Chamonix - The extremely Biased Chamonix Ski Holidays Guide


ski holidays Chamonix ski resort guide and mountain info

We don't pretend there's no agenda... everyone's trying to make a living and everyone has something to sell... even in halcyon Chamonix. So let's just accept that each Chamonix business owner knows what's best about their firm... and let them tell us about it! No pretence of being independent - this Chamonix Ski Resort Guide is Biased!

About Chamonix mobi - a Chamonix ski holidays guide which works on your phone as well as your PC, this site lets all the amazingly talented people and businesses in the Chamonix valley tell you about what they do and why they're special. It's basically like all the other Chamonix ski guides, except we don't charge the business a penny* to be here and we don't pretend to you skiers and snowboarders that we're somehow unbiased - I've been visiting this incredible place several times a year for a very long time and the one thing I can promise you is that I'm really quite biased indeed about Chamonix Mont Blanc.

Each section will start with the tired old B-S that you've heard trotted out time and again about skiing Chamonix, then go on to talk about the more complex, less sound-bitey and more accurate truth behind the baloney.

Chamonix Skiing

So you want to ski Chamonix, france? You must be hardcore, right? Wrong!

Don't believe any of the nonsense that Chamonix is only for chisel-chinned mountain men who laugh in the face of avalanches. There are superb beginners slopes in all of the main Chamonix valley towns. Once you're happily riding blues, you can then enjoy wonderfully sunning skiing and snowboarding up in Le Tour where you'll also find some of the easiest red runs in the French alps, to bolster your confidence, ego and goggle tan.

Yes you do need a guide to ski down the legendary Vallee Blanche, but that's to avoid the crevasses, not to help your ski technique! If you can ski most red runs then you can ski down the Vallee Blanche, just be honest with your ski guide about your ability (he/she is choosing your route down!).

You might want to leave the Grands Montets until you really need the insurance money (sell a kidney first, it's safer). No no no! You see that's the same tired old rubbish that gets written on other Chamonix ski guides, but the more complex truth is that the Grands Montets is only dangerous if your ambition over-reaches your ability and you then also ignore all the signs put there to keep you alive. See the Chamonix ski areas below for more detail.

Chamonix Accommodation

Unlike purpose-built ski resorts, Chamonix is a "ye olde savoyarde mountain town". Twoddle!

Since first publicised by British explorers Wyndham and Pocock, Chamonix Mont Blanc has been in the vanguard of winter sports and ski travel - for good and for ill. It's (almost) true when they say that Chamonix is as busy in summer as winter, because the climbing, hiking and mountain biking in Chamonix are as top-drawer as the skiing and snowboarding. But don't expect this level and diversity of facilities to be hosted in a time-capsule-like goatherd's village. Cham is big and busy - in many places, extremely modern, in others a little shabby - but that means there is literally something for everyone here and more genuine (not Disneyfied) alpine "character" than you can shake a waxed stick at.

Chalets, Chamonix hotels or apartments?

You can go for "chocolate box charm" with a Chamonix ski chalet but you must accept that it's often a bit of modern fakery. Many would say it's better to stay in an apartment right in Chamonix centre and enjoy all that this fun town has to offer. As with any ski resort, staying on the periphery can risk only seeing the slopes and the inside of your chalet, whereas there's a lot more to the Chamonix experience.

Ski Holidays, Chamonix Holidays

Conventional skiing packages v's independent Chamonix ski holidays - package ski holidays to Chamonix are not nearly as big business as Chamonix independent travel (ie where you buy your own flights, transfers and accommodation separately), but that's not to say this isn't the way to go. While it used to be the case that the savvy ski holidays and ski travel buyer would save a lot by booking their own arrangements independently, the whole skiing holidays landscape has changed enormously in recent years. Due to massive ski travel firms merging with each other, their buying power is now so enormous that it's hard for small indies to compete on price... and since the recent high profile small travel co. collapses, skiers and snowboarders are much more likely to buy from an ATOL bonded tour operator, where their ski holiday money is guaranteed safe. That said, it's always been my preference to support the small businesses and help keep mountain towns the buzzing and vibrant places we all love to visit. Indeed the whole point of this Biased Chamonix Ski Resort Guide is to help you to spend your ski holidays money with the locals. But of course its never so black and white because you'll usually find that the big UK tour op's are renting the accommodation for their Chamonix ski holiday packages from these very locals. Responsible tourism can be a minefield but it's worth doing your research if you really do care about supporting the amazing communities that you're visiting - email me if you'd like more advice.

Chamonix Weather

The weather in Chamonix is really mild and there's rarely much snow in town. Oversimplified baloney!

Chamonix weather can be among the most arctic in the alps, but it is true to say that the relatively low altitude of the town can lead to disastrously optimistic outfit decisions, when setting off for a day on the hill. If you're leaving Chamonix resort and going up the mountain, check the forecast "summit temperature", because it will be a LOT different to how it feels when you stick your head out of the window of your chalet in Chamonix! If your Chamonix accommodation doesn't have t'internet, look at the Chamonix weather on your cell phone (we'll have weather and Chamonix snow reports on this page shortly).

Perhaps the most beautiful thing to see when skiing Chamonix is the view from up on the high ski lifts, looking down at the valley completely encased in cloud below you - as much as I hate hyperbole, this truly is the landscape of the Gods. (anyone for a game of

Chamonix Property

Property is cheap to buy in France and you can rent your ski chalet in Chamonix to make profit. B-S!

Property may be cheap in most of France, but not in alpine ski resorts and definitely not in Chamonix Mont Blanc. Perhaps more than any other place in France, Chamonix saw a property boom that kept pace with and often overtook that in the UK... because most people who buy property for sale in Chamonix are British (much to the chagrin of the Chamoniardes).

skiing and snowboarding Chamonix France

Anyone can ski on the legendary Grands Montets, even beginners. Dangerously inaccurate!

Argentiere and Les Grands Montets

If you can ski most red trails and blue pistes are passé for you, then you must go explore the epic-mungus-ness** that is the Grands Montets. If not, then stick to the beginners area at the bottom called Les Chosalet or better still, take the bus up to Le Tour where slopes are more forgiving. The official gradation of ski slopes within the Chamonix valley is famously subjective, with the wildest variations being between Le Tour and the Grands Montets - it's widely accepted that many Le Tour "red" runs are easier than many Argentiere "blue" trails. Skiing Colorado these dangerous inaccuracies might lead to a post-injury lawsuit - skiing in France they lead only to a Gallic shrug of the shoulders and superbly efficient mountain rescue/ski patrol.

Argentiere is the real home of hardcore and permanent residents include the office of Chamonix Experience, owned and operated by legendary Everest mountaineer Russell Brice. It's also a great place to stay for a ski holiday with its rough and ready mountain man feel - if you can really ski and snowboard, you probably want to stay here to avoid taking the ski bus to the Grands Montets each day. It's also often better value than Chamonix ski holidays.

Les Houches

Les Houches is calmer, quieter and often considered the "Chamonix family ski holidays" locale. It used to be the cheaper option too but, since the long steady decline of the Cham Sud area, is no longer the cheapest place to stay in the valley. Les Houches is still recommended for families and those looking for a quieter ski holiday but it's a fair bit lower down the valley so don't expect reliable ski into resort early or late season - what it does offer is some lovely sheltered treeline skiing when its cold wild and exposed elsewhere mid-winter.

Le Tour

LeTour at the head of the Chamonix valley gets the most sun and has the most cruisey all-day-casual skiing in the area. It also has some of the best value chalet accommodation and so is ideal if you don't need night life or serious après ski facilities. Find a nice cosy chalet here and you've a great spot for a relaxed week of family skiing in Chamonix France.

"An independent Chamonix travel guide written by lovers of its ski chalets, Chamonix skiing, alpinism, Chamonix après ski bars and restaurants, weather, Chamonix holidays and generally all things Chamonix Mont Blanc...blah blah blah" What a load of tired old bull!

We've read this in a dozen "independent Chamonix guides" and frankly, it's insulting our intelligence - Chamonix mobi is the completely biased and partisan guide to snowboarding and skiing holidays in Chamonix France.

* To add your business, along with a link to your website, to the Biased Chamonix Ski Guide, just email with a title, unique description and url.
(disclosure: sno are paying for this domain, server and me, so you don't have to - why? probably for this mention... everyone's selling something)

We'd also be really grateful if any of the incredible Chamonix photographers in town would allow us to use photographs of Chamonix in exchange for a write up and a link, so we can replace these generic ones which we already had kicking around royalty-free from iStock.

** A technical term first coined by Messrs Windham and Pocock to describe the degree of "spectacularity" to be found approx 1 semi-blimey above "life changing" and a half climax below "zen".