Our Summer campervan travels continue to the incredibly scenic locations of Courchevel and Meribel.
These well known resorts may be familiar names to many, but we still find solace in the mountains and some super places to spend the night.
We’d come here by accident!
Desperately looking for a dump area, first we’d followed a sign up another mountain pass, only to discover the Aire was undergoing refurbishment. This meant a diversion and that’s where Courchevel came in, looking for another Aire at this popular Winter ski resort.
Of course, nothing in the French Alps is quick or easy when it comes to driving routes. To reach Courchevel meant taking another mountain road to 1747m high.
Courchevel and Meribel are part of The Three Valleys. The largest ski region in the World, boasting an incredible 600km of ski runs.
In Summer it’s a rather more laid-back appeal as we were to soon discover.
As usual, campervan parking was easy. After approaching the village itself, we soon found a free motorhome Aire, complete with a Flot bleu dump station. Thank goodness for that!
After emptying the waste, and loo and filling up the fresh we were ready to park up in the large parking area. In Winter, I think you’d have to pay to park up here, but in Summer, like many resorts in the French Alps, the Aire is free to use.
Just as we parked up overlooking the mountain scenery surrounding Courchevel, we noticed a surprise visitor. Nigel had spotted an Ineos Grenadier coming down the road right in front of us! Well, this rather eye-catching 4×4 meant nothing to me, but Nigel was super excited at the sight.
A British HGV had been parked up alongside us. Low and behold, the silver coloured Ineos swerved in beside it. Nigel jumped at the chance of a photo shoot, before this prototype model swiftly drove into the back of the lorry.
After talking to the guys, it turned out they were on a photo shoot for a few days. Taking the new design through its paces in the process. To me it all seemed a bit boring, but for Nigel it was the highlight of the trip so far!
Courchevel itself has a quaint old town with newer towns spread across the mountains. Courchevel Le Praz is where we’d spent the night. Complete with Eddie the Eagle style ski jumps, plenty of Summer hiking routes and Winter ski opportunities.
We took a stroll around to get our bearings, passing a lovely little lake at the base of the chair lifts. The sheer scale of the ski runs here soon became apparent. Hard-core heavy machinery carefully balanced on the mountain side, prepared the slopes for new and improved ski runs.
Mountain biking is popular too as well as horse-riding from a stables situated above the village. The outdoor adventure here is endless. A vast expanse of extreme sporting opportunities stretching on for miles.
Later in the day we decide to move a little further along the mountain. First taking a look at La Tania, the neighbouring resort to Courchevel. This is like stepping back into the 1980’s! A rather bland looking mix of apartment buildings and a one-way system that didn’t appeal.
By the time we reached Meribel, a short drive away things began to look up. At Meribel-Mottaret we find a perfect place to park the night at a mixed parking area at the end of the town.
I don’t think you’d be able to park here in Winter but Summer is all rather different in these parts. It’s location right next to the nature reserve of the Plan de Tueda, is also a gateway to numerous hiking routes.
Incredible mountain scenery surround the flat valley floor. It’s here that ski runs disappear over high mountain peaks – an endless arena of chair lifts stretching as far as the eye can see.
I leave Nigel behind to cook while I take to some running trails though this fabulous setting. I soon arrive at a small lake – Lac de Tueda – where families picnic in the shadow of the dramatic landscapes.
The following morning after a peaceful nights sleep, we set about walking through the Plan de Tueda. Following a similar route to my run from the night before, the morning light brings a new perspective.
Here, mountains rise high above grassy banks where playful Marmots sing. They are so loud! Around us the meadows and mountain streams meet, tumbling through rocky crevices.
This area is a relaxing place, giving a feeling of solitude. Well marked hiking routes veer off in various directions. It gives the feeling that here you could walk forever.
We choose a circular path rising above the flat valley. It allows us to have a different perspective on this idyllic setting. There’s no crowds here, yet you can’t help but think that Winter would be a whole different game.
We choose to drive back to Courchevel, once again spending the night at the Aire just outside the village.
The following morning, we take a drive further up the mountain towards Courchevel Moriond.
What a treat this turns out to be. We only wanted a quick peek but after finding a sign for Lac de La Rosiere we ended up on a detour.
This place was super busy. The last week of Summer holidays is certainly bringing out lots of families. Luckily, we just about managed to find a parking space and after a quick coffee we were on our way.
Following the signs for a 30-minute walk along a wooded path soon brought us out at the most gorgeous blue lake. Not only that, but this place was a hive of other outdoor activities.
Under an aroma of wood-fired barbecue we soon found a beautiful area filled with picnic tables. Neatly laid out under wooden shelters.
Tree ropes, a via feratta and walking trails graced the landscapes – we couldn’t resist walking on further. Soon we reached wooded glens where cascades of water flowed, over almost perfect rocks.
A botanical trail also merged with our route. Interesting signs showing the various plant species educated our path. Then the cascades became bigger, as the mountains closed in around us.
Now the swathes of flat rock faces were hidden under blankets of water flowing off the mountains. A few bridges crossed the wide streams, each higher than the last. Each brought fine views and a photo opportunity.
Last but not least, we walked back the same route until we reached the clear blue lake.
Another path took us up above a dammed section, looking back at an idyllic setting amongst rocky peaks. The stillness of the water and reflection of flowering plants surrounding us.
A quick stop to look back in awe at those braver than us beckoned. Clinging to the rock of the Via Ferrata brought thoughts of “rather you than me”! Especially after looking up to the tiny metal swing bridge perched between two vertical cliffs.
Enough to keep us on easier ground and over towards the last path with a warning sign marked “icy”. No chance of attempting that in Winter.
This narrow, wooded route back up the mountain lead us back to the campervan. Stopping in the village for a top up of fresh water from the fountain before a shady lunch under a leafy tree.
What a beautiful find, such a mesmerising location – but now it was time to move on once again.