Ti Amo Courmayeur! Skiing in the Italian Alps
February 25, 2019
Sometimes you have to toss a pin in the air and dream about where it’s going to land. For me, my travel pins are typically gonna hit the map at a fabulous ski resort, likely one in the Alps. I’m always up for a memorable winter adventure. Sometimes I have to break away from my gorgeous hometown Telluride, Colorado. It’s hard to do, especially considering the epic ski conditions we’ve been having this winter.
When I travel to another ski mecca it needs to fit my main criteria: a stunning location, great skiing, divine food & drink, a fun local vibe and quaint & charming in overall character. Life is short, budgets are not infinite so my planning needs to be finely tuned, I bet yours do too. I’ve been wanting to ski the Italian Alps for a long time now, this year was my first experience with it and I can guarantee you that I will return. Courmayeur, located in the heart of the Mont Blanc in the Valle d’Aosta won my heart in so many ways. Ti Amo Courmayeur!
Nestled in the Aosta Valley of Northwest Italy sitting in the cradle of the Mont Blanc Massif (Monte Bianco) you will find the charming village of Courmayeur. Here you will discover an adorable, distinctly alpine cobblestone village with plenty of areas to stroll and get just a little lost in the stunning surroundings. It’s quaint, Alps chic, rustic and super relaxing to spend time in this old village. I felt a pervasive welcoming local vibe, this is not a manufactured ski town. It’s a real place for real folks to raise their families, quite like my home in Telluride, Colorado. While walking around you will get smiles from chic locals walking their pups and corralling their kids. The views of the mountains are everywhere you look. There are bits of history everywhere, photo ops are aplenty. Courmayeur gets plenty of sunshine which makes it so wonderful to ski, apres and just be there.
The best way to get to Courmayeur is by renting a car at Geneva airport. If you are visiting in the winter then be sure to rent a vehicle with 4-wheel drive. I drove through some serious snow storms and was grateful to have a properly equipped car. It’s no fun to figure out how to chain up tires on the side of the high way. There are winterized options ready to go. You will be passing though the Mont Blanc tunnel so be prepared to swipe your credit card for a toll and a few others along the way.
While in Courmayeur visit close by Entrèves and check out the famous SkyWay Monte Bianco a cable car with 360° rotating cabins. It offers views of stunning peaks like the Matterhorn in Zermatt, Switzerland and Monte Rosa Massif the second highest piste in the Alps. It’s a great way to see the majesty of the Mont-Blanc Massif.
When to go
Thankfully you can enjoy the beauty of Courmayeur throughout the year. The peak seasons being winter and summer. If you are looking for plenty of glistening late season snow this is your spot. If you want to hike the majestic peaks, then certainly book a trip in the summer. If you are planning on trekking the Tour du Mont Blanc, then Courmayeur will definitely be one of your stops.
I was super happy with my booking at the 4-star family owned and operated Villa Novacento. Located just a few blocks from the main drag Via Roma (where all the shopping and restaurants are) I found it super convenient and the staff was lovely and accommodating. My room was spacious and had a generous balcony with great mountain views. My first day there I had no idea how wonderful the views were as I arrived during a giant snow storm.
Breakfast was included in my stay and it was filled with so many wonderfully fresh and delicious buffet options. The homemade baked goods were exceptional. I’ll never forget the mini Hazelnut Muffins with Nutty Streusel Topping. This is definitely a recipe that I will recreate for my website, keep your eyes peeled for that. The breakfast room doubles as an elegant evening dining room. It’s very convenient after a day on the slopes to enjoy dinner at the hotel. It’s wise to make a reservation there too. The cuisine is traditional Italian.
There is a generously sized living room with a beautiful hand fed fireplace, an excellent place to kick your feet up and unwind with a book or magazines. You can also enjoy cocktails, coffee and the afternoon baked goodies in there.
Some more wonderful lodging options to consider:
Ski & Aprés Ski
The ski resort at Courmayeur is quite small, but if you are open to backcountry and heli-skiing opportunities then your options expand exponentially. The majority of the on-piste slopes are beginner and intermediate, so if you are traveling with folks that ski varied levels then this resort will be a great fit. To get to the ski area there’s a mid-mountain base at Plan Chécrouit. To reach this you must go by cable car located in the center of town. If you are staying at a hotel near the main pedestrian street Via Romaor where I stayed, then you will want to take a hotel shuttle to the cable car. It’s decent enough walk, especially of you are with kids. You cannot ski directly into town, so be prepared to have someone to pick you up at the end of the day.
There are plenty of on mountain dining options to choose from. It was highly recommended that I check out Rifugio La Maison Vieille and I’m so happy I did. This whimsical mountain hut is very unforgettable. You can choose to sit outdoors on a sunny day (thank goodness there are plenty of those) or you can sit inside the ambitiously decorated hut. There is colorful fur everywhere and you will see lots of Courmayeur ski history on the walls. The menu is belly filling and carb filled Italian deliciousness.
The main cable car runs until midnight, making the on mountain restaurants accessible for après ski and dinner.
Courmayeur is located a quick car drive away from Chamonix, France (back through the Mont Blanc tunnel) if you crave more big mountain, back country style skiing. I skied the unforgettable La Vallée Blanche with a guide and I have to say, if you are a strong skier this is not to be missed. This iconic ski run is not for the faint of heart, but what you take with you is priceless.
Restaurants & Nightlife
The restaurant, bar and cafe options are plentiful, they mostly line Via Roma and the surrounding cobblestone streets. You can find lots of traditional Italian dishes and also more rustic alpine cuisine such as fondue and Raclette. It’s advisable to have reservations at the more popular restaurants. Be prepared start dinner after 7:30pm. There are no early birds in Courmayeur. I indulged in homemade pastas as often as possible. I am now also obsessed with Italian wines. I’ve had them plenty here in the States, but WOW are they better when you are in their terroir. No matter what price point you feel comfortable with, you will find that the wines are exemplary.
Some of my favorite restaurants include:
- Al Camin
- Auberge de la Maison
- Cadran Solaire They have a great bar too.
- Grand Royal e Bistrot Royal
- Lo Sciatore
- Ristorante Le Vieux Pommier
A few bars to check out (all of these are located in the heart of
Whenever I walked by this bakery on Via Roma I couldn’t help but gawk and the pastries were amazing!
I very much enjoyed shopping the boutiques in Courmayeur, all located conveniently on Via Roma . You will find everything from luxury clothing, adventure/ski clothing, delicatessens, home goods and antiques. I bought gorgeous cashmere at Pinotti, timeless pieces I will have forever including the luxurious Champagne colored cableknit sweater I’m wearing in the photo below. Take some time to wander into the delis. You will find all kinds of local and regional specialties such as Fontina cheese, Jambon des Bosses and Génépi (a local herb liquor) Also be sure to indulge in homemade pastries, cappuccino and gelato at the local cafes.
For Italian and international designer labels check out the boutique Courmayeur 105. More well known luxury brands that line this street are Hermes and Moncler. For unique eyewear do not miss Italia Independent.
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