There's no question - Chamonix Mont-Blanc is the place to winter. There's miles of long groomed pistes with a well deserved reputation for adrenalin fueled adventure, not to mention the hectares of off-piste fresh powder and is a resort in the first division for atmosphere and apre' fun.
While the resort is renowned for its steep deeps at Les Grands Montets, Vallee Blanche, the World Cup piste at Kandahar and the blacks at Brevent-Flegere, the Ski Resort also has wide, open, sunny bowls for intermediate skiers.
There are hundreds of miles of red/ blue groomed pistes on south facing sunny slopes - what could possibly be better?
There are also easy to negotiate nursery
slopes at the bottom of the valley, but this is not really a
But first things first - get the right resort pass that's appropriate for where you'll have the most fun.
Prior to the mid 1990's Cham, like most other resorts had a pay-by-section type pass and it was only after the resort's investment in a comprehensive market survey, did the management company devise the current access system that reflects market demand.
Expert skiers wanted convenient access to the entire resort while intermediate and novices were happy with regions that suited their ability. Hence the Unlimited Mont-Blanc Option and the less expensive Chamonix le Pass were created.
However there are still single or return lift tickets for foot traffic or those on a le Pass who may want add-ons for additional access such as to the top of Grands Montets.
The resort is a collection of 5 major regions spread around the valley with Chamonix Mont-Blanc, the major town. Depending on snow conditions, ski-in, ski-out, is limited as most of the accommodation is at low altitude on the valley floor at 1200m, whilst most of the pistes start at 2000m.
There is so much terrain to explore here let alone getting across to the partnered resorts in Italy and Switzerland, and is an excellent base for off-piste adventures with a good selection of qualified mountain guides to instruct you on powder skiing and guide you on fresh untracked snow off piste.
If you have only a short time here, read our tips below on how to maximize your experience at Chamonix Mont-Blanc or employ a private guide. They're best placed to help you experience the best Cham has to offer as well as attending to transfers, without any waste of time.
When we go on vacation, that's what we choose to do - relax and do vacation stuff. What we do not want is to waste time commuting. If there is one thing to know about Chamonix Mont-Blanc and the regions, is...well...it is enormous. So vast that it takes an hour by bus from one end of the valley to the other.
To help you make for a less irritating vacation,
Les Grands Montets
Chamonix Mont-Blanc and it's surrounding Alps are where to go for some of Europe's most difficult black runs. From the top of the Les Grands Montets at 3295m, there are a variety of permutations of black runs for the 2000m descent to the bottom at 1235m.
But first, you have to get past the steep deeply moguled slope at the top as you exit the cable car, to enjoy the adrenalin fueled exhilarating run to the bottom.
While there are what seems to be thousands of skiers on the first leg of the cable car ride to mid-level at Lognan, most will dissipate here for the lifts that radiate out from Lognan, including to Bochard at 2700m.
There are long groomed red pistes and some blues including an area around Marmottons for novices to test their new skills. Have fun on the rails here at the freestyle park!
Off-Piste, The Iconic Vallee Blanche
Isn't this why expert skiers come to Chamonix - to tick off the bucket list for the Vallee Blanche?
Please check out our various articles on the Vallee Blanche. The 20 km run with a 2000m descent is hugely exciting and incredibly dangerous from the minute you step off the nice firm concrete of the Aiguille du Midi Terminal at the top.
Please respect Mother Nature and out here, she's powerful. There are signs warning skiers this is off-piste and that is exactly what it means - there are no safety ropes, no poles marking off crevasses, no signs, and absolutely no where for a nice expresso until you get to the refuge about half way down. It's really basic at the refuge, although there is a rescue helicopter pad and a telephone.
Please take a guide. Although this does not guarantee
your safety, it does minimize the risk as they will know the safe
routes across the crevasses and will have on them safety and rescue
equipment such as ropes, shackles, emergency locator beacons, pitons and
the like. Be aware, rescue will cost and you may want to check or
purchase additional insurance.
Nonetheless, the Vallee Blanche
is "do-able" by intermediates. Your mountain guide will assess
your abilities and determine the most appropriate route.
The World Cup Downhill at Kandahar
If you can, try to plan your trip to coincide with the World Cup Downhill Slalom and Grand Slalom. It's held at the Kandahar at Les Houches and the atmosphere is really something else. Then there are the street parties and demos at Chamonix Mont-Blanc too.
For intermediate skiers, there's just miles of groomed terrain at
Of course, as I've mentioned above, the Vallee Blanche is possible but only with a guide.
Find out where to go when snow conditions are poor or visibility's bad.
Where to ski if you had only a day in Cham.
The Unlimited Mont-Blanc Pass has to be the best value ticketing in France, for access to not just all of the areas around Chamonix Mont-Blanc, but also, all of Courmayeur, on the southern side of the Mont-Blanc Massif and also to Verbier in Switzerland, the winter playground for the rich and famous.
Go for at least a day to explore Verbier's four valleys, but you'll need to go fast or start the day really early to check out most of Verbier. Courmayeur has a relaxed classy atmosphere and you'll find skiers return again and again as it's just 20 minutes away through the Mont-Blanc tunnel. The skiing here is sensational.
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