Chamonix is a popular ski resort on the border of France and Switzerland. It was here that the first Winter Olympic Games were held in 1924. Since then, the city has changed – modern infrastructure, safe trails and many lifts. Fans of outdoor activities are attracted by the variety of slopes and the spirit of an old ski resort – the warm comfort of log cabins, snow-capped peaks and the atmosphere of an eternal holiday.
According to cachedhealth, Chamonix is the first capital of the Winter Olympics.
It is worth coming here even for those who have never skied and do not plan to. At a minimum, to admire the views of the French Alps from the observation deck or from the window of the restaurant. And also climb high into the mountains and go sledding, go dog sledding or mountain biking and, of course, taste hearty and high-calorie Savoyard cuisine, which warms you so well on a frosty day.
Tourist center of Chamonix
Chamonix-Mont-Blanc Tourist Centre: Place du Triangle de l’amitié, 85. Website.
Communication and Wi-Fi
Mobile communication in Chamonix works well, the exception is only the highest points. However, as elsewhere in France, it costs a lot here – buying a local SIM card will not save much on calls home. Packages of three French mobile operators – SFR, Bouygues and Orange are sold in mobile phone stores, where you can also buy a top-up card. The cost of a call with Russia is different, the most favorable tariff is offered by Bouygues – 1 EUR per minute.
When buying even a prepaid rate, you will need a French address of the place of residence – a hotel or recreation center will do.
Going online in this town lost in the mountains is not difficult. True, posting a photo on Instagram directly from the top of the Aiguille du Midi will not work, you will have to go down to the valley. Free Wi-Fi is available in most hotels and chalets, cafes and restaurants, as well as in the tourist information center. The easiest way to catch a network is on the main square – there are several catering establishments with equipped access points nearby.
Skiing in Chamonix
Chamonix is one of the most popular ski resorts in the French Alps. For more than 200 years of history, excellent infrastructure has been created on the slopes of the Mont Blanc massif, which allows you to comfortably ski from late December to early March (on some slopes until early May). In the resorts of Chamonix there is also a place for snowboarders, lovers of freestyle, slalom and flat skiing.
Trails and lifts
The town itself is located in a small valley at an altitude of 1000-1200 m above sea level, but all ski areas are located above 2000 m. There are more than 70 slopes of various difficulty levels, several dozen lifts, and half-pipes. All slopes and pistes of Chamonix are divided into several areas of skiing.
It is better for beginners and inexperienced athletes to hone their skills in the Les Houches area – there are many simple and wide green and blue pistes. There are also more complex red and black slopes, but there are not many of them.
In all areas of skiing there are cabin, chairlifts, drag and tow lifts, from Chamonix and the surrounding villages the slopes can be reached by funiculars. Some of them are open all year round, others only during the high season.
Funiculars from the center of Chamonix, the neighboring town of Argentière and the village of Les Praz lead to the areas of Brevin and Fleger, interconnected by a cabin lift. There are more red and black runs, several easy and medium routes, and at the very top there is an area for snowboarders.
Experienced skiers should look into the Le Grand Morte area. Here are the most difficult slopes of Chamonix and some more interesting descents. Those who are confident in their abilities can conquer the longest route – 22 km. To do this, you need to climb to the top of the Aiguille du Midi on the funicular – the highest in Chamonix.
The zone Le Tour – Vallorcine – Col de Balme is located on the border with Switzerland. There is a black track that ends on the territory of a neighboring state. On the other hand, you can slide down to the very bottom – the city of Argentiere. There are many interesting descents and traverses, one drawback is strong winds, which sometimes close the lifts.
The Mont Blanc Unlimited pass allows you to ski on all slopes and includes a few more bonuses – an ice rink, a pool and museums – for free. Price – 63.50 EUR per day (for children and pensioners – 49.70 EUR). It is more profitable to buy for 6 days – 306 EUR.
A cheaper option – “Chamonis Le Pass” – covers 3 ski areas (Le Grand Morte, Brevent – Fleger and Balme – Vallorcine – Le Tour), the cost of a ski pass for 1 day is 51.50 EUR for adults and 43 EUR for children, for 6 days – 258 and 218 EUR.
Housing in Chamonix is not cheap, even places in a common room are comparable in price to double rooms in an inexpensive hotel. The most economical option is hostels, a night in a room for 6 people will cost 49-75 EUR.
Many hotels in Chamonix are built in a warm pastoral chalet style, which enhances the atmosphere of the old ski resort.
This place is very popular among outdoor enthusiasts. It is worth booking accommodation, especially for the season, in advance. In addition to standard hotels, apartments, holiday homes and the type of chalet accommodation typical of the Alpine region are widespread here. The cost varies from 80 to 460 EUR per day. There are also tents and yurts for 5-7 people (from 150 EUR per night).
The city has many middle-class hotels without stars and 2-3 *, some include breakfast and parking in the price. Prices for double rooms start from 100 EUR and go up to 300 EUR. Elite housing is represented by 4 and 5 * hotels, accommodation in them will cost 110-300 EUR for two.
What to bring
All souvenirs in Chamonix are somehow connected with the Alps and skiing. Shops and shops sell posters, mugs, plates and key rings with images of snow-covered slopes. The demand for cute ceramic figurines of St. Bernards, which are considered a symbol of the Alps, does not fall either. There are especially a lot of them on store shelves in winter – during the Christmas holidays.
T-shirts with funny drawings and inscriptions on the ski theme are also popular among tourists. And inveterate athletes will be able to find excellent equipment in the local shopping malls, the quality of which is impressive, and the price significantly hits the pocket. However, this does not stop true skiing enthusiasts – good equipment is a guarantee of safety on the track.
From edible here you can grab local farm products – organic cheeses and milk. True, in Chamonix itself, they also cost a lot, it is better to go to one of the neighboring villages.
Cuisine and restaurants of Chamonix
Savoy cuisine is common in Chamonix – fatty and high-calorie. However, after a whole day on the slopes, this is just what you need. One of the main products is cheese, which seems to be added to all dishes without exception.
The French Alps are the birthplace of the classic cheese fondue.
The most popular are “tartiflette” (potato casserole with bacon and onions topped with melted cheese), “raclette” (a large piece of cheese is melted on a metal tile right on the dining table and scraped off into a plate – on boiled potatoes) and classic cheese fondue. The inhabitants of the French Alps believe that they invented this unusual dish here. As for drinks, hot mulled wine and cool white wines of the nearest wine-growing regions are in demand.
The ubiquitous McDonald’s has reached this town, lost in the mountains, so that economical and unpretentious tourists will not have problems with food. A full meal will cost 5-10 EUR per person.
There are more than 100 catering establishments in Chamonix – fashionable restaurants (there are several Michelin stars), democratic establishments, cafes and coffee houses. In addition to traditional Savoyard cuisine, there are French, Italian, Japanese and others. The price range is large – breakfast in a cozy coffee shop costs an average of 10-18 EUR for two, lunch in a middle-class restaurant – 25-60 EUR, and dinner with good wine in an expensive establishment – from 80 EUR.
Entertainment and attractions
The main attractions of Chamonix are steep mountain slopes and interesting trails. However, even here you can dilute active rest with a cultural program.
To do this, you need to go to the Mer de Glace glacier, which in itself is considered the most impressive place in the resort. This huge ice massif stretches for 12 km from top to bottom. The Montenver funicular, a mountain railway, runs to it. Every summer, an artificial ice grotto is created in the Mer de Glace, which is equipped with a Museum of Ice and Wax Sculptures depicting local residents of the 19th century in traditional costumes and with household items.
For those who want to relax actively, but do not ski, Chamonix has swimming pools, gyms, climbing walls, tennis courts and much more, and for extreme sports there is a paragliding club.
Not far from the “ice museum” is the exhibition complex “Espace Tyrazz”, where cultural events and art exhibitions are held. The most interesting photo gallery belongs to Philippe Franoll, who captured the beauty of the Alps and the drive of skiers and snowboarders in his pictures.
Another interesting museum is located at the base of the Mer de Glace glacier. The expositions of the Glaciorum are dedicated to the depths of Mont Blanc, the valuable minerals that the Alps are rich in, as well as the nature and climate of these places.
Hiking in the vicinity of Chamonix and on the Mer de Glace glacier is most in demand (about 31 EUR per person). You can also ride a mountain bike along the same routes (25-50 EUR). For those who want extreme sports, there is rafting and canyoning (45-60 EUR).
5 things to do in Chamonix
- Take a ride on the highest lift in Europe to the top of the Aiguille du Midi (3842 m).
- Learn how to cook “pierade” – grilled meat on stones.
- Try all sorts of cheese in the most unexpected combinations.
- Learn to distinguish “straw” Savoyard wines from whites from other regions of France.
- Ride a dog sled along the snow-covered slopes of the French Alps.
3 km from the city, near the village of Le Praz, there is an extensive golf course equipped in accordance with modern technologies. It was designed in the 30s. of the last century, the architect Robert Trent Johnson, and today there is everything you need for lovers of this calm sport – 18 holes, a locker room, a shower, equipment rental and much more. True, you won’t be able to play in the winter, the field is open from May to November.
Chamonix for children
In Chamonix there are ample opportunities for outdoor activities with children. There are many private instructors and several schools in the valley (one of them is on the slope of Le Grand Monte), special easy tracks are equipped on which it is convenient to learn to ski.
Tourist offices offer babysitting services in case parents need to go away, and there are nurseries and kindergartens on some slopes.
A real delight among young travelers is caused by dog teams harnessed by blue-eyed huskies. Riding on snowdrifts will bring a lot of pleasure to both children and adults. At the resorts of Le Planar, Le Savoy, La Vormain and several other slopes, toboggan runs are equipped, equipment can be bought at the store or rented.
In the vicinity of Chamonix there are several zoos and natural parks that showcase the rich flora and fauna of the region. Some animals are almost impossible to see outside the protected area. One of them, “Merlette Animal Park”, is located near Les Houches. Deer, chamois, marmots, llamas and many others live there.
As in any mountainous region, the weather in Shaomni is changeable. In winter, snowfalls are frequent here, ice occurs, and at other times of the year – heavy rains. The climate is temperate – in the cold season there are no severe frosts, and in the warm season – no heat.
Tourists rest here almost all year round, with the exception of October and November, when it is already cool, but it is still impossible to ride. The ski season starts in December and lasts until the end of March (in the lowlands) and until the beginning of May (in the highlands). In summer it is warm and sunny, there is also something to do (climbing, horseback riding and hiking, golf and much more), so in July it is quite crowded.