The most glamorous ski resort in the world, Courchevel, welcomes ski aficionados and gourmet connoisseurs.
With the largest linked ski areas on the planet and a handful of Michelin-starred restaurants, it's a luxurious heaven. This French Alps ski resort is a part of Les Trois Vallées and was often nicknamed “the St. Tropez of winter sports”. The resort consists of four satellite villages – Courchevel Le Praz, Courchevel 1550, Courchevel 1650, and Courchevel 1850. However, the flagship resort is Courchevel 1850, an exclusive place of meeting for a select clientele of VIPs, wealthy people, and royal families.
If Prince William and Kate Middleton, the Beckhams, the Saudi royal family, Giorgio Armani, George Clooney or Roman Abramovich are indicators of how élite Courchevel 1850 really is, then you get a pretty good idea of what to expect here.
A Brief History of Courchevel
Laurent Chappis is the founding father of Courchevel. The architect and town planner created the resort from scratch. Today, specialists consider that Chappis practically wrote the book on how to build a high-end ski resort. His personal history is fascinating, as it marked the development of the resort and influenced others to step in his footsteps. A revolutionary and a visionary, Chappis gave the concept of “ski resort” a new twist that nobody had ever seen before.
Laurent was a ski lover and mountain adventurer himself, exploring the mountains around Grenoble in the 1930s. Unfortunately, the onset of the Second World War brutally disrupted his life of leisure and passion for the snowy peaks. He enrolled in the army and fought bravely, becoming a decorated war hero. However, life was not going to be easy on him. In the final days before the French surrendered, the Germans captured him during an attack.
He served five years in a PoW camp in Austria – and it was this particular ordeal that led to the creation of Courchevel. While in captivity, Chappis finished his doctoral work. The subject of his thesis was the development of a ski resort in the Trois Vallées area.
His work sparked controversy. His contemporaries and established post-war developers were more concerned with profits than aesthetics. This trend led to Laurent’s nickname of Anarchitecte – where he saw beauty where others only saw utility.
However, this did not stop him from becoming an official architect and town planner under the Vichy regime. Moreover, his paper became a reality. Courchevel was the first resort in France which was born from nothing rather than building upon an existing settlement. Together with fellow architects Denis Pradelle and Jean-Marc Legrand, Chappis created a tenth of all Courchevel’s constructions up until 1960. Their “Atelier d’Architecture de Courchevel” lays down the rules of architecture and construction work in the resort.
Courchevel is Home to Six Historical Monuments.
In the sixties, we also find Laurent Chappis being a United Nations expert on mountain development. This nomination did not come from his French compatriots, but from the Italians who recognized a genius when they saw him.
Courchevel is now the only resort in France to have six buildings listed as Historical Monuments. Five of them are among the most impressive buildings in 20th-century mountain architecture. As one can easily imagine, the rich design also needed to be paired with impeccable services, exquisite food, and unmatched experiences for the visitors.Laurent Chappis left us in 2013, but his legacy is now stronger than ever. The resort invests around €30-40 million a year in maintaining its position as one of the best ski places in the world. However, as we previously mentioned, Courchevel also takes the record for some of the best restaurants in the universe.
Deliciously Decadent - The Courchevel Cuisine
Some of the oldest and most famous gourmet restaurants date back in the 60s. Many chefs tried their luck in the growing tourist attraction, and they struck gold. In Courchevel, one always expects to find excellence at every step. Everyone comes here in summer and in winter prepared to splurge with some of the most outstanding dishes on the face of the Earth. Here, you will find some of the most Michelin-awarded chefs in the world and restaurants that will leave you breathless.
Let us take a sneak peek inside a few Michelin Star restaurants to understand better why this resort is the quintessence of luxury food in the entire world. Before we enter, you have to keep in mind that the concept of gourmet food does not refer solely to the food itself.
Gourmet means a unique life experience. Gourmet food offers you emotions you never experienced before. It offers you memories to cherish. It takes you out of your mundane, utilitarian world and throws you in an alternate reality where happiness comes on a plate and the restaurant is a universe.
1. Pierre Gagnaire pour Les Airelles – Le charm discret de la bourgeoisie
This restaurant is the first one in Courchevel 1850 to receive two Michelin stars. You will find it in the Hotel Les Airelles, but make sure you book your seat in advance. The cuisine of Airelles wears the mark of Chef Pierre Gagnaire.
He is a researcher, a creator of flavors, an experimenter, and an icon of Courchevel. You might be tempted to think you will find here fusion cuisine and futuristic dishes, but you would make a mistake. “Le charm discret de la bourgeoisie” exudes here from every steaming dish coming to your table.
Oh, what tables you get! Imagine Puiforcat silverware, Hermes tableware and 19th Century Antiques on every shelf. Imagine services that seem taken out of books, the dim light, the high-end decorations, the conversations and the outfits of patrons. Airelles is a dream came true for anyone expecting to eat like royalty.
2. Le 1947 – Nouvelle Cuisine
Set in the five stars Hotel Cheval Blanc, Le 1947 is perhaps the synonym you were always looking for the word “exclusivist.” The restaurant can only cater to 25 guests in one sitting per evening because everything here is about that life experience we were talking earlier.
A fusion of modern and contemporary styles, Le 1947 will delight you with Chef Yannick Alleno’s signature dishes. Alleno received his third Michelin star in 2017, making him a significant member of one of the most tight-in clubs on the planet: best chefs in the world.
Besides the fur throws on dining chairs and porcelain dinnerware designed by Sylvie Coquet, Le 1947 welcomes you with its intimate atmosphere and an exceptional dining experience after a hard day on the slopes. As we said, eating in Courchevel has nothing to do with feeding or sustenance. In le 1947, each dining experience becomes a personalized one. The main course dictates what other courses you will have next.
Each dinner is a symphony, and you should surrender to Alleno’s culinary genius and just try what he offers. This is that type of gourmet adventure that will change your life.
3. Le Chabichou – Take a Glimpse Inside the Chef’s Kitchen
Le Chabichou is an icon of taste and French gourmet food in Courchevel and the world. Rochedy family settled in the resort around 40 years ago. Stéphane Buron and Michel Rochedy run the restaurant today. The best news about it is that it is also open in summer.
If you feel like taking a trip to the Alps for gourmet food and a well-deserved luxurious vacation, make sure you put Le Chabichou on your list. If you want to add more splurging to the list, keep in mind that Le Chabichou four stars hotel also hosts the largest spa in the French Alps.
The food here is a work of art. Chef Michel Rochedy mixes flavors from all over the world with fresh produce he picks from his own garden. The restaurant fully deserves its two Michelin stars, but the real treat here is the open kitchen.The restaurant features an open kitchen so you can see the Chef at work and be amazed at his creations.
We're packing up our skis and appetite.
Courchevel is a place of wonder for your taste buds. Whether you love to ski or you want to challenge the mountains in summer, Courchevel should become a priority on your bucket list. Exclusive, intriguing, breathtaking – this is how you can describe both the resort and its cuisine. You will not find the same dish twice. Nevertheless, you will enjoy both sophisticated dishes and some homemade burgers to surprise you.
You can also consider Courchevel a veritable open-air museum or architecture exhibit. The legacy of Chappis and his colleagues, their art, attention to details and love for the mountains breathes from every pore of every building.
A blend of history, art, innovation, and relaxation, Courchevel is the crown jewel of France and the French Alps. The epitome of indulgent exclusivity, this resort will still have many surprises for those who visit it. It reinvented winter tourism, culinary escapades, excellent skiing conditions, and customer service.
Have you ever been to Courchevel? Did you eat in one of its many Michelin restaurants? How was your experience? What else can you tell us about the resort and its gourmet food?
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