Courchevel and back in a day from Val Thorens is much easier (and quicker) than you might think. An intermediate skier ought to be able to get there in just over an hour on the most direct route, although you can branch out if you wish to make a day of it.
The obvious route is to ski into the Méribel Valley from the top of the 3 VALLEES FUNITEL at Mont de la Chambre. Taking the PLAN DES MAINS chairlift gains height and avoids the flattish route into Mottaret, which is to be avoided at all costs if on a snowboard! An alternative is to ski Route du Soleil down to ROC DES 3 MARCHES 2, then down the long Grand Lac blue run to either the TEPPES drag or ST MARTIN 2 (should take about 40mins). The Grand Lac is a fabulous run! Mottaret can also be reached from the top of either of these lifts.
Our intrepid Val Thorens Snow Reporter describes one of her favourite circular routes...
- From Mottaret, take the PAS DU LAC bubble to La Saulire.
- Head down the Creux (red), keeping right and carrying on down to the CHANROSSA chair. Take the CHANROSSA and ski down the back of Roc Merlet. Stay right and cross the double drag, PYRAMIDES 1 & 2. Head down to Resaturant le Casserole and take the fast SIGNAL chair to the top of Chapelets - this is a lovely fast red and generally not busy. Take the CHAPELETS chairlift back up and, if having a fast day, do Rochers back to the bottom and then the same CHAPELETS chairlift back up again.
- From here you can go back to the bottom of SIGNAL along Ariondaz, but this time take the PETITE BOSSE. Take AIGUILLE DU FRUIT and head on down past the Altiport down the Bellecôte Piste to Courchevel 1850. This is a good point to stop for lunch or a drink at Tovets restaurant.
- Once in Courchevel 1850 make for the left of the central lift system and ski through the tunnel and round to the left for the PLANTREY chair. From there, you can ski down the Bouc Blanc to the DOU DES LANCHES chairlift. Just before you arrive you will pass the restaurant Bouc Blanc, another nice refreshment stop. DOU DES LANCHES arrives at Col de la Loze; track straight on then down to La Chaudanne, or turn right for a red or black down to Meribel Altiport. Then it's the ALTIPORT chair or a horizontal draglift to get back to the Rond Point sector for a return to La Chaudanne. (NB most skiers returning to Val Thorens take PLATTIERES from Mottaret followed by COTE BRUNE and in low season this would be OK, in high season it's a nightmare).
- From Chaudanne, take PLAN DE L'HOMME and then the blue Grive piste followed by TOUGNETE 2. Ski down into Belleville Valley along the blue Gros Tougne for LES GRANGES, arriving at Roc des Trois Marches (top of PLATTIERES 3). Depending on time, you can then ski down Alouettes (Méribel Valley) for the COTE BRUNE back to Val Thorens, or towards Les Menuires for the MONT DE LA CHAMBRE chair).
- The 3 Valleys Piste Map shows each valley on a single page. Spend an evening looking at the crossover points between the Belleville Valley and the Méribel Valley and the runs and lifts which connect them. There are five, and crossing back and forth makes interesting skiing, especially above St Martin and Les Teppes. Between Courchevel and Méribel, there are only two: La Saulire and La Loze.
- Be aware of lift closing times, they are strictly adhered to.
- If running short of time, make sure you are in the right Valley. From top of Tougnete 2 (Méribel), you can ski all the way back to Les Menuires.
- Pick up a Belleville Valley local bus timetable, just as a back-up plan for getting home!
- Take a quick peek at our Mountain Restaurants Guide; the two mentioned above are included in the Courchevel section and are highly rated as well as not breaking the bank!