Courchevel’s Le Chabichou Hôtel, the family-owned luxury hotel, spa and 2-Michelin-starred restaurant lives up to its reputation, as Gina Baksa discovers…
The luxury ski haven of Courchevel in the French Alps is known for its abundance of superlative ‘ski-in, ski-out’ chalets and jaw-dropping ‘palace’ hotels. And the gilded resort is equally well regarded for the quality of its gourmet cuisine: a staggering seven restaurants in the ski resort hold 1 or 2 Michelin stars.
One of the few Courchevel hotels open year-round and perfectly located piste-side, at the base of the slopes in Courchevel 1100m, is the sublime Le Chabichou Hôtel. A member of the Relais & Châteaux group since 2012, this fabulous 2-Michelin starred retreat regularly appears in the top 5 favourite lists across the Three Valleys ski region. Owned and run by chef patron Michel Rochedy (Master Chef of France) together with his right-hand man, the award-winning Stéphane Buron, these culinary geniuses have been delighting guests with their special brand of gourmet magic for more than 25 years.
From the outside, Le Chabichou Hôtel is a picture-perfect, white-frosted, chocolate box of a hotel. Whitewashed wood glistening in the sunshine like a fairy-tale chalet; its inviting sun terraces the perfect après ski or lunchtime stop. It also boasts the largest hotel spa in the French Alps. Constructed under the mountain, the 1100m2 multi-sensory complex is the perfect antidote to a hard day on the slopes (try the Dead Sea float bath) and blends perfectly with the surrounding environment: its grass roof further enhancing its eco credentials.
Originally from the Ardèche, Michel Rochedy bought the original six-bed chalet back in 1963 and gradually expanded the establishment into the much-loved and admired hotel and gourmet restaurant of today. Luxury and refinement are key elements in its 42 rooms – all featuring traditional light mountain pine, neutral stone and rich colour accents in red, orange and brown. Guests can also indulge in the gourmet sister bistro (Bistro Le Chabotté) and enjoy the snug bar, delicious bakery, as well as the full-service spa with its inviting hammam and indoor pool. Quite the perfect place to relax before a fabulous gourmet dinner at Le Chabichou restaurant.
Chef Rochedy received his first well-deserved Michelin star in 1979 – the first restaurant in Courchevel to be credited with such an honour. And he only had to wait until 1984 for his second. Incredibly, Michel and Stéphane have maintained their high standards of inventive cuisine and impeccable service to this day, ensuring they have retained the coveted 2 stars.
Le Chabichou Hôtel, Courchevel remains a family owned and run business – unique at this level in the competitive hotel and restaurant world. Son Nicholas is General Manager. And it’s a truism that behind every good man is always a very smart woman: Michel’s charming and very astute wife Maryse keeps a warm and watchful eye over front of house and the restaurant, while Stéphane’s wife Sylvie is the manager of the new €5million spa.
Indeed, it is Maryse’s genuinely warm welcome that makes our arrival at Chabichou restaurant such a memorable start to an incredible evening. Walking through the reception area, with its discreet luxury and traditional and modern interior (think restored wooden doors, artfully placed throws, modern art) we segue into the splendid dining room. Soft carpet, rich fabric curtains drawn against the incipient darkness and heavy snowfall outside. I felt as if I was entering a magical kingdom where all my gustatory fantasies would soon be sated.
Our menu – the fabulous Menu Givre was a taste adventure in six courses. I loved the thoughtful note of acknowledgement to Michel’s little brother, André Rochedy, Writer, carefully placed by the divine bread that we were soon to break.
Beaufort cheese-filled Madeline’s – a true Savoie original – with melt-in-your-mouth sponge was a delightful amuse bouche to lead us into a traditional vegetable French soup ‘soupe aux cailloux’ – a hearty offering, where a stone is put into the soup during cooking; the touch of sorrel adding a lemony zest to the vegetables and pearl barley. Both beautifully presented and served.
Fondue de Vieille Tom, our next course delivered with a flourish from our attentive waiters, comprised a cheese fondue, with quail’s egg, lightly garnished with truffles and croutons.
An eclectic and extensive wine list from Sommelier Bruno Cahu showcased Savoyard favourites – we loved the Chignin Bergeron Les Terrasses Dom A.M Quenard 2014 – as well as an exciting selection of Burgundies and Bordeaux.
Visually delightful, Stéphane and Michel’s cuisine delights the eye as well as the palette. Our Savoie Apple: small glazed foie gras ‘apples’ with cider apple vinegar, eels and apple was a feast for all senses. Delicate, refined and bursting with exceptional flavours. I can honestly say this is one of the best meals – Michelin star or otherwise – I have ever enjoyed in my life. And we were able to thank Chef Rochedy personally when came to our table to greet us. Clearly a man whose passion for his creativity is as evident as it was 40 years ago. He is living his bliss.
For the following course, I opted for Line-Fished Sea Bass – slowly roasted in its skin, with a delicate hay emulsion, the most incredible mash (potatoes with duck’s gizzard) I have ever savoured. Others in our group chose the Mountain Pork… an exquisite breast, caramelised and flavoured with lemon verbena, complemented with stuffed cabbage and Christophe Heymar chestnuts, smoked blood sausage and quince. Yet another incredible taste explosion.
Fabulous petit fours aka Christopher Heymar’s chestnut – another signature dish: Mont Blanc macaroons with light Mascarpone cream, alongside vintage rum ice cream and divine blackcurrant sauce.
Our dining experience at Le Chabichou was a perfect example of inspiring and flavoursome classical cuisine, enhanced with extraordinary attention to detail. Perfectly brought to our table by attentive waiting staff, their synchronised serving added a touch of theatre to the evening’s gourmet dining.
If you are planning a stay in Courchevel this winter – or summer – the Chabichou Hôtel is an exquisite fine-dining experience, as well offering guests luxurious and well-appointed accommodation. You can even book a table in the kitchen (it’s open to the dining room) to keep an eye on the action.
Highly recommended, Le Chabichou Hôtel highly deserves its 2 Michelin stars for ambience, impeccable service and the most elegant and flavour-bursting cuisine.
A gastronomic treat awaits you.
Le Chabichou Hôtel – Who where when
Le Chabichou Hôtel, Rue des Chenus, 73120, Courchevel 1850, France
T: +33 (0) 4 79 08 00 55
E: [email protected]
F: + 33 (0) 4 79 08 33 58
We travelled to France courtesy of A Tout France, Eurostar, SNCF and Courchevel Tourism.
About Gina Baksa