Chamonix Ski Resort Guide & ReviewsSki Areas, Apres-Ski, Spa and Wellness, Other Activities
Skiing in Chamonix almost needs no introduction. The French alpine ski resort is world-famous and never fails to amaze the visitor, whether they come to Chamonix for ski holidays, to climb, to hike, or just to soak up at atmosphere
It is vibrant, cosmopolitan and full of passion for the mountains that make for an impressive backdrop to this year round ski resort. And, it's not just Mont Blanc and the mountains that make Chamonix so attractive, the resort is just an hour away from Geneva.
Chamonix Ski Area Guide
People either love it or hate it!. Some just don't 'get' Chamonix. Afterall, the ski areas are spread out across the Chamonix Valley and aren't really linked, there aren't that many lifts and the lift pass is one of the most costly in the Alps.
But there is something undeniably magnetic about skiing in Chamonix. Skiing or boarding on the pistes is only half the story, as the true magic of Chamonix is in her off piste prowess. If you find yourself off piste in one of the endless bowls at Les Grands Montets on a bluebird powder day, it will probably be the best day's skiing of your life.
If this is your first time skiing in Chamonix and you've got a good level of technical skill, the chances are you'll want to do the Vallee Blanche, the famous off piste itinerary from the Aiguille du Midi lift right back down to Chamonix skiing on the Mer de Glace glacier.
|Key Information (Whole Area)|
|Season||Dec - early May|
|Apres ski||Lively & Fun|
Chamonix Valley Ski Areas
There are 5 main ski areas in the Chamonix Valley plus the 24km Vallee Blanches at the top of the Aiguille du Midi
- Le Brevent
- Grand Montets
- Balme / Vallorcine
- Les Houches
Brevent is linked to Flegere and at first glance Flegere has few lifts and not many pistes either. Many think there is little to write home about at La Flegere, but get a guide for a couple of hours and you'll be whizzing around some truly amazing hidden off piste couloirs.
Le Grands Montets in Argentiere is the real deal. With north facing slopes, what the area lacks in sunshine during the first half of the ski season it makes up for in steepness and long-lasting snow.
At the far end of the valley, Balme can be accessed via Le Tour village (which is next to La Vormaine beginner area) or from Vallorcine, the last outpost of France just 4km from the Swiss border over the col des Montets.
Les Houches sits at the entrance to the Chamonix Valley and is great for family ski holidays with some gentle blues and tree lined reds. There is also the world cup down hill run - the Kandahar.
For a ski resort famed for it's off piste, what does all this mean for beginners? Well, Chamonix has more than enough beginner areas at all the various sectors but we heartily recommend La Vormaine next to the Domaine de Balme ski area at the end of the Chamonix Valley for beginners.
If we're honest the pistes here are long and challenging, but they're not the centre of attention. It's all about the off piste. For a first taste of big mountain skiing, you can head in the top Grands Montets cable car where there are two black off-pisted runs on the glacier - absolutely amazing!
For intermediate skiers, Chamonix has many areas to choose from. Brevent is the closest ski area to the centre with pistes for all abilities, so all levels can have fun at the same ski area. From Brevent you can also take the cable car across to La Flegere.
Chamonix has two cross country skiing areas - there are gentle pistes linkin Chamonix with the village of Les Bois or further up the valley in Argentière with skiing through pine forests. With good snow conditions, the trails link from Chamonix to Argentiere via the pretty village of Le Lavancher.
Other ski holiday activities
- Cinema, ten-pin bowling
- Swimming pool
- Ice skating
- Winter hiking trails
Chamonix is famous for its après ski so if you like wild and lively then this is the place. Plenty of bars and clubs and a young crowd that keep the resort rocking until the early hours! There is also the more refined side to Chamonix that is chic and sophisticated - with a great choice of wine bars and restaurants to unwind and relax in.
One visit to Chamonix is not enough. This could go some way to explaining the popularity of holiday rentals in Chamonix and the real estate market for buying a ski chalet or apartment as a holiday home. There is always demand for property in Chamonix, whether its to buy or to rent short or long term, making it a perennially popular choice for investing.
Our view on Chamonix
You've got to hand it to Chamonix, it really is an exceptional ski resort. It may not be the most convenient or the cheapest, but it has that undeniable 'je ne sais quoi' that will have you hooked. A few suggestions...
- Have lunch at L'Alpage at Domaine de Balme in the old mountain farmhouse tucked next to the Aiguillette des Posettes drag lift - a bit out of the way to get to, but very much worth it as it isnt your usual Chamonix mountain restaurant fare.
- Head up the Aiguille du Midi - it might sound obvious, but for those who don't want to ski the famous Vallee Blanche off piste itinerary, it is still worth going up the two cable cars to take in the amazing views at 3842m. With a guide, you can also ski the 5kms to Italy across the glacier and down in to Courmayeur.
- If your accommodation in Chamonix doesn't have car parking, buy an 'abonnement' pass from one of the three main covered car parks in Chamonix. Beats digging the car out of the snow every morning as well.