Hedonist, hideous and funby Wendell Steavenson / December 12, 2013 / Leave a comment
Published in January 2014 issue of Prospect Magazine
I was late to the party. Drive up from the train station in the valley, hairpin turns high into the Alps to where the snow lay in thick duvets over the eaves of ski chalets. Courchevel was originally built as local regional council effort, a socialist answer to privately developed resorts, but now it is a monied enclave beloved of the same class of international millionaires and celebrities that bounce, according to the season, between the south of France, Belgravia, Miami and Basel art fair. Courchevel 1850 is the highest and most elite village, home to six star hotels and Michelin-starred restaurants. The chalets are haute Heidi style, cute wooden balconies carved with hearts and Christmas trees that belie swimming pools in the basements.
At the highest end of the road is the coolest restaurant bar on the slopes, Le Cap Horn. I was late to a party that had begun at lunch time under the azure blue skies of a perfect Alpine day and descended into silly excess. A group of American bankers had ordered a dozen jeroboams of Cristal; Jacques had apparently felt the need to retaliate on behalf of French pride. By the time I arrived it was 6pm and a row of empty Champagne bottles were lined up on the piano. The DJ was spinning Rolling Stones, Guillaume was banking a roaring fire with an empty wine crate, Jacques had moved onto milk, which he swore would keep him upright, and which was poured into a decanter for him by a blonde ski bunny. Emmanuelle, an ageing Eliza Dolittle Courchevel habitué, who moved between parties selling roses from her basket, wound a pair of fingerless elbow length gloves embroidered with diamante skulls around his neck. This was crazy. This was the 1 per cent gone mad. The staff all joined in, dancing drinking happy with the enormous tip the American bankers had left.
We went back for lunch the next day. Cheap it was not: the menu was international megabucks comfort food, no matter we were sitting at the top of a mountain: nine kinds of oyst…