Well-heeled Chamonix is a busy town with a wide range of restaurants and bars, and a massive range of pistes. Although there is a variety of nursery slopes and long winding blues, this isn’t the best resort for beginners, as some of the runs can be quite a challenge. But if you’re an advanced skier, the Vallee Blanche glacier run is sure to set your heart racing. With its vertical start from on high and a long fast run back down to the town, this is one of the top descents in the area both for stunning views and skill.
With boutique hotels and chalets, Chamonix has a variety of accommodation available through easyJet holidays. There is a good network of buses that take you up to the lifts, while the dramatic crags of Mont Blanc form the backdrop to much of your skiing. With such a large town there is plenty to do off the slopes too, from bowling to cinema showings, and a number of luxury spas, there’s always an excuse to hang up your skis.
- 16 green runs
- 34 blue runs
- 34 red runs
- 16 black runs
- Off-piste opportunities
- Snow parks
- 21 button lifts, 43 chair lifts and 15 cable lifts.
There are a number of different ski areas in Chamonix, and a choice of lift passes. The Mont Blanc Unlimited pass is the most far reaching. At €62 for one day you get access to 10 ski sites spanning three different countries.
There are a number of ski schools in the resort with experienced instructors and guides. Whether you need to learn the snow plough or hire an off-piste guide, there is someone for everyone.
The altitude of Chamonix Mont Blanc Valley varies from 758m and 4,810m, so there tends to be plenty of snow, with an average snowfall of eight metres. There are also 323 snow cannons if required.
For value equipment hire, book in advance - all the main providers have online facilities.
Activities off the slope
Apart from the great skiing, Chamonix’s strengths lie in its facilities off the slopes. As a big town it stands out against some of the smaller village ski resorts because there is always something else to do. There is a large indoor climbing wall, a three-screen cinema and a bowling alley. There are also a number of ice rinks, including an Olympic sized one where you can watch Chamonix hockey club play.
The Accro Park des Gaillands offers tree climbing, zip wires and wobbly bridges, with challenges and routes for adventurers of all ages. There are also paintball ranges and laser quest. All this makes Chamonix a great choice for beginners or families, as there is plenty to fill your days if your need a break from the snow.
At the more extreme end there is also a paragliding school staffed by experienced English-speaking guides and teachers who will jump in tandem. Lessons in glacier walking, canyoning and ice climbing are also offered. Otherwise, simply ride the cable cars for iconic views of Mont Blanc and its surroundings.
The Aiguille du Midi is a great spot for sightseeing. From its height of 3,777m, there are 360° views of all the French, Swiss and Italian Alps and if you take the lift to the summit terrace at 3,842m, you will have a clear view of Mont Blanc. The Bellevue cable car is another option, giving panoramic views over the Mont Blanc massif, the needles of Chamonix and the chain of Fiz and Aravis.
There are a number of spas in Chamonix, perfect for treating those aching legs after days on the slopes. Most are within hotels, such as the Deep Nature Spa at Les Granges. Entry is €29 and gives access to the pool, saunas, a Turkish bath, outdoor Jacuzzi, Finnish sauna, a relaxation area and herbal tea room. Yoga and Pilates courses are also available here. Globe Trotter Massages and Le Boudoir also offer massages.
Chamonix has a lively restaurant scene, ranging from high end to relatively budget options, both on the mountains and off them. Cosy cafés serve hot chocolate by the urn to warm you up and there are, of course, the traditional ski holiday comfort foods of fondues, raclettes and tartiflettes.
For a taste of extravagance, try the two Michelin star Albert 1er restaurant, which serves modern cuisine inspired by its French roots and the nearby Piedmont region of Italy. Otherwise opt for Plan Joran, a mid-mountain restaurant near the Tabe chairlift station.
For lunch with a truly stunning view visit the Summit 3842 Café, which is a mountain restaurant within the Aiguille du Midi. Enjoy fish from Lake Leman, local cassolette and charcuterie as the clouds float by below you and the mountains tower above. Back in town and there are plenty of more down to earth options with La Poele, a traditional omeletterie, along with tasty pizzerias, Indian and Chinese restaurants.
Nightclubs and bars give Chamonix a lively après ski scene, which seems to centre around the town rather than the slopes. L’Amnesia is a large nightclub with international guest DJs and a busy dance floor. There is also the Chamonix Mont Blanc casino, housed in a pretty French town building with 70 slot machines, electronic roulette and traditional table games. Les Caves is a candlelit bar with wood paneling and cosy nooks where the cocktails are crafted by experienced bar staff, while Quartzbar is the spot for classy live jazz bands. Don’t fear, there are plenty of traditional ski resort bars too, where the beer flows freely and people dance on the tables while still in their salopettes. Walking through the town centre in the evening there is plenty on offer and most of the restaurants and bars are grouped together, giving Chamonix a fun, bustling atmosphere.
For something more sedate Chamonix has a number of tearooms and patisseries, full of French delicacies. Try Aux Petits Gourmand or Cote Macaron for some sweet local pastries. Patisserie Richard is also a great stop in the morning for fresh bread straight from the oven.