CHAMONIX - a THRILL-SEEKERS GUIDE
Chamonix sits in a valley at 1035 m surrounded by far and away the most spectacular scenery in the French Alps. Huge 4000 m peaks jut skyward and glaciers tumble down gullies between the icy spikes of the mighty Mont Blanc.
The town is a Mecca for thrill-seekers of all sporting persuasions who arrive in their droves to explore (or ski, or climb, or jump off) the endless hidden pleasures of the Mont Blanc Massif.
Chamonix is one of the oldest ski resorts in France and was recently described by deltinlife.com as the skiing capital of the world. However you like your sports, your après and your lodgings, Chamonix has what you’re looking for in spades.
Outdoor activities and adventurous things to do in Chamonix. Mountain biking, paragliding, skiing, rock climbing, ice climbing, canyoning, speedriding, you name it, you can do it in Chamonix. From the best off-piste ski descents to unmissable mountain bike routes in the Chamonix Valley. And from epic multi-day biking trips like the Tour du Mont Blanc to mountaineering expeditions to the summit itself. If you're looking for thrills, Chamonix won't disappoint.
Chamonix is the real deal - big mountain terrain, epic off-piste skiing and great après. A huge variety of terrain is on offer from beginner slopes to tree runs and some formidable off-piste. It’s safe to say that on its day Chamonix boasts some of the world’s best freeriding.
Whether it's mountaineering, climbing or backcountry skiing, you'll be safer and have way more fun if you hire a guide. Our ski guiding partners in Chamonix use some of the best local UIAGM-qualified mountain guides with years of experience leading backcountry expeditions in the Mont Blanc range. You guide will draw on their professional experience and local knowledge to tailor the route to the ability of your group and the conditions on the day.
Whether you're new to the sport or an experienced downhiller, you'll find terrain to suit in Chamonix. Lifts are open from mid-June until September, providing access to high-altitude technical trails and epic singletrack that weaves in and out of the picturesque Alpine villages.
The variety of accommodation available in Chamonix reflects the sheer diversity of the seasonal population. Passionate devotees of the whole gamut of outdoor sports flock to Chamonix throughout the year swelling the full-time population of around 10,000 to almost ten times that number. To service this guest population an array of lodgings from the uber-luxe to the cheap-and-cheerful is available throughout the valley.
All that activity during the day leads to a lot of hungry people, and the entrepreneurs of Chamonix have responded with a dizzying collection of eateries to suit every budget. The best advice for “après” entertainment is to follow the music – and if you do that you won’t go far wrong. Chamonix is always bustling and you need only step out of your hotel to find the fun.
View live webcam images from Chamonix via 5 high-definition panoramic webcams. Seize that bluebird powder day and see up-to-date snow conditions from the Mer de Glace glacier to the Grande Montets and from La Flégère to Les Houches.
Download high resolution maps of Chamonix town, Chamonix Valley, Les Houches and Argentiere. Plus find ski piste maps, mountain biking trail maps, nordic skiing and snowshoeing maps.
Getting to Chamonix
Probably the easiest way to get to Chamonix is to fly to Geneva and then drive the hour and a half to the resort. There are also bus transfers direct from Geneva airport (approx. 25 euros each way).
Alternatively, you might consider taking the Eurostar to Paris and then taking the train to Saint-Gervais-Les-Bains-Le-Fayet which is about 15 minutes down the valley from Chamonix-Mont-Blanc station. You can either travel during the day (just under 6 hours) or overnight.
Because the skiing in Chamonix is dispersed along the valley and not as interconnected as you might like, having a car (and chains in winter) can be really useful.
The climate in Chamonix is as extreme as the sports you can do there. At any time of the year, the weather plays a major role in how much fun you have during your visit. Clouds can turn a breathtaking view from the Aiguille du Midi into a 'can't see your hand in front of your face' whiteout. Daily weather bulletins are posted in the window of the tourist office and at the Maison de la Montagne. As a wise man once said (Billy Connolly), there's no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing! So make sure you come equipped with your mountain gear as even in summer the weather can be changeable.
The ski season starts in early December and ends towards the end of April. If there's early snow in November, the authorities will open the slopes and they may keep them open until mid-May if there's enough snow on the pistes. The best time for deals on accommodation, ski hire and lift passes is at the beginning and end of the season, as well as in January. During the February and March school holidays, prices are at their peak and the slopes are at their busiest. If you need to go during the school hols, make sure you book well in advance.