Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Fulfil your winter fantasies in Courmayeur

Close your eyes and dream of your perfect Winter Wonderland, does it include soft sparkling snowflakes, warm fires, traditional alpine buildings, hot chocolate, woolly hats, dramatic mountains, comforting food, holding hands and a slightly magical atmosphere … open your eyes and welcome to Courmayeur, Italy.

Snowing on Monte Bianco, Italy

As someone who is new to skiing (and not very good at it), I am not an expert on the best ski resorts in Europe, but I do know a stunning destination when I see it and if you are looking for an all encompassing Winter holiday, then you can’t look past the sunny side of Mont Blanc (or Monte Bianco in Italy).

This is not a purpose built ski resort, it is an historic alpine village, located on the most northerly point of the Italian alps, and just under the highest mountain in Europe. On the other side of the peak (and through the Mont Blanc Tunnel) lies Chamonix in France, a popular ski destination.

Courmayeur oozes chic, it is fashionable to be seen here, the Italians look good on and off piste and the rest of the ski tourists follow their lead. There are over 60 restaurants to choose from and each one of them deliver delicious Italian fare. There are just as many boutiques, and although most are out of a modest tourist’s budget they too add to the upmarket atmosphere of Courmayeur.

Via Roma, Courmayeur at night

If you are new to skiing, or if you are introducing a friend or partner to the joys of downhill snow plough then do it here, where the skiing is challenging but also provides jaw dropping scenery. The resort is known all over the EU for it’s amazing mountain dining. For those who ski, this is a a welcome treat for weary legs and hungry tummies. For those who don’t ski it is an added bonus to be able to take the cable car up to enjoy the ski air and still be able to fulfil your appetite.

Courmayeur is romantic, walking through the streets hand in hand is good for your heart, your memory will keep that picture close to your heart forever. The cobblestone narrow streets, St Pantaleon Church on the hill, the soft street lamps it all adds to the exclusivity of this town.

The skiing is good, so good that they started off the Freeride World Tour there this year, and off-piste is one of the best around. The ski slopes are challenging for those who have skied a few times before, if you are an expert La Thuille and Chamonix are a short ride away.

The Mont Blanc Cable car bring you up to Puta Helbronner for a view of the glaciers and you can even head over to Aiguille du Midi and continue onto Chamonix for a day away.

If you are after some pampering  Pre Saint Didier is just ten minutes out the road. This is pampering like you never knew it. Ladies, you cannot visit Courmayeur and not pop down (for an entire day) to this facility. The jacuzzi and hot pools flow outside where you can sit back and look up at the snow covered mountains while keeping toasty - heaven on earth.

In Courmayeur you can also go ice skating in the Olympic sized indoor rink across the river in Dolonne, there is also an opportunity to go dog sledging outside of the town.

Weekday nights can be tame in the town, but the place fills up at the weekend and provide bars, discos and live music.

If you have less than 5 days for your Winter trip, Courmayeur is ideal. For a longer holiday you may need the entertainment of a larger resort.


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