Where to ski in Chamonix?
The Chamonix Valley is considered to have some of the best skiing in the alps. Arguably the best free-ride/off piste resort in the world. However, the layout of the valley offers a wide range of choice for all levels in most conditions … provided you know where to go.
Here are a few tips for making the most out of the valley and the most out of your holiday:
Le Brévent resort has the closest lift to the centre of Chamonix. The station itself is located at the top of a fairly steep hill. This can be a real pain to walk up and down if you are wearing ski boots. There are however two bus services (lines 14 and 17) that run to and from le Brevent. So if you would rather avoid the walk, you can get the bus from either the main bus station or the centre stop. (We would recommend double checking the times, as they may be subject to changes throughout the seasons.) There is also an underground parking with space for up to 250 cars, however during peak season this will fill up quickly. The area is a steep station with only one green run, so if you are a beginner skier you will need to think about this. In our opinion, this isn’t the spot for your first run. If you are an intermediate or experienced skier, you will love it here. Situated on the sunny side of the valley, le Brévent is a great place to work on your goggle tan. If that isn’t enough, there is a lift connecting to La Flégère. It is fast and easy to explore both areas straight from the centre of Chamonix thanks to the Planpraz lift.
As previously mentioned, you can either access this area from le Brévent via the connecting lift or from Chamonix les Praz, just 3km away from the main town. There is a bus service running to and from les Praz every 10 minutes during peak season. This resort is also south facing and soaks up a lot of the sun throughout the day. If you are looking to enjoy some bluebird skiing, this is the area for you. La Flégère offers skiing for all with a great variety of slopes from green to black and some interesting off-piste to be explored. There is parking available at the bottom of the Flégère lift; however there are only 100 places available and during peak season this will fill up very quickly. We would recommend either taking the bus, or aiming for the earlier lifts.
Les Grands Montets
Les Grands Montets is the largest and most popular area in the valley, situated above the Argentiere town and reaching an altitude of 3295m. With around 2000m of skiable terrain, this resort offers plenty of piste and off piste for you to explore. Thanks to its location and high altitude, this area is known for the incredible snow conditions that continue right up until May. However, the steep nature of the resort can make this spot particularly dangerous after fresh snow and it does have a tendency to be pretty cold in the mornings. It is worth preparing yourself before heading up the mountain by taking layers and checking the snow report. In total, Les Grand montets has eight lifts; two gondolas, two cable cars and four chairlifts. If you are an experienced skier, and looking to try some really cool off piste, the Bochard lift offers access to the lavancher bowl. If you are new to the area though, we would always recommend getting advice or a guide before taking any unknown routes. There is a beginners area located next to the parking with two drag lifts, this is really for people who have only just strapped their skis on. The steep slopes at the top may be a little difficult for anyone who is looking to cruise the blues.
Le tour or le domaine du balme is a wonderful area to ski for all levels, but the best area in the valley for beginners and intermediate skiers. Known for its sunny position and rolling pistes, it is a really great place to practice and build your confidence before trying some of the other resorts. The vormaine area has plenty of blue and green pistes as well as three drag lifts; great for skiing with children. However, the backside of the resort offers some really fun off-piste if you know what you’re doing. There are some potentially dangerous cliffs in that area though, so we would always recommend going with a guide or sticking with someone who knows the area. If you are interested in trying out some of your park skills you can head to the summit snow park, accessed by the le Col drag lift. There is parking available at the bottom, however it fills up very quickly even when it isn’t peak season. We would recommend either getting there early or taking the bus. There is a bus service (line 2) running from the Chamonix centre every 10/15 mins. The other way to get up on the mountain is by taking the train from the town centre to Vallorcine. You can get the gondola from the valley.
This resort is the area along the Chamonix valley when you are arriving from the geneva direction. It lowest resort in regard to altitude with pistes running through the treeline, making this the spot to ski in low light conditions. It is also a little bit more sheltered than the other resorts, so it is great if the weather isn’t amazing. Much like le tour, this area is a great spot for beginner and intermediate skiers. There are gentle slopes off the top of the cable cars, so you won’t be pushed into skiing outside of your comfort zone from the get go. There are two cable cars that access the area from the valley floor; both are served by buses from the Chamonix centre. There is also parking at the Bellevue lift station, however it is small. There isn’t as much off piste here, but there are some fun routes between the trees and weather permitting you can explore the Saint Gervais side of the resort. It may be worth double checking the snow conditions/coverage beforehand.
La Vallée Blanche
This is for the brave… La Vallée Blanche is a 20 km stretch of off piste from the aiguille du midi cable car to the chamonix centre (snow conditions permitting). It is high altitude, off-piste skiing across a glacier, so we can’t stress the importance of going with a guide. There are four possible routes, but it is very easy to get lost without the markings and even the most experienced skiers have gotten into trouble with crevasses. If you have your own off piste equipment, such as transceiver/shovel/ probes, we recommend bringing it. However, your guide will provide the necessary if you don’t already own it. It is a truly incredible way to see the mountain, and for many it will be the highlight of their holiday.
We have a great selection of properties based near the town so you can make the most of your time here. You can see the complete list of properties when you click HERE.