Nestled at the foot of the iconic Mont Blanc is Chamonix – one of Europe’s most famous ski holiday resorts. Staging the first winter Olympics in 1924, the ski holiday destination remains popular with thousands of winter sports connoisseurs loyally returning every year. It boasts rocking night life, some of the most breathtaking scenery in France with challenging runs and epic off-piste terrain.
Chamonix has been at the forefront of skiing holiday destinations for centuries, long before the birth of purpose-built resorts. With lots of vibrant bars, cheap eating places and shops, Chamonix boasts a lively and cosmopolitan atmosphere. There are lots of artisan pastry shops dotted around for a delicious mid-morning snack and an excellent casino if you fancy trying your luck with the high rollers.
Skiing in Chamonix
The valley is divided into five main areas, Le Brevent is just slightly out of Chamonix town, Le Flegere leads out of tree-ringed Le Praz, whilst at the head of the valley is Argentiere and Le Tour. The best way to get around Chamonix is by car, but if you are without wheels, the area is well served by bus and train. Les Houches is down the valley from Chamonix and is also covered on the lift pass.
The terrain in Chamonix is steep and not really suited for beginner skiing holidays, although there are some beginner areas in les Houches. The Mont Blanc lives up to its name with the quality of skiing on offer. With wide open slopes, Le Domaine de Balme, Le Tour and Les Houches are excellent for beginners and intermediate skiers. Brevent and Flegere have slopes suitable for most abilities. Skiing in Chamonix gives an opportunity to serious skiers with the off-piste route the Vallee Blanche, an impressive 22km descent that starts above Aiguille du Midi and circuits along some breathtaking scenery. The Chamonix lift pass also offers a day’s skiing in Courmayeur in Italy. The off-piste is excellent and the local ski guides are famed for their outstanding quality teaching and mountain knowledge.
Snowboarding in Chamonix
Snowboarding in Chamonix is a dream come true. For freeriding there are steep faces, glacial runs, trees and couloirs. Freestylers don’t need a fun park as its teeming with natural hits and drop-offs all over the place, especially Le Tour. Aside from the half-pipe on Grand Montets, Chamonix is a freeride mountain resort, different to your usual purpose-built resorts with parks.
Off the slopes
Chamonix is ‘the’ place to go if you’re looking for mountaineering in the mountains. Known on an international level for its perfect environment, from climbing the Mont Blanc to helisking, from to ice climbing to freeriding, extreme sports enthusiasts will not get bored on your Chamonix ski holiday! The nightlife in Chamonix is legendary, with Scandis, Dutch and Brits all making the place as vibrant or as low-key as you want. As a town first and ski resort second, Chamonix has more facilities than normally associated with a ski resort.
Accommodation in Chamonix
Accommodation ranges from bargain ski apartments out of town to luxury hotels in the town centre. Les Houches is a good option for those on a budget with its own ski area, small village and easy links to the rest of the Chamonix Valley. Chamonix’s proximity to GVA means that it is a good choice for a weekend ski break, or for self-drive options.