The Ultimate Guide to Chamonix
Discover the breathtaking resort of Chamonix with a diverse array of activities in both summer and winter.
A year-round resort, Chamonix offers breathtaking scenery and a diverse array of activities in summer and winter.
Situated in the shadow of Mont Blanc, Chamonix has been a popular tourist destination since the 1920s. In fact, the very first Winter Olympics was held here in 1924 and the town centre is filled with elegant buildings dating back to the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Large in size by ski resort standards, Chamonix is fairly spread out with several out-of-town ski areas and villages including Argentiere, Le Tour, Vallorcine and Les Houches. Just an hour and half drive from Geneva, Chamonix is popular for weekend trips and short breaks. A year-round resort, Chamonix is just as busy in summer as winter due to its breathtaking scenery and diverse range of activities.
Known for its exciting off-piste skiing, Chamonix actually offers a wide range of options to suit all abilities. Slopes reach an altitude of 3,840m so you are pretty much guaranteed good snow cover during the winter season.
Winter in Chamonix
Offering 173 km of pistes plus masses of off-piste terrain, there is plenty of skiing to keep you entertained during your stay. The Mont Blanc road tunnel links Chamonix to Courmayeur so it is also possible to ski in Italy with the Mont Blanc Unlimited pass. Skiing in Chamonix falls into four small, widely separated areas that are individual in character. This can be tricky for mixed ability groups and may require groups to split up or some bussing around between areas.
Most of Chamonix’s skiing is above the tree-line with several beginner areas and blue runs on all four mountains. Confident intermediates can find some testing red pistes and for experts there are many challenging black runs to negotiate and excellent off-piste close to the pistes and from the top of Brevent and Grands Montets. The most famous off-piste run is La Vallee Blanche, a 20 km long spectacular route from the Aiguille du Midi to a point below Montenvers.
Non-skiers have plenty to keep them amused too from ice skating on the indoor Olympic ice rink to enjoying a ride on the Luge Alpine Coaster. Nature lovers can explore the landscape on a snowshoe trek, a dog sledding tour or have a go at ski joering. For an adrenaline rush, try paragliding or ice climbing. Afterwards, relax at the QC Terme wellness centre which has a beautiful setting overlooking a small lake.
Chamonix has a fantastic selection of luxury chalets and apartments to choose from. For a stylish property, take a look at Chalet Dalmore; a striking winter retreat with a modern twist on traditional architecture. Perfect for large groups, Le Chalet Mont Blanc is a stunning five-floor chalet with incredible mountain views.
For luxury accommodation in the peaceful hamlet of Argentiere, both Chalet Cristal and Granit are perfect for family holidays. If ski in/ski out access is important then consider Chalet Norel, a beautifully renovated former farmhouse situated directly on "La Verte", the famous Kandahar World Cup slope.
Where to Eat & Drink in Chamonix
Chamonix is a cosmopolitan town packed with bars and restaurants serving a range of international cuisine. On the mountain we recommend La Bergerie de Planpraz. Found at the mid-station of Brevent, this charming restaurant serves a regional menu cooked over a wood fire, accompanied by one of the best views in the valley. If views are important to you, then don’t miss Le 3842 at the top of the Aiguille du Midi. Reached by cable car, this is one of the highest restaurants in Europe with a menu featuring fresh local produce.
For fine dining you can’t beat Albert 1 er, a Michelin-star restaurant with a menu according to the seasons and an extensive wine list. Serving Italian cuisine, Le Comptoir des Alpes is a delight whilst Le Caphorn is the place for delicious seafood. For the best burger in town, head to Poco Loco and if you like pizza then Casa Valerio has over 30 different flavours to choose from.
Top Events in Chamonix
Chamonix has plenty to entertain you in both summer and winter. The action kicks off at the end of January with the Alpine Skiing World Cup Kandahar. Returning to La Verte des Houches, there will be two new Men’s Events including a Downhill on Saturday 30 January 2021 and a Parallel Giant on Sunday 31 January 2021.
Music lovers flock to Chamonix’s Unlimited Festival in the first week of April whilst thousands of competitors attend the Mont Blanc Marathon at the end of June. Covering 42 km and climbing over 2,000 metres, this high-altitude race is only for the super-fit. Springing up at the end of July is the Climbing World Cup.
Held at Place du Mont Blanc, two specially built climbing walls are erected - one for speed and the other for lead climbing. Visitors are encouraged to cheer along their selected champion from the “Climbing Village”.
Taking place around the Chamonix Valley in some spectacular locations, the Cosmo Jazz Festival delights music fans in August with a series of concerts. The summer season is rounded off with the UTMB, a trail running event attracting elite trail-runners from around the world.
Summer in Chamonix
With fantastic climbing, golf and hiking, it comes as no surprise to see that Chamonix is just as popular during the summer season. Mountain biking is a popular pursuit here and there are many mountain biking schools available for you to hone your skills. Children can enjoy a treetop adventure at La Foret Magique in Les Tines and Accro’ Park which has a giant 300m zipline and over 70 treetop elements to contend with.
A mountaineering mecca, Chamonix attracts climbers and mountaineers from all over the world to sample the incredible quality and variety of mountaineering on offer. There are many mountain guiding and training courses available, from complete beginners to talented climbers who require a private guide for tackling more demanding itineraries.