France is blessed with magnificent natural beauty belonging to the sweeping mountain range system that is the Alps. With a diverse landscape at its disposal, the country enjoys its title as a celebrated ski destination, home to some of the finest ski resorts not just in Europe but in the world.
All these, while offering deluxe accommodations, sublime cuisine, exciting indoor and outdoor activities, and that signature French flair, make one’s stay in any French ski resort truly a magical and unforgettable affair.
In a sea of ski resorts within the French Alps, Megeve and Courchevel have become some of the hottest spots people flock to for their winter holidays. Can’t decide which among these two is the better option? Here’s a rundown of what you should know to help you better decide on your next ski trip.
Perched atop the majestic Alps, Megeve and Courchevel have both enjoyed their status as the premier winter playgrounds of affluent jet-setters and A-listers who yearn to escape to the mountainside for a glorious ski holiday.
The Courchevel village area. Photo: Courchevel Official Website
Both destinations have modest beginnings. They have been reimagined as venues of luxury and decadence, as both provide the world’s best but come with a hefty price tag.
While Megeve and Courchevel have distinct personalities, the two Alpine hotspots share unique and curated experiences that one would expect as you spend a week in nothing but the world’s most luxurious ski retreats.
A ski instructor guiding a pair of skiers up the slopes of Megève. Photo: Megeve Official Website
State-of-the-art ski facilities and schools line up both resorts, never running out of ski instructors to help you whether you’re a beginner or an experienced skier looking to strengthen your form. You’ll find every imaginable ski equipment and activities enough to fill in your schedule during your trip.
La Table Des Airelles – Le Festin, one of the many world-class gastronimic restaurants in Courchevel. Photo: Courchevel Official Website
A step inside these resort villages’ swanky downtown will lead you to Michelin-starred gourmet cookery featuring international and local flavors. World-renowned chefs headline these dining establishments and take pride in featuring high-quality local produce in some of their signature dishes. Aside from restaurants within town, the mountainside of Megève and Courchevel also hosts numerous places to eat, ranging from cozy cafeterias to fine dining restaurants. The Savoie region and its surrounding areas are renowned for their cheeses, saucissons, and grapes – make sure not to miss out on fondue and local wine.
Aallard’s boutique in Megève; a legendary luxury ready-to-wear brand exclusively sold in Megève.
High-altitude boutique shopping might be the last thing to will cross your mind. Still, Megeve and Courchevel come aplenty with global high-end fashion. Avenue Montagne in Couchevel’s Place du Tremplin is the place to be if you are on the lookout for big brand boutiques. Meanwhile, Megeve’s stylish high street was transformed to meet the demands of the luxury market. Aallard, Megève’s legendary label, and creators of the very first and original “fuseau” skiing trousers can only be bought at Aallard’s boutique in Megève.
Spa and Wellness
A soothing dip in a heated pool at Aquamotion, an aqua wellness and fitness center in Courchevel.
Take your relaxation to a new level as you try out spa and wellness establishments in any of these resort towns. Both Megève and Courchevel offer A wide array of therapies await you from the conventional to the quirkiest treatments, such as saltwater cave baths, chocolate massages, sensory showers, and “hammam” or Turkish baths. Megève’s Pure Altitude Spa at Les Fermes de Marie is in the forefront of alpine wellbeing. Aside from their luxurious spa facilities, Pure Altitude prides itself in its use of skincare and cosmetic products formulated with mountain plants and natural ingredients native to Megève. Meanwhile, Aquamotion in Courchevel is an all-in-one spa and leisure center that specializes in various aquatic therapies. A full pass grants clients acesss to their indoor and outdoor heated pools, salt water pool, saunas, caladarium and more.
A guided hike across the Courchevel valley during summer. Photo: Courchevel Official Website
Courchevel and Megeve are not just for winter holidays and ski trips. They are also sights to behold come spring and summertime and places filled with fun-filled outdoor activities. You can engage in hiking, mountain climbing, and, to thrill-seekers, paragliding. Notable events of interest are the International Jazz Music Festival at the Palais des Sports et des Congrès and the Les 3 Coups Theatre Festival at the Gilles de la Rocque Theatre.
When it’s time to relax and unwind, both Megeve and Courchevel offer a superb range of accommodation options from small, family-run bed and breakfasts to luxury hotels. For utmost privacy, chalets are hard to beat. These traditional housing structures have been transformed into lavish holiday abodes. Like in Megève, each of the chalets in Courchevel exudes a unique character that is evident through its architectural design and interiors styling. These posh cabin homes offer luxurious amenities, bespoke service and five-star treatment to all their guests.
Atmosphere and Vibe
Spending a week at these magical resort villages might seem identical, as earlier mentioned. However, they differ in their overall atmosphere.
The authentic and charming village area of Megève. Photo: Summer Camp France
Megeve is older than Courchevel. It was once an ancient tannery town dating back to as early as the 13th century. Through Baroness Noémie de Rothschild’s initiative, she transformed its entire landscape shaping to become France’s answer to the Swiss St. Moritz. On the other hand, Courchevel was built from the ground up and opened later in the 1940s under the Saint-Bon Council.
That said, Megeve emphasizes heritage and tradition while incorporating a touch of modernity, as seen on the exquisite contemporary artwork lining up its cobble-stoned streets. Courchevel, meanwhile, is more cosmopolitan and dynamic, drawing in a younger and hipper crowd.
La Folie Douce, a popular open-air club on the mountainside in between Courchevel and Meribel. Photo: Kamula Travel Blog
Once you decide to take a break and relax from a frantic day of skiing, Megeve and Courchevel’s apres-ski scene will surely hit the spot.
While fun-filled, Megève’s apres-ski scene is not normally known for having a raucous nightlife with rowdy crowds. Instead, it offers a sophisticated and low-key affair that goes perfectly with the resort’s traditional feel. The resort in renowned for piano bars and jazz clubs like the Club de Jazz Les Cinq Rues; perfect for a night of excellent live music and cocktails.
Courchevel, on the other hand, possibly offers the trendiest and most lively apres-ski scene on the Alps. With a plethora of bars and clubs to choose from, there are endless ways to celebrate a great day of skiing. Funky Fox, a popular Bar in Moriond regularly hosts DJs sets and live music of different genres. Meanwhile, La Folie Douce atop the mountainside in between Courchevel and Meribel is a famous spot for open-air clubbing.
Ski Areas and Skiing Experience
Size is another factor to look at when comparing both places. Courchevel is undeniably larger than Megeve. It boasts the world’s largest linked ski network featuring 600 kilometers of pistes with more than 170 lifts in the enormous Les Trois Vallées.
The Courchevel and La Tania ski area. Photo: Ski Pass Courchevel
It allows skiers of all levels to fully maximize their skiing experience with La Tania’s easy glades for beginners to breeze through or the challenging Le Grand Couloir with its astonishing 2,700-meter altitude and a 340-meter steep drop. It also has a “ski-in/ski-out” feature for most of its slopeside chalets for easier access for guests.
As the “St. Tropez of Winter Sports,” Courchevel is the golden standard for world-class skiing and winter sports, so much so that it is the chosen partner host for the 2023 edition of the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships.
A skier stopping to marvel at the view of the mountain ranges of Mont Blanc. Photo: Megève Official Website
While just 200 kilometers lesser in scope than the gargantuan Courchevel, Megeve has a 400-kilometer expanse of skiing grounds best suited for intermediate skiers. Its three main ski locations are Rochebrune, Mont d’Arbois, and Le Jaillet. But what makes skiing in Megeve extra special is the Mont-Blanc in pure view. You have the option to get either the “Portes du Mont-Blanc pass,” which gives you access to 100-kilometer pistes, or the more extensive “Evasion Mont-Blanc” for the entire 400-kilometer ski area.
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