Chamonix Ski Resort Guide
Surrounded by cliffs and mountain peaks, and sitting in the shadow of Mont Blanc; Chamonix is a spectacular ski resort that deserves its reputation as one of the best freeriding areas in the world.
Having been a base for mountaineering adventures since 1760, Chamonix was catering to adrenalin-seeking tourists long before it hosted the inaugural winter Olympics in 1924 and subsequently became a mecca for all-mountain skiing. Despite the increase in popularity, Chamonix itself has grown more gracefully than the purpose-built resorts often seen in France.
Receiving more visitors in the summer months than the winter actually gives the atmosphere of a thriving market town, rather than ski resort. The narrow cobble streets help create an attractive, if not picture-perfect, centre with all the amenities, bars and restaurants holiday-makers would expect. A lively nightlife can be found if this is what you desire, and accommodation is plentiful and wide-ranging for all budgets.
As well as the thriving town centre the smaller villages of Argentiere, Les Houches and Vallorcine sit in the valley and provide a quieter village atmosphere for those looking for it.
Chamonix has rightly become a hub for skiers and snowboarders – with numerous ski slopes heading off in all directions around the stunning local area. There are high altitude glacier runs, slopes below the treeline for in bad weather, and some of the toughest and most testing runs in Europe. Options for beginners and intermediates do exist though with areas for peaceful cruising dotted around the piste map. The Vallee Blanche is one of the most famous off-piste areas in the world and draws adrenaline seekers from all over the world to Chamonix.
While it does have an impressive skiable area, not all these ski areas are connected by lift directly from the town centre. Full exploration will involve taking a bus or car ride from the town – but providing you are prepared for this then there is a lot of flexibility on offer in terms of ski areas.
Chamonix is a world-class French resort with a well-deserved reputation as such. A holiday here can cater to the most extreme, or the most relaxed tourist – it is completely up to you.
Airport Transfers to Chamonix
One of Chamonix’s best features is its accessibility from the nearby Geneva International Airport. Sitting only 85km, or approximately an hour’s drive from this major transport route makes it a convenient option for both weekend and week long trips – and there are a multitude of shared, private and bus transfers running between Geneva airport and Chamonix resort.
It is possible to get to Chamonix from one of the other local French airports – Chambery, Lyon or Grenoble – and private transfers will accommodate this request for an associated price. However, unless you absolutely have to fly to somewhere else, Geneva airport is always going to provide the quickest, easiest and cheapest travel to Chamonix.
Self-driving can be difficult simply due to the lack of decent car parking spaces around the centre of the resort. This is a real shame as having a vehicle provides a huge benefit to exploring the surrounding ski areas. Trains also run very close to the resort, but can require multiple stops which can be difficult to organise for non-French speakers.