, remember to get off at G3 and then walk up to the leaner slope.
My Advice if staying in 1550 – Go for the bus to 1650 if you’re closer to the bus stop and go for the Grangettes bubble to 1850 if you’re closer to the bubble.
Still can’t decide? – Which is better 1850 or 1650
Both areas are brilliant world class learner areas, however as you can imagine there are a few pros and cons when comparing both. So for all of you maximisers (like me), that like to know the fine details here are the facts.
1850 beginner area pros:
- Free to use, Self contained learner area, fenced off and tucked away from main busy slopes
- Free to use and usually clean toilets in the golf clubs club house nearby.
- Easy ski back to centre of resort, with two green run options.
- Easy for friends to go off for a ski whilst you perfect your turns, and then come back to see how much you have improved.
- Sheltered by trees, which is great for windy days
- Very easy travellator lift
- Multiple slopes of varying steepness
- On site lift attendants if there are any problems with the lift
- Option to take a bubble back down to centre of resort if too tired to ski back (AKA downloading)
- Free to use and sheltered picnic benches
- Extremely gentle non cambered gradient
- Near a road so there is an option to get your hotel or chalet to mini bus you there
- Free car parking nearby if you have driven
- Easy beginner Poma drag lift nearby to have a go on
- Excellently groomed snow every night, without fail
1850 beginner area cons:
- A bit of walking. If starting from centre of 1850 you must take a bubble lift and then a 5 min walk up a hill to get to the slope, but if you are with us we will more than gladly carry your skis for you.
- Although there are multiple slopes of varying gradient, the lifts are not linked up and to access the top one there is a small walk up a hill, which is a bit of a faff.
- The travellator is not covered, so on snow days you don’t get as much protection compared to the 1650 travellator, which is in a cool tunnel.
- No snack options, although there are picnic tables, but there isn’t anywhere to buy food or drinks. Unlike in 1650.
- If you don’t fancy the ski back you will have to walk / ski back down to the lift you came up on, which is downhill at least.
1650 beginner area Pros:
- Bigger than the learner slope in 1850
- Very gentle gradient and lots of flat areas
- Two covered (for protection from weather) travellators
- Two different gradients of slopes for a progression
- Free to use, self-contained and fenced off from main pistes.
- Easy for friends to go off for a ski whilst you perfect your turns, and then come back to you.
- Excellent free to use indoor and outdoor picnic options, with table football!!
- Easy access from Ariondaz bubble lift, very short walk across flat area once at top of bubble.
- Easy downloading option if too tired or not ready to ski back to resort.
- Excellently groomed snow every night, without fail
- Fun Cowboy and Indians theme for kids (and adults!)
- Indians tents and bow and arrow shooting, for when you need a break from skiing. You must visit Chief Grey Wolf and get some face paints
- Great and cheap snack bar option under the Bel Air restaurant with outside terrace that sells amazing Croque Monsieur and hot chocolates
- Very friendly waited restaurant called Bel Air above the snack bar. It has an amazing view and a lovely south facing terrace, my tip is to try the ravioli!
- Free to use and usually clean toilets
- Liked to an easy flat green slope called Petit boss
- Harder ski back to 1650 resort than 1850, but still manageable and with some really enjoyable gentle parts.
- Can be in a slightly more exposed area of the mountain that does get windy from time to time.
- Doesn’t always have a lift attendant on hand if the lift stops. They do usually come eventually to switch it back on, usually within 5-10mins tops.
My Advice overall 1850 or 1650? – It is a tough one as both areas are great, however I generally prefer teaching learners on the 1650 beginner slope. For me 1650’s larger slope, better snack options, fun activities and the easier access from the Ariondaz bubble lift makes it a better choice compared to 1850 for day one beginners. The ski back to resort is harder, but if your instructor thinks you are ready then it is a fun and achievable beginner run.
For second day beginners that need a learner slope to warm up on before heading off to ski on the mountain, I would choose 1850. There is a greater choice of terrain for beginners linked to the learner slope.
So, there you have it, all that is left is for you to book your lessons!
Look out for our next blog for the best places to ski in Courchevel for beginner to early intermediate skiers.
Hope to see you on the hill soon.