Coming to a ski resort for the first time as a beginner skier or snowboarder can be a bit daunting. With a little locals know-how, our tips and tricks will help you make the most of your time here and hopefully leave you desperate for more.
Courchevel has been described as a haven for beginner skiers, so you’re in good hands in one of the most diverse areas of the Three Valleys.
Here are our top tips:
- You may not need a full lift pass - beginner slopes are usually low down, easily accessed and some don't require a lift pass at all
- Book into ski school, don't let your mates / partner teach you, trust us and hire a professional
- Consider your choice of equipment hire shop
- Plan your outfit before you arrive
- Utilise free public transport
- Enjoy the fun zones, they usually have a beginner area
- Explore the whole resort, seek out the blue and green slopes away from the beginner zones
- Explore the blues and greens of the other resorts included in your pass
- Enjoy après-ski - after all you'll have earned your stripes
Whilst it is possible to arrange these things once you're in resort, we wouldn't recommend it - especially lessons. Plan ahead, book what you can, and take the pressure off that first morning.
If you're a complete beginner and booking into ski school you might not need a full Three Valleys 6-day pass. It's worth checking with your ski school before you buy, some schools offer packages that include a lift pass. The Courchevel mini pass is a great way to save money if you’re only going to be staying on the beginner slopes for the first few days. In 1650, this pass includes Mickey, Belvedere and the Petite Bosse drag lifts, and the Ariondaz and Petit Moriond bubbles. These all lead onto the beginner areas in resort.
Up in Courchevel 1850 the mini pass includes all the free lifts plus a few more, so you have a wider range of pistes available to enable you to improve further and see more of the mountain. This pass also includes beginners areas of Courchevel 1550 and Le Praz.
Buying online couldn't be easier and the pass itself can be recharged / reloaded next time you visit. And rather than opt for them to be mailed to your home address, simply pick them up in resort. It's one less thing to remember to pack.
Don't let your friends or partner attempt to teach you to ski or snowboard. Trust us, for the sake of your relationships, put yourself in the hands of the professionals. Luckily there are many ski schools in Courchevel offering group and private lessons with friendly and knowledgeable English speaking instructors. If you're the only beginner in your group it's definitely worth joining group lessons. You'll learn in a safe and fun environment, and make new friends with rest of your crew over your shared experiences. Lessons are definitely something you should book well in advance to ensure you get your slot - especially if your ski trip is during the school holidays.
Renting your gear online is often cheaper than in resort, and most shops have beginner ski / snowboard packages on their websites. There are plenty of hire shops in Courchevel 1650 and 1850, so it's worth making sure your pick up point is close to your accommodation, and that it's not too far to carry your gear. Some shops offer free locker use near the slopes for customers, delivery services, and may even come to you for fittings on arrival if pre-arranged, especially if there's a group of you. It's worth checking this with the shop before you book.
Make the most of your time
All the gear, no idea
For the beginner skier or snowboarder it might seem expensive to lay out for the right apparel before you arrive, and there isn't anywhere that rents clothing in resort, so borrow what you can, check out the sales and online discounts. At the bare minimum make sure in addition to your trousers and jacket, that you've got a helmet, some goggles, gloves, and technical ski socks. Plus a lightweight back pack is always handy for carrying water, sunscreen and an extra layer.
Get on the bus
Plan your route from your accommodation to the beginner slopes, and use the resort's excellent public transport system to get around until you get the knack of carrying skis and poles like the pros.
The beginner slopes
Courchevel has a number of areas especially created and designated for beginners, known as 'ZEN' (Zones for the Evolution of Novices). Courchevel 1850 is ideal for every level of skier but especially suitable for beginners. There are several easily accessible green runs including Jardin Alpin, with the free Bellecote lift running alongside it, this wide and gentle piste can be lapped until your heart and legs are content. Take the Verdons gondola to the top of the piste called Renard. This is another gentle green which has some easy blue runs just next to it (Verdons and Biollay) for when you're ready to progress to the next step.
If you’re in Courchevel 1650, once you’ve built your confidence on the free drag lift, head up to the Petite Bosse drag lift and make your way down the Petite Bosse run and on to Indians - a gentle tree run complete with teepees and a barbecue station. All the beginner runs from the lifts above are gentle greens or blues that interconnect, so you won’t be stuck doing the same runs all week. For the younger ones, there is a designated area at the top of the Ariondaz bubble lift with two magic carpets and another teepee.
The fun zones
The Family Park in Courchevel continues to evolve every year, there is a section with beginner friendly rollers and small features. For those confident enough there are boxes, rails and kickers bound to suit all abilities.
It’s easy to stick with the tried and tested slopes but, with a little bit of clever thinking, you can easily find some barely used green and blue runs that really are away from the madding crowd. The whole area above Courchevel Moriond and Courchevel itself from the Verdon bubble towards the resort are a paradise for beginners, with wide groomed pistes where you can practice what you've learnt and build your confidence.
After all you have earned your stripes (and probably some bruises), now it's time to share your stories from the day with your family and friends, new and old.
Courchevel is a great place to let off some steam after a day's exertions on the slopes. Whether that's in the local après-ski scene over a beer or two, in a local restaurant, or with a swim and sauna to relax those aching limbs. With every two-day plus lift pass bought you'll receive one free entry to Courchevel's swimming centre, Aquamotion. Not just any municipal swimming pool, here you'll find water slides, wild rivers and a wave surf zone. These are great options for a day off the skiing, in the event of poor weather or a great way to spend a few hours after the slopes close.
Families, at the very least, may finally have a shot at exhausting the kids with this option!
So what are you waiting for? Get yourself out here and have some fun in the snow!