What’s New in La Tania & The 3 Valleys 2020 – The Definitive Guide (Part 1 of 2)
PART 1 – New Lifts, Pistes, Snow Cannons, Reservoirs & Ski Area Improvements
Praz Gondola – Le Praz to Courchevel 1850
Even with a week to go of the 2018 / 2019 Winter Season, work began on removing the old gondola station and lift which dates back from 1982. Work continued apace throughout the Summer on the new gondola which has its bottom station inside the new Alpinium Building on which work started in April 2018 (more on that in part 2).
The new lift built by Poma will once again use Sigma Diamond Evo cabins similar to the Grangettes gondola that was new last season.
Capacity: 58 x 10 person cabins, 2,400 skier per hour
Speed: 6 m/s
Time: 5 mins 45 secs
The new gondola top station is located just below the Croisette building much nearer to the centre of Courchevel 1850 than the previous station. The Tovets chairlift from 1550 has had its top station moved downhill to accommodate the new gondola station.
The top section of the toboggan track has also been modified and it’ll be interesting to see if the Tovets top station is high enough to get momentum to Plantrey in soft / sticky snow conditions…
The French ESF Ski School will have an office in the new Alpinium Building along with Lift Pass office and Tourist Information Centre.
Grand Combes Chairlift and New Piste
With the new accommodation L’Ecrin Blanc next to Aquamotion approaching completion a new piste down and chairlift up has been built this Summer.
Interestingly its a 4 seater fixed grip chairlift from Poma – not a detachable which is the norm nowadays. Future plans for a link to 1650 from here are still unconfirmed but this could become a popular route (an extension to Plan du Vah through the forest is also rumoured – currently finishes at a bus stop below 1850, top left of piste map above).
Capacity: 2,400 skier per hour
Speed: 5 m/s
Time: 2 mins 30 secs
The top station will give access down to the Tovets piste in 1550 for access up to Courchevel 1850. Originally we thought it would be high enough to at least get to Plantrey chair but the new Praz gondola and shortening of Tovets has put paid to that and it comes out just below where Cospillot joins the main 1550 pistes of Tovets and the Stade.
The new blue piste is 1km in length – not sure if it will be worthwhile skiing down for lunch at L’Ecrin Blanc though if the room rates are a judge of the prices, cheapest room we found was for a Sunday night in mid January at €344.
The Freeride Lab Area and the Creux Noirs lift
We were promised a new 350m drag lift (with 18 fewer pylons!) to replace the old chair which was closed at the end of the 2017 / 2018 season after pylon foundations were seen to be deteriorating.
A reported contractual issue has held this up for now and they are now showing where to hike up on the 2020 piste map to access this ungroomed area (near to where the drag lift will hopefully end up being).
From the Tourist Office spiel “Welcome to Freeride LAB, Courchevel’s powder snow laboratory, the perfect place to become an unparalleled all-terrain skier! This demanding high-altitude sector leading to renowned off-piste areas and unique panoramic views is adopting a new look: reachable on foot or ski touring skis (100m difference in height) to the 2 red runs and the black run, which will be left ungroomed but made safe throughout the winter”.
The Émile-Allais Stade Courchevel Competition Piste has seen some massive earth works this Summer – resembling an open cast quarry for much of the time with huge earth moving equipment re-profiling the slope to make a more interesting finish area for the slalom competitions they hold here including the Ladies Alpine Ski World Cup Giant Slalom on 17 December 2019.
The old club house has gone and a new 3,000 square metre one is being financed by Multi-national Chemicals Company INEOS boss Jim Ratcliffe who’s daughter is in the Courchevel Club des Sports. He also owns the Portetta hotel in 1650, now sponsors the very successful Sky cycling team, finances the British boat in the next America’s Cup race, owns Swiss football club Lausanne-Sport and French football club OGC Nice.
The new club house will comprise the administrative offices, a function room, sports hall, changing rooms plus car parking for 20 cars. Ratcliffe (the richest man in Britain) is reportedly contributing €17m to the project.
This winter, the Native Americans are returning to their territory in the wild canyon of Courchevel Moriond (aka Indiens Piste) after not getting on with the cowboys in The Western Park above 1650 Ariondaz lift!
Great fun for kids with face painting, games, mini-slalom course and you can get your photo taken with the Chief’s giant headdress on. They used to shoot bow & arrows at painted animal targets – maybe the PC brigade have stopped that?
Jockeys Piste – Big Changes
As soon as the award of the 2023 World Cup Finals hosts was made and the Jockeys Piste (along with the top section of the Bouc Blanc) was chosen for the men’s events we wondered how some of those steep pitches followed by flat areas would cope with skiers travelling up to 150km/h… For recreational skiers those flatter spots were a welcome respite from the steeper sections and a change to get your breath back!
There is a lot of work now going on re-shaping and re-profiling Jockeys.
Lots of widening, huge earthworks smoothing steep spots, tree removal etc has taken place with work to come on a tunnel (for access for skiers from Forêt chairlift to enable recreational skiing to continue while races are in progress) plus a new section of piste towards the bottom to avoid the sharp skiers left hand bend and flatter section where Jockeys joins the red Murettes piste.
With the new piste set to be a training area for the Courchevel Sports Club along with other regional and national teams there will obviously be some restrictions on its use in future years. Of course on bad weather days with loads of fresh snow this is one of the best spots in the 3 Valleys (and they wont be able to race on bad weather days!).
The 2023 Alpine Skiing World Cup Finals take place from 6 February to 19 February 2023 (yes, over half term!) and is seen as a very prestigious coup for a hosting resort in promoting their image worldwide. The Ladies events, parallel races and medal ceremonies will take place in Méribel while the Men’s events plus the opening and closing ceremonies will take place in Courchevel.
No idea how many people choose there skiing holiday destination based on ski racing but we all prefer watching Skier Cross and Boarder Cross don’t we?
New La Tania Green Run and Snow Front / Beginners Area
Work on this didn’t get started this Summer due to other priorities and hopefully a re-think around raising the piste to the height of Ski Set and building a tunnel to the new beginners area (complete with magic carpet style lift) can take place. Surely it’s better for all businesses if people ski down near to the village rather than been separated and straight down to the gondola
Plans to put in a removable swimming pool in place of the current one have also been revealed – impossible to tell how this will look compared to the great Summer situation we have now.
The new green run down to La Tania will still go ahead with work next Summer to link up some current forestry tracks minimising the need for tree removal. The current green run is not shown but we still expect it to be maintained – the new piste is guaranteed to be easy for all beginners!
We noticed a problem with a pylon foundation on the La Tania drag lift Gros Murget that had sunk in a flooded area this Summer (see below) – we hear this will be repaired for this Winter.
Ski Touring / Itineraries / Mountain Guides
Courchevel has two marked, groomed itineraries, one from Le Praz to Courchevel 1850 which is 3.2km / 500m vertical and another to Col de la Loze above La Tania 5km / 100m vertical.
A new itinerary for Winter 2020 has been created near Courchevel 1650 Moriond. La Trace is a signposted but ungroomed itinerary setting off from Le Belvédère, it goes up into the forest, by the side of Les Chapelets piste, arriving at the top of Le Signal chairlift.
The Mountain Guides Office has 4 new products:
MOUNTAIN COACHING Skiing and sharing tips: adapting to different snow types, managing your exertion levels, nutrition, packing your bag, learning to get your bearings, getting the best from your equipment and carrying out a rescue.
SKI N’FLY A ski touring climb with a paragliding descent as your reward!
SKI FITNESS NATURE Combining fitness and ski touring at the heart of nature.
EVEN HIGHER In a roped party with a guide, climb an ice waterfall on a route along a wild mountain ridge.
Two New Pistes
Work has continued around the 2023 World Cup area this Summer with the completion of two new red pistes set to open this December.
The new Gypaète piste is accessible via the Cherferie chairlift, offering a more challenging variation of the Choucas piste. With the terrain left as natural as possible, this piste will have a more playful characteristic with numerous bumps and banks leading to a series of hairpins before joining the blue Roc de Fer piste.
The new Daguet piste is reached by taking a left turn off La Face at the end of the first big wall which then cruises down a wide slope before meeting the edge of the forest. At the end of the run, a crossroads allows you to ski down to Le Raffort via the piste of the same name to take the Olympe gondola or to head to Les Allues by the red Villages piste.
A New Tunnel for 2020
A new tunnel is planned under the Roc de Fer piste to allow skiers full access to the ski area even while international ski competitions are taking place. It will replace the existing straight tunnel and will be open for the entire winter season, not only on race days as previously.
More Snow Cannons
Méribel is continuing to invest in snow making across all sectors of the valley. After having recently doubled snow making capacity thanks to the increased capacity in the reservoirs at Altiport and Combes, 5 new pistes will benefit this year from new cannons: Bouvreuil Rouge, Mûres Rouge, the base of Combe du Vallon and the Choucas piste, accessible via the recently added Cherferie lift.
Themed Areas Improved
The Family Cool area near the Altiport will have increased free activities during the school holidays with the programme including meeting birds of prey, Biathlon experiences, ice sculptures, giant inflatables and more suprises are promised.
The Elements Park improves the four zones with Air on the “whoops” run, Fire in your knees on the bumps of the blue fun slope then Water on the boarder cross for the thrill of surfing waves. New for the Earth element is the Mini-Zone, which allows budding freestylers to find their feet in total safety. There’s also a tour around the edge of the Tougnète lake at the top of the Legends chairlift too.
The Yeti Park has a “no skis” area this Winter on the lower part of the park where youngsters can blow Himalayan horns, run around the temple bedecked with flags or simply relax on a deck chair and enjoy a snack.
Finally the Back to the Wild area around the Mont de la Challe sector has more log cabins and rest areas for picnics including the new “Refuge” at the bottom of the Lagopède piste.
Saulire by Night
A magical torchlit descent from the Saulire summit down to Mèribel will once again be available to small groups to be guided down by the local pisteurs on freshly groomed pistes. Special late running of lifts and an aperitif while watching the sun set are included.
Also of note, the Méribel Mottaret Ski Pass Office has been refurbed offering a more relaxed open plan office style with all the real time information on hand and the chance to discuss ski pass options with the staff there.
Les Menuires / St Martin
St Martin Gondola
New cabins on the St Martin gondola have been fitted this Summer – same Poma type as Bruyeres. Renovations and 25% more cabins (from 48 to 72) have increased capacity to 2400 skiers per hour and modification to the stations are being made to remove steps too.
Les Menuires Snow Park
Friendly Natural Park A new snow park area completely reinvented with bumps, rails, kicks for those who wish to get airborne. There is something for everyone, catering for all tastes with an enlarged area at the bottom of the course laid out as a fun track. There are 3 zones for different levels of skiers / boarders.
New Facilities in St Martin
A new “Premium Ski” location has been created in Saint-Martin-de-Bellevile with storage facilities for 300 pairs of skis in lockers for 2 or 4 people complete with changing rooms, toilets, hair dryers etc.
A new Relaxation / Spa area of 50 m2 will be installed outdoors, in the heart of the village of St Martin including 3 whirlpools to enjoy at après ski.
Oxygene Ski School are now operating in Saint-Martin-de-Bellevile for Winter 2020 as they increase their presence across The Three Valleys.
Electric Snow Scooters
Easy Trott offers the chance to escape on an easy to use electric snow scooter on the snowy paths of Les Menuires, in the heart of the beautiful, natural area of the Plan de l’Eau.
More Les Menuires Snow News
10 new automated video cameras have been installed on Les Menuires Stade course to provide video coverage and aid in coaching.
More dedicated ski touring routes in Les Menuires have been added including the L’Étoilée night hike to Refuge du Lac du Lou (272m of vertical).
This is an organised trip to discover ski touring at night with all safety equipment provided and an apéritif on arrival at the refuge, followed by a mountaineer meal! The descent is on perfectly freshly groomed snow!
Further new snow cannons and additional Gasex avalanche safety units have been installed across the domain.
A new webcam has installed at Reberty and can be viewed at :
The planned new Masse Express, a top to bottom gondola replacing the 2 current gondolas (and probably the old chairlifts) is now planned for an opening in December 2021.
The Echauds snowmaking reservoir is having its capacity increase by 60%.
Val Thorens / Orelle
New Cable on Cime Caron
The Cime Caron Cable Car went out of service during last Winter due to damage to the main cable caused by an unexpected icing up the cable infrastructure. The new cable has now been fitted and it is expected to be fully operational for this Winter.
New Orelle Gondolas
Work has begun on the replacement of the existing gondola from Orelle up to Plan Bouchet – plus big improvements to both bottom and top stations including car parking and new restaurant facilities.
The completely new second gondola is to go from the Plan Bouchet gonndola station straight up to Cime Caron to give an alternate route over in to Val Thorens. This is due to be completed for Winter 2021.
New Ski Cross Track
The brand new Funslope is a beginners Ski Cross (blue piste level) track to allow less experienced riders the chance to ride a ski cross course. It’s accessible down from the Peyron chairlift in the Orelle sector – see piste map above.
New Cross Country Trail
The highest one in The 3 Valleys at 2350m called the Braiz has been created at Plan Bouchet in the Orelle sector – A 1km loop ideal for practicing with just a pedestrian pass required.
New Mountain Guides Office
Situated at Intersport – Place Péclet) – gives you the opportunity to discover the sensations of ski touring or skiing on the highest glaciers in Europe in the company of experienced guides who like to share their passion for the mountains. They will share their secrets of The Glacier de Péclet, the Cime de Caron or Pointe du Bouchet.
Another New Snow Park
A Family Park near to the pros area in the Grand Fond sector promising additional fun and jumps for the less experienced.
Funitel Peclet Late Opening
From February the lift will open until 18:30 for access to the Cosmojet Luge run – seen on the 2020 3V Piste Map below…
More in Part 2 with everything else (coming soon) – including new accommodation, new bars and restaurants, new terraces, future ski area developments & future new lifts, new websites, the demise of Hotel Telemark, the re-opening of Sabioa B, the 2020 Piste Map downloads, new ice bar, airport upgrades, transfer options and returning staff (or not)...