Part of our “How hard is it…” series we explain how hard it is to ski from Val Thorens to Courchevel.
There are several route options with slightly different variations for each route. Depending on where you start in Val Thorens might decide which route to take. For example, if you are staying at the bottom of the resort you might prefer to ski the nice easy path down to Les Menuires and make your way over to Meribel from there.
My personal favourite starting point is to stay high and take the lifts up over and ski either under Cote Brune lift – off-piste – or the main piste and end up at the Base of Mont Vallon.
You may have noticed I am not naming the lifts or even pistes as you wouldn’t believe this but the resorts keep changing their names. Granted mainly due to lift upgrades or replacements but it might confuse you if I did name them and you can’t find them on the map.
Anyway, back to the route. So far we have only skied one piste, quite a long one though. If it isn’t too busy – timing is everything here – this is a really nice piste. The top is a little steeper – Red level – but quite wide to traverse if needed, further down it does get thinner but nowhere need as steep – Blue level.
From Mont Vallon – worth a trip up the Mont Vallon lift and ski down if fresh snow as it’s amazing – you can either grab a short lift up and ski down to Motteret or take the picturesque path through the trees. The path is not very snowboard friendly as it is quite flat. Wouldn’t advise boarding down there on fresh snow, take the lift.
Skip through Motteret and climb up the other side.
Once you get into the Courchevel ski area you will notice the pistes get wider and less steep. Great for less confident skiers or just if you fancy a blast. There is a great little boarder-cross course at the top which is fun. Keep your eye out for the famous airport from one of the James Bond films as you gently slide your way past some rather posh-looking Chalets. Incidentally, if you have £20 million spare and looking for a Ski Chalet you should check out Belle Air in Courchevel.
Part 1 complete you are at Courchevel 1850.
If you choose to return via the same route you came via then bear in mind you will need to use a very very very long drag lift, definitely not snowboard friendly.
So I tend to stay low and take a route back via Meribel village. The biggest “pain” with this route is Meribel, don’t get me wrong Meribel is beautiful and well worth a visit or even a whole ski holiday stay. But it can get a little crowded at certain times. With the Val Thorens crew skiing over to Courchevel and the same vice versa, they tend to meet up at the same time in Meribel. Add on top of the holidaymakers staying at “Britain in the Mountains” – Meribel – and you have a whole lot of people in one place.
Take the Platiers lift – oops I mentioned lift name – to get some height as at the moment if you climbed over the mountain where you would end up in Les Menuires or even St Martin de Belleville.
Meribel has upgraded its lift system a lot lately and planning more upgrades soon too which has made the return trip from Meribel to Val Thorens much better. They upgraded the lifts to help people staying in Meribel get to the better snow higher up around Mont Vallon and into Val Thorens.
Take the Cote Brune lift up and over into Val Thorens and you’re back home just in time for a quick drink – or two – at the Folie Douce.
How long does it take to ski from Val Thorens to Courchevel?
Obviously, everyone skis at different speeds and some stop more often than others. That said if you are a good skier – Ski Blacks well – then you could do the whole route in a few hours – depending on queues.
If you are a Red piste skier I recommend starting early, say within an hour of lifts opening just to make sure.
Is it Snowboard friendly?
Yes, I would say so, I mentioned the path at Mont Vallon earlier but apart from that, you are good to go!
Minimum Skiing ability
I would say you need to be able to get down a red piste – in fact you would have to do just that – if you want to do this route. Also, bear in mind your fitness as you will be skiing most of the day and depending on how many courses you had a lunch you might have to put a wiggle on if you are close to lifts closing.
Considerations before you go
My main concern is wind, not the smelly type but mother nature’s breath. Val Thorens in particular can get quite windy which forces the lift companies to close certain lifts due to safety concerns. Can you guess which lifts they could close?
Yep, the ones taking you back over from the Meribel valley. The new lifts have helped this but still can happen.
Just so you know if you get stuck in either Courchevel’s or Meribel’s valleys when lifts close you have four options.
- Take a taxi which would need to drive right down to Moutiers and back up the Val Thorens valley. Not the cheapest taxi ride you would have had.
- Jump on a public bus that takes you to Moutiers then get another one up to Val Thorens. Bare in mind if the wind closes the lifts it more than likely has caught out many people, so stand room only on the buses.
- Find a room in Meribel for the night. Good luck with that one!
- Strap your skis to your back and start walking up the pistes.
Well worth downloading the E valley Apps beforehand so you can monitor wind warnings. If you are down in Courchevel you might not know it’s windy at the top.
Do I need to hire a guide?
If you are a lone skier then I would recommend joining a group or ski school to go with. If you got stuck or injured a long way from Val Thorens you might need help.
Other than there is no need to hire a guide. Read the piste map beforehand, plan your route and make sure you are somewhere in the Val Thorens valley before Apres!