Chamonix

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Maybe France’s most iconic resort located under Western Europes highest mountain, Mont Blanc. The terrain is rugged and mostly off piste best suited to intermediates and experts. The nightlife is vibrant and up there with the best.

The Mountain’s of Chamonix

Chamonix is made up of five distinct areas. These are all fairly well spaced out and travel between them is by bus or car. The sheer variety of terrain on offer is impressive, and on its day the place boasts some of the world’s best freeriding, no question. Les Grands Montets is busy, and its north facing aspect means that the pistes are often pretty firm. Aiguille du Midi has no pistes, but from the top you can access La Vallée Blanche and various other famed Chamonix glacier spots. Le Brévent and La Flégère offer the largest overall area thanks to the link, but it’s the mellow, rolling terrain of Le Tour that often proves most popular with snowboarders.

Chamonix has 170 Km or 160 miles of slopes

6 Cable cars & 6 gondolas

17 Chair & 12 Drag Lifts

Freestyle Hell!, No pipes or Parks

Night Opening Slopes

Beginners

Le Tour is the most beginner-friendly of the Chamonix areas thanks to its wide, open pistes, mellower gradient. Spend the morning lapping the chair on the front face, and then spend the afternoon exploring the fabled back side serviced by the Tête de Balme chairlift. For absolute beginners, the learner’s slope at Le Vormaine (bottom of the Le Tour area) should be the first port of call. It’s also much cheaper than buying the full Le Tour pass.

45 Easy Runs

35% Blues

Intermediate

The 22 km trip down the Vallée Blanche is a must-do. Though it’s not that steep or challenging, you’ll need a guide as it’s a glacier, and tales of the unwary falling down crevasses are not uncommon. If your legs are still up to it, spend the afternoon cruising the frequently sunny north-facing slopes of Le Brévent, marveling at the sight of the Aiguille where you’ve just been on the other side of the valley.

50 Intermediate Runs

50% Reds

The original winter sports Mecca, home of the inaugural Winter Olympic Games in 1924.

Advanced

Get the first lift up from Les Grands Montets, then head straight to the Top Tickets cable car to beat the queues. Drop into the itinerary on the left, and follow it back down to the mid station. Next, have a couple of runs on the Bochard, then after lunch head up to Le Tour and spend the afternoon cruising the back side and jibbing gullies to the skier’s right of the main chairlift on the front face.

23 Expert Black Runs

15% Blacks

Download large Chamonix Piste Map

Chamonix Piste Map
Download large Chamonix Piste Map

Mountain Stats

Top Lift 3842 m
Vertical Drop 2807 m
Bottom Lift 1035 m

Essential Info (updated for 2016/17 Season)

Opening Early December (17 December 2016)
Closing Early May
1 Day Pass € 62
7 Day Pass € 333.5
Season Pass € 2141
Tourist Office chamonix.net
Website chamonix.com

Getting There

Geneva (GVA) Airport is the resorts nearest at 90 Km or 56 miles away.

The Town

Situated at the base of Mont Blanc, Western Europe’s highest mountain, at 4807 meters, Chamonix is arguably the world’s most famous resort. However, it’s actually very different from the typical notion of a resort, in that it’s a self-contained proper town with thousands of inhabitants. There are a number of populated areas that come under the Chamonix banner, but the two main focal points are Chamonix itself, and the satellite town of Argentière, 10 km further up the valley.

Sleeping

Board ‘n’ Lodge offer a range of services from accommodation to catered and self catering snowboarding holidays.  ColdFusion provide a similar service, for individuals only (ie, no families). McNab Snowboarding offer catered snowboarding holidays with instruction and guiding from ex-British champion and qualified high mountain guide Neil McNab.

chamonix2

Eating

Mojos in Chamonix town square is a good choice for snacks. Grand Central, directly opposite McDonald’s, is also very popular, with excellent vegetarian meals, homemade cakes and fresh juices and smoothies. For a top-class meal try Le Delice in Les Houches, or Munchie in the Rue du Moulin.

Apres Ski & Nightlife

The Jekyll does a great pint of Guinness and also serves excellent food. MBC brews its own beer, and often puts on live music for après. Goophy, which is also an excellent restaurant and Elevation next door are both very popular. Le Garage is Chamonix’s main after hours drinking den.

Pro’s & Con’s

Pro’s Con’s
Very near Geneva airport. Unlinked ski areas.
Great range of terrain. Lift queues.
Vibrant town centre. No park.

Get in on a bad day and you’ll spend hours standing in lift queues wondering why you didn’t go somewhere else. Get it as its best. And you’ll be treated to the best snowboarding you’ll find anywhere in the world.

Shopping

As resorts go, Chamonix’s shopping facilities are up there with the best. Zero G is the place for all your ski & boarding needs.

Health & Wellbeing

Angie Wardle offers a comprehensive mobile massage service including aromatherapy massage.

Internet Access

Le Bureau, on edge of the river on the Rue du Moulins.

Transfer Options

ATS operate a shared transfer service from both Geneva and Lyon. Try Alpybus for scheduled bus transfers to Geneva.

Local Partners

Les Houches, St Gervais, Les Contamines, Megève, Courmayeur, Les Portes du Soleil and Verbier.

Chamonix Mont Blanc Unlimited Pass

1 pass, 3 countries, the pass is valid in

  • Brevent-Flegere area
  • Grands Montets area
  • Balme Tour Vallorcine area
  • Aiguille du Midi
  • Montenvers Mer de Glace train
  • Tramway du Mont-Blanc
  • Les Houches area
  • Courmayeur area
  • Verbier area

chamonix.com/Chomonix Mt Blanc Unlimited Pass

The Chamonix Le Pass ski pass gives you access to all Chamonix’s ski areas (with the exception of the the top of the Grands Montets) Including

  • Brevent-Flegere area
  • Grands Montets area (summit not included)
  • Balme Tour Vallorcine area
  • Vormaine area
  • Chosalets area
  • Savoy area
  • Planards area

chamonix.com/Chamonix Le Pass ski pass

Children

There are various family discounts available, The Cham Baby pass is valid for kids of 4-11 years on six consecutive days, and costs €70.

Bad Weather Days

Head up the Grands Montets, then stick on the lower chairlifts on the right as you look up the mountain. Here’s where you’ll find the fabled Dream Forest.

Avoid

The download queue at La Flégère during peak times.

An Interesting Little Fact

Check out famously Mohicaned skier Glen Plake’s infamous drop-in off the bridge at the top of the top Tickets cable car, as featured in 1989’s legendary Blizzard of Ahhs movie. Recreation not recommended.

Don’t Miss

A trip to the top of the Aiguille du Midi, for breathtaking views of Mont Blanc and the Chamonix Valley.

Local Tips

Do Don’t
Take avalanche safety pretty seriously. At the very least, people are kitted out with a shovel, transceiver and probe. Ride Les Grands Montets until March, excet on powder days. It’s in the shade so it’s almost always icy.
Take great care when riding the back bowls at Le Tour due to a mostly high risk of avalanche. Eat in the mountain restaurants they’re pricey.
Take advantage of the proximity of Courmayeur it often has great snow when Chamonix is lacking. Leave boards on the balcony in Chamonix Sud.
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Jen is a correspondent for Outside, Ski and Snowboarding magazines and a frequent contributor to the New York Times travel section. Her work has been featured in Best American Travel Writing, Best American Sports Writing and other anthologies. She has reported from seven continents, loves languages, and is based in British Columbia, Canada.

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