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A lot of people forget about ski resorts as soon as May comes around and the snow starts to melt. But there are actually plenty of us who live in the mountains all year long, and you may be surprised to hear that winter is not necessarily our favorite season! Summer in Courchevel is a whole different kind of alpine experience, and there is so much more to this ski resort than, well, skiing. So, what can you expect in summer in Courchevel?
The fresh mountain air and stunning views easily make hiking one of the most popular summer activities in the Alps. Once the snow has melted, Courchevel’s endless hiking trails meandering through forests, past lakes, and up into the hills are revealed. There are paths for everyone, from shorter, easier walks to more challenging hikes (that sometimes make you question if you are still on a walking path), and there is rarely a mountaintop you will not be able to reach. To make your hike really special, you can head towards one of the mountain refuges to stop for a spot of lunch to refuel nestled amongst pure nature.
You will find two types of biking in the Alps in the summer: mountain biking and road biking. Honestly, Courchevel is not the best destination for mountain biking. There are a few trails to go at, but you are better off going to Méribel (the resort next door only a short drive away) for more of a mountain biking scene. Road biking, however, is extremely popular in Courchevel. As you can imagine, road biking is much more demanding here than any of your local routes back home, with the popular ride up to the Col de la Loze climbing at an average gradient of 6.4% for 23km with an elevation of 1,470 metres!
One for the slightly more adventurous folk - a Via Ferrata (translating in Italian to ‘iron path’) is a less technical alternative to rock climbing, with metal (that is, the iron) railings protruding from the rock face for you to follow while you are clipped onto a line with a harness. Via Ferrata, routes across the Alps vary in difficulty, and Courchevel has two to choose from. The first and easiest takes you up and around the stunning Lac de la Rosiere - a magical lake scene hidden away in a bowl in the valley. The second leads you all the way to the top of the highest mountain in Courchevel - La Saulire - and with steep climbs and great heights, this one is not for the faint-hearted!
When skiing in winter, you would not think there were actually heaps of lakes dotted about and that you may well have skied right over one. Frozen and covered in snow for half the year, Courchevel’s lakes really come into their own in the summer months, filled with sparkling blue water and making for picturesque places to chill in the sun. Lower down, they become brilliant swimming holes, but further up the mountain, where they are still too cold to swim, fishing is a popular alternative. Of course, you do need a fishing license, and there are some guidelines to follow regarding what you can keep, but you may well end up barbecuing your catch with mountain views at the end of the day!
Now, the fun does not just happen up on the mountain! Most alpine resorts in France will hold summer fêtes each year, and Courchevel is no exception. A classic fête means local food, cheap alcohol, traditional music, and all the locals dancing in the street until the early hours, and many of these fêtes have often been running for decades. Courchevel’s biggest summer fête is the popular traditional Savoyard Fête de la Madelon in Le Praz in mid-July, followed by the Fêtes des Bucherons (wood chopping festival) in La Tania in August.
You are probably thinking of ski jumping. In summer? Without snow? Yep, the materials used mean there is no need for snow (remember dry ski slopes), and each year Courchevel hosts the Ski Jumping World Cup at the Tremplin du Praz, which was also the site of the ski jumping events for the 1992 Winter Olympics. Contestants come from all around the world, and the two-day event brings summer crowds to watch the impressive athletes flying through the air.
Are you surprised at how much goes on in Courchevel in summer? There is plenty going on to keep the mountains alive between winter seasons, and ski resorts still have plenty to offer once the lifts have stopped. So why not check out your favourite resort in summer and see for yourself?
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