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

Partly Cloudy
Thursday 22/02/2018 0%
Partly Cloudy
Partly cloudy. Lows overnight in the low teens.
Mostly Cloudy
Friday 23/02/2018 20%
Mostly Cloudy
Mostly cloudy skies. Very cold. High 33F. Winds ESE at 5 to 10 mph.
Snow Showers
Saturday 24/02/2018 50%
Snow Showers
Cloudy with snow showers mainly during the morning. Very cold. High 37F. Winds ESE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of snow 50%. Snow accumulations less than one inch.
Snow Showers
Sunday 25/02/2018 50%
Snow Showers
Continued bitterly cold. Variably cloudy with snow showers. High around 30F. Winds light and variable. Chance of snow 50%. Snowfall around one inch.
Snow Showers
Monday 26/02/2018 30%
Snow Showers
Continued bitterly cold. A mix of clouds and sun in the morning giving way to a few snow showers during the afternoon. High around 15F. Winds NNW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of snow 30%.
Clear
Tuesday 27/02/2018 20%
Clear
Mostly sunny skies. High around 15F. Winds light and variable.

 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.