Mar 132015
 
Standing at the top of the world.  Skis are off so we could walk to this spot. Notice it is warm enough to ski without a parka.

Standing at the top of the world at Val Thorens. Skis are off so we could walk to this spot.
Notice it is warm enough to ski without a parka.

Courchevel is the name of a ski resort in the French Alps. It is a part of Les Trois Vallées, the largest linked ski area in the world. Courchevel also refers to the towns of Courchevel 1300 (Le Praz), Courchevel 1550, Courchevel 1650 (Moriond), and Courchevel 1850, which are named for their altitudes in meters. That has been confusing to me, because their weather reports are different.  We are at Courchevel 1850.

Courcheval

Les Tre Vallees

The original resort was planned during World War II  by the Vichy regime (the government of Marshal Philippe Pétain 1940–44, based in Vichy)  by  town planner Laurent Chappis. It came about because the General Council of Savoie wanted to boost the economy of the area. Chappis was an architect who essentially wrote the book on ski resort design.  Courchevel 1850 was significant, as it was the first resort in France to be constructed from scratch, rather than based around an existing village.

Meribel

Meribel

One interesting fact I read was that Courchevel is renowned as having some of the most difficult black runs in the world, I can not say that I agree with this fact, I have regularly skied Birds of Prey at Beaver Creek, but this is also a huge resort, and it would take years to see it all.

Now, a point that is driving me absolutely insane. The French ski WRONG. They have adopted the parabolic skis, they would have to as they don’t make the old straight skis anymore, and yet, they ski with legs and skis tightly together and their weight back. This completely defies the physics of the parabolic ski, which requires a wider stance and a lower center of gravity.  Parabolic skis changed the concept of the turn, you use the turn to accelerate with a parabolic ski, you use a turn to slow down with the old type of skis, so I am not sure how they are using the execution of their turns.  Yes, they look stunning, but I would absolutely never take a lesson in this country. Their ski school qualification tests are some of the hardest in the world, so they are highly qualified, but they have decided, I guess, screw technology. Which of course is silly because fighting physics makes it just that much harder to look stunning.

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These two sculptures are by Richard Orlinski and are polystyrene.  They were at the top of Saulire, the art changes annually and is put there by one of the art galleries in town.

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Regarding ski prices at Courchevel, I purchased a three day ski pass, which included insurance for 182 Euros, this covered all three valleys.  To give you that in dollars for all of you living in the United States that is equal to $195.  That is, I repeat for THREE days. We purchased just three days to see how we would feel, the next two days will be just a few Euros more per day.  I am renting high end demo skis for 5 days, and that will be $150 for all 5 days.

Skiing here is worth the airline flight, for no other reason than the vastness of the area, but the crowds are really too large.  While there are so many lifts you don’t have much wait time, the hills are fairly crowded.  The rudeness of the French translates to the hill, so it can be a war zone out there.  That being said, we have a boarder with us, she took a horrible fall, three skiers stopped and directed traffic around her and a doctor stopped and checked her out.  While there is a ski patrol it is nothing like what those in the US have come to expect, you are pretty much on your own, so with the large crowds on the rather narrow hills, unless you are skiing off piste, it can be a rather unnerving experience.  You take out insurance when you buy your ticket and that covers the cost of search and rescue and your first transport of the hill, as I said, their ski patrol is not what we have grown to expect in the U.S..

You can go parachuting or hang gliding off the hills if skiing is starting to bore you.

You can go parachuting or hang gliding off the hills if skiing is starting to bore you.

There is an air show every day the weather is good

There is an air show every day the weather is good