INTRODUCTION

Courmayeur is one of Europe’s premier ski resorts. Tucked away at the foot of the Alps, it gives skiers of all abilities access to some of the best runs, producing challenging off-piste twists and turns, as well as more gentle nursery slopes for beginners. It’s a great location for non-skiers too, with plenty of activities for kids, relaxation and wellness spas for adults, and some of the very best boutique shopping in the region.

It’s located on the Italian side of the mountains, just over 90 minutes from Geneva or Turin airport. It’s position close to the Mont Blanc tunnel makes it easy to take an excursion over to the French side of the mountains, perhaps for a day-trip to the stunning town of Chamonix, just 22km away.

The heart of this charming Italian village is interlaced with steep, cobbled alleyways, while the central street is pedestrianised, making it a safe and relaxing place to spend an afternoon. The Via Roma, Courmayeur’s main street, is lined with smart boutiques, bars, elegant restaurants, and antique shops. There’s also an excellent delicatessen, which is particularly useful if you’re self-catering. Their selection of Italian and French cheeses and cold meats are exceptional, giving you a true taste of alpine life. In general, you can expect the quality of food to be exceptional here.

The weather in Courmayeur is very different from its French counterpart. Snowfall tends to be slightly less on the Italian side of the Alps, but the quality of the powder is superior, and the Italian side benefits from more sunshine than the French side. This can lead to firmer runs higher up the mountain, with slightly icier conditions first thing in the morning in particular. As a result, the off-piste high mountain slopes are very fast running, but with less chance of fog closing the runs at short notice.

THE RESORT

Courmayeur is elegant, friendly and very family orientated. Italians love children, and you’ll find that the little ones are welcomed in every restaurant in the town, and special children’s’ menus ensure everyone stays well fed. The resort itself is a typically picture-perfect alpine town, with steep cobbled streets and alleyways and 5-star chalets. Although there is budget accommodation available, it’s primarily a mid-range to upmarket resort, catering to affluent visitors and the occasional sprinkling of celebrities.

Shopping is boutique, bohemian and beautiful, with plenty of luxury outlets providing some of the best in high fashion retail. Look out in particular for gorgeous quality Italian leather goods, with everything from belts and wallets through to designer handbags on offer.

Accommodation throughout the town is of an exceptionally high standard, with most offering 4 and 5-star luxury with all the trimmings. Hot tubs abound, as do saunas and spa treatments, perfect for those aching muscles and sore limbs after a day on the slopes. The majority of the hotels and chalet complexes sit in or around the heart of the town, so you’re right in the middle of all the apres-ski action. They’re family-run operations too, which means you’ll get a warm welcome and personalised service that really makes a stay here extra special.

SKIING

Your starting point is the mid-mountain base at Plan Chécrouit, which is accessible by a a new speedy gondola (which many hotels shuttle guests to) or the cable car service that runs right from the centre of the town. The cable car is just a few minutes’ walk from most of the town’s accommodation. The vertical is challenging, and starts at 2,755m, dropping down to the far end of the slopes at 1,224m.

Even at the busiest times of the year, the slopes are not as crowded as you’d expect. This makes it a real pleasure for intermediate and more advanced skiers, as you’re not dodging slower skiers on the way down the mountain. With 64 off-piste runs (recently reclassified) and plenty of intermediate slopes, there’s lots to challenge average to good skiers.

The nursery slopes are perfectly adequate for those just finding their feet on skis or snowboards. The nursery slopes have free lifts at Plan Chécrouit and Pre de Pascal at the top of the Entrèves cable car. The two main ski schools are Italian, although the instructors are multi-lingual and most of them speak excellent English. They’re friendly, patient and supportive, helping novice skiers to get over their nerves and get that first run in by the end of day one.

If you’re a more experienced skier then Courmayeur is one of the best locations in Europe for a week’s superb sport. There are two linked areas, separated by a rock ridge. If you’re more confident then the Val Veny runs provide more of a challenge.

Generally, the classifications are fairly accurate, with reds being very close to textbook red runs. Some of the blacks would probably be regarded as more red in other locations, and there’s a great 1,400m vertical from Cresta Youla right down to the hamlet of Dolonne. While the overall amount of pistes is relatively small, the quality of the runs makes them worth skiing more than once, as the Alps’ changing moods can make the same run very different from one day to the next.

The main lift now runs until midnight, so you can catch the amazing sunsets at the high-level bars and restaurants and enjoy après drinks before heading back down. Alternatively, you can head back up the mountain in the evening and take advantage of a great choice of mountain restaurants serving outstanding food and wine, with truly breathtaking views to match.

FOR THE KIDS

The nursery slopes are perfect for little skiers, but there are also plenty of activities for youngsters apres-ski too. There’s an Alpine Museum to explore, and nearby Dolonne has its own sports centre with everything from a climbing wall for your little monkeys to scramble up, to an ice rink, table tennis and table football.

COURMAYEUR PISTE MAP

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THE BUTLER & LLOYD CONCIERGE

Throughout the week our Butler will be in the resort to care for you. He will be on hand to organise your ski and boot hire, hand-deliver your ski passes and be there to answer any questions. The Butler will be able to ease the stress and help with last-minute organisation of that first morning on the slopes (and any further mornings).

The Butler can book you the best table for lunch, arrange a babysitter should you wish to go out, and provide you with daily feedback on your children’s ski lessons and give progress reports from the children’s club.

Let us arrange your tailor-made ski holiday. Contact us today without obligation.

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