Chamonix Mont Blanc is the main township of the ski resort of Chamonix France. It’s the largest commercial centre in the valley and services the ski regions and villages in the resort.
This is the "happening" place and where you'll find the clubs, terrific restaurants, high end shopping and the atmosphere of a world class resort.
The main tourist areas of this charming town can be categorized:
Chamonix Mont Blanc, is just lovely. It's quite a large town and developed on both sides of the river L'Arve that runs through it.
The center, where the expensive real estate is located is north of the river, starting at the pedestrian zoned area of Rue du Docteur Paccard to the main square, Place Balmat and onto Place d'Aspen, at the junction with Rue Joseph Vallot . The loveliest shops, the grooviest clubs and the finest dining all happen around this part of Cham.
This northern part of the valley gets more sunshine during the day and it really draws visitors onto the warm cobbled streets, browsing the shops or enjoying a pastis in an open air bistro.
See the geography of Chamonix Mont Blanc? It is sited in a narrow valley shelted by steep sided mountains on both its northern and southern flanks. The south facing parts of town (on the northern edge) and the ski region of Brevent are sun-blest while the southern parts of town, are too close to the shadow of Mont Blanc and simply don't get the same amount of sunlight.
Let's start at the beautiful end of town.
Rue du Docteur Paccard:
The absolutely best shopping is along this stretch of paved mall, starting from where the road's closed to traffic at Av. de l' Aiguille du Midi to Place Balmat.
You'll find the best dressed shoppers along this stretch of the mall, having a look at what's new at Chanel, located next to the Hotel Les Alpes. Snell the sports store, directly opposite, takes up a large chunk of street frontage. There is a charming tea shop that sells pricey croissants and delicious pastries next to Snells.
There are some very elegant clothing stores along here...and the charcuteries have the most wonderful array of produce!
The luxury hotel, Hotel Les Alpes is located on Rue du Docteur Paccard and in the same building are the upmarket apartments, Les Alpes. Rooms facing north look onto the life on the square whilst rooms facing south enjoy wonderful views of Mont Blanc and more sunlight.
The Bus Hub is just behind the shops
The main bus hub is on the street just behind these stores. These are the free Chamonix ski buses that'll take you directly to the ski lifts in the villages in the resort. For example, to get to the Les Grands Montets you get the bus to Argentiere; for Domaine de Balme with its excellent, large open, sheltered and sunny bowl, you catch the bus to Le Tour.
Trompeils, French Elegance
This section around Rue du Docteur Paccard is unquestionably the most elegant part of town not just for the fact that it catches the sun for the most part of the day, for its high end shopping but as well, the buildings are maintained to a high standard and new apartments in this area are of a charming design evoking the style and character of French chateaus.
The visitor immediately has the sense of enjoying French elegance and style as only the French can do it.
Trompeils like this are iconically Chamonix. You'll see these clever works of art on public and private buildings in the elegant part of town. This clever 3-D painting is on Rue du Docteur Paccard, right opposite Apartments Les Alpes. It shows important historical characters from Chamonix's past.
As you walk up from Snells along the mall, you'll come to an open area which houses the main administrative buildings such as the post office, cinema, the ski school, tourist office and a large bank.
Facing east with the river on your right, is the very efficient post office at Place Balmat. The Cinema is directly opposite.There's a seafood restaurant on the corner near here and the Casino, close to the river, looks onto this main square. On the weekend of the Downhill Slalom World Cup, Place Balmat hosted a huge outdoor party with great music and a buzzing atmosphere. This main square, really, is the heart of town.
There's an excellent Artisans' store with some terrific Savoie crafts right here, next door to the cinema.
Just around the corner you'll find another little square with the tourist office on the left and the ski school booking office on the right. Both are well staffed with efficient and helpful English speaking workers.
Around the Tourist Office:
The main tourist office is just north of the main square at Place du Triangle de l'Armitie.
Chamonix Tourist Office
85, place du triangle de l'amitie
74401 Chamonix Mont-Blanc
cedexTel. 33 (0) 4 50 53 00 24
Fax 33 (0) 4 50 53 58 90
Open everyday from 08:30-19:30
This is a most helpful place, with very friendly English speaking staff, lots of brochures and heaps of information on things to do.
The Ski School booking office is across this triangular "square", from the Tourist office.
Don't miss the boulangerie
…and the best boulangerie in Chamonix Mont Blanc is on the southern corner of this square. The prices are reasonable and the pastries sensational!
Rue Joseph Vallot:
The pedestrian area continues from Place Balmat along Rue Joseph Vallot to Place d' Aspen. You'll find the largest supermarket "Super U" on the left hand side. You can't miss it. It's extensively stocked with the usual groceries, as well as a good quality butcher and fish monger, excellent selections of fresh fruit and vegetables, a liquor department and an English groceries section.
There are other smaller grocery stores in town but the Super U seems to cater to tourist tastes.
The funky clubs are behind this street towards the river. They are housed in little buildings behind tiny doorways in a charming (in daylight it's charming) little alley behind Rue Joseph Vallot.
The pedestrian mall ends here at Place d' Aspen. Beyond this pedestrian zone is the "new" part of Chamonix Mont Blanc and the ubiquitous 1960's and 70's block style of architecture dominates, a post-war style of building that's the same no matter if you're in Moscow, London, Hongkong or Jo'berg.
Northern Suburbs of Chamonix Mont Blanc:
You'll notice on the piste map, that the lifts to Brevent- Flagere run up the mountain on the northern suburbs. For intermediate skiers and families, this sun blessed Chamonix skiing region is fantastic!
There's a large car park before you get to the Brevent cable car and in this same building is the Crystal museum.
There are some lovely homes and villas in this northern area of Cham, and of course, they're just a walk to the cable cars. This suburb on the northern slopes is beautifully sun-drenched.
The poma lift at Le Savoy is right next to Club Med and is extremely close to a number of blocks of apartments around Rue Mummery. If you're here on family skiing holidays with beginners, this area is best. There's a large flat field where beginners gather their confidence with a magic carpet and poma/drag lift on a very gentle incline.
This area has lots of modern style apartments and is the closest thing to ski-in, ski-out in town (providing of course, snow levels). The Mummery is on the route of the Chamonix bus and local "mullet" which means getting around whilst located here is convenient.
This is a commercial area with banks, insurance brokers and the like. The area is a little run down and the post-war architecture makes this somewhat "ho-hum".
Our favourite video store, Chamonix Video is located at the back of the block of offices on the corner of Rue Joseph Vallot and Allee Recteur Payot.
Our favorite little Japanese restaurant is located close to this corner.
It'll take less than 10 minutes walk from the Mummery area to the center at the Chanel store on Rue du Docteur Paccard.
Chamonix Sud And Around The Railway Station
Cham Sud is dominated by the Aiguille du Midi Cable Car Terminal; and the area around the train station is cheap and cheerful.
Budget accommodation is a-plenty in these localities.
Chamonix Mont Blanc is surrounded by suburban areas spread around this central area. You’ll see them as you travel on the bus and “mulet”.
Chamonix Mont Blanc: Overall Impression - The
town of Chamonix Mont Blanc is charming and the best parts of town make
for a luxury holiday – beautiful people in a beautiful place.
But ... only in the best parts of Chamonix.
Ski Chamonix › Orientation Chamonix Mont Blanc