Perhaps the liveliest resort in the Alps, Chamonix is a busy town of 10,000 permanent residents. A must-visit town for the true Alpine sports enthusiast, famed for it's magical location lying in the shadows of Mont Blanc, Chamonix is a real playground for mountain sport enthusiasts, all year round. Luxury chalets are dotted throughout the Chamonix Valley, with the larger ski domain being made up of several separate ski areas, and all under the one Chamonix Valley lift pass.
Chamonix is one of France’s oldest mountain resorts; in 1760, a Genevois scientist offered a prize for the first ascent of the highest Alp, and in 1786 this was won by two local men, Michel Paccard and Jacques Balmat, who made the first ever ascent of Mont Blanc. Skiing was introduced in Chamonix at the end of the 19th century by Dr Payot. In July 1901, the railway line passing through the Chamonix valley was finished, opening up the town to winter visitors, and the first big winter season was in 1906-07.
Chamonix is a commune in the Haute Savoie department of the Rhône-Alps region of south-eastern France. It was also the site of the first ever Winter Olympics in 1924. Famed particularly for lying in the shadows of Mont Blanc, and for it’s climbing, Chamonix is a real playground for mountain sport enthusiasts, all year round.
Prior to the arrival of winter sports enthusiasts, Chamonix was home to a rural population with mountain farmers inhabiting the valley, where there was also a humble monastery. The 19th century saw mountain guiding take over as the main economic activity of the area, followed swiftly in the 20th century by the hotel industry – with tourism still remaining the main industry of the valley today.
Chamonix is ‘big’ in every way; surrounded by the highest peaks in Europe with Mont Blanc at 4,810m, Aiguille du Midi at 3,842m and the Aiguilles Rouges, a crystalline mountainous massif opposite the Mont Blanc Massif. The colour of the iron rich gneiss (metamorphic) mountains gives the range its name. The highest summit is the Aiguille du Belvédère at 2,965 metres and at the southern end of the range, Le Brévent at 2,525 metres.
Chamonix is a must-visit town for the true Alpine sports enthusiast, but it is a complex resort compiled of several, separate ski areas and villages, that ‘link’ under one lift pass, but it is not a lift linked ski area. There are good free buses that run up and down the valley, but these can get crowded on peak weeks. The majority of our properties do however benefit from a driver service so you can be taken to the different ski areas in comfort and explore the rich variety of skiing on offer. Choosing the best area to stay in for your group then, can be key to making the most of a ski holiday in Chamonix.
Luxury chalets are scattered throughout the Chamonix Valley, with the larger ski domain being made up of several separate ski areas, interlinked by bus, and all under the one Chamonix Valley lift pass. The commune in fact is formed of over 16 villages and hamlets, the largest of which (and most popular for visitors) are Les Houches, Le Tour, Le Planet, Argentière, Le Lavancher, Les Bois, Les Praz Les Pélerins, and Les Bossons.
To the north of the Chamonix Valley, Le Tour, and also Vallorcine by virtue of its lift link into Le Tour, can be good options for families looking for a quiet ‘village’ stay – but also with good access to family-friendly skiing in the Domaine de Balme.
Argentière is 8 km north of Chamonix town, and boasts some of the most challenging skiing in the largest of the valley’s ski areas – Grand Montets. The village retains a traditional alpine charm, with the accommodation being for the most part true to Savoyard style, and with greater space than its counterparts in central Chamonix. There is also a good selection of local shops, bars and restaurants and a growing après ski scene including bars with live music.
Les Praz to Le Lavancher is where a lot of the high-end chalets will be found, with stunning panoramic views across the Chamonix Valley, and plenty of space around you to provide privacy and a feeling of seclusion. Les Praz village is a peaceful area close to the Flegere ski lift and ski domain, with an 18 hole golf course, some small shops, bars and restaurants and in winter it is known for being the sunniest spot in the valley.
Beyond Les Praz is the beautiful area of Les Bois, running as far as Les Tines, also boasting beautiful accommodation options in peaceful settings. Situated a couple of hundred metres up the south side of the valley above Les Bois is the hamlet of Le Lavancher; the views from here are quite possibly the best in the valley, so accommodation is at a premium.
Central Chamonix has the largest choice of accommodation (though not perhaps the most luxurious and spacious properties), and of course the largest number of shops, bars and restaurants. Best for experiencing the buzz of the town and its après scene; the north western edge of Chamonix towards the Brevent-Flegere ski area receives the most sunshine in Chamonix town with spectacular views of Mont Blanc. The areas of Les Pélerins and Les Gaillands cover a kilometre stretch of parallel roads running down the valley and are popular locations; possibly better value, but still only a short walk from Chamonix town centre.
Les Houches lies to the South of central Chamonix, and boasts great amenities with shops, bars and restaurants, and a lovely ski area particularly good for beginners. Quite family focused, and with a relaxed feel to the area, Les Houches does also feature some of the few ski-in, ski-out properties in Chamonix, and although the skiing is not for the most part challenging the area does host several international events, including the ‘Kandahar’ run which features annually on the Men’s Alpine Skiing World Cup circuit.
The variety of skiing on offer in Chamonix is incredible; from gentle beginners’ slopes to the most challenging of skiing both on and off-piste, but a holiday here does require some pre-planning to understand the layout of the resort, and where might be best to base yourself. We can help you here of course.
Skiable Range 1,035m – 3,842m
Highest lift 3,842m, the Aiguille du Midi cable car
Longest Run: 20km ‘Vallée Blanche’
Ski terrain (Chamonix Valley)
Pistes 155km; Blue 36%, Red 32%, Black16%
*skiing with a qualified mountain guide advised
It’s hard to look further than the ‘Vallée Blanche’, 20km of off-piste from the top of the Aguille du Midi cable car to the valley floor, there’s nothing else like it. As this is over the Mer de Glace glacier it is really essential to book a qualified local mountain guide to avoid the ever-moving crevasses.
‘La Verte / Kandahar’ the world cup run is the best known, and ‘Charles Bozon’ in the original ski area of Brévant is also well known for its challenging pitch.
In Flégère the Trappe chair lift serves two green runs: Trappe and Libellules, so this is a great place to head to as a beginner moving on from the nursery slopes. There are also a couple of short greens around the beginners’ area of La Vormaine in
From the ‘Tetes des Balmes’ you will find a cluster of blue pistes, with ‘Béchat Essert’ leading on to ‘Les Esserts’ giving you a nice long descent. In Les Houches try the piste Allouds (accessed from the top of the ‘Maison Neuve’ chairlift)
for a long swooping run taking you through the trees all the way to Parion.
In Argentière try the ‘Combes’ piste from the top of the Herse chair lift;it leads into the Pierre à Ric red piste to make one super-long run descending all the way to the bottom.
In Le Brévant, ‘Charlanon’ is a challenging red from the top of the Cornu chair lift, and ‘Crochutes’ on the Flégère side is also superb. In Les Balmes start on the ‘Belle Place’ piste, before joining ‘Foret Verte’ for a rare red run that descends
'La Verte' or the 'Kandahar' as it can be known has to be mentioned of course, as the famous world cup downhill run in Les Houches, and we also like ‘Nants’ and ‘Les Praz’ in Brévant-Flégère, and ‘Point de Vue’ in Argentière is gorgeous, taking a wide swooping route far away from the main pistes with wonderful views.
The variety of skiing on offer in Chamonix is incredible; from gentle beginners’ slopes to the most challenging of skiing both on and off-piste, but a holiday here does require some pre-planning to understand the layout of the resort, and where might be best to base yourself.
It would be easy to get put off by the challenging layout of the skiing in the Chamonix Valley, and this would be a real shame. Our goal is to properly dissect and explain each of the areas allowing you to pick the most suitable ski base for your party and make the most of the real variety of skiing on offer here. Yes a ski trip to Chamonix (or ‘Cham’ as the locals fondly refer to it) requires perhaps more forethought than the lift-linked super resorts of Les Trois Vallées or Espace Killy, but the rewards are surely worth it.
Today Chamonix offers over 155 km off-piste ski runs, with some of the highest skiing available in Europe, peaking at 3,842m at the top of the Aiguille du Midi cable car. This is not for novices however; the skiing from here is the famous 20km long off-piste itinerary ‘Vallée Blanche’; Europe’s longest ski run, which descends the Mer de Glace. For those preferring to stick to the pistes, the highest skiing can be found at Grand Montets, topping out at an impressive 3,275m.
Starting from the north, we consider Le Tour or Vallorcine as a base, with their direct access into the Les Balmes ski area. Both lovely villages this is probably the best ski area in the valley for beginners or intermediates, so well worth considering if you are a party of skiers all at the same or similar level. The original ski area has 19 pistes - 1 black, 7 reds and 11 blues. However a new chairlift on the Vallorcine side of the valley has opened up an extra 4 or 5 runs making this a much more extensive ski area. If you do choose to base yourselves here however you would be at the northern most tip of the valley, so to ski other areas such as Les Houches would involve a 30-minute drive.
Next Argentière and the Grand Montets ski domain. This is perhaps were you will choose to spend most of your time, and where some of the most challenging and interesting skiing is to be found. The upper Grand Montets cable car accesses a vast free ride (and glacial) playground,with two long black pistes of 1300m vertical back to the mid-station, Lognan, and 2000m vertical for the full descent.
A little further south and therefore closer to the centre of Chamonix. With access to the highest and perhaps most challenging skiing in Chamonix, though still with a good beginners ski area and good local ski schools. The north/north west aspect of this area ensures that the snow is preserved well late into the season – making this a great option for an Easter or late season holiday. There is a good range of blues, reds and blacks here, and the area at the top particularly is excellent for free ride and off-piste, and there is usually a snow park and a boarder cross at the Lognan mid station too.
Ensure that you purchase the Mont Blanc unlimited pass if you’re basing yourselves here, so that you can access the top lift. There’s plenty of skiing on offer here to fill a full week, but it is nice to explore the valley further.
The Brévant-Flégère area has lots to recommend it; not least that while the crowds are likely to flock towards Argentière you can enjoy far quieter and no less challenging slopes here. Often described as a game of two halves, each ‘side’ offers excellent and varied intermediate skiing above the treeline, with a single black run descending back down to the valley floor. The more intermediate level skier will want to descend by lift therefore. The two are linked by a flat two-way lift, ‘Liaison’.
This makes the whole area beautiful for cruisy skiing in the sunshine (this is the sunniest part of the valley), with beautiful views across to Mont Blanc. Brévant is in fact the original ski hill of Chamonix, and used to be famous for its formidable 1,500m vertical descent on one black piste. The challenging skiing is now off-piste, with several well-known couloirs.
Les Houches is really a resort in its own right, with a reputation as an excellent base for families. The skiing is interesting and varied, with a couple of short and easy green slopes at the top of the Prarion and the Bellevue cable cars, and good fun runs through the trees, ideal for a bad weather day. Boarders should be aware that there are a number of draglifts in this area, and some fairly flat sections that may involve some extra work. The Tourchet opens each Thursday for night skiing free of charge, and of course this is the home of the confusingly named ‘La Verte’ black ski run – the world cup downhill course known as the ‘Kandahar’.
Staying centrally in Chamonix has several obvious benefits, for access to facilities such as shops, bars & restaurants, but also from a skiing perspective. If you are happy to travel you will be close to the Brévant-Flégère areas, the Aiguille du Midi, and then not to distant either from the northern villages of Vallorcine / Le Tour and Argentière, or the southern village of Les Houches.
If some members of your group require ski lessons you may feel this will tie you down to one of the ski areas, however that doesn’t need to be the case. Some ski schools will offer a driver service to collect children from their chalet prior to the lesson, and drop them back at the end of the day. So if you are considering group lessons & full days this is a really excellent option allowing the rest of the group the freedom to choose where to ski each day. If however the requirement is more for half day lessons and you would like to be able to meet up for lunch it is well worth considering booking some private tuition well in advance. This way the instructor should be able to teach in any of the areas (taking into account the ski level of course), making it much easier for your whole party to ski the same area each day and enjoy lunch together.
The Tea Lounge - I think it is impossible to go past this famous tea shop without being drawn in by the incredible array of fabulous cakes displayed in the window and the good thing is they taste as good as they look. On a warm day sit outside and drink hot chocolate piled high with cream and people watch.
Chic without being expensive, elegant without being ostentatious, contemporary without being conceptual. The atmosphere at Little Gourmands is a mix of tradition and modernity. Young couples in love, roped buddies, friends who live local or greedy pensioners rub shoulders happily
Sanglard - In the heart of Chamonix you will find France's most prestigious luxury brand boutiques such as Chanel and Moncler but the best Boutique ski shop has to be Sanglard. Sanglard Sports has an array of designer ski wear as well as the essentials such as North Face and Mamott. The additional highlight is their personal boot fitting service which is famous through out the valley and beyond so if you are in need of new boots this is the place to head although beware appointments are required.
Les Caves - Right in the centre of the Chamonix on the Rue des Moulin, Les Caves is a great wine and cocktail bar. The atmosphere is dark and moody with a log fire making it the perfect cosy chill out.
Les Chalets de Philippe - Les Chalets de Philippe is a favourite. It is a truly unique experience as you enjoy incredible food whilst watching the chefs cook directly in front of you in the open kitchen. The whole event is far from the usual French stuffy restaurant as you sit at a single large table and therefore enjoy the company of people from all over the world whilst savouring delicious food and wine.
Cremerie - There are a number of restaurants on the slopes but my favourite is the Cremerie. Part of the enjoyment is finding this hidden gem. Look for a small sign towards the bottom of the Logan slope and then following the single path through pine trees which challenges your ability to turn in tight spots. If you make it to the small cabin you are not disappointed with the choice of traditional tartaflette and fresh salads with delicious dressings and of course the sweets are freshly made and amazing.
Whisky Tasting - Chalet Dalmore has a stunning roof terrace looking up at the amazing Mont Blanc. Is there a better scene to have the Sommelier from CHACHACHA come in and do a whisky tasting. Taste the fantastic Scottish single malts Cragganmore, Dalmore and Bowmore as well as lending a hand at creating some fantastic Whisky Cocktails.
Vallee Blanche - When thinking of ski runs in Chamonix I dont really think of piste slopes. Chamonix is world famous for its off piste and one of the most famous being the Vallee Blanche which is 20km long with a vertical descent of 2700m. The views are stunning and the high mountain environment provides a real sensation of wilderness. This is one of those memorable life experiences that you'll never forget.
Chalet Dalmore - This exclusive five bedroom chalet is the latest and most contemporary chalet in Chamonix with spacious interiors and outside roof terrace providing incredible Mont Blanc mountain views. The chalet is full of luxury features and with a dedicated winter chalet team this is the perfect location to enjoy being completely spoiled.
Helicopter Ride - Climbing Mont Blanc may be a far away dream but why not take an express way to the top with a helicopter ride. Depart from the helicopter base in Argentiere and soar like an eagle over Chamonix's mystical summits, it is truly breath taking.
This is an extravagant mountain restaurant in the waiter service section; though an inside table is possible without pre-booking on a sunny day; it’s well worth calling in advance. On the menu snail and Reblochon cheese casserole, paella risotto and veal with Chanterelle mushrooms, along with classic Savoyard dishes. To find, turn right at the top of Plan Joran chair.
Have lunch enjoying great views over the Swiss, Italian & French peaks. There’s a pasta bar, rotisserie and a superb daily specials. This has the Maitre Restaurateur accreditation for its excellent food and attentive service. It is located 50m for the Charamillon gondola on Le Tour. It’s also open in the evenings for dinner with a view - catch the last cable car up and either ski or sledge down after your meal.
The main restaurant of La Folie Douce Hotel in Chamonix serving delicious food. Located at resort level but close to the Savoy & Planpraz lifts so easy to access for a lunch stop and then get back up the hill. Also a perfect rendezvous point if there are non-skiers in the group.
Lovely restaurant in a rustic 18th century barn serving hearty Savoyard food. Located off the piste at 1200m, near the base station of the Maisonneuve chairlift.
Rustic chalet refuge where the views and food are fantastic (try the homemade tarts). Accessed by skiing the black runs from the top of the Grands Montets (Point de Vue or Pylons/Blanchots) or up an access cat track for pedestrians from the Grands Montets mid-station.
Located at the top of the Flegere gondola there is a table service restaurant as well as a more informal takeaway. The emphasis is on hearty Savoyard food and they have been awarded the title ‘Maître Restaurateur’ in recognition of their home-cooked dishes made with local ingredients. There are amazing views of Mont Blanc so worth the trip up for that alone. Booking is recommended.
This is one of the highest restaurants in Europe and is at the summit of the Aiguille du Midi. As you would expect, the views from here are incredible. The restaurant recently received recognition of ‘Maître Restaurateur’ for the high standard of home cooked food using seasonal and local ingredients.
Local Savoyard cheese-based favourites, but the speciality is the galettes. Located at the bottom of the pistes with a conveniently placed lift next door to whizz you back up the slopes after lunch.
At the bottom of the Vallorcine bubble, this is the perfect place for a coffee or lunch stop. Modern chalet interior and large outdoor terrace with friendly staff. Good food with an emphasis on simple cooking with fresh local ingredients - try the homemade tagliatelles with Chanterelle mushrooms. Open for lunch and dinner - you do need to book in advance as this is not a large restaurant.
Nestled at the far end of the train stop on the Mer de Glace, this restaurant has both indoor and outdoor seating. Styled in the theme of a dairy, it serves regional specialities in glass jars and on slate platters. Try the butternut squash with Aravis goats’ cheese or the Savoyard hotpot - delicious. And where else can you have the classic Mont Blanc ice cream sundae actually looking at the mountain?
This lovely restaurant continues to be well regarded by the Michelin Guide inspectors. It is decorated in a refreshingly cool, slick modern style; both the décor and the menu are upmarket here. Located on the Avenue de l’Aiguille du Midi.
This is a great fine dining restaurant located on the outskirts of Argentière - it has a lovely, quaint interior and is run by the owner who ensures that the service and the food are of a high standard. It's highly recommended.
This is one of the world’s best ski resort restaurants; 2 Michelin stars and an excellent cave if you want to dress up and dine in glamour, this is the place for you. On the Route du Bouchet, near Chamonix station.
A nautically themed restaurant, specialising in seafood. Puddings are spectacular, and there is an excellent wine bar (Les Caves) downstairs. Located beside the Arve on the Rue des Moulins.
The Albert Premier’s sister establishment; a rustic chalet-style restaurant serving regional specialties, but with a gourmet edge. Located on the Route du Bouchet near Chamonix station.
This is the best restaurant in the valley for Savoyard cuisine. Situated in a log cabin in the middle of the forest, this very popular no frills restaurant, reservations are essential as this restaurant is very popular. However do bear in mind that La Cremiere du Glacier only serves cheese fondues, croutes, gratins and a few salads, but they also do it so much better than everyone else...we love it.
A very centrally positioned restaurant offering a wonderful combination of Savoyard and Piedmontaise cooking. There is a real emphasis on fresh, local and organic produce and there is always a selection of vegetarian dishes on offer. The courgette tagliatelle with cepe mushrooms and saffron is a particular favourite. They also offer cookery lessons followed by dinner so an interesting option for non-skiers.
Situated on the banks of the river with amazing views of Mont Blanc, this small restaurant offer a very well priced set menu with good choices as well as an a la carte menu. Not to be missed is the very good wine cellar offering an excellent choice of both local and well-known French wines.
Both a restaurant and a bar, with a relaxed atmosphere and open year round, a great place to head to after a big day on the mountain. Live music & DJs most days from 17:00, and a self-service beer tap. Located near the station.
Opposite the station and a favourite for locals to pop into for a post-work drink; there is a sunny terrace and often live music for après, either inside or on the terrace.
At the hotel Gustavia in the centre of town (close to the station), après here from 17:00 can get messy, with music and a lively ambiance.
Lively après ski bar, coffee shop and restaurant near the Aiguille du Midi lift. Live music, ‘happy hour’ and a fun atmosphere. They have a great selection of beers on tap and were also the first bar in France to accept Bitcoin payments.
Cosy and welcoming cellar bar beneath the Cap Horn restaurant; ideal for pre-dinner drinks, relax on the comfortable sofas and enjoy tasty nibbles. Return after dinner when the bar comes alive with live bands and DJs on certain nights of the week.
Also beneath the Cap Horn restaurant this is one of the chicest wine and cocktail bars in town. Elegant and stylish, with DJ’s playing mellow blues and jazz for pre-dinner drinks, before livening up later in the evening with a more funky up-beat style.
Good for post-dinner drinks; a vast menu of cocktails and DJs who play their own unique style of Balearic and minimal house music until 2am. Located on the Rue des Moulins.
Known as the only gay bar in town, and possibly the most popular of the clubs with a small but crowded underground dance floor most nights of the week. Open until 04:00 and located in Chamonix Sud.
Located in the centre of Chamonix, swanky new club, White Hub, is fast becoming a “hot spot” and the place to be seen in Chamonix. Positioned underneath the hotel, Alpina, there is direct access to the club with the main entrance located at the end of the “Rue des Moulins”.
With its plush white leather interior, White Hub exudes opulence and glamour. As well as offering a wide variety of drinks, cocktails and champagne, the club boasts a large dance floor space and DJ booth.
With a capacity for five hundred people and free entry before 01:00am, White Hub is open all night long from 23:00pm-07:00am, guaranteeing party goers a night to remember!
Formerly known as the Garage, and still called this by many locals. Also located in Chamonix Sud, this is the largest club in Chamonix, and hosts international DJs.
A comfortable and atmospheric lounge bar in the centre of Chamonix with an ultra-modern, brightly-lit glass bar. There is an extensive selection of cocktails, wines, Champagnes and spirits as well as regular live music spots and house DJs. Open from 4pm til 2am every evening.
A beautifully restored 1920’s villa with views of Mont Blanc that has been transformed into an intimate jazz club in the centre of Chamonix. With a bar, stage and small lounge area you can enjoy some fantastic performances from up and coming as well as established jazz musicians and singers. Also available to book for private parties.
As one of the busiest ski towns in the Alps, Chamonix is buzzing
all year around, with lots to offer for the non-skier in winter,
or just for a day off the slopes.
In 1955 the 2-stage cable car to the top of the Aiguille du Midi was first constructed, and today it can get you from the valley floor to the top station at 3,842m in under 20 minutes. Once there, there is much to do for the non-skier who doesn’t fancy tackling the 20 km Vallée Blanche off-piste itinerary. You can admire the magnificent panoramic views from one of several terraces, dine in the restaurant/café at the top and visit the ‘Musee de L’Alpnisme Pointe’ – a museum dedicated to mountaineering. If you have a real head for heights visit the latest attraction ‘Step into the void’, a glass box suspended above a 1,000m vertical drop.
Since it was discovered in 1741 by two English explorers, William Windham and Richard Pocock, the Mer de Glace glacier has become one of the world’s most visited natural sites. At 7km long and with a surface area of 40km2, it is France’s largest glacier, extending from an altitude of 3900m to 1400m. The width of the glacier varies between 700m to 1950m and the depth of the ice averages around 200m but is as much as 400m thick in places.
The train journey itself is a joy, but from here you can access the ice caves or ‘grotto’ by a small gondola lift (or via a footpath if you fancy the leg stretch) and then a flight of approximately 300 steps. Entrance to the cave costs a few euros for holders of a Mont Blanc lift pass or it is also possible to buy a combined ticket for the return train and gondola trip, plus entrance to the caves. The Vallée Blanche itinerary also finishes just above the glacier, so it’s a great spot for people watching.
Winter biathlon involves cross-country skiing followed by rifle shooting - a test not only of strength and stamina, but also of patience and control. We’ve all seen it feature at the Olympics, but very few of us will ever get to try our hand at it, but in Chamonix Prestige Outdoor can arrange a half day experience – with expert tuition of course. You can be taken out in groups of up to 5 at a time with an instructor, a fabulous team-building event for families or corporate groups.
There are many beautiful spas to choose from in Chamonix, most located in the top quality hotels across the resort. Many will allow non-residents for the day for a small fee, or often complimentary access is granted when treatments are booked. Our favourite is L’Helopic in the hotel of the same name, located near the Aiguille de Midi cable car. Spa facilities include a large pool complete with a fireplace and seating area with swing chairs where you can unwind after a refreshing swim. In addition to the sauna and steam room there is a tepidarium, banya, ice cave and cold-water wells.
With a 25m swimming pool and separate kid’s pool with slide, and a sauna and steam room; be warned men are required to wear speedo style swimming trunks – which worryingly can also be rented from the centre. There is also a well-equipped gym.
Chamonix’s own cinema, Cinema Vox, is located in the centre of town slightly tucked back on the Place Balmat. There are three separate and up-to-date screens, with the latest in 3D technology, showing French and International films and specialist mountaineering features. Look out for 'English version' to watch films in English with French subtitles (VOSTF), and watch out for films in the 'original language', other than in French, written as (V.O) - 'version originale – though be warned this does not necessarily mean they are in English. Showings usually take place at 5.30pm and 9pm, and on bad weather days there is often an extra showing in the afternoon.
Great option for a bad weather day or a fun night out, this is more than just a bowling alley; they also offer mini-golf, billiards, snooker, bar, cocktails and snacks. Usually open from 17:00 – 02:00, but opening from 14:00 on bad weather days.
With ‘Alps Montgolfiere’ who will take you out on a hot air balloon ride during the season, depending on the weather conditions of course, and fly you over the mountains, giving you the opportunity to experience spectacular views. A wonderful gift, with prices including champagne on landing & transfers to the meeting point.
As you might expect the Chamonix valley is home to one of the largest indoor climbing walls in France. Located in Les Houches, the centre ‘Mont Blanc Escalade’ has 1250m sq. of climbing surfaces, and more than 100 routes to the roof, ranging from 16 to 21m in height. There is a further good-sized wall in the centre of Chamonix at the Sports centre.
For those trying this for the first time – or new to this area - high mountain guides accompany you in groups. Beginners can start off at La Crémerie in Argentière, while the more experienced can head to one of the many other sites around Chamonix, Servoz, Les Houches and Argentière. The ice-climbing season peaks between December and March. Depending on the route taken there’s something for all levels of expertise.
Chamonix Valley has not one but three rinks available for skating; the main ice rink in the town centre is open daily (excluding Mondays) from 14:00 – 17:00, and opens late on a Wednesday from 21:00-23:00. It also hosts regular ice-hockey matches, which are a great spectator sport, usually on Saturday evenings. Both Les Houches and Argentière offer free skating on their outdoor rinks, which also stay open later each day and have live music and floodlighting. In Argentière you will need to pay for skate hire, but in Les Houches there is no charge whatsoever.
The pool facilities here are impressive; a separate children’s pool is perfect for the little ones and the complex includes a sauna, steam room and spa. Entry to the pool is often included with your ski pass, so this is worth checking. There is also a 12m indoor climbing wall in the complex – with 7 different routes of varying difficulty level. Finally you will find 2 squash courts, indoor football, volleyball, basketball, badminton and a gym & weight training area overlooking the swimming pool.
Sunset Soirée In the late afternoon sunshine take a helicopter ride around the Aiguilles Verte and Drus. After landing you are met by a professional snowshoe guide who will equip you with snowshoes and poles before you commence your tour through the forest with head torches to light your way. You will dine on hot fondue, salad and blueberry tart washed down with local wine.
Spend the evening snowshoeing under the stars with a private guide to lead the way, before heading to a restaurant to enjoy a gourmet dining experience before being dropped back to your chalet. Ideal for families and friends, and for a special celebration.
Take a moonlit snow-cat ride to the remote refuge Tornieux to enjoy a truly traditional, 2 course Savoyard meal with friends and family, before an exciting descent on toboggan, lighting the way by head torch. Your sledge or ’luge’ is fitted with breaks and steering. A really fun evening for families, friends or corporate groups.
Dr Zhivago and his horse-drawn carriage can be found most days near the clock tower in the centre of town; with plenty of blankets to keep you cosy and warm, take a scenic tour of town, a lovely way to explore and orientate yourself to the main sights of the resort.
Unlike many ski resorts, Chamonix has a town centre that is busy and thriving all year around, giving a very different feel to the retail brands on offer here. There is plenty of variety, and choice. All of the top brands are represented, along with a strong collection of sportswear stores, but also fashion and jewellery, antiques and art,
and of course lots of local produce.
Starting with the sports shops there are of course a number of stores available both centrally in Chamonix, and in each of the villages along the valley. It probably makes sense to rent your ski equipment from the store nearest to your accommodation, worth bearing in mind if you plan to book ahead. Praz Sport is close to the Flégère lift, and stocks a wide range of excellent kit to rent or to buy – and can also hire out all-terrain children’s prams for families preferring not to bring these bulky items with them on the flight.
Centrally located is Sanglard Sports; again top level equipment, and in addition they can deliver pre-booked equipment to your chalet, or if you prefer to be fitted in store with the full range of their equipment available to view they will collect you at your chalet, transport you to the shop and then take you & your hired equipment back. They also have a second store located in Argentière, close to the bottom of the Grand Montets lift. Ogier is a lovely, warm boutique with top brand fashion in addition to ski rental – which can be delivered to your chalet.
Located centrally at the top of the Rue de Moulins. Cyprien Sports-Skimium located in Les Houches offers a great range of kit to hire or to buy, with plenty of additional ski wear and accessories in store from all the top brands. Other sport brands with stores in central Chamonix include Columbia et Sorel, Salomon, Rossignol, Peak Performance,Moncler and Helly Hanson.
If you’re looking for the latest in chic mountain fashion Chamade has been owned by Danielle Grandchamp for over 15 years; now located on the Avenue Michel-Croz in the centre of town. La Canadienne on the Rue Joseph Vallot offers furs and leathers for men, women and children and is the sister boutique to the original famous store in Mégève. For haute couture head to Chanel on the Rue du Docteur Paccard.
If you’re looking for Savoyard art or antiques Virginie Philippe has been sharing her passion in this field for over 20 years in her store, Le Dogue Bleu Antiquités et Décoration located on Avenue Michel-Croz. She is in fact the daughter of famous mountain photographer Georges Tairraz. On the same Avenue you will discover Galerie aux Siècles, another treasure trove of antiques and mountaineering artefacts.
There are two jewellery shops in Chamonix; Swarovski located on the Rue du Docteur Paccard and also SV Carat on the Rue Vallot, run by Solange and Véronique, selling both jewellery and watches, and also offering bespoke creations and watch repairs with brands such as Nina Ricci, Murano, Ice and Wise & Ope. On Avenue Michel-Croz you can buy lovely perfumes from Maison des Neiges, and also beautiful handbags and some luggage pieces.
For the very best in local and French produce, we would recommend you visit the following stores at least once during your visit to Chamonix. Coté Macarons -unsurprisingly specializes in delicious Macaroons with a wide variety of seasonal flavours, in addition to other excellent patisserie, you can choose to eat inside the cosy tearoom, or take away. Located on the Rue Joseph-Vallot – and with a second shop ‘Richard’ on the Rue du Docteur Paccard.
Le Refuge Payot is everything you could wish for from a local delicatessen, and has 3 stores both in central Chamonix on the Rue du Docteur Paccard and the Rue Joseph-Vallot, and one in Les Houches. Stocking local cheeses, cured meats, wines and much more - perfect to stock up for the week, or to take home. The Cooperative Fruitière Val d'Arly on Rue Whymper is also excellent for local produce, and hand made chocolates. There is also a regular market in Chamonix every Saturday morning at the Place du Mont Blanc, and in Argentière on Sunday mornings, Les Houches on Monday morning.
If you're self-catering – or just looking to pick up some snacks there is an excellent choice of supermarkets across the Chamonix Valley. Many properties will offer a fridge fill service to get you started, but after this we’d recommend the various Super U stores. There is one in the town centre just off Rue Joseph Vallot; this stocks a good wide range of products, and you can order from the Super U website and have it delivered to your chalet. Likewise at the Super U in Les Houches just off the Avenue des Alpages, and in Argentière on the Place du Marché – you can also pre-order online for delivery.
For holiday souvenirs and gifts there is the Vertical shop, at the mid station of the Aiguille du Midi lift, or various other stores in town; Aux 100 000 Souvenirs on Avenue Michel-Croz, or La Trace on the same street. Newspapers can be bought at Maison de la Presse on Rue du Docteur Paccard.
Chamonix is a great base to explore not only the French Alps, but the Swiss and Italian sides too. Many of our catered chalets will happily arrange for your driver service to take you to neighbouring resorts at a small extra cost – so why not try out the skiing in Courmayeur, Italy for a day, or Verbier in Switzerland. A day in either is included when you purchase a 6 day Mont Blanc lift pass.
Courmayeur in Italy is only 22 kms from Chamonix going through the Mont Blanc tunnel so a day over the border is very easy to arrange. There is a schedule bus service betweeen the two resorts, with several buses going each day or its easy to arrange a private return transfer. Courmayeur is a traditional Italian resort full of character, and surrounded by spectacular scenery. The centre of the village is car-free with plenty of shops, restaurants and bars, and a fabulous après-ski scene.Browse the plethora of shops and boutiques along Courmayeur’s cobbled streets and enjoy a great lunch as the resort has a lively café and bar culture.
For an alternative evening escape you can be taken over to nearby Megève and whisked up empty pistes to 1,700m by either snowmobile or snowcat. Enjoy an aperitif under the stars on the terrace of Chalet Bachais, before dining inside on a 3 course, 4 cheese gourmet menu and local wine. To finish, your guide will equip you with head torches and sledges for the descent back to the village of Combloux.
Why not spend the day exploring Geneva; with top chocolatiers, jewellers and boutique fashion outlets all in a stunning lake side setting. Geneva Old Town is well worth a visit; wind through the cobbled streets and soak up the ambiance in one of the many little cafés on the picturesque squares. There are museums and galleries to visit and the famous St Peter’s Cathedral. Make your way to Bourg-de-Four Square, the oldest place in Geneva, location of the old Roman market place and now full of exclusive shopping opportunities and more cafés.
At just over an hour’s drive away from Chamonix the medieval town of Yvoire on the shores of Lac Leman makes for a lovely day out. Explore the historical town at your leisure, seek a little retail therapy in one of the boutiques, and treat yourself to an indulgent lunch at one of its many fine fish restaurants.
We recommend flying with our partner airline Swiss,
who will carry your ski gear for no extra charge.
Geneva (GVA): 1h 15m / 95km
Chambery (CMF): 3h 40m / 260Km
SkiBoutique works with a number of taxi firms to provide shared, private and luxury road transfers from the airport of your choice to Chamonix. If you prefer to arrive by helicopter then of course we can arrange that too.
The route to Chamonix by train is not the most straightforward, but it is possible if this is your preferred method of transport or you’re not fond of flying! Do not however take the Eurostar snow train, which departs from St Pancras – this is ideal for ski resorts in the Tarentaise Valley, but not for Chamonix. There are three main routes you can take:
1. London – Paris,
Paris – St Gervais,
St Gervais – Chamonix (day time)
2. London – Paris,
Paris – St Gervais,
St Gervais – Chamonix (overnight)
3. London – Paris,
Paris – Geneva, (train)
Geneva – Chamonix (pre-booked taxi)
These options will all involve crossing Paris, either by metro or by taxi, from Paris Gare du Nord where you arrive, to either Paris Gare du Lyon or Paris Gare d'Austerlitz. From Paris there is a minimum journey time of 5 hours to Chamonix. The over-night route is considerably longer, but with couchettes and beds on the service, it could be a better option.
If you choose to drive to Chamonix from the UK it is a straightforward 897 km journey from Calais, on average taking 8-9 hours including some stops en route. Alternatively, you may decide to hire a car from one of the 2 airports servicing Chamonix. Chamonix Centre co-ordinates for your satellite navigation system are:
*Please be aware that Sat Navs are not always accurate and particularly in winter they will not show Alpine road closures so please check the route chosen
Bronze - EUR 166
You like discover the mountain with equipment that’s safe
and easy to use.
Silver - EUR 182
You prefer to ski with comfortable high-performance equipment which allows you to take full advantage of the ski area on offer.
Gold - EUR 207
You only ski with the newest and best equipment
each season, for enjoyable high performance skiing.
Le Chamonix 6 day adult pass - EUR 252.50
Mont Banc Unlimited 6 day adult pass - EUR 299
There are two types of lift pass you can opt for in Chamonix; The Chamonix Valley pass will grant you access to most of the skiing in the valley, with the exception of the upper Grand Montets lift, the Aiguille de Midi & Les Houches. The slightly more expensive option is the ‘Mont Blanc’ pass, which in addition to granting you access to the above will also allow you a day’s skiing in neighbouring Courmayeur (Italy) and Verbier (Switzerland).
Please note there is a family pass that offers discount on individual pricing.
With our partner ski schools Evolution2 & European Snowsport
Group lesson: Adult - from EUR 135 pp for 7.5 hrs
Group lesson: Child - from EUR 235 pp for X5 morning
Private - from EUR 220 for 3 hrs
Bottle of Veurve Clicquot EUR 80
Small beer EUR 3
Bottle of house wine EUR 15
Vin chaud/Gluwein EUR 3.50
Hot chocolate EUR 3.50
Cup of coffee EUR 3.50
Glass of coke EUR 3
Pizza EUR 12