Winter Season in Chamonix – New World edition
The Chamonix Valley is a place of extraordinary natural beauty, particularly over the winter season. Why not consider spending your season here?
Here is our guide to working, living and breathing the Chamonix mountain life with a special nod to Covid-19 and how we think it will change the way this season will pan out.
When it comes to accommodation in the Chamonix, there is a wide variety of options. Whether you are looking for a studio, apartment or Chalet, you will definitely find what you’re looking for over the winter season. We have broken down the four main locations; Chamonix, Argentiere, le Tour/Vallorcine and Les Houches.
The town centre is a really fun and vibrant place to live with a whole host of restaurants, bars and activities to keep you entertained. Additionally, the alpine town is just a stone’s throw from the Brevent/Flegere ski area. You can also access ‘La Vallee Blanche’ from the Aiguille du Midi lift station. There are bus services running from the ‘gare routière’ in ChamSud. This offers access to the Italian Domaine ‘Courmayeur’, among other areas in France. It is more expensive for accommodation in the town centre. The town is quite small and has very close knit groups of french and english speakers. Living in the centre of town it is easier to meet people, which might be very important if you are moving out on your own. There are also lots of clubs that you can join based in town, such as the Wild Trail Running Group, Never Stop Chamonix and the Womens Mountain Club, to name a few.
Argentiere is based slightly further up the valley (1250m above sea level), 8km from Chamonix town centre. It is situated at the base of Chamonix’s largest and most challenging ski area, ‘Les Grand Montets’. The beautiful village is renowned for it’s classic alpine and brightly coloured architecture with the Argentiere glacier sitting behind in the distance. This area is a little bit more relaxed than the town centre. There are still plenty of bars and restaurants with a friendly atmosphere for your entertainment. The zag ski shop based near the lift station sometimes hosts afternoon apres events. This can be a great way to meet some of the locals living in this area. Especially if you’re looking for an experienced ski buddy.
Les Houches is the first big alpine settlement that you’ll come across in the Chamonix valley from the Geneva direction. Renowned for being a great family resort, it offers a huge variety of winter activities such as ice skating, sledging and snowshoeing. The traditional alpine village also has its own lift system, and plenty of tree lined skiing for you to explore. They even have free night skiing on a Thursday evening on “le tourchet” piste, followed by free mulled wine with the local ski school.
Le Tour and Vallorcine sit at the furthest end of the Chamonix Valley, near the swiss border. These beautiful areas offer a peaceful and remote alpine experience, with brilliant access to the ‘Domaine du Balme’ skiing. There are few very good restaurants nearby, notably ‘L’Arrêt Bougnête’ in the Vallorcine train station.
Accommodation outside the Chamonix town is generally a bit cheaper. There is a pretty consistent bus service running throughout the valley connecting the different areas. However, they are also consistently limited after 7pm and taxis can be expensive in the evening. Most studios are rented during the winter for around 6,000 € (5 months). Apartments with one or two bedrooms have a winter rental price usually between 8,000 and 11,000 € (5 months). Properties with 3 bedrooms or more are rented from around 15,000 € (5 months). It is always best to book your accommodation for the season in advance to make the most of the best deals.
The french alps can be quite an expensive place to live, especially if you want to make the most of those snowy adventures and attend all the après events. So unless you have been offered a sweet remote working deal, you will need to find a job to earn money. Chamonix always has a lot for job opportunities over the winter season; somebody has to pour the beer! You could start by contacting the local restaurants and bars to see if they are looking for new staff, which they often are as the work is seasonal. The hotels and property management companies will also be looking for cleaners and maintenance workers. So if you are interested in this, it may also be worth contacting them.You can also consider driving transfers, resort repping or chalet hosting, these are all popular choices for seasonal work. The salaries may seem comparatively low, however employers generally offer packages such as ski hire and lift passes to counter balance. You can find out more about employment opportunities by clicking on the links below:
Last but not least, let’s talk about Covid-19. If you are planning on doing a season in Chamonix, you should make sure that you don’t have any symptoms prior to travelling. If you develop symptoms once you arrive in France you should quarantine and follow the protocol recommended by the government.
In town or in public places you should wear a mask, even if you are walking about in public. We recommend social distancing measures as well. The most important thing is to remember to wash your hands and avoid touching your face. The lifts have been running normally over the summer, so we are hoping that they will be running normally over the winter. You will need to wear a mask whilst in the vicinity, and should wash your hands before and after.
The atmosphere in town is still very friendly, with the bars and restaurants open as normal. You will be asked to remain seated whilst you are in these establishments to avoid unnecessary contact with lots of people. To summit up, mountain life has been affected by the changes put in place to protect against Covid19. However, there is still a great atmosphere here, and we are hopeful for a fantastic winter season.