Why choose Chamonix ski resort?
Chamonix is one of the most famous mountain resorts in Europe, with a long history of skiing and mountaineering in the peaks that make up the Mont Blanc massif. Chamonix Mont Blanc was the site of the first Winter Olympics back in 1924 and still attracts skiers ready to test themselves both on the pistes in the official area and against the challenges of the backcountry skiing.
The town of Chamonix is still a Mecca for extreme sports and, although beginner and intermediate skiers will find enough in the valley to keep them happy, the Chamonix Mont Blanc valley nestling at the foot of Western Europe’s highest mountain is a dream destination for advanced skiers looking for memories that will last a lifetime.
Ski some of the lines at Les Grands Montets above Argentière or take the spectacular off-piste skiing of the Vallée Blanche all the way from the Aiguille du Midi back down to the town.
A word of warning though. Intermediate skiers who are used to cruising the long groomed pistes of the interlinked ski resorts in the Trois Vallées will find the Chamonix valley a completely different experience. The region under Mont Blanc is made up of lots of smaller areas, each with their own distinctive character.
Where is Chamonix?
Chamonix is located in a steep-sided valley of the Haute Savoie region,which leads up past the Mont Blanc massif through to a mountain pass into Switzerland. The Chamonix valley and its ski resorts are within easy reach of Geneva airport and the French motorway network.
Chamonix can also be accessed from Italy via the Mont Blanc tunnel. The tunnel leads from France into the Aosta valley and the road then passes the Italian ski resort of Courmayeur.
Where is the closest airport to Chamonix?
The closest international airport is in Switzerland, with Geneva Airport under 100 kilometres and just over one hour’s drive away. The next best option would be the smaller airport at Chambéry, with a much more limited range of scheduled and charter flights in winter.
|Airport||Distance to Chamonix|
|Geneva Airport||99 kilometres|
|Chambéry Airport||139 kilometres|
|Turin Airport||174 kilometres|
|Lyon Airport||219 kilometres|
Getting to Chamonix by train
Chamonix has its own train station and connects to other mainline services in France through the connections at St Gervais-Le Fayet further down the valley. The St Gervais-Le Fayet train station is part of the Geneva region suburban rail network and offers links to Annemasse and Annecy, as well as the route through to Geneva itself. The rail service to Chamonix from St Gervais is on a metre-gauge line which continues up the valley to Argentière and the Swiss border (and over the border to the Swiss town of Martigny). The Swiss service is called the Mont Blanc Express.
Driving to Chamonix
The Autoroute Blanche (the name of the A40 motorway) offers good links to the rest of the French motorway network. The motorway itself finishes at Passy, about 20 kilometres to the west of Chamonix, and turns into the RN205 for the rest of the journey through to the ski resort. Drivers arriving from the Turin region and the Aosta valley in Italy can access Chamonix through the Mont Blanc Tunnel – the French side exits the tunnel close to the ski town. The route up to the Col de la Forclaz from Martigny in Switzerland can also be driven in winter, but does require mountain driving experience and can be closed in bad conditions, leading to a long detour around Lac Leman.
Where to stay in Chamonix?
As a ski town that has been welcoming winter and summer guests for centuries, Chamonix has a wide range of tourist accommodation.
Great Chamonix ski hotels
Here are a couple of highly rated and historic ski hotel accommodation options in the centre of Chamonix:
This classic and historic hotel at the heart of Chamonix first opened back in the 19th century and welcomed guests to the first Winter Olympics in 1924. The location in the pedestrian centre means that it is close to the ski lifts and convenient for choosing one of the local restaurants in the evening. Guests rate the central location and the staff at the Grand Hotel.
The Hotel Mont-Blanc is another historic establishment that can trace its roots back to the middle of the 19th century. Also centrally located, the five-star hotel is situated right next to the Chamonix tourist office and not far from the ski lifts. Guests praise the service levels in the hotel and the shuttle service to the various lifts.
Top ski apartment options in Chamonix
Alternatively, there are quite a few self-catering options for those who want to be a little bit more independent:
The Apparthotel Bellamy is located in Chamonix Sud, not far from the main ski bus station and the Aiguille du Midi cable car. Visitors enjoy the standard and space of the self-catering apartments and the convenient access to the ski bus service to the other resorts up and down the valley.
The Heliopic is a four-star hotel with spa and accompanying self-catering apartment accommodation located next to the Aiguille du Midi cable car in Chamonix Sud and not far from the main Chamonix ski bus station. Guests appreciate the location and the facilities in the hotel.
Map of Chamonix accommodation
Those who want to get an idea of general availability for their chosen stay can enter dates of arrival and departure to see which accommodation options may be suitable. Click the ‘+’ or ‘-‘ buttons to zoom in or out and click on the prices to see more information and/or book a particular establishment.
Chamonix ski area
Those who are planning to ski Chamonix itself will head for the gondola which accesses the ski area on Le Brevent. It is not that far outside the town centre but is up quite a steep hill. A ski bus service operates to the base of the lift.
The gondola rises from 1035 metres to Plan Praz at 2000 metres in altitude. There is a very small area suitable for beginner skiers, but those who are taking their first turns on snow may well feel that the Le Savoy drag lifts just outside Chamonix centre and not far from the base of the cable car are more suitable.
Le Brévent connects with the neighbouring ski area of La Flégère above the village of Les Praz and offers a total 56 kilometres of ski runs between the two. The Le Brévent – La Flégère area has spectacular views across the valley towards the Mont Blanc massif. It is south-facing so that means plenty of sun on good days, but also that cover on the lower ski runs down to the valley can be suspect in winters with poor snow.
On both the Le Brevent side and La Flégère the tougher ski runs for more advanced skiers are at the top and bottom of the area. The Le Brevent cable car (which rises from Plan Praz to the peak at over 2500 metres) has a challenging black run from the top, as well as gulleys and cliffs popular with freestyle skiers, while the long Cornu chairlift has a mixture of interesting reds and a black piste. The black run back to Chamonix leaves from the base station of the chairlift – check snow conditions on the run before starting to head down.
Intermediate skiers will find a network of blue slopes running from Plan Praz over to the Liaison cable car which links Le Brevent with La Flégère. (There are no pistes connecting the two areas.)
Skiers can access the La Flégère area via the cable car above or by taking the ski bus up the valley to Les Praz and hopping on the new somewhat speedier gondola. A slightly more attractive area for the beginner skier is available off the Trappe chairlift, with the Chavanne chairlift offering a couple of blue runs for the intermediate skier.
Like Le Brévent, the higher runs at La Flégère are a mix of reds and blacks suitable for the advanced skier, while the run down to the valley floor is also a black where snow conditions should also be checked in advance.
Back in Chamonix there is also a small ski area for the beginner skier at Les Planards on the north-facing side of the valley near the bottom station of the Montenvers railway. Les Planards has two short draglifts and a chairlift, as well as a children’s play area.
Other skiing options in the Chamonix valley
Skiers using the local Chamonix Le Pass ski pass have access to the areas described above as well as the skiing at Les Grands Montets above Argentière and the smaller areas near Vallorcine.
Skiers who are planning on exploring further afield and who have purchased the Mont Blanc Unlimited ski pass can also use the ski areas at Les Houches – St Gervais further down the valley, as well as Les Contamines and Megève in France, Verbier and Crans Montana in Switzerland, and Courmayeur in Italy.
And of course any confident intermediate skier or better should not miss the 22-kilometre off-piste skiing (with a guide) of the spectacular Vallée Blanche.