The beauty and charm of one of Italy’s finest Alps resort towns, Courmayeur, can’t be beaten. Part of the group of The Best of the Alps, it is located adjacent to the border with France. While Patois is the local dialect (a mixture of Italian and French, most commonly referred to as Franco-Provenzale), Italian is the locals’ first language. Still, because of their proximity to France, French is taught as a second language at school. English is prevalent in tourist areas; most people under 50 speak it well. Courmayeur is nestled between the valleys of Val Ferret and Val Vény under the majesty of Mont Blanc in an area referred to as the Aosta Valley.

Auberge de la Maison sitting room
Auberge de la Maison sitting room

Where to Stay

 Courmayeur offers luxury accommodations like the privately owned and run L’Auberge de la Maison, where views of glaciers during the day and the constellation of stars at night delight guests dining outside on the patio dining during the warmer months. The rooms are spacious, and the interior design is alpine chic. Relaxing spa treatments using mountain products is a special way to end the day. As a bonus, order a delicious picnic lunch from the hotel ahead of time to trek in the mountains.

Couple’s massage treatment room at Auberge de la Maison
Couple’s massage treatment room at Auberge de la Maison

Adorable bed and breakfast options abound, and for the more adventurous, campsites, refuges on the mountain, and farmhouse rooms offer a closer and more personal way of communing with nature. 

Dining room in the cave at Cadran Solaire
Dining room in the cave at Cadran Solaire

Where to Eat and Drink

Cadran Solaire is a family-owned restaurant in the heart of Courmayeur’s village. Their menu is comprised of Garin family traditional Aosta Valley recipes and new twists on mountain dishes, which are served with a smile in an exquisite dining room full of antiques and attractive chandeliers. You’ll go for the atmosphere but love it for the cuisine.

The Aubergine Restaurant, located inside the Auberge de la Maison hotel, specializes in authentic alpine dishes with high-quality products sourced from their gardens and farms in the nearby territory. The service is as warm as the toasty fireplace ambiance.

Lunch is a treat at the Golf Club at Grande Jorasses. Those craving authentic Italian fare will delight in the menu full of delectable antipasti options and special primi and second choices. Their wine list is excellent as well.

Drinks or coffee at GOÚ overlooking the town square with mountains in the backdrop is a charming spot where people-watching is at its finest.

A truly unique experience is tasting bubbly wine up in the mountains via the Skyway at The Cave Mont Blanc, where a Spumante-like sparkling wine is produced using the traditional method in the Valle d’Aosta at high altitude. 

A Tale of Two Valleys

Val Vény, the wilder of the two valleys that make up Courmayeur, treats hikers to magical scenery like the Miage and Brenva glaciers, the lakes of Miage and Combal, and the dense forest of Peuterey. One of the magical longer hikes for intermediate to experts is the trip to the Col de la Seigne – a 13.1-mile loop trail that takes you from Combal Lake to the border of France and Italy and takes about six hours to complete. 

While Val Ferret is the calmer of the two valleys, it’s still alive with activities year-round. Biking, golf, and fishing are popular summer activities, while cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snow biking are in demand in the winter. The area boasts panoramic views of the Alp’s Mont Blanc, the Dente del Gigante, the Grandes Jorasses, the Aiguille de Triolet, and the Mont Dolent peaks. 

Snow Sports Abound

In addition to the groomed slopes, Courmayeur offers off-piste skiing and a snow park where daredevils can perform tricks and jumps, showing off expert techniques. Over twenty chalet restaurants offer gourmet lunch menus, après ski cocktails, and light bites. A highlight is taking the cable car up for an aperitivo and dinner at high altitudes to experience the dynamic sunsets of Mont Blanc.

Sled dog treks, snowshoeing, winter hikes, and cross-country skiing are available for people of all ages. 

View from the top of the Skyway Monte Bianco photo by Priscilla
View from the top of the Skyway Monte Bianco photo by Priscilla

Must Do’s

Take the Skyway Monte Bianco and experience the ride of a lifetime. Panoramic semi-spherical cabins gently rotate 360 degrees during the ascent and descent, with fantastic views of the peaks of Mont Blanc, the Matterhorn, Monte Rosa, and the Gran Paradiso. Departing from Pontal, Courmayeur, the second stop is at the Pavillon du Mont Fréty (2,200 m), which hosts the winery Cave Mont Blanc. Ascending by cable car up to 3,466 meters, the final stop is at Punta Helbronner, where a 360-degree panoramic terrace is a platform to see Mont Blanc in all its glory. 

Upscale shopping on Via Roma, Courmayeur’s Main Street
Upscale shopping on Via Roma, Courmayeur’s Main Street

Shopping in the heart of the village on their main street, Via Roma (one of the longest in the Alps) includes upscale stores like Prada, Saint-Barth, Moncler, Dior, Colmar and Gucci, interspersed with charming cafes.

In the summer months, families can participate in plenty of activities together. Kayaking, river rafting, paintball excursions, and velo bike rides are excellent ways to enjoy the views while enjoying some adventure.

Grandes Jorasses Golf Club with Italian Alps views
Grandes Jorasses Golf Club with Italian Alps views

A round at the 9-hole Courmayeur Grande Jorasses golf course in Val Ferret allows golfers to play the Lynx on vacation. Still, players might not have their best game due to distractions like cascading waterfalls and ancient glaciers competing for their attention. 

Year-round, in the heart of the village, the Jardin de L’ange square is where concerts, music festivals, and cultural events happen. In the summer, The Celtica Valle d’Aosta international festival of Celtic music, art, and culture takes place in the Peuterey woods in Val Vény the first weekend in July each year. It’s fantastic entertainment for the whole family.

Info

Altitude: 1,224-4,810 meters, Inhabitants: 2,798, Guest beds: 6,715, Restaurants: 96, Ski lifts: 21, Ski slopes: 33, Cross Country: 22 km, Closest airports: Geneva – 1.5 hours, Milan – 2.5 hours, Turin – 1.45 hours.

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Priscilla Pilon travels the world but is an admitted Paris addict. She began her career as a food/travel writer and photographer through her own personal trips and her time spent living and working abroad. A true travel chameleon, she can find herself skiing in the French Alps one day and snorkeling in the British Virgin Islands the next. A wife and mother of two grown boys, Priscilla sees travel as art – a blank canvas where unique hotels and experiences paint priceless pictures. Born and raised on the South Shore of Boston, she now splits her time between Newport, Rhode Island, Key Largo, Florida, and Boston’s North End. She is an avid photographer, sailor (Oyster 54), tennis player, skier, foodie, and amateur sommelier.