Chamonix is a vibrant alpine ski town with a big reputation for great skiing holidays. Located at the foot of Mont-Blanc (Europe's highest summit at 4810 m), it is the birthplace of mountaineering and is the sophisticated grandfather of ski resorts. Mont-Blanc soars to dizzying heights above you, ice falls and glaciers dot the slopes, and you can Europe's highest cable car or the red cog-wheel train to take it all in.
Chamonix has a lot of history and you can see it in the architecture - alpine farms, baroque churches, art deco buildings make the resort enchanting. The skiing does not disappoint either. There is 152 km of piste around Chamonix itself, but it is also linked to the large Mont-Blanc ski area, which holds numerous ski resorts, with 12 in the Chamonix Valley alone. The terrain at Chamonix is divided into three areas, which are linked together by an efficient shuttle bus and a panoramic train. There are plentiful pistes to suit skiers of every level, making this a good choice for mixed-level groups.
Beginners can cruise on 49 percent of the trails, and for the very first timers, the nursery slopes at La Vormaine, Les Chosalets, Les Planards and Le Savoy are perfect. For intermediates, Chamonix is a paradise providing a wide variety of excellent range high altitude blue and red runs. Expert skiers won't know where to start, as this is the home of some of the most impressive challenges to be found for advanced. For those who like to sneak a little shopping in, or love the après-ski as much as the actual skiing, Chamonix is fabulous. There's a wide selection of great shops and boutiques and many bars and clubs to celebrate the days successes in.
More on Chamonix:
Chamonix for different ski abilities (click here)
It's fun to learn to ski or board at Chamonix, because there are so many easy, fun slopes. Forty-nine percent of the runs are graded for learners. For those trying it for the first time, try the nursery slopes at La Vormaine, Les Chosalets, Les Planards and Le Savoy. Le Tour, at the top end of the valley, is good when you're learning with long blue and green runs. The Choalets at Argentière are easy, and The Brevent has good easy runs with good snow.
Chamonix is a bit of a paradise for intermediate skiers, with every kind of mid-level slope you could think of. If you get the full Mont-Blanc lift pass, 500 kilometres of pistes studded with high altitude blue and red runs are at your disposal. Les Houches and Le Tour have some easier blues and reds. If you're more confident, try Les Grands-Montets, Le Brevent and La Flégère.
Good skiers will push themselves to the limit at Chamonix. This really is perfect place for the experienced skiers, especially if you love off piste! Les Grands-Montets has a great mix of challenges, from the moguls at La Herse or the rock cliffs and powder La Pendant. The off-piste is awesome, especially Pas de Chevre which leads to the Mer de Glace. You'll never get bored in Vallée-Blanche, there are so many ways to ski it. Three quarters of it is on a glacier though, so be careful of crevasses.
Chamonix Ski Schools
Chamonix Sport Aventure
Chamonix Sport Aventure is a local Chamonix based multi-sports company offering all mountain activities in winter. The Chamonix Ski and Snowboard School offers ski and snowboard lessons and coaching for all levels from beginners to expert as well as off-piste ski and snowboard guiding, heliskiing, and there is even a Chamonix Mont Blanc Ski Tour. All their ski and snowboard snstructors and ski mountain guides are fully qualified with State French Diploma, from the famous National State Academy of Chamonix. They all have full insurance and speak fluent English.
British Ski School Chamonix
BASS Chamonix has a reputation for excellence due to its exceptional delivery of their products and services. They offer maximum group lessons of 6 to give you individual attention for beginners to pros. They will meet all your needs and give you ample time to practise. All their expert instructors are handpicked, fully qualified and certified to ISTD Level 4 with full French equivalence offering state of the art teaching techniques. Lessons for all levels are provided in your native language with coaching tailored to your individual needs.
Après Ski and Off the Mountain
Après-ski is an art form in Chamonix. There are great restaurants, cafés, pubs, bars, and even a casino to while away the times when you haven't got skis or a board strapped to your feet. Restaurants range from the Chalet le Cerro, a quaint wooden chalet serving traditional local delights to L'Eden which serves classic French food with a modern twist. Le Stone Bar, an Italian-style bar serves up fine food and wines as well as live music, as do many others. Chill out with a chilled wine, or party all through the night.
Off the Mountain
Chamonix has activities off the slopes to match the awesome skiing. A large sports complex will keep you fit for the pistes with a sports hall, indoor and outdoor ice rink, speed skating rink, 19 tennis courts (quick and clay) including 4 indoor courts, squash courts, a swimming-pool complex with water-slide & fitness centre (saunas, Turkish baths, solarium). The Alpine Museum and a range of exhibitions with varied themes are offered throughout the season, and there are many runways are available for hang and paragliders. The Chamonix tourist office offers weekly heritage visits retracing the rich history and architecture of the town, where you can discover the significance of the Balmat statue, the pont de la Cour, the Priory, the temple and many more sights. Fabulous shops will keep those in need of a little retail therapy happy. Other options: snowshoeing, dog-sledding, cross country skiing, ski touring, speed riding, cinema, library, museum, a casino and two spas.
One of the reasons for Chamonix Mont Blanc's popularity as a year round holiday resort, particularly for those booking short breaks, is its accessibility to Geneva Airport (88 km). Well-renowned operators like Easyjet and British Airways fly from a large choice of UK airports to Geneva, and once you arrive it is only an hour's drive up the motorway to the heart of the resort. It is also close to Lyon-St-Exupery International airport (220km) and Turin-Caselle International airport (171 km).
Chamonix has its own train station (Chamonix Mont-Blanc) with connections to the SNCF lines from St Gervais/Le Fayette and Vallorcine. There are also links to the TGV service at Annecy. Check out www.sncf.com for timetables and booking details.
The TGV main lines from Paris:
Paris - Annecy
Paris - Lyon
Paris - Bellegarde
Paris - Chambéry - Aix Les Bains
Paris - Saint Gervais Les Bains - Le Fayet (only during some periods of the year)
Then connections by Train Express Régional (TER) to Saint Gervais Les Bains - Le Fayet located at 20 km from Chamonix.
The Mont-Blanc Express services the Chamonix Valley from Saint Gervais les Bains to Vallorcine at the Swiss border.
Direct access via the Autoroute Blanche E25-A40 linked with the European motorway network. Chamonix is 16 km from Switzerland via the Col des Montets, and 15 km from Italy via the Mont-Blanc Tunnel.
Merinannies provides first class childcare in Chamonix. Their testimonials and returning clientele show the level of care they provide which relies on the quality of their nannies. Merinannies offers flexible a reliable private nanny service to suit every family's requirements. Their team consists of qualified, experienced and checked nannies, first aided, specialh needs trained and multilingual nannies. They take care of babies from the age of four weeks to 14 years for short weekends or full weeks and long term.
Baby-Cham is Chamonix and Morzine’s premiere babysitting agency since 2006 offering totally bespoke, professional and creative childcare. They have set the trend in quality childcare across the Alps, ensuring all babysitters have relevant qualifications, experience and checks. Their babysitters will arrive with a selection of toys, arts and crafts to make sure that your children have as much fun in Chamonix as you do! All their babysitters are personally picked after a thorough face to face interview and strict reference check. They have primary school teachers, nurses, qualified nannies and other child minding experienced personnel. Unlike other agencies, they live locally all year round and know the areas intricately and are always on hand to give you that more personal touch during your well-deserved break.