Après-ski, “after ski” in French, refers to entertainment, nightlife or events that occur specifically at ski resorts. These activities create a fun social scene and provide something to do besides skiing and snowboarding. The culture originated in the Alps, where skiers often stop at bars on their last run of the day while still wearing all their ski gear. Especially in Europe, where it is still most popular, people flock to resorts that boast high quality après-ski.
Courchevel, in the French Alps, is known as one of the best après-ski experiences in the world. And after visiting it is easy to see why Courchevel 1850 has been dubbed the winter playground of the rich and famous – everything is over the top and luxuriously extravagant. This was my first time snowboarding in Europe, so my first real après-ski trip, and I had so much fun that I am now officially obsessed and can’t wait to go back!
For lunch, you must eat at Le Cap Horn (one of the coolest restaurant I have ever been to!) and also Le Chalet De Pierres. Both restaurants are located on the mountain and remind me of the prime beach clubs in St Tropez, with lively music, extraordinary decor, delicious food and wine, and crazy prices!
Courchevel offers over 90 miles of runs – way more than you could do in a month, let alone a week, so I highly recommend hiring a ski instructor to be your guide. We had Veronique from Courchevel 1850 Ski School showing us around the mountain. She was crucial in getting us to our lunch reservations on time. Without her, we would have been so lost!
There is amazing luxury shopping in Courchevel 1850, along with all the best hotels, restaurants, and bars on the mountain. Most of the luxury hotels offer half-board (breakfast and dinner are included in hotel price). But you must go out to dinner at La Mangeoire. It reminds me of Villa Romana in St Tropez. There is live music nightly, and around 11:30pm the whole place transforms into a club. So you can start with a romantic dinner at 10pm and end up dancing on your table by 12am!
If you are on a budget, stay at Hotel Les Flocons in 1550. (1850, 1650 and 1550 are the main areas and refer to the altitude of each little town). Built in 1977, Les Flocons was one of the original Courchevel hotels, and has remained in the family since. It is now run by Philippe, who manages the hotel and restaurant for his father. It is a cute, clean and charming little chalet, conveniently located at the base of the main gondola, connecting you – in a few short minutes – to all the luxuries Courchevel 1850 has to offer. The gondola runs till 7:30pm every night. After hours, you can call a cab, which takes about 15 minutes to get up the winding road to 1850. “Mountain cabs” are easy to come by but they are pricy so be prepared to pay 40 EUR each way from 1550 to 1850.
If you prefer a luxury accommodation, stay in Courchevel 1850. There are many exquisite hotels but La Sivoliere offers a nice ski-in, ski-out option. They have good food and great cocktails (I ate dinner there twice with our friends who were staying there), and they have a ski shop right in the hotel which makes picking up and returning your gear each day a breeze. Two other 5 Star options to check out are L’Apogee Courchevel and Hotel Le K2, which are said to be two of the best hotels in Courchevel.
Avoid Courchevel Feb 5th – March 6th, when most schools in Europe have half term breaks. Ask your ski instructor for help booking lunches and dinners. They know all the best places and have clout, so they can help get your reservations sorted. Also, it is customary to treat your instructor to lunch so factor that into your budget. And if you don’t ski well but still want to join for lunch, don’t worry. Most restaurants can also be reached by car and your hotel should have a shuttle that will take you at no additional charge.
I had so much fun in Courchevel that I am putting together a Girls Getaway there in March! If you are interested in joining email me: [email protected]