Courmayeur , Italy
A visit to Courmayeur is all about soaking up the local traditions of this proper Italian ski resort and mountain town. Despite the proximity of the Mont Blanc road tunnel and some modern hotels, Courmayeur has retained much of its old-world and slightly isolated feel.
There is a charming traffic free centre with cobbled streets, many attractive shops, bars, restaurants and accommodation offers a range of prices to suit all budgets. The resort centre, particularly the Via Roma, comes alive for apres ski, with people either filling up the bars or wandering in and out of the many shops.
Courmayeur town is quite large, and its huge cable car to Plan Chercrouit (the mid level station) is found on the southern edge of the resort. We recommend staying as close to the cable-car station as possible as this will make your life much easier.
Courmayeur has only one other alternative way up the mountain which is the cable car from Entreves, a short car or bus ride away. Up at Plan Chercrouit (mid station) you will find ski hire shops, ski school meeting points, the main lift hub and various bars and restaurants. We recommend leaving your skis and boots at one of the ski hire shops up here to make things a little easier while on your ski holiday in Courmayeur.
The local pistes mainly suit intermediates (experts should head off-piste) and although small by mega resort standards offer more than enough terrain to suit a long ski weekend.
Pros & Cons
- Charming old town, with car free pedestrian area with stylish shops and bars
- Heli-skiing is possible from here and there is a large area of off-piste terrain
- Very good mountain restaurants
- Day trips and the Vallee Blanche run possible into Chamonix
- Effective snowmaking facilities
- Relatively small ski area by jumbo resort standards
- No tough pistes unless you can ski off piste
- Can get crowded on the weekends
Where do you start? Courmayeur has some of the best restaurants of any resort in Europe. Some of our favourites are Pierre Alexis, Cadran Solaire, the Terazza, the Mont-Frety, The Padella and the Vieux Pommier. To really make your ski holidays Courmayeur special then go to The Tunnel - they serve the best pizza, ever! In Entreves a short taxi ride away you could try the famous 36-dish feast at Maison de Filippo, or the giant steaks at the Brenva.
You will be spoilt for choice as there are 27 establishments ranging from large self-service places to rustic little huts and chalets. Courmayeur 's Chiecco is a fine spot as is Christiania and the Courba Dzeleuna. We recommend Maison Vieille with its delightful owner Giacomo serving homemade pastas in a rustic atmosphere. On the other side of the Mountain at Val Veny we recommend trying the friendly Grolla, where you can sit on the sunny terrace in front of the Mont Blanc. The Fodze is a good snack bar, as is the Zerotta and the Petit Mont Blanc. La Chaumiere is another great spot for lunch. Our favourite is however a small little chalet called Chateau Branlant at Plan Chercrouit. Don' t let the name fool you as this is actually a small venue so pre-booking a table is essential. The food is out of this world and the wine list is as impressive.
Stylish bars with comfy sofas or arm chairs to relax in are the order of the day. Our favourite the Bar Roma serves free canapes in the early evening while the Caffe della Posta and the bar delle Guide are also worth trying. The Cadran Solaire is where the hip from Milano hang out, while the Prive makes some great cocktails, the American bar has good music and a fine selection of wines. Most will be a short stroll away from your accommodation! Courmayeur has a lovely pedestrianised street too, so it is very pleasant to walk from each bar back to your home for the week.
The evening scene is lively - at the weekends anyway! There are plenty of stylish bars. The Prive serves lovely cocktails and Poppy's is a popular place for drinks. For those looking for good music at the end of the evening before heading back to your hotel, Courmayeur's American Bar is good fun.