Britain’s Prince William and Duchess of Cambridge with their children, Princess Charlotte, right, and Prince George, enjoy a short private break skiing in the French Alps. Photo / AP
It is one of the world’s most exclusive skiing resorts, where Russian oligarchs and celebrities come to flaunt their wealth.
Details have begun to emerge of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s first family holiday in Courcheval, which included arriving by private jet and dining in some of the resort’s finest restaurants.
They took Prince George, two, and Princess Charlotte, 10 months, on a four-night secret jaunt to the French Alps, with Kensington Palace only releasing photographs following their return to the UK.
Conditions were too dangerous on Wednesday to land at Courchevel’s altiport, which has a runway of just 537m and is considered to be one of the most dangerous airports in the world. With no lighting aids, landing in fog and low clouds is impossible.
Instead, the royal family are believed to have flown by private jet with their close friend James Meade and his wife Lady Laura Marsham. The jet is reportedly owned by the billionaire Duke of Westminster, to Chambery and travelled the remaining 60 miles by a chauffeur-driven private hire car.
A pilot at Courchevel’s Altiport told The Telegraph: “Visibility was too poor on Wednesday for them to land here. They flew to Chambery and were driven from there.”
Britain’s Prince William poses with Princess Charlotte as they enjoy a short private break skiing in the French Alps. Photo / AP
The royal family and their entourage of nannies and security guards stayed at a luxury chalet in Courchevel 1850, the most expensive district in Les Trois Vallees, hiring an English team of chalet staff from a local company.
Lined with designer boutiques including Dior, Chanel and Prada, the resort is the highest in Courchevel and boasts five Michelin star restaurants. It has more expensive hotels than any city in France other than Paris, including three with the top “Palace” rating, 16 with five-star status.
The lower resorts – Courchevel Le Praz (1300), Courchevel Moriond (1650) and Courchevel Village (1550) – are more modest and affordable.
The Duchess’s mittens made by British firm alexski reportedly cost £295 and were lined with possum fur, said to be a present from her mother Carole Middleton.
The firm’s owner Alexandra Bennett, 51, said she “couldn’t be prouder” to see The Duchess in them, insisting that the use of possum fur, which she imports from Christchurch, New Zealand, was not cruel.
“They are considered vermin out there,” she told The Daily Mail.
Britain’s Prince William and Duchess of Cambridge having a snow fight. Photo / AP
An employee at Le Pilatus restaurant, at the base of the slopes, said that the royal couple enjoyed a meal at the restaurant during their stay at the exclusive resort.
He said that the Duke of Cambridge had already dined there about three years ago and Pippa Middleton had visited the Three Valleys in the last few weeks. The couple appeared to have just been skiing and were accompanied but two adult friends but no children, he added.
“Someone said ‘Kate is there’,” he said. “That day there were lots of people in here. We didn’t bother them. I was told she was wearing pink but that was it. In general those types of people, we don’t bother them.”
The Duke and Duchess were also spotted lunching alone at La Soucoupe, a popular and expensive mountain restaurant above Courchevel that is run by its vivacious owner, Marta Pecchio.
The restaurant on the piste, which is only accessible by skiing, has a roaring log fire and serves dishes such as tagliatelle with truffles, squid cooked in its own ink, or grilled lobster.
A diner at the restaurant said: “They clearly seemed to be enjoying themselves. They were on their own without even a ski instructor, just like normal people. There was no obvious sign of any security guards.”