Courmayeur Ski Holidays

Courmayeur Ski Holidays

The Italian resort of Courmayeur, gloriously set at the foot of Western Europe’s highest peak, Mount Blanc, is one of the most famous European ski destinations.

The resort lies in the Aosta Valley at the base of a massive bowl created by the encircling Alps, overlooked by the iconic spire of Mont Blanc itself. Although not large by international ski resort standard, the spectacular scenic location of the 100kms of on-piste runs draws tens of thousands of skiers to Courmayeur every season.

Set on the border with France, Courmayeur achieved local fame as a spa for its sulphuric healing waters as early as the 17th century, with the 18th century explorations of Mont Blanc by mountaineers leading to its establishment as a centre for skiing in the 19th century. The mysteries of the mountain are celebrated in legend and tradition here, with local knowledge of its ways rooted in the community. The centre of town is traditional, pedestrianised and home to cobbled streets lined with ancient buildings. Fortunately, the concrete blocks of the modern hotels are strictly relegated to the outskirts where they won’t spoil the ambience.

For a pleasant week of not-too-demanding skiing in breathtaking surroundings with delicious Italian dining options and phenomenal views, Courmayeur, based at 1,224m, is a great choice. However, the resort’s not really designed for beginners, nor does it have a good on-piste choice of challenging runs for advanced or expert skiers, though Alpine touring on the many glaciers along the 4,000m plus mountaintops surrounding the town makes a great alternative. There’s lots of intermediate terrain suitable for beginner but, for nervous newbies, most beginner runs tend to be too steep.

Once on the mountain, there’s the advantage of excellent, reasonably-priced eateries, all with more of the amazing views for which the resort is famous, which is some consolation for the advanced skier. The majority of runs are red or blue, with the exception of a one and a half kilometre bumps run with no way out for tired legs. However, the few real challenges here are almost all off-piste.