Visit Chamonix

December 23, 2016
Hiking in Chamonix

Not any more – the Chamonix lift company (Compagnie du Mont Blanc) have been pumping millions into new facilities!

In fact there are recently installed cabins on the Flégère lift, as well as the Aiguille du Midi and the Grands Montets, and there is a brand new gondola from the base of the Grands Montets, for easier access.

Isn’t it all hardcore off piste stuff?

No! Sure, there’s plenty of off piste skiing to keep the hardcore skiers happy, but there is an endless supply of low intensity pistes that are clearer than you might expect for those who ski for fun!

Aren’t there loads of moguls?

Not unless you want them. All green & blue pistes and all but one red are groomed nightly except straight after heavy falls of snow.

If you like moguls you can usually find plenty off piste and some on a few special black pistes. ZONE BOSSELLE is the sign to watch out for.

There’s also ONE red piste with moguls on the Grands Montets called the Variante Hotel where I’ve seen moguls the size of VW beetles!

Do many people speak English?

Almost everybody speaks some degree of English!

What can I do before I get there in terms of preparation?

It’s definitely worth asking hotel / chalet / ski shop staff / lift offices / tourist offices if they think that some lifts might be closed on your first day. Rare, but it can happen, due to heavy snowfall or winds.

They’ll advise where to ski and which pass to buy. Check out ski hire prices on line. There are some great deals to be had on packages of boots and skis.

Also, most shops are used to swapping boots and skis during your stay if they are not feeling right. You just HAVE to be comfortable!

Getting Around Chamonix - isn’t it complicated?

Not really - but basic knowledge of the area can help as there’s an AMAZING variety of skiing, landscapes and views on offer.

All you really need to do is:

  1. Ask at your accommodation for the nearest bus stop or train station.

Buses are frequent and as long as you get on the right number, you can’t really go wrong. If in doubt ask the driver politely – they’re used to it.

Trains go up the valley from Chamonix all day long. They take 5 mins to Les Praz, 20 to Argentiere and 36 mins to Vallorcine.

Finally there’s a handy little shuttle bus called LE MULET that loops round town every 10 minutes from 8:30 to 18:30. Good for avoiding long walks in ski boots!

Chamonix transport is a lot less complicated than it might appear and you soon get used to it!

Which lift pass should I buy?

If the weather’s OK ‘Chamonix Le Pass’ is the cheaper option unless you want to go to:

  1. the Aiguille du Midi cable car (for the Vallee Blanche) or
  2. the top cable car of Les Grands Montets or
  3. Les Houches Ski Resort

The Mont Blanc Unlimited costs more (58.50€ per day) and includes some extras skiing in Courmayeur and Verbier. You can always upgrade but you pay for the whole duration of the pass, not just the remaining days.

‘Chamonix Le pass’ costs 48.00€ Euros for a day, or 42, 50€ for 4 hours of skiing. If you’re working on a budget it could be worth asking about the weather before shelling out for a whole week. If a big storm comes in and closes the main lifts, a day or two spent in Les Houches (with a different pass) could wipe out the saving. More info on Chamonix ski passes!

If a really big storm comes in and shuts all the lifts for a day or two, or it’s a white out and you want to ski below the tree line, go to Les Houches ski resort (15 minutes by bus from Chamonix) and ski there. Les Houches Ski Resort is included in the Mont Blanc Unlimited ski pass. However, if there’s been a storm and SOME of the lifts are open and there’s powder up there, you wouldn’t want to miss that would you?

Can I buy discounted ski lifts passes?

Yes, the Chamonix Ski Lifts company offer some discounted prices for their Annual or Seasonal Ski Passes. From mid August to the end of November each year. More info here.

How can i get a Resident Card?

In French, this is called a "Carte Gens du Pays", and is for local tax payers. This card can be acquired at the Chamonix City Hall. You need to take a photo and the previous year tax declaration (declaring that you paid your taxes in the Chamonix Valley). More info here.

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