Located within an hour's drive of Geneva airport, Chamonix Mont-Blanc is a spectacular French resort in both winter and summer - playground for all ages. The Chamonix Valley is made up of a number of small ski areas: Les Houches, Le Brevent/ La Flegere, Les Grands Montets and Le Tour/ Vallorcine - all offering varied terrain and spectacular views of the Mont Blanc Massif and the Aiguilles. Skiers and snow boarders will love it here, whether you are looking for nice long sunny groomed slopes, small forest trails or off-piste free riding and untracked glacial terrain. Experienced skiers will love the gnarly trails on the Argentiere Glacier or the legendary off-piste itinerary from the Aiguilles du Midi - the Vallee Blanche (be warned a mountain guide is necessary for these areas!). Intermediates can take their pick from the miles of blue or more challenging red runs that are available in all areas of the Chamonix valley and beginners have ample to do as well. The gentle green slopes on the valley floor give the perfect introduction to winter sports before progressing onto the higher terrain. If you fancy going further a field, then the Mont Blanc Unlimited lift pass also enables you to ski in Courmayeur (Italy) and Verbier (Switzerland); both less than an hours drive from Chamonix (or a free bus ride in the case of Courmayeur!). Chamonix is a safe bet for early and late season skiers since 90% of the skiing is above 2000m. The highest area Les Grand Montets at 3300m offers exceptional skiing from December through to mid May. Wherever you choose to ski, there are unrivalled panoramas of the Mont Blanc massif that will take your breath away!
In summer Chamonix opens up into a playground of alpine adventure - Climbing, hiking, mountaineering, mountain biking, so many sports to do. Besides mountain adventure, there is a thriving cultural scene, amazing shops and boutiques, and a fabulous gastronomic offering - including 2 Michelin starred restaurants. The town itself has a charming pedestrianised centre, full of ambiance, bars, cafes, restaurants and shops - plenty to do when you come off the mountain. The smaller suburban villages of Argentiere, Montroc and Les Houches, also offer great access to the mountain trail in a quieter, more relaxed atmosphere.
Access to Chamonix is so simple with it being less than an hours drive from Geneva airport, making long weekends and short breaks very easy - from Geneva either hire a car or we can book you an airport transfer.
Chamonix has skiing for absolutely everybody but groups and families with non-skiers in their party will also love the range of alternate activities available. Whatever you decide to do, you can be sure that the views will be stunning and the food/ wine will taste great!
- Altitude: 1035 - 3842m
- Km of pistes: 400
- No of lifts: 85
- Beginners: good
- Intermediate: very good
- Advanced: excellent
- Snowboarding: good
- Ski touring: excellent
- Non skiers: excellent
- Family: very good
- Nearest airport: Geneva (1 hour)
- Other airports: Grenoble (2 hour), Lyon (2 hour), Milan (2 hour), Turin (1.5 hour)
- Resort website: www.chamonix.com
- Good for: cafes, nightlife, off-piste skiing, restaurants, shops, short transfer, snow sure resort, town life.
Chamonix in Winter
Alpine Skiing and Boarding
The Chamonix Valley is famous for being one of the best free ride resorts in the world. It has 5 main ski areas: Les Houches, Le Brevent, La Flegere, Le Tour, Grand Montets. Chamonix Mont Blanc can offer you a superb ski holiday with the best scenery in the Alps and for all levels from beginners to the advanced. Why not take a guide to take you down the infamous Vallee Blanche (a 20km off-piste ski run over crevasses, glaciers and magnificent scenery) or the Argentiere Glacier? Chamonix's ski areas are open from December to May, subject to snow conditions.
Cross Country Skiing
Chamonix has over 70km of cross-country trails dotted around the valley. There are cross-country trails in Les Houches, Chamonix Centre/ Le Praz, Argentiere and Vallorcine. Known as "Ski de Fond" in French. If you are not so keen on the down hill skiing this is so much fun to try.
This is a means of travelling through the snowy mountains on foot at either low or high altitudes. Another brilliant sport for those who do not wish to ski. One has to be fit, comfortable with snow and competent in the mountains particularly in winter conditions. It is very enjoyable though since you get away from the crowded pistes and get to see the local wild life such as chamois and marmottes. Known as "Raquettes" in French.
The Chamonix valley and Mont Blanc Massif are excellent for ski touring. Ski touring is a great way to access nature as it was intended to be seen. The Massif is a vast area of spectacular, glaciated mountains. The lifts provide easy access to the mountain wilderness that make this region special. With the necessary equipment and a bit of hard work, riders will be able to escape the crowds on the slopes and find some great skiing. The classic popular Haute Route starts in Chamonix on the Argentiere glacier and finishes in Zermatt (Matterhorn). Known as "Ski de Randonee" in French.
Le Brevent-La Flegere (1095m - 2525m)
This extensive south-facing area offers the best possible conditions for all levels. Close to the centre of Chamonix, Le Brevent, facing Mont Blanc, offers a variety of pistes for all levels. La Flegere, opposite the Mer de Glace and its mountain range, accessible from the village of Praz (2km above Chamonix), welcomes all lovers of powder snow. This is the town's main skiing is on the other side of the valley, reached either from the outskirts of the resort or from a lift station at Les Praz higher up the valley. The Planpraz gondola should have new eight-person cabins for this season, doubling uphill capacity. Linked Le Brevent and La Flegere provide plenty of scope for intermediate and strong skiers.
The two beginner ski areas in the centre are Les Planards - Chamonix (1062m - 1242m), close to the town centre, a sunny ski area with pistes prepared for all skiers. Snow on the pistes is guaranteed by 33 canons. This is one of the closest to our Chamonix apartments (400 yards from our Chamonix Ginabelle apartments) and Le Savoy - Chamonix (1049m - 1125m), right in the centre of Chamonix, at the foot of Le Ft. Favourite pistes for beginners and especially children, 2 drag lifts and a conveyor belt lift. Artificial snow.
Les Grands-Montets (1230m - 3300m)
The most demanding skiing domain, with long descents, dramatic mountain settings and glacier views. Exceptional vertical drops and famous pistes have given the Grands-Montets its reputation as a world famous ski area, part of which is on a glacier. Internationally renowned thanks to its size and the variety of its ski runs and pistes which extend over three slopes: the Argentiere glacier, Lognan and la Pendant. The length of the pistes, their vertical drop (max altitude 3300m) and the exceptional quality of snow until May makes it a paradise for skiing in Chamonix on your ski holiday. For powderhounds the main course starts at the little village of Argentiere, where an 80-person cable-car and a quad-chair give access to Lognan. From this mid-mountain station a cable-car (not included in the lift pass) rises to the 3275m Grands Montets, one of the world's greatest ski mountains. The descents from here through the glacier are as staggeringly beautiful as they are demanding. Pas de Chevre, a run from the top of Bochard via one of several difficult couloirs down to the Mer de Glace is a Chamonix classic. 'Anyone who can ski a black run competently should persuade a guide to take them to the Pas de Chevre. Long, hard, but stunningly beautiful,' commented a reporter. It has a beginner ski area Les Chosalets (1230m) a vast slope for beginners, ideal for children, situated at the entrance to Argentiere, 500m from the start of the Lognan cable car.
Le Tour-Vallorcine (1480m - 2230m)
At the head of the valley, Le Tour offers some good novice terrain as well as rewarding runs on the Col de Balme and a long descent to Vallorcine. The Grands Montets and Le Tour both have terrain parks but the majority of snowboarders here are usually busy elsewhere, climbing up or riding down a vertiginous couloir. Out in the nature between sunny fields and forests, an ideal setting for learning to ski and progressing with the family, with an invigorating backdrop. An easy area for the family ski holiday in Chamonix. It has a beginner ski area La Vormaine (1480m) which is situated next to the village of Le Tour, very sunny with plenty of snow, for beginners and intermediate skiers. Ideal for children and an introduction to snow boarding.
The slopes of Les Houches are more sheltered than the rest of the valley making it a good option on bad weather days. It is also the site of the Kandahar, the challenging world cup downhill run. Les Houches has amazing south-east views of Mont Blanc!
Vallee Blanche *Non-Pisted
Chamonix is dominated by the 3842m Aiguille du Midi peak, reached by a cable car from the southern side of town. This is the starting point for the famous Vallee Blanche, a glorious 22km descent past yawning crevasses and house-sized seracs (ice boulders) all the way to Chamonix. Competent intermediate skiers with a good head for heights will enjoy the easiest of the four main routes, but it is essential to take a guide. The start is a series of ice steps cut into the spine of the ridge down from the cable-car station: the 2000m sheer drop on the left side can be unsettling. The return to Chamonix is either by train, on the Montenvers rack and pinion railway, or via a short ascent and a long descent on skis down a narrow forest track.
Italy - Courmayeur
You can also go for a day through the Mont Blanc tunnel to the Italian resort of Courmayeur. It takes half an hour to drive to the ski areas of Val Veny through the Mont Blanc tunnel. The skiing there is varied but not as difficult usually as in the Chamonix valley. You will also find the restaurants far cheaper.
Chamonix in Summer
Chamonix is not only a popular winter location but is absolutely spectacular in the summer - there is hiking, mountain biking, road biking, mountaineering, parapenting, rock climbing, via ferrate are amongst the favourites then there is also golf, leisure and water activities, sightseeing and sunbathing in the Lakes or swimming pools. Outside of this you can just sit down drink coffee and look at the views! Chamonix has in recent years become a mecca for ultra races. Each year in June it now hosts its own marathon, the Chamonix Mont Blanc Marathon (42km 200m of ascent) www.montblancmarathon.fr. Without doubt the best event of the year at the end of August is the North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc UTMB (170km 10000m of ascent) www.ultratrailmb.com where the worlds top ultra runners are completing in under 24 hours.
Climbing in the Mont Blanc massif and the Chamonix Valley means high mountains, superb granite and miles of limestone cliffs. Crags are usually equipped. Mountain routes may be partially equipped with, at least, abseil points in place. If you want to go high, be careful, read a guide book properly, take the necessary precautions or hire a guide.
Golf in the Alps is popular with holiday makers who want to take in the mountain air while enjoying a leisurely round of 9-18 holes. Chamonix has an excellent 18 hole course and there are also courses at Evian and Verbier.
The valley is beautiful and the hiking season can start as early as April in St Gervais. You will need lightweight boots and shorts, waterproofs, sunglasses, plus skin and lip protection. Always have a drink at hand as well. Walks are well sign posted. In the valley you can do one day walks from the cable car stations and further afield two day plus walks in surrounding French areas, Italy and Switzerland. Two very famous walks are The Tour of Mont Blanc which can take eight to ten days and The Walker's Haute Route which is Chamonix to Zermatt via mountain huts and valley hotels.
There are great mountain bike trails in the St Gervais valley and surrounding areas, for all levels. There are excursion trails on the valley floor as well as more difficult ones using the cable car systems to access them.
The Mont Blanc Massif in the Alps is the mecca for mountaineering, rock climbing and via ferrate! There are lots of mountaineering routes to do in the summer from valley cragging to the ascent of Mont Blanc. You must be aware of mountain safety, if tackling anything very dangerous then hire a guide.
Parapenting is a very popular sport in Chamonix due to the high mountains and great winds. There are many takeoff sites in Chamonix for this sport - Le Brevent (Planpraz), Aiguille du Midi, Les Houches, Grands Montets, Aiguille du Plan and Plaine Joux . Chamonix is a wonderful place to learn how to free fly. You can take a tandem flight with a qualified instructor or lessons with a paragliding school.
The sports centre in Chamonix can offer you a climbing wall, gymnasium, ice skating, indoor and outdoor swimming pool (fabulous in the summer), sauna, squash and tennis.
Swimming, Sunbathing, Windsurfing and BBQs
Take a trip to Lake Passy only 25 minutes drive - you can be bathing on the beach whilst admiring the ascents of Mont Blanc!