Ski and mountain climbing world capital, Chamonix is the place to go for alpine thrill seekers wanting to push themselves to the extreme. The resort is world known for its steep, challenging runs, off-piste powder, and dramatic mountain scenery. Its legendary 20-kilometer (12-mile) Valley Blanche is a high off-piste run, the longest in Europe, and a rite of passage for ballsy skiers on their way to becoming experts. Chamonix hosted the first ever Winter Olympics in 1924 and is considered by many to be the birthplace of alpine skiing. The resort is a large, yet attractive town offering both traditional charm and a lively nightlife.
At the crossroads of Swiss and Italy (just one hour drive from Geneva airport), Chamonix is well- known for its cultural melting pot, giving lots of charm to the resort.
Chamonix's ski area (1,035-3,842m) is spread across 4 mountains: Grands Montets, Brévent-Flégère (lift linked), Le Tour and Les Houches, so skiers must be prepared to travel if they want to ski multiple areas. The good news is that each area is specific and offers you the way to ski a different place every day. The ski "à la carte" in a way …
Great skiing in Les Grands-Montets
Located in Argentière, 3 miles from Chamonix center, the Grands Montets area enables you to ski the greatest height losses in the world in the heart of the mountains, close to a glacier. The slopes are spread over three areas - the Argentiere glacier, Lognan and the Pendant which also offer magnificent off-piste, known throughout the world and essential for good skiers and freeriders. The quality of the snow coverage is remarkable up until May. For freestyle enthusiasts, a snowpark and a boardercross are open in the Lognan area. You can ski back to the resort on the Pierre à Ric piste. Freeriders will encounter some mind-blowing scenery along the way - deep crevasses, ice falls.
Facing the Mont-Blanc at Brevent-Flegere
Between the altitudes of 1,030 m and 2,525 m and linked by cable car, these two south-facing areas offer the finest view points in the Alps. You'll start skiing in the sun to enjoy a nice day. To make progress in a sumptuous setting, enjoy varied slope of all levels and to discover some of the finest runs in the Valley, these areas are not to be missed.
"Easy" skiing in Le Tour - Col de Balme
Amongst the alpine pastures and starting from the villages of le Tour and Vallorcine, the Balme areas offer multiple skiing and pleasure on two distinct slopes. In the Charamillon sector, you can enjoy wide, gentle slopes facing the Chamonix Valley, while the Vallorcine sector enables you to ski through the pine trees near the Swiss border. Definitively the best place to get your feelings back and start smoothly. Excellent place for snowboarding with an abundance of natural freestyle terrain, such as bumps, quarter pipes and gullies.
Family skiing in Les Houches
Slopes nested in the forest offer all the pleasures of the glide: from beginners to intermediates, you'll have fun in Les Houches. Even the best skiers of the planet come for the "Kandahar", the famous downhill World Cup. Because out of the avalanche zone, the slopes are quickly open even on a big snowfall day!
Located at the bottom of Le Tour ski area, La Vormaine offers 3 drag lifts and a baby lift to beginners in ski and snowboard. The gradient is just prefect to start and to take confidence having fun.
Les Chosalets closed to Les Grands-Montets and les Planards, downtown Chamonix are also good places to start.
OTHER TOURISTIC PLACES OF INTEREST
Aiguille du Midi
Welcome in the heart of high mountain! Within 20 minutes and 2 trams, the Aiguille du Midi cable car, the highest in Europe, climbs more than 2,700m and offers a unique journey between ground and sky to reach the panoramic terraces where you can put your finger on the world of the high mountains.
From the top (3,812m / 12,600 feet) you can see the French, Swiss and Italian Alps (including Mont Blanc, Matterhorn and Monte Rosa on a clear day). This is the view just before skiing down the 20-kilometer Valley Blanche - a totally unmarked and unmaintained off-piste run. It's the obvious place to head to. It has a 2,800-meters vertical and some very real dangers; only skiers able to parallel turn on a red run should attempt it (a high mountain guide is strongly recommended).
Montenvers - Mer de Glace
The Montenvers rack railway starts from Chamonix and, in 25 minutes and in total safety, climbs to an altitude of 1,913 meters where it reaches the bottom of the Mer de Glace, the largest glacier in France (7 km long, 200 m thick). This historic site marked the start of Alpine tourism in the 19th century and offers a panoramic view of famous peaks such as Les Drus (3754m) and the Grandes Jorasses (4,208 m).
The tour of the “Grotte de Glace” (Ice Cave) takes visitors into the very heart of the glacier. Re-carved every year, it describes the life of mountain people in the early 19th century. It can be entered either by a walk of around 20 minutes on a footpath, or by gondola lift.
Tramway du Mont-Blanc
Inaugurated in 1909, the Mont-Blanc Tramway is one of the oldest mechanical uphill rides in the Valley and the mountain rack railway is the highest one in France.
Starting in Saint-Gervais or le Fayet, it enables you to reach the Nid d'Aigle (2,380 m), at the foot of the Bionnassay glacier, first stop for mountaineers setting out to climb Mont-Blanc. Throughout the journey, you can enjoy a unique view over the surrounding valleys. Setting out from le Fayet, the Mont-Blanc Tramway takes 1 ¼ hours to climb from 580 m to 2,372 m.
Megeve is one of world’s iconic ski destinations. Created by a Baroness of the famous Rothschild family a century ago as a French equivalent to St Moritz, it has always been synonymous with the best of everything. Unlike most well-known French ski areas, Megeve was not built from scratch in the post-war era but was founded upon an original village that dates back to the 13th century and, with its cobbled streets surrounded by enticing restaurants and boutiques, oozes Gallic ambience. A Mecca for foodies, it is also home to the only three-Michelin starred chef in the Alps. To add further to Megève’s appeal, the surrounding slopes, located within the Mont Blanc massif – and extending to 445 km thanks to connections to neighbouring ski areas – are some of the most scenically attractive in the skiing world.
MEGEVE SKI AREA
Megeve’s local ski slopes are divided into 4 main areas: Le Mont d’Arbois, Rochebrune, Côte 2000 and Le Jaillet. Megève is part of the Evasion Mont-Blanc ski area. Added together the lengths of runs total nearly 450 km – one of the world’s biggest areas and plenty to keep you entertained for a week, or even a season.
This vast amount of terrains means that there’s something for all standards of skier, but regular recreational skiers will particularly enjoy the huge amount of easy, cruising, blue and red slopes which in many cases are attractively located on tree-lined slopes and offer magnificent views as you descend.
The closest ski slopes to the resort centre are on Rochebrune, linked by a gondola from the heart of the village or by a separate cable car from the outskirts. Rochebrune takes benefit of an east facing that means sun early in the morning. This area is linked to Côte 2000.
The amateurs of large spaces will find themselves on Côte 2000 which benefits from a quality snow thanks to its north facing. Main national and international ski races take place on the black ski run. The second largest ski area is on Mont D'Arbois which is connected to Rochebrune by a ‘horizontal’ cable car (but without a skiable connection) or can be reached directly from the resort, although the base of the Princess gondola is at 3 km from the resort and reached by ski bus. You can ski down from Mont D'Arbois to neighbouring resorts St Gervais and St Nicolas de Véroce over the far side of the ski area.
The fourth area, Le Jaillet, is located on the other side of town and is not connected to the other areas, but from 2012-13 the resort has introduced a horse-drawn carriage (a kind of long sleigh for which Megève is famous) to take skiers from the ice rink in the centre of town to Jaillet instead of having to take the bus. This area is connected with Combloux and La Giettaz.
On the italian side of the Mont-Blanc range (25 minutes by car through the Mont-Blanc tunnel), Courmayeur. ski resort welcomes you. It’s not only a different country but also a different atmosphere. Here, we can enjoy a perfect ristretto, which often means Grappa too! Restaurants smell Italy and the atmosphere is there.
One hundred kilometers on the perfectly groomed slopes or down virgin snow chasing after the last snowfall. Skiing or snowboarding surrounded by the highest mountains in Europe. This is the Courmayeur area, the sunny side of Mont Blanc.
Freeriding spots. The snowmaking covers more than 70% of the area, guaranteeing, for the whole season, the chance to discover, have fun and to test yourselves. Because here, we cultivate your happiness.
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