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Courchevel: Alpine luxury whatever the season


Once a modest mountain village, Courchevel has grown into one of the best-regarded ski resorts into the French Alps. Originally it was just a huddle of cattle-sheds at about 1,300 metres in altitude, and even that wasn’t called Courchevel; it was called Le Praz. Interestingly, the resort was planned in the second world war under the Vichy government and German occupation, so it could be argued this was one of the first products of the first attempts at European integration. Anyway, it was designed by a noted French town planner – and they do have a history of lovely, planned towns – and was certainly didn’t lack ambition.

The first thing to go was it’s name. La Praz sounded small and lumpy. Courchevel sounded smooth, fast, and with traces of the French word for ‘horse’ (though just different enough so the troubling image of a horse skiing would not get tangled in the image). This also happened to be the name of the valley La Praz was in. The bulldozers arrived and Courchevel 1300 was born. From there the only way to grow was up. Courchevel 1550, Courchevel 1650 and Courchevel 1850 followed, each being named, with Germanic efficiency, from their height above sea level. Recently there’s been an attempt to instill some glamour by changing each resort’s name to something that sounds more villagey but few of the locals can see the point.

The reason all this works is that Courchevel is the most western resort in the Trois Vallees, the largest linked ski area in the world. You can ski from your door (depending on season and altitude) along all the three valleys of Courchevel, Meribel and Belleville. You get to choose from 600km of pistes and try out 166 lifts. There are slopes to suit all skill levels just too much choice to ever get bored.

Even in summer the resort barely takes a breath. The luxury chalets built for the snow season are still there after all, they might as well be used. As grass greens the slopes and Alpine flowers burst into life visitors can find many other things to do. You can hike up mountains, cycle down them, or even, with a paraglider, jump off them.

The smartest properties are in Courcevel’s highest resort, Courchevel 1850. If you’re looking to rent a luxury chalet Courchevel this is the place to look. And even, if your budget is decent and you’d like a bit of capital growth and a holiday home amongst the stars, this is the place to research Courchevel real estate. Rental yields are decent and at this altitude a longer ski season extends the usable winter months.

 

Much of rural France lies empty. But in this buzzing Alpine resort real property prices are sturdy and every month brings a new stream of possible buyers. Make the most of the mountain air and pick your own new holiday chalet.

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