Courmayeur, in friendly, welcoming northern Italy, is an Alpine destination that’s unlike most of the others. First and foremost, it’s the gateway to Mont Blanc, an impressive peak that’s sure to take your breath away. The internationally acclaimed ski resort at Chamonix is close by. This fabulous place is one of the world’s best spots for skiing and other winter sports. You might recognize it as the site of the first-ever Winter Olympics, held back in 1924.
Most people think of France, not Italy, when Mont Blanc (and Chamonix) comes up in conversation. That makes sense, because Chamonix is in southeastern France, with Mont Blanc close by. Not as many people know that Mont Blanc actually sits along the French-Italian border, and that the winter sports are equally good on both sides of the border.
Mont Blanc is the highest mountain in the towering European Alps. It’s also the highest peak in all of the western part of Europe, surpassing any mountain in the Pyrenees or any other range. Snugged in at the base of Mont Blanc on its Italian side, Courmayeur ski resort is a small village in the breathtaking Graian Alps of northern Italy.
Not surprisingly, considering its proximity to Mont Blanc and more than a dozen other mountains visible from the village, Courmayeur offers winter sports that equal those of Kitzbühel and Innsbruck (Austria), Cortina (Italy), St. Moritz, Zermatt and Gstaad (Switzerland), Courchevel, Val d’Isere, La Grave and Chamonix (France), and Garmisch-Partenkirchen (Germany). That means Courmayeur’s skiing and other winter activities are just as good (if not better) than those at many of Europe’s most famous ski resorts.
But Courmayeur is different than all those other famous ski resorts. Sitting so close to the France-Italy border, the village offers the best of both countries’ culture along with the hospitality that Italy is so famous for. It has a vibrant après-ski scene (especially on the weekends, when people from Milan, Turin and Geneva flock to the resort for a quick getaway), and charming shops line its pedestrianized streets. Courmayeur is also one of the few spots in Europe where you can go dogsledding. Guides at the resort will even teach you how to do it. That’s something you’d normally have to go to Alaska to try.
And Courmayeur also isn’t as crowded as most of those other ski resorts. You won’t be forced to elbow your way onto the lift or accept a booking at whatever hotel isn’t already sold out. In fact, even though Courmayeur has less than 3,000 full-time residents, it has plenty of hotels (more than 50, at last count) to accommodate its visitors’ needs. Many Courmayeur hotels treat their guests to views of fabulous Mont Blanc through their windows. Talk about a room with a view!Google+