The ski resort of Chamonix France is a collection or commune of villages nestled along a valley which runs from Switzerland into France, and is dominated by the nearby Mont Blanc. Chamonix Mont Blanc, is the main town in this valley.
This brief orientation is important so you know where your intended accommodation is located relative to where you're likely to ski, given Chamonix is not is single centered resort with the main town of Chamonix Mont Blanc about 2/3 way down the valley. Have a look at my diagram below and see how the resort and villages are well spread out.
Chamonix France: Resort Orientation
The actual groomed regions are extensive but are located in 5 major different locations about a hour's travel from one end to the other.
In fact, it's better to get a grip on the local orientation prior to making your bookings for rooms.
This youtube video, shot in summer gives an excellent 5 minute illustration of the resort.
Youtube video - excellent brief on what to expect of Chamonix France
More on orientation of Chamonix France:
The best part about Chamonix France is the very close access to Courmayer in Italy, less than an hour's bus ride away on the free bus!
Likewise Chamonix's proximity to Switzerland and the partnering with Verbier means you get to explore another high class resort on the same pass. Verbier's only a couple of hours drive away and makes for an excellent day trip.
See on the map of France, Chamonix is ideally located right at the borders of France, Switzerland and Italy. So, on the one ticket, you get to explore resorts in three countries and it's just so convenient to get to there.
At the northern end of the valley, is the village of Vallorcine. This is the town where the trains from Switzerland stop and passengers then change trains to get onto the trains that ply the Chamonix Valley between Vallorcine and Servoz at the southern end.
For skiers (with a valid pass, of course), this train is free. The trains are hugely popular with skiers commuting between regions.
from one village to the next is easy and efficient with the buses
and the train that ply the route along this valley. We favored the buses as they take you directly to the lifts, whereas there's a walk from the railway station to the lift terminal. Whilst it's only a short distance, it's absolute murder when walking in boots on icy paths and lugging skis, helmets and poles, let alone if you have to tow the kids as well.
The buses most commonly serve the village of Le Tour at one end of the Valley to Les Houches at the other.
The main villages and their nearby main mountain slopes are listed here. The smaller areas are not listed.
These French villages are rustic, charming and authentic. As the villages and hamlets are small, everything is close-by, including the lifts and the train. However, the main action does happen at the main town, Chamonix Mont Blanc.
This is one of the charming little villages along the River L'Arve.
Each of these villages will be close to a nearby ski region. The question you'd want answered is, Is this where you'd have the most fun skiing and if not how convenient is it to get to where you'd like to go?
Take for example, Vallorcine - it is the service town for the truly wonderful open ski bowl at Domaine de Balme, which is just perfect for beginners, blue intermediates and families. Being on the outer fringes of the Chamonix France, accommodation is appropriately priced. But it is just incredibly inconvenient if you're a party person and a holiday for you means fun filled night life with loads of exciting skiing during the day. The night life happens in the main town and night buses are limited, so are you ok with the cost and time for commuting?
If you choose to book your accommodation at one of the villages, it's probably a good idea to read about the pistes serviced by that village.
Chamonix is regarded as an elite winter resort, especially for advanced skiers and you'll see in town the "beautiful people".
Fortunately it's sufficiently extensive that there's more than enough options for beginners and intermediate skiers as well. Here's our very brief low down:
Check out the page, Ski Chamonix - this is our synopsis on what each area is really like.
For Family Skiing Holidays in Chamonix, don't be overly concerned about Chamonix's reputation for Steep and Deep. There's loads of choice and acres of open sunny bowls for everyone to enjoy wonderful fun filled days of snow sports. But I do recommend planning ahead so you don't spend your vacation trudging from ski school to pistes around the mountain and back and forth from accommodation should your digs be located inconveniently.
For the expert skier and advanced intermediate, you will return again and again to the exciting, challenging and super steep black runs at Les Grands Montets. The nearby village is Argentiere, a charming popular location for accommodation.
Another of the outer villages is Les Houches and I have to say, this area is all about the World Cup Piste, The Kandahar. Totally a must! The village may not be so pretty but the skiing makes up for it.
And as for the elegant town of Chamonix Mont-Blanc, it sits 2/3's way down the valley and is the major commercial centre servicing the villages along the valley. Not only is this just the loveliest place with a bustling active atmosphere all day and night, it too has its own extensive groomed regions to suit beginners, intermediates and advanced skiers. Read up on the very best part of town and where the beautiful people go.
Chamonix Mont Blanc, France Main Square
Getting around the Chamonix Ski Resort is efficient but take care to note times of the night buses or allow for taxi fares in your vacation budget.
The terrific thing about Chamonix is that its
location makes it perfect for the whole travel and ski Europe
experience. There’s so much to do in this region
of France, that even if you’re not skiing, you’ll also have a great time
at Chamonix. We've made day trips whilst based in Chamonix, to
For non-skiers enjoying Chamonix holidays there's just loads to do and explore ranging from the exciting trip up to the Aiguille du Midi to pleasant meanders along the River L'Arve. There are groomed foot paths running alongside cross country or nordic skiing trails. It's all very elegant and sophisticated and very much worth the visit to Chamonix.