A short break guide to Chamonix Mont Blanc – To Ski or not to Ski?
If you have never visited Chamonix before, we encourage you to come and visit the home of Alpinism!
Seldom when people arrive are they not impressed by the majesty of the mountains that are all around you. Mont Blanc the highest Peak in Europe, and the Glaciers tumbling down the mountainsides with snow and ice contrasted against the valley floor.
So is Chamonix, Mont Blanc worth the journey? To Ski or not to Ski...
Chamonix and the Chamonix Vallee
The Chamonix Vallee is 14kms in length, running from East-West, with the town itself in the middle of the Vallee with a total of 6 ski areas:-
Les Houches at the far end of the Vallee, has excellent “Family skiing”. Safe and picturesque skiing down through the trees and forest, to the 2 base access areas. The summit has an excellent beginner area, where snow is all but guaranteed, with a very safe bowl and lifts adapted to beginner skiers.
There is the Challenge of the Famous “Le Verte” - Kandhar men’s downhill Piste, this year will feature a men’s World Cup downhill and Slalom event - this will be worth watching.
Brevent Flegere ski areas above Chamonix town, are interlinked and have amazing views of the Mont Blanc Massif, the skiing starts from 1800ms, and the highest point is 2500ms, a variety of excellent Piste’s to suit all abilities, so a good all-rounder.
La Flegere has fabulous green and blue runs, with a Kids Forest area as well as Snowshoe trails. In terms of Off-Piste on the Big powder days and great riding for snowboarders, access to the Aiguille Rouge National Park and ski touring in the secluded Berade Vallee.
The Piste called Le Foret is, we believe the longest blue Piste in Chamonix, and ends at the wonderful Le Comptoir restaurant.
Based in Chamonix, we have a great choice of accommodation to choose from, you can see some hotel options here.
"The perfect Outdoor paradise, in terms of outdoor activities, there is almost every option available within the Vallee of Chamonix, and if it is not then for sure it is not very far away"
The team spent this weekend tracking a new Adventure Tour path for our guests, it started with a 40-minute ascent to Glacier Mort, time for a few snaps and to catch our breath before a lovely ski and board all the way back to Chamonix....if you fancy booking our fab little team for a Ski Tour, Off-piste Ski Adventure just get in touch.
"..it feels like an adventure, great to be able to share it with friends"
"It's always nice when you finish the climb and you get to take in and enjoy the amazing views of the valley"
Officially known as the snowiest village in France, Le Tour Balme has it all..... long undulating runs, mostly reds and Blues, a very long Blue run down into Vallorcine, ending next to one of the Alps top Mountain restaurants “Le Cafe Comptoir” - what better way to spend your day than going in and out of Switzerland!
Le Tour resort is suitable for the whole family, but if you are taking your little ones out do keep an eye out for weather reports talking about "bise", as this cold North wind can make for great snow conditions, but a very chilly ride on the chairlifts.
Les Jeurs is a classic run on a powder day with nearly 1000ms of vertical descent, through open rolling slopes and then into the Forest and back to the Chairlift, again be thoughtful with decisions when on the slopes, just because it is accessible from the lift does not mean it is without some risk on a big powder day!
For anyone who worries about weather conditions, safety or is nervous with skiing in any way, we run our specially designed Ski Courses.
- 4 days with a UIAGM qualified instructor or Mountain Guide
- Privately arranged itineraries to suit the abilities of the group
- Ski Weekend transport provided to maximise your time on the mountain
- Equipment and Lunches organised
At 3250ms the word Freeride was invented here on the Grand Montets, a massive mountain with long descents, mostly Red and Black. As well as lots of unpisted skiing between the lifts, taking a mountain guide to explore the Off Piste or even learn new techniques and ski on the glaciers will definitely be a highlight of your stay.
The snow conditions really are excellent here from early December through to the end of skiing in early May.
So why is Grand Montets so popular with skiing?
Well firstly, the huge pyramid-shaped mountain provides some amazing runs, as well as access to the Glaciers of the Argentiere basin on the East facing slopes, Pas de Chevre on the West facing slopes and then the North face to boot.
There are two Pistes that descend from the summit, many of our regular skiers take a good hour to cover the descent to Longnon, the Mid station, at 1850ms.
The Bouchard telecabine at 2750ms offers access to the Combe de la Pendant, which has just one marked Piste Le Chamois, however, the bowl is enormous and the Off Piste with good snow makes for truly fabulous adventures.
Some of our favourite lunch spots can be found here too, yes, of course, we have to find time for you to all eat and enjoy the scenery... what a shame!
The top choice is Le Cremerie du Glacier on the run down to the village also accessed by a sneaky private track so not many people know about it.
Argentero is also on the home run, and a few hours can be spent here quite easily on their lovely sunny terrace.
And lastly, Refuge de Lognon, based on the mountain this restaurant oozes atmosphere with views and hearty food to boot. Situated on the way back from Point de Vue and Blanchot's pistes this is French country cooking at its best.
Aiguille du Midi
This spectacular train ride takes you up to approx. 3800 meters in two cable cars. It departs in Chamonix Sud and takes the best part of the afternoon. To make a whole day of ‘sightseeing’ then team it up with the Montenvers Railway which takes you up to the base of the Mer de Glace glacier.
At a heady 3840ms, Aiguille du Midi is the starting point of what’s known as the Vallee Blanche, the generic name for a number of descents from the summit, and when conditions are good you can ski all the way back to Chamonix - 23kms, even if the lower part of the run is not so good then it is still 18kms.
Best undertaken with a Mountain Guide, there is a requirement of being a strong skier, who can sideslip and ski under control when told to do so.
Les Planards and Le Savoy, are both excellent nursery areas, accessed from Chamonix town, perfect for first ski and snowboard lessons, Ski Creches are available in both areas, and the le Planards has a long Blue run and a strong red where Slalom events are held, along with a year-round Luge track.
What Ski Weekend Adventures can I book?
Gavins Two Top Descents
1750ms vertical descent
From the top of the Grand Monets on Le Diagonal to the Glacier d’ Aregentiere, then around the back of the refuge de Lognon, straight down through the forest to the Piste de bar.
Non Skiing Activities
In case you are not an avid skier, and you have been dragged along on a group or family holiday; why not check out all the options on offer for you....from swimming to relaxing in a spa, enjoying gastronomy with some of the most amazing views in this planet.
Glacier Walking in Chamonix
For a different experience, clamp on your crampons and go hiking on the stunning Mer de Glace, Argentiere or Le Tour glaciers. The Mer de Glace is one of the longest and deepest glaciers in the Alps, moving at a comparatively rapid 120 metres a year. To get onto the glacier you’ll have to clamber down long steel ladders which are scary enough in themselves but you’ll quickly forget about that once you start admiring the breathtaking views and spectacular crevasses below.
Ice Skating in Chamonix
Chamonix has an excellent ice rink that is open every day except Mondays from 2pm until 5pm. Skates can be hired and entrance prices are very reasonable. So for something family focused off the Ski Slopes, why not head inside for another experience.
Be in charge of your own sled and team of excitable husky dogs, driving them along forest paths. After a brief explanation of how to make your team stop and start and strict instructions not to let go of the sled if it turns over you will spend the next hour speeding through breathtaking scenery.
The Chamonix valley is home to one of the largest indoor climbing walls in France. The Mont Blanc Escalade is located in Les Houches and is open all year, with 1250m sq. of climbing surfaces, and more than 100 routes to the roof, ranging from 16-20m in height. There is a beginner’s wall, a kid’s wall, and even a cafeteria.
Snowshoe Walking (‘Raquette à Neige’)
Strap lightweight plastic snowshoes to your feet, and walk effortlessly through deep snow. Either set out on your own or join a group led by a knowledgeable local guide and explore the hidden parts of the valley.
Spa Days offer pure relaxation in luxurious surroundings; what better way to ease sore muscles from skiing or just enjoy whilst the others are on the slopes!
Ten Pin Bowling
With eight bowling lanes as well as pool and snooker tables, air hockey and a games arcade, there are plenty of options for everyone.
Horse Drawn Sleigh
A familiar sight in Chamonix is smartly dressed horses and beautiful carriages – snuggle up in blankets in the back of his sleigh and see the sights of Chamonix on a horse-drawn tour.
If you wish to know more about any of these activates then please feel free to contact a member of the UK based team who will be more than happy to advise you and book if required.
We pride ourselves on being an "on the ground" team in Chamonix as well as the UK, so why not call us today and talk to one of our Team so we can design a Made to Measure Ski break for you and your friends, family or colleagues.
From the Ski Weekend Team