Very high end and quite scenic, Courmayeur is the opposite of Chamonix (in experiential terms, and in literal terms – on the other side of the Mt. Blanc tunnel). We haven’t skied in the area yet, but it makes for a lovely summer destination. The center of town has a long, elegant, and well-populated stretch of very high end boutiques.

  • **Hotel QC Terme Monte Bianco is a carefully tended, aging property. It’s associated with the big Terme and has its own large pool/spa complex that’s quite good. We’d happily stay here again except for the restaurant, which is quite surprisingly bad.
  • **QC Terme Pré Saint Didier is the historic spa complex. It’s well maintained, quite large, and in a beautiful spot. It’s basically the community swimming pool (with a hefty day rate), so expect a rather crowded experience. We likely wouldn’t make a point of going back, but it was a nice few hours.
  • We had a wonderful lunch at ***Chalet Plan Gorret – good enough to go quite out of your way to visit. Beautiful outdoor setting, excellent food (mostly Sardinian dishes).
  • Just south of town, Gelateria Pilier Central does have far better than average ice cream. Made using milk from the sheep grazing on their winter pastures across the road.

La Thuile

La Thuile is the family-friendly alternative to Courmayeur; much quieter, inexpensive, very little in terms of shopping and glitz. The skiing is excellent, we had a wonderful time, and would definitely recommend a trip here. 

Ski notes: The ski area is huge, including a link “over the hill” to the La Rosiere area in France. Very mellow groomers, all blue and red in the upper area. On the right hand side, towards Col Du Petit St Bernard, are the steeper blacks, with more off the front side down to La Thuile. It was snowing, so we couldn’t see the mountains well, but it looks like it would be really beautiful in clear conditions. Upper mountain is wide open, no trees, and the lower mountain has great tree skiing, which is uncommon in the Alps. Still need to ski over to La Rosiere, and on the back side (Forclaz).

Our hotel was a winner (especially in contrast to the second place we considered; see below). **Hôtel Château Blanc is actually rather Chateau-ish, with friendly staff, Alp-style furnishings, and very good space-to-cost ratios. We had a family room (“Prince”), with a kid loft area, huge main room, a rather stiff bed, and two (!) bathrooms. There’s parking, and you can walk to the lifts. The small sauna/steam room is available on request for a fee. No restaurant, but there’s a good bar with snacks, and a good breakfast spread.

There’s not really a “main drag,” but we did several walks to look at different hotels and dining options throughout the area.

Other dining and lodging options

  • *The Alpine Bistro, at the Montana Lodge & Spa, was a downright poor experience. This is the most expensive hotel in town, and it’s “fancy-neutral,” lacking much personality in modern hotel style. The dining room had no sound dampening, and was packed with families. The food was trying hard without succeeding. Our meal topped 200 Euros – in a town where every other meal ran around 60 Euros. All in all, this is a strong skip for me.
  • **La Maison Blanche was my favorite meal of the trip. It’s on the slope, in a charming chalet overlooking town, with excellent Savoyard classics. Our servers were adorable (and I mean that, so cute, so friendly).
  • **Le Petit Skieur is right on the edge of the slope, but within the easy restaurant range for town. We had a good cocktail; on our list to return next time for a mid-day burger. Cute interior.
  • **Lo Tatà was perfectly fine (if not the best meal we had), a family-run place with an extensive menu of local dishes. Popular, lots of families.
  • Restaurants to try next time: La Lisse, La Maison de Laurent, Locanda Collomb (which has a hotel as well).