Skiing in the Three Valleys (Courchevel)


After a few years away from the slopes due to COVID it was time to get our skis on again.

My daughter was going to join a University trip to Tignes, leaving me to figure something out for myself. But at the last minute she decided she’d rather do another trip together. I asked if she’d like to go back to a previous place or try somewhere new, and novelty won out. I then asked my sister (who’s done a few seasons over the years) for a recommendation, and the Three Valleys came out on top, with a leaning towards Courchevel.

The view from our hotel window


I’ve not done a package holiday since the 90s, but when I started looking for accommodation everything seemed to be crazy expensive, or badly out of the way. So eventually I found myself on the Inghams site booking everything together.

The bundle of accommodation, flights, transfers, lift passes and kit hire came to maybe 50% more than I’d paid for previous trips. But that included half board, and we were going to a top notch resort – Courchevel 1650 (aka Morinod).

I thought my sister would laugh at me when I confessed that I’d bought a package, but she said that she quite often did the same, and thought that the costs could even out.

Chambery – best avoided

The package included charter flights to and from Chambery, a small regional airport up in the Alps that’s closer to the resorts. When booking I vaguely recall an option to pay extra for further away airports like Geneva, and thinking ‘why would I pay more for a longer transfer?’.

Now I know: Chambery is a total disaster area on ski season Saturdays, when hordes of charter flights descend on an airport that’s just not set up for the volume of passengers.

Our flight in hit a double whammy. Firstly we left Gatwick 2h late due to equipment problems[1]. Then we sat on the tarmac for 1.5h due to backlogs in baggage handling and passport control caused by any earlier ‘security incident'[2]. There had also been a serious accident on one of the access roads that messed up transfers, so we waited another hour for a taxi.

Instead of getting to Courchevel in time for dinner we got there just before midnight. Props to the reps though; at the airport they’d handed out snacks[3], and at the resort they’d taken care of hotel check-in.

Location, Location, Location

Hotel Cascades could not be better situated. The ski hire place was on the other side of the bar, in the same building.

Left: Hotel Cascades (entrance under the Terresens sign)
Centre: Le Schuss bar
Right: Intersport ski rental

And across the road, the escalator up to the Ariondaz lift.

The escalator up to the Ariondaz lift (view from Hotel Cascades lounge).

From that lift it was a run down to Aiguille Du Fruit, and then Marmottes or Suisses to the Saulire pass providing access to Courchevel or Meribel.


A few weeks before departure Inghams sent a note saying that the hotel couldn’t provide dinner due to staff shortages so we’d be served in local restaurants instead. This turned out to be a major win, as Bistro C put on a very fancy (and typically French) three course set menu each night.

Fillet mignon with darphin potatoes, mushrooms and mushroom mouse

Apart from Monday, when we went to Bistrot Manali, where they served fondue (saving me from contemplating breaking away for fondue on another evening).


Unfortunately there was a winter vomiting bug going around the resort. We first heard of it over breakfast on Tuesday morning, and my daughter ended up missing skiing and dinner on Wednesday. She also opted for pizza for dinner on Thursday, as she wasn’t ready to face a 3 course set menu of rich fancy food.

Some folk were blaming the restaurant(s), others the cleaners at the hotel. I took the view that these things are impossible to contain in environments where there are a bunch of people together; just look at what happens on cruise ships.

The friends we make along the way

The taxi from Chambery was shared with John and Sue, and we kept on bumping into them at dinner etc. Near the end of the week we joined John for a trip over to Val Thorens and Orelle, as he’d spent much more time in the resort over many previous trips. I hope I’m still skiing that well at 84.

While my daughter was unwell I headed for Mont Vallon to try the runs on either side, on one of the lifts up I heard a very not French ‘excuse moi’, from somebody joining me in the lift, and Sean ended up joining me for a few runs and a bit of a chat on the lifts.


Inghams offered some discounts on ski rental as I’d got lift passes from them, and as usual I opted for the top package on offer, in this case labelled ‘Black’ in the hope of getting good quality, recent gear.

Helmets weren’t mentioned, and it wasn’t even clear if they were available as an extra, so I got some Kuyou helmets (affiliate link) from Amazon. They turned out to be comfortable, and seemed to do the job on the one time I did something silly that resulted in my head hitting the piste. We both liked the flip down visor as an alternative to goggles, though I seemed to make a habit of losing my right hand contact lens on the last run of the day from too much wind past my eye.

After quizzing me about my skiing preferences the shop produced a pair of 2016 Atomic Redster XTs. The tops showed they’d had plenty of prior use, but the bases were in great condition, and they glided well on piste. After a couple of days though I felt that they were good, but not great. I liked them, but didn’t love them. Returning to the shop they swapped me over to some 2016 Kastle MX78s, which turned out to be great skis, and definitely in the same league as the Lecroix Mach Carbons that have become my benchmark for goodness.

Ski Tracks

I did a mini review of Ski Tracks last time around, but this was my first trip using it throughout.

At first I was using my watch to record individual runs:

But that was a bit tedious, and also fraught with the risk of dropping my glove from the lift, so I switched over to just recording whole days:

I can see that I’m generally holding back to ~35mph, except on the runs where I can safely go faster (due to low traffic and clear sight lines):

The skiing

The Three Valleys is the largest connected ski area in the world, so there was no way we were going to ski it out in a week. But I feel like we certainly got to try the best bits, so I didn’t leave hankering for legendary runs we’d not had the chance to take on… With one exception. L’Eclipse was created a few years back for the 2023 World Championships, and seems like an absolutely epic run. But the it was closed whilst we were there, as those Championships started days after we left, and they wanted the course in tip top condition.

I contemplated having a crack at The 3 Valleys Escapade, but we’re not usually up for the first lift :/

Best of the Blacks

Jean-Blanc runs from a similar starting point to L’Eclipse, down to the same destination, Le Praz, cutting through woods to either side. It’s beautiful, and there were times we ran it without seeing another soul.

Dou Des Lanches was probably my favourite, a nice quick and clean run with great visibility where you can just throw yourself down the fall line.

M gets a worthy mention as one of those runs that keeps unfolding fresh challenges as you progress through it.

Pick of the Reds

The back half of Rochers was often the speedy bit of the last run for the day, though sometimes we’d loop back up on Chapelets to take it from the top.

Campagnol was worth the side trip to Mont Vallon, But sadly Combe du vallon was too cut up to be fun, and the connecting run along Ours was slow and boring.

Bouchet was the highlight of our trip to Orelle (and it’s a shame the zip line at Col de Thorens was closed).

Beautiful Blues

Folyeres was recommended for a scenic run down to La Tania, and didn’t disappoint.

Pic bleu also delivered a high smiles/miles ratio :)

Sunset from our hotel window

Getting home

After a bit of hanging around in the (very comfortable) hotel lounge the bus trip back to Chambery was uneventful.

Chambery itself was just as bad as expected. There were tons of people milling around outside, as there simply wasn’t space inside. We were lucky to check in without a queue and get some seats to wait on. It wasn’t long until check in was a zoo, and there was hardly space to move.

The best thing about security theatre is that every performance is an audience participation event

Me, every time I’m going through an airport or bag check line

I don’t think I’ve seen a more shambolic performance of security theatre since the early days in JFK post 9/11 when they still had National Guards adding to the chaos quotient. So far as I could tell nobody got through the metal detectors without needing to take their shoes off and be subjected to a pat down. There just wasn’t any flow.

At least once we got through that there wasn’t much hanging around involved in boarding.

But once on the plane there was a bunch of hanging around for bags to be loaded, and then more time waiting for inbound flights to land, as they only allow one aircraft at a time in the very tight valley. We landed at Gatwick only 30m late, having caught up a little on the way, so not too bad in the end.


It was a brilliant week, apart from the flights, and I’d certainly consider using Inghams again; I’ll just try to avoid Chambery.

The Three Valleys area was great, and I’m sure I’d enjoy skiing there again (and having a crack at L’Eclipse). But there are plenty of resorts I’ve not been to yet. So maybe somewhere else next time…


[1] A replacement aircraft needed to be flown in from Stansted, and then a bunch of seat allocations had to be redone due to a different layout.
[2] The entire terminal had been evacuated (over a left behind laptop?) so those who’d gone through security had to do the whole rigmarole again.
[3] The crisps and Curly Wurly were nice, but the offer of a sandwich came too late as I’d already grabbed one from the kiosk outside.

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