A look at the Chamonix Ski Resort

Chamonix Ski Resort is considered a paradise for skiing and snowboarding at an expert level. Its vast array of steep runs, awe-inspiring scenery and the fact that it is located near Mont Blanc (popular with mountaineers) has meant that Chamonix has grown into a busy hub for all things snow related.

chamonix-valee-blanche

Some of the most challenging slopes in Europe

Many of the slopes are underclassified in Chamonix, meaning slopes which are classified blue here would be considered red elsewhere. With 31 slopes classified as “intermediate” and 14 “Advanced” slopes, Chamonix is perfect for the very experienced visitor, and should certainly be considered alongside the likes of Val d’Isère in terms of difficulty.

For snowboarders it is considered the apex of free ride resorts, which is really a reflection of the steep and wild nature of the terrain here.

Booming Après-ski & nightlife

Chamonix may be a major resort, but its also busy town. The busy Apres-ski spots aren’t as obvious here as they are elsewhere as a result, so the apres-ski is somewhat disguised, and you would be forgiven for thinking Après-ski isn’t a big thing in Chamonix; The place attracts many English and Scandinavian visitors (mostly men) who take partying as seriously as they do the piste.

Recommended spots for the Après-ski experience include:
Chambre 9 (located near the train station).

A coffee shop & restaurant by day, a live music venue by night, A very well rounded spot for entertainment, and a local favourite. Plenty of locals go here, so it can’t be bad!
Elevation 1904 ( opposite the Chambre Neuf)

A quieter and more reserved option to the Chambre Neuf
MBC (just outside the town centre)

A micro-brewery and a bar, well worth visiting for fans of French beer, it also has live music regularly.
“Le Garage” nightclub

Arguably the biggest nightclub in Chamonix, it stays open until the early hours of the morning.
Easy access via TGV and Geneva Airport

Chamonix is 80km southeast of Geneva Airport, Switzerland. This is the nearest airport by far, with Lyon in 2nd place over 200km away.

The journey can be driven by hire car via the Autoroute Blanche motorway which takes about an hour. Transfers are a great option too, but prices vary greatly, so looking around makes sense. Cham-van.com offers transfers for under €30 per person, which is worth considering.

Chamonix will probably take your breath away a few times on the slopes, but if somehow that doesn’t happen, some of the options below might be worth considering:

chamonix-scenery

The Le Tour cable car takes you to the Franco-Swiss border on the mountains. The views can be amazing, so make sure to check the weather forecast and aim for a day of high visibility to check it out.

The Ice Sea Glacier (La Mer de Glace) can be reached via the Montenvers railway. The station at Montenvers offers views of the north Face of Les Grand Jorasses and also of the Ice Sea Glacier itself.

Other good viewpoints are The Brevent Cable car to view the Mont-Blanc massif, and the Aiguille du Midi cable car is worth visiting for the simple fact that it’s one of the highest of its kind in the world, spanning 2000 m elevation from beginning to end. Taking a camera is heavily advised for this !

Snowboarding Facilities / Snow-parks in Chamonix

Riders have plenty of reasons to visit Chamonix’. For starters, Les Houches has a great new snow park (Area43), and there’s a recently built snow-park at Grands Montets Ski Resort which has plenty of rails, boxes, jumps and half-pipes to cater for riders of all abilities. You can also enjoy some boarder-cross. Brévent and Flégère have endless natural hits that give a rider the feel of a park. Le Tour has a natural half pipe that has seen some great sessions but is often dependent on the weather. While the resort is not suited for beginners, there’s plenty of ski schools to choose from in Chamonixif you need to improve your riding ability.
Verdict

Chamonix appeals to confident intermediates and experienced skiiers and snowboarders who want to test their mettle on some of the best powder in France. There are plenty of activities here for groups too, so it has lasting appeal. Families with young children may however prefer Méribel for its great facilities for kids, including widespread childcare facilities offered by chalet operators.