Location: Chamonix is one of the oldest ski resorts in France located in the Haute Savoie region in the heart of the Mont-Blanc Massif. Famed for its spectacular cable car up to the Aiguille du Midi, Chamonix offers abundant snowfall due to its high altitude and is able to operate from early December to early May.
Chamonix is particularly famed for its off piste skiing mostly accessible from the lift system and has one of the most famous off piste ski runs in the world, the “Vallee Blanche”. As it’s a short drive to French, Italian and Swiss borders, skiers are able to find different weather systems in nearby resorts.
With 5 main ski areas, only 2 of these are suitable for beginners (Les Houches and Le Tour) but Brevent offers good ski terrain for intermediates. The majority of runs are better suited to strong, experienced skiers.
Getting there: Fly to Geneva from Gatwick, Luton, Southend or Stansted with EasyJet. Alternatively British Airways operate daily flights from London Gatwick or Swiss Air from London Heathrow or London City.
Chamonix is only 1 hour from Geneva making it one of the most easily accessible ski resorts.
Where to stay: For ultimate luxury, try Hameau Albert 1er known for its award winning restaurant. The hotel also has a fantastic pool and spa. Alternatively, Le Morgane is a fantastic four star hotel right in the centre of town. The spacious rooms all have balconies and there is a pool, spa and underground parking. It’s also great value. For those on a budget, Hotel Gustavia is the accommodation choice for intrepid skiers but rooms are basic.
Highlights: Due to its location, Chamonix offers flexibility in all weather scenarios. With easy access to France, Italy and Switzerland you are likely to find powder nearby even if it’s raining in Chamonix town.
Downsides: The town attracts serious skiers so we feel the resort is a little behind in terms of luxury options. This is better suited for those looking to share a drink with the locals and talk ski tech than enjoy long lunches on piste.
Best piste run: Due to the ever-changing weather, you can find yourself in Italy for the day but still claiming that Chamonix is your favourite resort as they’re all interlinked. But in good weather, head to La Flegere and enjoy the Mont Blanc scenery. The off piste here can also be spectacular.
Best mountain restaurant: This is where Chamonix is let down as there is a real lack of good mountain choices and we prefer to use our days skiing here and enjoy a good dinner instead. The new Les Consorts in the middle of the Balme ski area is a newly renovated farmhouse with traditional fare and a good terrace. Let’s hope it lives up to expectation.
Best restaurant in town: Be sure to book ahead for family-run Le Monchu – a typical French Savoyard restaurant with great local food and service. Also worth a visit is L’Impossible, to be found in a 1754 farmhouse and serving delicious organic food in a stunning setting.
Best après bar: Chambre Neuf is the liveliest bar in Chamonix – usually jumping to the tunes of their local cover band, the Bilboas, you’ll be surrounded by locals and Seasonnaires (always a sure sign of the best place to be). Arrive early to bag a table and settle in. The Micro Brasserie (MBC) is also a favourite for a local brew.
Best off piste run: Chamonix is renowned for its epic off piste notably the Vallee Blanche and Argentiere. We’d recommend avoiding the crowds of the Vallee Blanche and instead head to Les Grand Montets which gives access to fantastic powder, or Le Brevant which provides access to some interesting couloir skiing. We strongly suggest we use the expertise of a local guide (see below!)
Best guide: Matthieu is our man on the ground. With over 15 years of guiding experience, Matthieu knows all the tricks to finding the best powder in Chamonix whatever the weather. As well as a ski guide, Matthieu is also a mountaineer and climber and is a fully certified member of the IFMGA.
If you are still aching to get out on skis and off piste skiing in Europe is your ticket, get in touch with the off piste and heli skiing experts at Pure Powder!