Courmayeur Ski Resort Guide
The ski resort of Courmayeur is a charming old village nestled at the foot of Mont Blanc – western Europe’s highest mountain. Although just 22km away from neighbouring Chamonix on the French side of the mountain, Courmayeur oozes Italian style and sophistication. Its close proximity to both Geneva and Turin airports (both under an hour and a half travel away) make this a popular resort for both native and international holidaymakers.
Courmayeur was originally popular with visitors coming to experience the benefits of the local mineral springs. The town itself still centres around the historic district on the car-free Via Roma. Here you’ll find old stone houses and fountains alongside the newer boutiques, bars and gourmet restaurants which are now commonplace in resort.
The cobbled streets of the town still help provide a traditional feel to Courmayeur. Nowadays though it has developed in to a stylish destination and the place to be at weekends for wealthy tourists from the nearby cities of Milan and Turin. This influx has helped boutique businesses to thrive with the numerous delicatessens and antique shops not a sight normally seen in a ski resort. A few apartment block buildings have crept up as well but these have mostly been relegated to the outskirts of the pretty resort.
As well as rich and fashionable Italians, Courmayeur is home to well-supported snow sports and climbing communities. Courmayeur is one of several internationally-recognised ski resorts in the Aosta Valley which runs up Italy’s north-west border with France & Switzerland. Other resorts include Pila & Cervinia. The ski area of Courmayeur itself is small but a large and challenging off-piste area plus access to several neighbouring resorts means it is a good choice for a refined ski holiday.
Courmayeur has some fantastic gourmet restaurants along with a lively nightlife that is far more sophisticated than the normal ski resort fare. The main lift running up the mountain operates every night until midnight meaning it is possible to enjoy mountainside bars and restaurants well in to the evening. Afterwards the main nightlife activity centres around the pedestrianised Via Roma area.
Alternative apres-ski activities are numerous as well in Courmayeur. There is the opportunity to try snowshoeing, cross-country skiing & snowbikes on and around the slopes. Nearby is the Forum Sport Centre which has ice-skating, climbing, indoor golf, tennis & squash available. Additionally, the Terme di Pre-Saint-Didier spa centre a couple of kilometres from the resort offers the chance to be soothed by hot water springs, aroma-infused saunas as well as a multitude of spa treatments.
Skiing in Courmayeur
With the Mont Blanc mountain in close proximity, the scenery around Courmayeur is spectacular. Fourteen mountain peaks above 4,000 metres dominate the landscape here and make for a breathtaking backdrop. These mountains also help produce several unique and varied weather patterns in the area. Courmayeur and the Italian side of Mont Blanc enjoy a good level of both snowfall and retention, plus more sunshine than their French neighbours.
Courmayeur’s ski area is relatively small for such a well-known resort. 31 pistes give 41km of groomed slopes to enjoy. The main ski area spreads out from the Plan Checrouit mid-mountain base accessed from a cable car in the centre of town. This area is good for beginners to learn either skiing or snowboarding. For intermediates the Courmayeur main ski area is an excellent prospect for a weekend but may feel limited if you are here for a whole week.
On the opposite side of town is the separate Mont Blanc ski area which has a limited lift system aimed more at advanced skiers and snowboarders. The three-stage Skyway Monte Bianco cable car ascends to the Punta Helbronner point at an elevation of 3,466m. The cable car has floor-to-ceiling windows and rotates slowly so you get incredible views as you ascend the 2,166 metres to the top. Steep off-piste runs in this sector are popular, and best explored with a professional guide to get the most of the terrain in safety.
The Courmayeur lift pass includes links over to Chamonix and Argentiere for more accessible pistes. If you want more variety on your ski holiday then it is well worth purchasing the Aosta Valley pass which gives access to other resorts including Pila, Cervinia & La Thuile. From Cervinia you can access Zermatt in Switzerland, while La Thuile is linked with La Rosiere in France. So you can see that it is possible to have a multi-national ski holiday based in Courmayeur – all on the Aosta Valley pass.