Worldwide Ski ResortsFranceChamonix

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Standing in the shadow of Mont Blanc, the large, sprawling, high altitude town of Chamonix is home to some of the most extensive (and tricky) ski areas in Europe. The town itself is lively and has a wealth of shops, bars and accommodation to suit every taste and budget. The centre is pedestrianised, charming and has a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. It is invariably busy and can get overcrowded on occasions, particularly at weekends in the season. The surrounding mountain scenery is exceptionally spectacular.


Chamonix stands at 1035m and has a generally very good snow record with a season that often extends well into May. The resort is especially recommended for expert skiers and snowboarders who will revel in the sheer size and variety of the ski area and the runs that require respect and full attention. The slopes can be dangerous — particularly off piste — and the hiring of a guide is strongly recommended. Intermediates also have a large choice of runs available, although some care is needed in planning routes as many of the red runs require a good level of ability and the less confident ‘improver’ may find themselves in danger of being stranded.

Novice skiers are catered for by first class schools and instructors, but realistically, Chamonix is not the best place to learn to ski or board from scratch because of its lack of easy runs on which to progress. The one downside of the resort is that it is very spread out. There are 11 separate areas that stretch along the 20 km face of the town and which are reachable by separate lift networks. A bus service links the bases of the lifts, but it can be somewhat unreliable and a car is recommended.

Mountain Information

The area has 147 km of pistes extending from 3,400m down to 1035 m. The slopes are served by 47 lifts most of which are fast, modern and efficient. For the experts, some of the best slopes are to be found on and below Les Grands Montets with its steep and fast terrain. Some of the most interesting off piste opportunities are also to be found in this sector. La Flegere on the opposite side of the valley has some excellent slopes for all categories and although inclined to be windy, provides breathtaking views of Mont Blanc.

Some of the most spectacular runs are to be found at the Vallee Blanche where the long, fairly gentle slopes sweep down past crevasse and ice walls. Although the surface can occasionally get a little choppy, it is well within the capabilities of most intermediates. Snowboarders will find an excellent terrain park at Les Grands Montets and a natural half pipe gully at Le Tour. Cross country skiers are also well catered for with 42 km of prepared trails at their disposal. Mountain restaurants are plentiful, but reports on levels of service and ambiance are not good.

Apres Ski

There is a very lively scene to be found in Chamonix with a selection of clubs and bars providing live music and entertainments designed to satisfy all tastes. To keep the skiers well informed there is access to Cyber Cafés Cybars, cafés providing internet access.

French Resort Guide

Resort Information • Chamonix

Resort Height Resort Height 1035m
Top Station Top Station 3842m
Bottom Station Bottom Station 1035m
Vertical Descent Vertical Descent 2807m
Drag Lifts Drag Lifts 33
Chair Lifts Chair Lifts 16
High Capacity High Capacity 13
Opening Dates Opening Dates Dec-April
Rating Expert Rating Expert 10
Rating Intermediate Rating Intermediate 8
Rating Beginner Rating Beginner 6
Apres Ski Rating Apres Ski Rating 6
Snow Reliability Snow Reliability 10

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