Located in south-eastern France, Chamonix-Mont-Blanc is one of the oldest ski resorts, boasting a wide selection of enticing attractions and a range of beautiful scenery with a quaint population of 8900.
Chamonix hosted the first Winter Olympics in 1924, various World Cups, and is home to the popular ”Kandahar” run used for Men’s Downhill World Cup Ski Championships.
Location, Weather, and Climate in Chamonix
The Chamonix Valley consists of 5 charming towns – Servoz, Les Houches, Chamonix, Argentière, and Vallorcine. The Mont Blanc Express Train allows travel through the valley.
Chamonix is 30km from Switzerland over the Col des Montets pass and 15km from Italy through the Mont Blanc Tunnel. It’s easily accessible from several international airports, including Geneva, Lyon, Turin, and Milan.
Weather and Climate
Skiing is better at higher altitudes, as snow cover in Chamonix is patchy at lower altitudes. During winter, the lowlands are freezing and skiing conditions can reach -20°C, making it better to ski in Chamonix during spring.
|Temperatures||Minimum average||Maximum average|
|October-November||2°C / -2°C||+15°C / +7°C|
|December-January||-7°C / -8°C||+1°C / +2°C|
|February-March||-7°C / -3°C||+4°C / +7°C|
|April-May||0°C / +5°C||+13°C / +18°C|
Getting to and around Chamonix
Geneva Airport is 1hr 20min away, nearest to Chamonix at about 90km. Landing in Lyon takes around 2½-3 hours, while Turin-Caselle International or Milan Malpensa airport requires passing through the Mont Blanc tunnel to reach Chamonix.
Geneva to Chamonix
Minibusses are bookable for Geneva to Chamonix Airport Transfers, costing around €30 per person (each way) for shared transfers. Customizable, private airport transfers cost around €185 per trip for up to 8 people. Book here.
Standard/luxury taxis and private minibusses are offered at varying prices, and 1 suitcase plus 1 hand luggage per person is included. Flight delays don’t result in extra charges.
Companies offer rental cars costing €20-€50/day depending on the car. A 4hr train ride from Geneva to Chamonix is available but costs more than a car.
If one flies to Geneva and hires a car, the route to Chamonix is 88km long. The drive takes 1hr 20min via the Autoroute Blanche (A40) motorway.
Before reaching the French autoroute, there’s a short stretch of Swiss autoroute, requiring a Swiss Vignette (CHF 40).
Chamonix has a bus system running throughout the Valley, serving various ski resorts and hiking areas. All lines pass the Chamonix Sud Bus Stop, circuits in Chamonix, and connect neighboring towns. Check out the Chamonix Bus Network.
The Minibus “The Mulet”
A free shuttle named Le Mulet runs around the Chamonix town center every 10 minutes during winter/summer, providing a connection to the main bus service running to main lift areas and villages through the valley. See Mulet new route.
The Night Bus: Chamo’Nuit
During winter/summer, a Night Bus runs from Les Houches to Argentière via Chamonix four times per night between 8:50 pm and midnight, with a waiting time of under 20 minutes during peak season. Check the schedule here.
Accommodation in Chamonix
From chalets to apartments, parties to serenity, sport to relaxation – Chamonix offers it all when it comes to fantastic accommodation hot spots.
Skiing to your door is everyone’s dream. But, such locations are pricier than locations further away. Since Chamonix is divided into five main ski areas, traveling between them is still necessary. The nightly cost for popular ski-in/ski-out places is $100, and $50 for hotels further away.
However, if you’re seeking peace and quiet, surrounding villages like Vallorcine & Le Tour may be more suitable. Self-catering visitors can stay near supermarkets and restaurants, with shops, ski and/or bike hire places, and cafes nearby.
Location is key when budgeting. The closer you get to the slopes, the pricier it will be. Cham Sud, located just behind the Aiguille du Midi lift, is surrounded by bars and restaurants and offers lower prices.
You may sacrifice convenience for budget, but you’ll never be further than 20min from the world-renowned Chamonix pistes thanks to shuttle buses.
The Best Village in Chamonix?
Staying in the center of Chamonix allows walking to and from the resort’s facilities and attractions. Various ski lodging is offered, from luxury hotels to self-catering apartments near the cable car leading to the off-piste Vallée Blanche descent.
The northwestern edge of Chamonix leads towards the Brevent-Flégère ski area, where sunshine and wonderful views of Mont Blanc are plenty. Both Les Pélerins and Les Gaillands are good options for people on a budget and are near the center of the town in Chamonix.
Located down the valley, Les Houches is amongst the largest towns in the Chamonix Valley and is popular for long-term dwellers.
With exceptional panoramas of peaks surrounding Chamonix, good amenities, restaurants and bars, and the valley’s easiest ski area, Les Houches is ideal for a relaxed experience.
It’s ideal for unfavorable weather, as it’s more sheltered than other ski areas. Les Houches organizes one of the Alpine Ski World Cup downhill races almost annually and offers a weekly free night skiing on the Touchet piste.
The best worldwide skiers visit ski La Verte. There are drag lifts in this area, you’ll be pushing a bit due to flat sections between lift links.
Further down the valley is the family-friendly, beautiful and quiet village of Servoz, which features fantastic views towards Mont Blanc, many activities for kids 18 months-10 years old, and secure daycare.
Near Chamonix Town lies Les Praz and Les Bois. If you’re seeking high-end, spacious chalets and luxury accommodation with hot tubs and home cinemas, this tranquil area is ideal for you, with some accommodation featuring exceptional views of the entire Chamonix valley.
Les Praz is a quiet village near the Flégère ski lift and ski area, with shops, bars, and restaurants. In winter, it receives the most sun in the valley.
Beyond Les Praz is the beautiful area of Les Bois, boasting extravagant accommodation in peaceful settings, with a short walk to Flegere cable car.
Perched a couple of hundred meters up the south of the valley is the hamlet of Le Lavancher, featuring a variety of luxury accommodation in a beautifully serene spot.
Situated 8km from Chamonix town, below the infamous Aiguille Verte and Drus, lies the picturesque village of Argentiere, which retains an Alpine village charm.
Chalets and hotels are Savoyard in style with spacious gardens. It’s near the Grands Montets ski area and offers a handful of shops, restaurants, and après ski bars with live music.
Beyond Argentière are Le Tour & Vallorcine, accessing the Domaine de Balme ski area and spectacular views down the Chamonix Valley. Both villages are small, so dining options are limited.
Luxury accommodations in Chamonix
If you’re seeking luxury accommodation and willing to pay for it, hotels in Chamonix-Mont-Blanc cost $50-$150 per person nightly, offering plenty of high-end options.
Some chalets have swimming pools, fully equipped spas, private chefs, and chauffeured rides, with the most popular options being clustered in the center of Chamonix near the Brévent ski area.
Many luxury chalets lie in the serene hamlets of Les Praz and Les Bois, posing breathtaking views of the Mont-Blanc Mountains and access to slopes in Flegere.
Chamonix offers 4 five-star hotels in the town center near restaurants, bars, shops, and the Brévent slopes. They have stunning amenities, gourmet restaurants including a 2-Michelin-starred eatery, and grand bedrooms with panoramic mountain views.
The main ski areas in Chamonix are Les Planards, Domaine de Balme, Brevent – Flegere, Grand Montets, and Les Houches, which are separated. But, Chamonix public transport offers free shuttle buses between the lifts. Check lines and times here.
This valley bottom ski area has 4 pistes of varying difficulty (1 red, 1 blue, and 2 green). It’s ideal for beginners and children, a 5min walk from the center of Chamonix, and can be reached by bus. Parking with 200 free spaces is available at the foot of the slopes.
Les Planards has various ski lifts, including a magic carpet, rope tow lift, kindergarten (managed by the ESF Chamonix), and two easy drag lifts to the top of green slopes.
A four-seater chairlift takes skiers up 1,249m, from which they depart along with blue and red runs.
The Planards Ski Area is equipped with snowmaking installations, as 45 snowguns cover the area. It has an associated restaurant named Domaine des Planards located in the center of Chamonix, offering services for the whole family.
Domaine de Balme
The Domaine de Balme area is the gentlest of Chamonix’s snowy areas in the winter. It’s relatively rock-free terrain presents a selection of long green runs, the highest concentration of blue pistes, and intermediate reds.
These are great for beginners and intermediates, but may be unexciting for advanced skiers.
Located at altitudes of 1264m-2270m, it has 29km of slopes. The highest point of Domaine de Balme ski area offers stunning scenery and nifty connections to Switzerland, providing backcountry riding which very few ski resorts offer.
Domaine de Balme is furthest from Chamonix, located near Le Tour and Vallorcine, and travel takes about 20min by car or bus. A train from Vallorcine is viable, but stops at Montroc about 1km from Le Tour, requiring a bus to reach the lift area.
The Tete de Balme chair at the backside offers access to steeper runs. If the snow is good, one could ski down to Vallorcine and ride back on the gondola.
Restaurants and Bars:
Le Chalet de Charamillon (1,850 m) features modern decoration, a cafeteria offering traditional Savoyard dishes, pizzas, grills, take-away, and a terrace with breathtaking views of Chamonix Valley. At 50m from the Charamillon cable car, it’s accessible to pedestrians. Booking is recommended.
L’Alpage de Balme offers an authentic, warm, alpine chalet setting, and is near the Aiguillette ski lift which offers exceptional views of the Mont-Blanc range. Traditional Savoyard cuisine like cheese crusts, röstis, salads, cold meats, and homemade pastries are available.
Brevent – Flegere
Southward facing Brévent – Flégère features sunny slopes, spectacular views of the Mont Blanc massif, combined with great skiing. It’s ideal for intermediate skiers, posing reasonably challenging piste and off-piste potential, and is known for steep faces and high cliff jumps.
Brevent and Flegere are separated, connected via a gondola with a magnificent view. Brévent can be reached via the gondola lift which is a short walk from the city center, and Flégère via Chamonix Les Praz.
They offer accommodation within walking distance in Chamonix. Parking is limited, so if you are staying nearby, it’s better to walk or take a bus.
With an array of terrain to exhilarate skiers of all levels, it’s one of the world’s best après ski drink locations as the sun sinks behind the Mont Blanc glaciers and the para-gliders sail overhead.
Brévent Flégère has 1490m (1,035m-2,525m) of skiable vertical with 56km of slopes, the most in the Chamonix valley, but most skiable terrain is above 1900m. There are two advanced valley trails and rarely skiable off-piste steeps below.
A total of 16 lifts tend to the collective area, comprising of 4 gondolas/cable cars and 8 chairs. Both sides are not interconnected by ski trails but linked by cable car.
Brevent Flegere is accessible from Chamonix via gondola (to Brevent Plan Praz at 2000m) and from Les Praz via cable car (to La Flégère at 1894m) which is due to be replaced with a gondola from season 19/20.
The Flegere ski area, situated above Les Praz, caters to intermediate skiers with excellent beginner slopes near mountain restaurants around the Trappe chairlift.
Skiers enjoy numerous pistes and test out off-piste skills near the trails. This southward mountain is often bathed in sunlight till all day, which can affect snow.
Restaurants and Bars:
At around 1900m, both La Flegere and Plan Praz are perfect for mountain dining & après ski drinks, featuring fast food outlets and stellar fine dining. La Flégère features l’Adret de la Flégère, a venue serving incredible dishes with outdoor and indoor settings.
At Plan Praz, overlooking the cable car station to Le Brévent summit, La Bergerie de Plan Praz boasts unparalleled views of Chamonix and the Mont Blanc massif. Due to its popularity, bookings are required.
Les Grands Montets is split into three zones posing 2000m of skiable vertical, adding it to an exclusive group of worldwide ski resorts.
The area below the tree line between Argentière village (1252m) and the mountain station of Lognan (1972m); mixed alpine terrain below Herse and Bochard (2765m); and steeper alpine offerings including the Argentiere glacier below the Grands Montets (3275m).
Whilst this area is advanced with steep terrain to challenge even extreme skiers, a new chairlift serves numerous beginner trails above the tree-line. A small novice ski area lies in the base area and at the mid-mountain location of Lognan.
Grands Montets is served by 5 main lifts (2 gondolas, 3 chairs). The gondola from Argentière ends at the easy piste trails from Plan Joran.
At Lognan (1972m), there’s quick access to the Bochard gondola (to 2765m) and Herse chair (to 2600m). Novice trails below Plan Joran are reachable via Marmottons surface lifts and the 6 seat Tabe chair.
Les Grands Montets is the most renowned advanced skiing area in Chamonix due to its remarkable skiable vertical, legendary pistes, with breathtaking freeride and glacier skiing.
With most skiable terrain being situated above the tree line at high altitudes of 1900m and fantastic snow due to a Northward position, it’s well-known for providing extraordinary skiing conditions until early May.
Restaurants and Bars:
Refuge Lognan is a countryside cabin sanctuary that serves lunch on the terrace or indoors. The venue is reachable via the black runs (Point de Vue or Pylons/Blanchots) and via a pedestrian cat track from the Grands Montets. Booking recommended.
Plan Joran Grands Montets Ski Resort allows visitors to enjoy the terrace, viewing the Mont-Blanc massif. It’s accessible to pedestrians, located 100m from the Joran chairlift. Booking recommended.
Argentero lies at the bottom of the pistes of the Grands Montets, is accessible by skiers and pedestrians, offers great food, and is a minute away from the cable car.
Les Houches, located in the Haute-Savoie area of the French Alps, is 6km from Chamonix and 1000m in altitude. At the foot of Mont-Blanc (4810m), Les Houches presents exceptional scenes of peaks surrounding Chamonix.
The ski area encompasses 55km of marked ski runs from 950m-1900m in altitude, with 5 surface lifts, 8 chairs (one high speed), and two gondolas.
Beginners can learn skiing at the base of the mountain in ‘Le Tourchet’, or at a special beginner’s area at the top. Skiing in Les Houches includes cross country skiing, snowboarding, telemarking, speed-riding, while freestyle skiers enjoy the Bellevue Airpark and the DC shoes Area 43.
The local Spa is also available, and the highlight in Les Houches is running down the legendary “Verte des Houches”, one of two Men’s World Cup Downhills in France, regarded as beautiful yet challenging.
Restaurants and Bars:
Les Houches has restaurants that are modest, traditional wooden chalets serving local cooking with great views of the Mont Blanc Mountains.
The Hors Piste restaurant near the Verte downhill run has a brasserie, cafeteria menus, and Savoyard specialties.
Les Vieilles Luges serves delicious local favorites in a 250-year-old farmhouse.
Livelier spots include the Pull Up Bar, which has karaoke and an extensive drinks menu. The Délice restaurant’s bar livens up with folk visiting for a late drink.
Aiguille du Midi
The Aiguille du Midi is a 3,842m tall (12,605ft.) mountain in the Mont Blanc massif and is a hotspot for tourists. It’s located within the French Alps, accessible by cable car.
It was the world’s highest cable car for two decades since opening in 1955. From 1,035m-3,842m (3,396-12,605ft.), it’s the highest vertical ascent cable car worldwide.
It allows both travels from Chamonix to Plan de l’Aiguille at 2,317m (7,602ft.) and to the upper station at 3,777m where an elevator to the summit is accessible. The trip to the upper station remains the second-longest span width, measuring 2,867m (1.781mi) directly.
The cable car from Chamonix to the top of the Aiguille du Midi costs around €60 for a return adult-ticket, taking around 20min and gaining an altitude of over 2,800m (9,200 ft.).
The Aiguille du Midi summit offers a panoramic viewing platform, café, and gift shop. Open viewing areas reach -10 °C (14 °F), so visitors should dress warmly and have sun protection.
Tourists are restricted to these areas for safety, but mountaineers and skiers may pass through a tunnel to descend from an exposed ice ridge.
Atop the peak lies “Step into the Void”, a glass skywalk opened in December 2013, featuring a view 1,035m (3,396ft.) straight down, with Mont Blanc visible to the south. “Le Tube”, opened in 2016, features an enclosed tubular walkway encircling the summit.
Skyway Monte Bianco offers a cable car from Pointe Helbronner to Entrèves near the Italian town of Courmayeur in the Aosta Valley, making travel ‘by air’ from Chamonix to Courmayeur possible. Although, the Mont Blanc Tunnel highway is generally used.
Group and private ski or snowboard lessons can be booked in Chamonix. Check out the best ones here.
Group ski lessons involve ski schools gathering 6-10 skiers/snowboarders of similar levels. These usually run for 5-6 days (either Sunday-Friday or Monday-Friday) for 2-4 hours in the morning or afternoon.
Some ski schools offer 3-day ski/snowboard group lessons, and 6-day group lessons (2-3 hours per day) costing around €180-€250, depending on dates.
Private ski lessons involve a private instructor who generally accommodates 1-6 people, so they’re great for friends and families if everyone’s on similar levels.
Ski schools usually offer private lessons from 2 hours-a full day, many days can be booked, and private lessons for 1-2 people costs around €100 for 2 hours-€450 for a full day depending on dates.
Ski rentals are available across Chamonix at an average price of €55-€75 per week. They offer complete outfits (ski jackets, trousers, gloves & goggles), and ski equipment (skis, ski boots, a helmet, ski poles), delivered to the French ski resort location of choice.
However, if the delivery isn’t worth the price for you, you can go into town for a cheaper price.
Ski pass prices vary according to age, a number of days, time of year, and the area chosen.
The two main types of ski passes include the Chamonix Le Pass, allowing access to the three main Chamonix Valley ski areas, and the Mont Blanc Unlimited pass, allowing unlimited access to the Chamonix Valley and beyond. Chamonix offers discounts for groups.
|Chamonix Le Pass
Adult (15-64 yrs)
|Mont Blanc Unlimited
Adult (15-64 yrs)
|6 Days from €275||6 Days from €327|
|6 Days family from €852
2 Adults + 2 Children
|6 Days family from €1014
2 Adults + 2 Children
Chamonix 6-Day Ski Pass Prices Winter 2019/20
Apres-ski and non-ski activities
Although early après drinks are widely available at each ski area, quite a bit of the après ski scene and nightlife which has given Chamonix its leading status can be found in town.
Some of the best bars in Chamonix include Chambre Neuf, La Terrasse, Micro Brasserie de Chamonix (MBC), The Pub, and Monkey Bar. Other than the aforementioned restaurants, great options include Casa Valerio, Micro Brasserie de Chamonix, Albert Premier, and Le Matafan.
Spas, Pools, Saunas, Massages…
For those willing to spend €40-€60 a day, there’re fantastic spas to revive aching limbs, many of which are attached to Chamonix’s premier hotels and apartments. If you’re staying elsewhere, you may pay entrance fees for these facilities. If you’re seeking a spa, check out these hotels.
The best spas include pools, saunas, massages, and more. Great options include Ginabelle Deep Nature Spa, Wellness Centre at the Grand Hotel des Alps, and Deep Nature Spa at Les Aiglons Hotel.
Supermarkets and farmer market with homemade food
If you’re not up for dining out, there’re many supermarkets in Chamonix, including Super U Chamonix, Super U Les Houches, Carrefour Chamonix, Marché U Argentière, and others.
There’re weekly farmer markets with homemade food and local produce in Chamonix and Haute Savoie, including Place du Mont Blanc – Chamonix, Place Haute du center – Les Houches, Chamonix Sud, and Samoens.
Pros of skiing in Chamonix
- Incredibly exciting terrain, especially off-piste
- Amazing cable car to the Aiguille du Midi
- Skiing the famous Vallée Blanche
- Further resorts, including Courmayeur, are covered with an extended lift pass
- A town steeped in Alpine tradition
- Numerous affordable hotels, many take short bookings
- Delicious food and entertainment with stunning views
Cons of skiing in Chamonix
- Separated mountains areas
- Not ideal for mixed abilities
- Some old lifts
- Lengthy queues in key spots
- Lots of road traffic and subpar bus services
Chamonix offers something for everybody, but skiing areas should be selected according to skill level.
Chamonix is suitable for beginners or intermediates, ideal for advanced skiers, and a paradise for freestyle skiers. Although guides are needed, there’re many off-piste terrains.
Chamonix is amongst the best ski resorts in the World. Offering stunning views, a great versatile skiing experience, inexpensive bars, and delicious food, a ski trip to Chamonix is worth the money.