Chamonix is a large town and quite unlike any other European ski resort. It is by no means a purpose built resort, and the region is steeped in history. While the area is well known among winter sports enthusiasts, Chamonix actually attracts more visitors during the summer months.
Chamonix’s reputation for extreme sports can mask an array of other activities and goings on – Chamonix is the perfect place to escape for a week no matter whether you want to ski or if you simply want a week’s holiday in spectacular surroundings.
Chamonix is widely regarded as being one of the best resorts in Europe for non-skiers, as there is a huge amount of things to see and do off the slopes. Even if you are a skier and simply fancy a break from the slopes, or there are bad weather days, you won’t be short of options.
The original ski lift! Before the days of mechanised tows, chairs and cable cars, the only way of getting up the hill was by walking or by using dogs or horses. Ski joering (Norwegian for driving) is suitable for all ages and rides can be tailored to suit all abilities. They can range from a gentle walk or trot through to a full gallop through the snow!
While it may sound fairly specialised, ice climbing in Chamonix is for everyone from complete beginners to expert climbers. There are many ice climbing spots along the valley, so why not try something new and have a go? Even for experienced mountaineers, taking a mountain guide is highly recommended.
What better way to see the area? Sit back and take in the breathtaking scenery from even higher than the Aiguille du Midi! Soar over the snow-capped peaks, glaciers and forests of the Haute Savoie – the natural beauty is awe-inspiring. Helicopter trips can be booked through a number of local flight companies and a few mountain guide companies.
Cross-Country Skiing (ski de fond)
If Alpine skiing isn’t your cup of tea and you prefer something a little less extreme, maybe cross country skiing could be your thing? Get out in the fresh air and discover the area. You have two options; classic style or skate – the latter being much more strenuous! There are lots of trails around Chamonix, with several cross-country schools to suit all levels.
A must see. The journey from Chamonix on the Montenvers railway takes just 20 minutes to reach 1913m, the foot of the Mer de Glace – the largest glacier in France. The “Grotte de glace” is re-sculpted every year and is a sight to behold.
There are lots of other activities that you’d expect to find in a town of Chamonix’s size, such as:
There is an abundance or cafés, bars and restaurants, and the shopping is excellent, too. There are the usual winter sports stores, souvenir shops and boutiques, but even some higher end fashion shops such as Chanel. You’ll find a market every Saturday that sells high quality regional produce – it’s always worth having a wander round the stalls.
There’s also a cinema in the centre of town which screens English films several times a week, and you’ll also find a number of museums and galleries.