Travel Idea

Chamonix

Going off piste

overview

Nestled beneath the highest mountains in the Alps, yet just one hour from Geneva, Chamonix is a unique resort, famous for its challenging skiing and range of off-piste routes.

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Now a magnet for thrill seekers, the resort is known for its steep, challenging runs, off-piste powder, and dramatic mountain scenery -and just over an hour from Geneva.

Emma Hunter

Home to the first Winter Olympics in 1924, Chamonix is considered by many to be the birthplace of alpine skiing.

Now one of the largest ski towns in Europe, Chamonix is set spectacularly beneath the highest peaks in the Alps, and is steeped in mountain tradition. Whilst the resort is large, the attractive town offers both traditional charm and a lively nightlife, and boasts an unparalleled range of non-skiing activities. With all this on offer just a little over an hour from Geneva, it's easy to see why Chamonix is a popular destination for those just wanting a day or two on the slopes or a quick weekend break.

The slopes in the Chamonix Valley are spread across three distinct areas; The Brevent, Flegere and high altitude territory of Grands Montets. Les Houches and Le Tour are slightly further away, requiring a bus ride or the use of a car, but are still covered by the same lift pass and are definitely worth a visit.  Close to the resort centre, a spectacular two stage cable-car takes you to the top of the 3840m Aiguille du Midi and access to the off-piste powder on the glaciers, with mind-blowing scenery along the way. From the Aiguille du Midi (3,812m) you can see the French, Swiss and Italian Alps, including Mont Blanc on a clear day.  It also marks the start of perhaps the most famous off piste ski run in the world, Valley Blanche, a 20km unmarked and unmaintained off-piste run. (A guide here is essential.) Beginners and intermediates aren't left out in the cold; there are plenty of long green, blue, and red runs with reliable snowcover on which to practise turns.

Runs
  • Green: 16%
  • Blue: 36%
  • Red: 32%
  • Black: 16%
Airport Transfers
  • Geneva: 1h 15m
  • Chambery: 1h 45m
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There are plenty of options to entertain non-skiers too.

Alternative winter sport activities such as ice skating, curling, indoor tennis and squash are available in the town. It is also possible to take cable cars and gondolas up the mountain for a lunchtime rendezvous with skiers. Chamonix also offers fantastic restaurants, a lively Saturday market, great apres bars and some really beautiful hotels. Chamonix has a car-free centre of town, with cobbled streets and squares, beautiful old buildings and a fast running river. The town squares and pavement cafes bustle with shoppers and tourists during the day, sipping drinks and absorbing the breathtaking scenery, by night the apres ski venues come alive with people venturing out for the evening. Chamonix nightlife should not be missed!

Restaurants

Chamonix village is a haven for foodies (and offer better value than their 'mountain' counterparts), but they do get busy, so best to book in advance.

Great bars

In and around the pedestrian centre of Chamonix, night owls can enjoy the eclectic scene of bars, restaurants, and clubs.

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