We found Chamonix Ski Transfers to be something to be concerned about when we arrived as the resort is just enormous and had no idea how to get around.
After wasting, oops, investing, the time at the Tourist Office, and trooping around town trying to find the Ticket Office, we eventually figured out Transfers to the ski lifts are free, but you need to know where to go.
So, here's what we learned so you don't have to waste half a day of a limited vacation time figuring out transfers in the Resort.
Skiers in Chamonix will need to be fans of the Chamonix Ski Bus as this is the most efficient way to get around the resort. Ideally, your accommodation will be close to the Bus Route and located so that you won’t have to commute too far to get to your ski region of choice.
The most important thing to know about the resort is that NONE of the 5 ski regions are interconnected. There are a number of tips on the page Chamonix Skiing Holidays: Top 10 Tips, that will help you plan your vacation and figure out transfers from your lodge. Skiers will need to commute on the Resort's Ski Bus and Train System.
For a brief overview, here’s an orientation drawing of the resort showing the major villages in the Chamonix France valley. These are access villages to the ski regions and there are small nursery slopes for beginners at each village.
Chamonix Ski Bus:
Here is the link to the Bus Route. The bus company runs a most efficient and easy to use service.
This is the link to the timetable for the Chamonix Bus Route in the Valley.
You’ll wait no more than a few minutes and at peak times, such as at the end of the day, there are more than enough buses.
Free with Valid Pass:
The Chamonix Bus and Train are free for skiers on a valid pass. We preferred the buses as they dropped skiers of directly at the lifts.
For guests in the resort who are not skiers, travel is also free with a valid Carte d’ Hote. This Guest Card is issued by your accommodation host.
One thing about the Chamonix Train – it’s a special service that plys the resort only, so if you want to travel out of the valley, you’ll change trains at Vallorcine to get onto another rail system that takes you to Martigny, a major interchange in Switzerland; or at St Gervais to get onto the main French Rail System.
The train is free for skiers on a valid ski pass and likewise for non-sking guests with a Carte d'hote.
The Chamonix Bus Company also runs another free bus service called “The Mulet”. These are little eco-buses and they only service the township of Chamonix Mont Blanc.
Not the valley, just the town.
The “Mulet” stops are frequent and it covers a large part of town.
The Mulet’s route is not direct as it winds its way around town, so sometimes it’s easier to get off close enough to your stop rather than travel the whole route to get there. The best example is getting to the Train Station. The little bus eventually goes there, but it’s easier to get off at Rue de la Tour and walk the few hundred metres to the Train.
The major villages and ski regions and areas accessed from north to south are:
• Le Tour and Vallorcine
Domaine de Balme
Nursery - La Vormanine
Les Grands Montets
Nursery - Les Chosalets
• La Praz
Ski de Fond or Cross Country Trails
• Les Houches
Les Houches includes the World Cup piste green ski area of Le Tourchet
As you’ll see, to ski Chamonix is to explore a vast resort. We found that there’s heaps of variety suitable for all levels of skiing however, skiers will need to travel and commute between regions.
Best Location For Convenience To Transport:
We stayed in the best part of the valley – right in the middle of the town of Chamonix Mont Blanc. The advantage is it’s no more than 20 minutes travel in either direction, north to Le Tour or south to Les Houches. However, we found travel from one end to the other takes close to an hour as the Chamonix Ski bus route stops at several points in town.
The main bus hub closest to the best location in town is at Alee Recteur Payot under the overhead road of Alee du Majestic. It’s just behind the shops along Rue du Docteur Paccard.
Of course, the location of accommodation is reflected in its pricing.
Accommodation Close To Transport:
Getting around the resort will be a major factor during your Chamonix ski holiday. Ideally, your accommodation will be close to ski regions you’ll most likely favour. You’ll have heard that the skiing in Chamonix is really fantastic and it really is as there’s more than enough variety for every level of skiing ability. There's lots of variety when you ski Chamonix and more than enough challenging pistes that'll suit different levels of ability.
If you have little ones joining you on your family skiing holidays, try to get accommodation close to their instruction area. Otherwise you’ll spend ages commuting getting the kids to ski school, then travel elsewhere for a decent day’s ski, getting back in time to collect them and then back to the hotel. We’ve done this before when our children were little and we’ve learnt the hard way not to have our accommodation on the side of the resort furthest away from the ski school.
While all the villages are small and even the town of Chamonix Mont Blanc is small enough that most things are fairly close, it is still inconvenient to walk too far in ski boots. We’d suggest studying the Bus Route Map and select accommodation that’s close to a Chamonix Bus Stop.
More about Getting Around Chamonix: