Skiers, here's great news for you...getting around Chamonix by bus or train is free to those on a valid ski pass. As well, non-skiing guests at paying accommodation are entitled to a Carte d' Hote. This card gets you free access to the local buses and trains too.
This is what the guest carte d'hote looks like, and it entitles guests who are paying for accommodation and who do not have a ski pass to get around the Chamonix Valley. From left to right are images of:
For skiers, public transport is free to the ski areas.
The Mont Blanc Express is the train service that plys the valley from Vallorcine on the Swiss border to St Gervais les Bains, which is where you change trains to get onto the main SNCF/ regional French train system.
Getting around by train is efficient and as I've mentioned above, free for skiers on a valid ski pass and for those holding a carte d' hote.
There's an off-piste route from the top of Le Tour into Switzerland and skiers get back to Chamonix on the train.
Tip: If you're staying close to the center of town, it's good to know that there is a minor station at Chamonix Sud. This obscure stop is right at the corner of Ave Aiguille du Midi and Rue Docteur Paccard - where the pedestrian only mall starts. So, for getting around on the train heading towards the center of town, don't get of at the Le Gare Chamonix Mont Blanc ( the main train station) but get off here at the second station at Chamonix.
For transport around Chamonix, I prefer the bus service to the trains mainly because you have to hike from the station to your destination. While the stations in the valley are relatively close to the cable car terminals, you still do have to hike across to the terminals and there's the usual worry about black ice and traffic.
Yes, I've heard it said too, that the most convenient transport around Chamonix is by private car, but... think of the driver...he's got the job of finding a parking space when there are hundreds searching for limited car spaces.
This page: Chamonix Bus Schedules has the list of ski buses along the most popular routes. May I suggest you bookmark this page taking care to note the route number and peak times of operation.
Just take care when researching Chamonix buses as there are three separate bus systems. There's the
Chamonix is not a typical ski-in, ski-out sort of resort. It's town plan has villages at the bottom of the valley and ski regions located at high altitude. So, you have to travel to the ski areas. It's unavoidable.
So, be sure the accommodation you select is close to a major bus stop, ideally close to the center of town.
Most visitors will stay close to where the action is - and that's in the center of Chamonix Mont Blanc and what this means is that the ski buses fill up by the time it leaves town. If you're on the outskirts of town, it will be good if the lodgings provide complimentary transport as otherwise you may be waiting for a very long time at the bus stop. Visitors have complained that buses are filled to the brim and won't stop even at stops just outside the center.
If you're not at the center, time your getting around by bus by being sure to catch the earliest possible service. When I mean there are lots of skiers...there really are hundreds if not thousands at Chamonix.