In the shadow of Mont Blanc, the Chamonix valley attracts off-piste skiers, freeriders and ski tourers from all over the world. There is plenty of piste skiing too but it's scattered around Chamonix itself and the nearby villages of Argentiere, les Houches, les Praz, le Tour and Vallorcine.

With several ski areas distributed across the huge mountain ranges to north and south, a thriving town in the centre and smaller mountain villages like Les Houches, Argentiere, Les Praz, Le Tour and Vallorcine strung out along the valley, there’s something for everyone in Chamonix.

Adventurous skiers have most to gain from a visit, however, because Chamonix is the sacred citadel of off-piste skiing in Europe, Mont Blanc is its altar, and the valley’s numerous mountain guides are its high priests.

But even if you’re a beginner, an intermediate, or a non-skier you can still look up and admire the valley’s steep-sided mountain peaks; and you can still enjoy the town’s adrenaline-filled atmosphere and its buzzy restaurants, bars and clubs.

At 4,810 m (15,781 ft), Mont Blanc and its massif are magnets to skiers, mountaineers and all extreme sports devotees. For skiers, a long season in Chamonix is guaranteed with lifts open into May; there are glaciers and permanent snow fields, ski runs with a vertical elevation of more than 2,000m (6,562ft) and the Vallee Blanche, the most famous (and sometimes crowded) off-piste run in the world. All this only one hour 15 mins from Geneva airport; in many ways, Chamonix is a ski resort like no other.

There are disadvantages though: the skiing is scattered along a long valley (it’s 24km from les Houches to Vallorcine) and the only lift pass that covers it all (the Mont Blanc Unlimited or ‘MBU’) is very expensive. Most of the ski areas are not lift-linked, so waiting for a bus or a train to commute between them is the norm.

There are only two lifts in the whole valley that rise above 2800m – Les Grands Montets and the Aiguille du Midi: neither is included on the basic lift pass, both suffer from long queues unless you make advance reservations, and the Grands Montets has been closed for several seasons after a disastrous fire.

And as for ski-in/ski-out accommodation, in Chamonix that tends to mean staying in a mountain refuge rather than a comfy hotel.

Chamonix can be hard work, but the scenery, the skiing and its unique vibe make it worthwhile.

Chamonix Pros and Cons

+ Excellent off-piste
+ Beautiful scenery
+ Attractive town centre and mountain villages
+ Vibrant, fun nightlife
+ Quick transfers from Geneva
+ Skiing to suit all standards (but not in the same place)
– Inconvenient journeys to and from the slopes
– Separate ski areas spread out along a long valley
– Can be crowded at weekends
– Highest lifts have to be booked in advance
– Lift passes are expensive for what they cover.



Chamonix Resort Stats

Base: 1035m
Peak: 3842m
Vertical: 2807m
Ski Area: 150km
Longest Run: 22km
Beginner: 10% %
Intermediate: 40% %
Advanced: 50% %
Number of ski lifts: 49
Lift Capacity: 52660
Ski Season Starts: Mid Dec
Ski Season Ends: Mid April
Nearest Airport: Geneva
Transfer Time: 1 hour 15 mins

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Chamonix Resort Ratings

Ski Area star rating
Lift System star rating
Snowsure star rating
Beginner star rating
Intermediate star rating
Advanced star rating
Scenery star rating
Charm star rating
Apres Ski star rating
Other Activities star rating
Getting There star rating

Total Ratings = 11

Ratings sum = 40

Chamonix Map

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