If you prefer hiking to skiing you can’t go wrong with a summer holiday to Courchevel in the French Alps. There are plenty of activities to keep you occupied during the summer season and prices are cheaper, with less tourists, not to mention the beautiful wild flowers which come into bloom at this time of year…
Nestled on the edge of Vanoise National Park, in Les Trois Vallées, Courchevel comprises six villages from the highest at Courchevel 1850, to Courchevel Moriond, Courchevel Village, Courchevel La Tania, Courchevel Le Praz and Saint-Bon.
Top things to do in Courchevel
Via Cavo del Mey
Not for the faint hearted is the new vertigo hike, Via Cavo del Mey, with an altitude of 2,700m, which opened in June 2022. Reserved for adventurers and thrill-seekers thanks to its panoramic drop and breathtaking scenery. Depart from Belvédère in Courchevel Moriond where you will walk for about three-and-a-half hours through the valley of the Avals, before arriving at Vanoise National Park. Here you come to Brêche de la Portetta. Cross the impressive towers of the Portetta, before arriving at the start of the tour of the Aiguille de Mey (2,845m high). From the narrow ledges that overhang the cliffs, you have to take the handrail along Aiguille de Mey, and continue climbing for an hour of adventure. Aiguille de Mey offers a superb panorama of the Vanoise Ice Cap, the Grande Casse and Aiguille du Fruit.
Sentier du Creux de l’Ours
For a more family-friendly hike take the Sentier du Creux de l’Ours trail, a ‘family’ alternative to the long loop of the Vallée des Avals. This new trail with its wooded, rocky and rustic terrain starts at the Lac de la Rosière and leads walkers to Cascade des Poux, dotted with signs pointing out the names of the beautiful wild flowers along the way. The path continues as far as Biol before taking the Creux de l’Ours to return to the Belvédère plateau, as well as taking in views of Dent du Villard from the Pralin meadow.
Aquamotion aquatic centre
For a relaxing alternative, visit Aquamotion, the largest European aquatic centre, 15,000m² in the heart of the Alps. The impressive exterior resembles a spaceship made of glass and wood and a huge sloping roof, in the form of a wave.
Lac du Praz
Popular for their accessibility are Lac du Praz and Lac de la Rosière, which are the summer must sees. Lac du Praz is located in the heart of the village of the same name, where you can swim and fish. The lake at le Praz is close to the finishing line for the Alpine World Ski Championships, at L’Alpinimum, where the l’Eclipse slope ends.
Lac de la Rosière
This beautiful lake has aqua blue clear waters. Located at the foot of the Avals valley in Courchevel Moriond and the starting point for many hikes, including a botanical trail. There are dozens of picnic tables and barbecues dotted around the site as well as a boardwalk around the lake and a footbridge across the middle.
Via Ferrata circuit
Located on the cliffs overlooking Lac de la Rosière is Via Ferrata an accessible-for-all climbing circuit approximately 600 metres long, involving a low traverse, a monkey bridge crossing and a climb up into the woods using ropes. The route allows beginners and children to take in the mountain scenery as well as Cascades des Poux and is divided into two sections: on the left a cliff with a passageway overlooking the lake, before continuing across a rope bridge. On the right is a long footbridge before arriving onto ‘Tafones Bridge’ the footbridge across the lake. The circuit ends on a bucolic flat rock on the edge of the pine forest, which goes down to the lake via a short path.
Courchevel ice skating rink
If you’re missing the colder weather and snow, pop into Courchevel ice skating rink. It was built in 1986 (for the Olympic games of 1992), and it is home to HCCMP (Hockey Club Courchevel Méribel Pralognan), which is in the third division in France.
Courchevel is one of the largest Beaufort cheese producing areas in Savoie (recognized as a Protected Designation of Origin since 1968). Throughout the summer you can visit the animals, pigs rabbits, hens, goats and sheep at Pralong Farm, Courchevel 1850 and Pralin (Courchevel Moriond). The farm organizes ‘Instants Beaufort’, two dates in the summer to experience a day out to meet the alpine farmer and take part in cheese making outdoors followed by lunch in the mountains. The free guided tours are once a week.
To work off all that cheese, take to the slopes on a mountain bike VTT (Véhicules Tout-Terrain) or electrically assisted bikes VTT AE (Assistance Électrique). For the adventurous discover the red trail of La Vallée Sauvage des Avals, which weaves through the heart of the alpine pastures before crossing the secret valley of Les Avals (departure Courchevel Moriond, 23km, 940m elevation gain). Or try Les Harmeaux blue trail, which takes cyclists around 20 small villages and hamlets starting at Bozel. The route passes through Le Fay, and La Perrière (21.8km, 790m peak). There is also L’Intégral, the longest mountain bike descent in the area, which starts at 2,738m at La Saulire and runs along a 13km black ski run with a 1,430m drop.
La Tania ski lift
In summer there is a free ski lift from Courchevel La Tania. The gondola lift takes passengers up to Bouc Blanc, the starting point with a choice of two hikes; for beginners Vers Courchevel 1850, which leads to Courchevel 1850 and Sentier découverte du Grand Bois, which returns to the center of La Tania crossing the forest.
You can find details of things to do at the tourist office website: courchevel.com
By Jenny Eagle, a journalist who lives in Montpellier, southern France.