chamonixOne of the world’s most famous ski resorts, Chamonix is a lively resort in a spectacular location beneath Mont Blanc, Western Europe’s highest mountain. Although key in the development of the ski industry, the resort’s history stretches back far beyond winter sports.

It first attracted British travellers as long ago as 1740 with the first accommodation opening in 1770 and mountain sports really beginning in 1786 with the conquest of Mont Blanc.

The nineteenth century was one of high profile visits from the great and the good of that century and Chamonix’s importance continued in to the twentieth century, staging the first Winter Olympics in 1924.

Any visitor to Chamonix will be immediately overwhelmed by the spectacular scenery of high mountains and glaciers, with a massive wall of rock and snow rising from the1000m valley floor up to 4810m above. For skiers this means some of Europe’s highest lifts, serving some of the world’s biggest ski-able verticals, including arguably the longest ski run on the planet, the famous 25km (16 mile) Vallee Blanche off-piste descent. Every year millions of winter sports addicts arrive to pay homage to this great ski area, and although Chamonix is quite low compared to modern resort developments, 90% of the skiing is above 2000m, the highest lifts amongst the highest in the world, so good snow cover remains virtually guaranteed at the top.

weather

Clear
Friday 26/05/2017 20%
Clear
Sunshine and some clouds. A stray shower or thunderstorm is possible. High 66F. Winds W at 5 to 10 mph.
Chance of a Thunderstorm
Saturday 27/05/2017 50%
Chance of a Thunderstorm
Partly cloudy in the morning followed by scattered thunderstorms in the afternoon. High 67F. Winds WSW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 50%.
Chance of a Thunderstorm
Sunday 28/05/2017 60%
Chance of a Thunderstorm
Mostly sunny skies during the morning hours. Scattered showers and thunderstorms developing in the afternoon. High 68F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 60%.
Thunderstorm
Monday 29/05/2017 90%
Thunderstorm
Scattered thunderstorms in the morning, then mainly cloudy during the afternoon with thunderstorms likely. High 68F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 90%.
Thunderstorm
Tuesday 30/05/2017 90%
Thunderstorm
Showers and thunderstorms. High 64F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 90%.
Thunderstorm
Wednesday 31/05/2017 80%
Thunderstorm
Rain. Thunderstorms possible...mainly in the afternoon. High around 65F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 80%.

 There are probably more convenient and cheaper places to learn to ski than Chamonix, as, it is likely you will need to walk or take the ski bus to reach the nursery slopes (unless you have a particularly fortunately located accommodation). Areas the resort recommends for beginners are Vormaine in the neighbouring village of Le Tour, Les Chosalets at Argentiere up the valley, Le Savoy at the base of Chamonix’s local Brevent slope, served by two drag lifts and an easy to ride conveyor or Les Plenards, two minutes from the town centre, a large area for beginners with two greens, one blue and one red run. A beginner’s pass is available at a lower cost than the area pass.

Chamonix’s international clientele (two thirds arrive from outside France, almost half of them from the UK) give the resort a cosmopolitan feel .There are more than 100 bars and restaurants to choose from, catering for all tastes, and later on several night clubs and a casino. Popular venues include Escape and The Pub.

With a fragmented ski area and the most expensive lift tickets in Europe for children, Chamonix cannot be easily recommended for families. Children aged four and older pay around 80% of the full adult ticket price. There is a choice of non-ski nursery care with the Panda Nursery, or beginner classes at the ski school’s snow garden for children aged three and older. Chamonix does have good facilities for families too in the resort itself with the swimming pool (complete with water slides), ice rink, cinema and lots of good restaurants.