Overview of Chamonix ski resort
Chamonix ski resort is one of the oldest and most popular resorts in Europe. Resting beneath the towering Mont Blanc, Chamonix offers some of the best skiing experiences you can find anywhere in Europe and indeed, the world. It is the ideal resort for thrill-seekers on and off the pistes, offering some of the best skiing conditions on the slopes as well as some of the best non-ski entertainment in Europe. Just over an hour's drive away from Geneva and nestled beneath some of the highest and most notable Alps in France, the village of Chamonix is beautiful and charming yet still possesses a vibrant atmosphere with its lively shops, bars and restaurants. If you were after some of the most impressive and breathtaking views of the Mont Blanc from any angle, Chamonix will definitely be a good place to start as some of the views of the mountain range are simply mind-blowing.
Chamonix’s history and credibility as a ski resort are steeped in history. It has always been known to possess an adventurous Alpine spirit and it was documented that as far back as 1760, a well-known scientist from then Geneva promised a handsome prize for the first successful ascent of Mont Blanc. We don’t know if anyone took on his challenge but we do know that the spirit of adventure very much remains and thrives in Chamonix until this day. Chamonix was also the host of the very first Winter Olympics in 1924 and it still remains a destination of choice for free-riders across the world, whether skiing or snowboarding.
The village itself is incredibly beautiful and still has some of its old Victorian buildings and traditional character. It is also a pedestrianized resort, which allows visitors walking through the village to appreciate it even more. It has a range of shops from quaint little cafes and small shops selling local delicacies to well-known designer branded shops. The village of Chamonix sits at an altitude of 1,035 meters with the skiing pistes altitude reaching up to 3,842 meters, ensuring a ski season that carries on well into April, at which point the glacier skiing is at its optimum best. Chamonix is well regarded to have one of the longest skiing seasons in France, making it a very popular ski holiday destination. The range of Chamonix runs is exceptionally diverse with all ski abilities very well catered to. The resort has up to 5 different ski areas that each cater to different ski levels.
Overall, Chamonix has a great blend of just about everything that can attract any skier profile. From its awesome snow conditions and facilities to its almost unparalleled apres-ski scene, it is hard not to see why this is one of the most popular ski resorts in Europe.
Skiing In Chamonix
There are up to 150 kilometres of runs that are distributed across several different ski areas which all cater to different ski levels and ability levels of visitors to Chamonix.
Young children learning how to ski have a designated area in Le Savoy which has a small ski area serviced by a rolling carpet and 2 drag lifts. Perfect for young children and located at a very safe 1,049m altitude. Teenagers and adult beginners can build and nurture their skills at Les Planards first on the easy greens before graduating to the international standard blues and reds for confidence building. It’s also great for families as well and learners can ski without distraction and interference from advanced skiers.
Confident intermediates have 2 greens, 8 blues and 13 red runs on Les Houches. It is the ideal area to grow confidence and have a bit of fun while doing it. Skiers can also test their abilities on 4 black runs including the world-renowned La Verte des Houches. Located only 6 kilometres away from Chamonix, a Mont Blanc full cover ski pass will be required to gain access here but 360 panoramic from the top views are soo worth every minute spent here. Les Houches runs are well-groomed and are almost wooded areas, which makes it a popular spot in bad weather when the other slopes are closed due to avalanche threats.
Adrenaline junkies and thrill-seekers will be rubbing their mitts and snow-gloves together in excitement when they get to Grand Montets. It is the biggest and among the most popular ski areas in Chamonix, offering some of the best skiing experiences for advanced skiers. Les Grand Montets area covers ski areas from 1,325m in the Argentière Village across to the mixed terrains of Lognan and Bochard at 2765m and up to the very steep Argentière glacier at up to 3275m altitudes. The slopes here are also north facing and as such, it is no surprise that the ski season lasts until May at Les Grand Montets! Skiers will find blacks, reds and well-groomed blues, serviced by 8 lifts across the area. It is also a haven for freestyle and free riders. To access this area, a Chamonix Mont Blanc unlimited pass will be required.
Thrill-seekers and advanced skiers in Chamonix can catch the shuttle bus to Brévent Flégère to find 59 kilometres of steep blacks on south-facing slopes. It gets a lot of sunshine so depending on what time of the year you’re there, you may want to consider taking some sunscreen! Daredevils can test their courage coming down the edge of the Chavanne on a 500-metre slope neck break speed. Off-piste opportunities lay abound at Vallee Blanche (also accessible via shuttle) but we must stress that a professional guide is hired as the area is known for its dangerous and inconspicuous glacial crevasses as well as its stunning beauty.
Snowboarding in Chamonix
Chamonix resort is widely heralded as one of Europe's snowboarding capitals and is very much an extreme snow sport destination. It was once rated 10 out of 10 for snowboarding by the World Snowboard Guide. There are steep tree runs, several off-piste opportunities and daring glacial runs, powder fields and an overall good variety of natural terrain very well suited for cruisy snowboard runs. You can access all these areas via the shuttle buses across Chamonix.
Le Tour and Les Houches are highly recommended for beginners. There are wide open pistes where you can practise at your own pace. Le Tour is also easily accessible via chairlift. Confident beginners should head over to La Vormaine which is located at the foot of Charamillon and has a dedicated freestyle area fitted with a few cool features. There is a slide flat for practising and improving all your tail, frontside or backside boardslides and other tricks. There is also a rainbow box and other features suited for cautious beginners learning new tricks.
Brevent-Flegere ski area is great for mixed abilities but mostly frequented by advanced snowboarders and confident intermediates. You will find mostly red and blacks pistes and a couple of blues. There is a freestyle area and some great powder in the bowls. Brevent has an airbag jump; great for attempting those backflips and there are also natural lips to surf made out from the cat tracks in the snow; certainly recommended for more seasoned and experienced snowboarders.
If you’re an advanced snowboarder ( or confident intermediate at the very least) visiting Chamonix, you have to attempt the Vallée Blanche run. It's an absolute beast of an off-piste run ( but well worth it!) from the top of the Aiguille du Midi ( 3,842 metres) down to Chamonix village (1035 metres). It is a full day of unforgettable snowboarding featuring stunning mountain scenery and a 2800 metre vertical drop. Bucket list stuff. The Summit Park on Les Grand Montets is one of the main snowboarding attractions in Chamonix and one of its only parks. It plays host to snowboard competitions during the season, most notably the Freeride World Tour. Great for participants and spectators.
Snow Conditions at Chamonix
No weather forecast available
The village and resort of Chamonix are situated at an altitude of 1035 metres however the majority of pistes and ski areas are located at much higher altitudes; the highest of which reaches up to 3300 metres. Here is a breakdown of some of its overall snow conditions:
Les Grand Montets is particularly known to have very good snow conditions with the ski season open until May, due in no small part to its lofty 3300 metres summit. Les Grand also has north-facing pistes making for fantastic powdery snow preservation working in tandem with its high altitude; it’s no surprise it has locally earned the nickname, “snow-pocket”. It’s also important to note that the top lifts may occasionally be shut in bad weather.
With the resort at a modest altitude, there are high chances of patches at the lower areas but with most of the skiing done at the mid to high altitude pistes where the conditions are more reliable, it still makes for great skiing in general. All the slopes, with exception of Les Houches, are located mainly above the tree lines.
Brévent et Flégère, however, has south-facing slopes and does tend to receive a lot more sunshine which does get warmer later in the season, so look out for fast-changing conditions in that area when spring comes around.
Some of the patchy areas on lower altitudes have snow making facilities but could yet be tricky in the later seasons despite the snowmaking. Le Tour, however, nearby to Les Grand Montets is known to be the snowiest village in the area.
Apres-Ski In Chamonix
Whew! Where do we even begin to unpack the Chamonix apres-ski? The list is truly exhaustive but we will give it our best shot. Chamonix resort is undoubtedly one of the world’s most famous apres-ski locations. There is a constant lively atmosphere in Chamonix even before the first lounges open. Great parties and lounges with DJ sets, there is always an apres-ski spot for any type of vibe to cater to your travelling. We have listed a few below, but the list truly does go on and on and on and on…..
Chambre Neuf is one of the top apres-ski spots in Chamonix. Open every day from noon until late at night, this bar is the place for awesome live music featuring great bands and lots of tabletop dancing! Great location just opposite from the train station in the village, it has some of the best party atmospheres in the resort. A favourite among locals and visitors, Elevation 1904 is a lively bar at the perfect place for drinks and meeting other skiers. It sports a lovely traditional Alpine interior and a great outside terrace. The central location makes it a good meeting spot and they serve amazing gourmet burgers too. Great place to catch up after a long day on the slopes. Good friendly vibes in there. If you fancy a good pint of a delicious brew, visit MBC the local micro-brewery in Chamonix. There is a friendly welcoming atmosphere, great staff and a full range of beers to try. Open from 4 pm every day, they serve tasty nibbles along with your brew. You can also catch a live band set and some great music in MBC. A Canadian themed establishment, they also have Canadian ice hockey games on-screen as well. Visit the Chamonix Social Club for an amazing evening of partying and lots of laughs! A definite must-go lounge for an elegant evening, the social club features a very modern, chic interior and funky disco settings. The live DJ set features famous dance and house tunes and if you’re one for cocktails, there is a great selection of these made by experienced pro’s. La Folie Douce, known for throwing the best parties on the slopes across Europe have opened a hotel in Chamonix and it is host to The Janssen Cocktail Club, a cosy, elegant lounge serving some of the very best cocktails in Chamonix. Open from 3 pm to 2 am, you can also catch some amazing nighttime views of Mont Blanc from here!
Facilities in Chamonix
Many facilities are available in Chamonix
Ski Hire in Chamonix
There are many ski hire operators in Chamonix, but to save yourself the trouble of sifting through your options, it’s less hassle to grab your gear through Erna Low. Our longstanding relationships with resort outlets mean that we can always arrange the best quality kit for your skiing style and aptitude and ensure that it’s ready for swift pick up at a location near your accommodation.
Ski Passes in Chamonix
It’s also easy to pre-order your Chamonix ski passes with Erna Low for all your children, adult and group discounts throughout the season. Choose between the Mont Blanc Unlimited Pass, Chamonix Le Pass and the Les Houches Pass depending on the area cover. Pre-book your ski pass for any of the above ski areas and find it ready and waiting for you when you need it. By doing so you are skipping in front of the long queues at the resort. Contact us to see what’s on offer for your holiday dates.
Spa and Pools in Chamonix
You can find a plethora of Pools and Spas perfect for relaxing after an eventful day on the slopes. The list is almost infinite as you would expect from a high profile ski location like Chamonix. The majority of the hotels have wellness centres and massage services as it’s a popular pastime among skiers to have some well-deserved indulgence after the days’ exertions. An amazing start will be the QC Terme Chamonix spa which is a luxurious wellness centre where you can get the very best treatments and enjoy the stunning mountain views at the same time. It has heated pools, waterfalls and hydro jets, salt rooms, saunas, steam baths and much more. Le Spa Du Mont is located within the 5-star Vallorcine Hotel; an amazing establishment with 5 -star spa treatments and all ultra-modern facilities and treatments. Other notable mentions include The Feel Good Club Sports and Spa wellness centre in La Folie Douce Hotel in Chamonix.
Shops in Chamonix
No information available yet
Facilities for Children in Chamonix
Children are very well catered to in Chamonix. Here is some information on entertainment and facilities for children.
Ski Schools in Chamonix
There are several Chamonix ski schools and instructors for young children to choose from. We can also very easily arrange enrolment for your children as well as part of your booking. Our partners have highly-trained, English speaking ski instructors who can train very young children to young teenagers. Get in touch for additional details, we will love to hear from you and assist you with this.
Entertainment in Chamonix
There’s plenty of entertainment for the kids at Chamonix. Children from 3 years old (unaccompanied from 7 years old) can ride the Luge Alpine Coaster; a mini roller coaster ride with great spins and amazing fun. Children can also go sledding down the hills, take husky rides or even go on the Montenvers train ride- a red cog train that goes up the side of the mountain and has panoramic views of the Mer de Glace glacier. Indoor entertainment includes the cinema and sports centre with indoor heated pools and watersports for kids.
Childcare in Chamonix
There are a good number of creches and kids clubs at Chamonix. The majority of these have English speaking childminders ( please inquire before booking) and the kid’s clubs will have programs in English.
Mountain Info on Chamonix
Chamonix ski area is split across the five surrounding mountains of Les Grands Montets, Aiguille du Midi, Brévent and La Flégère and Le Tour. Most of the slopes are north-facing apart from Brévent and La Flégère which are south facing. The village is at an altitude of 1,035 metres and with Les Grand Montets the highest mountain at 3, 842 metres. Mixed ability pistes on the mountains at Chamonix caters to all skill levels.