see + do
98 Rue des Moulins
Tel: 33 4 50 53 27 05
190 Place de l'Eglise
Tel: 33 4 50 53 00 88
Place de l'Eglise
Tel: 33 4 50 53 22 57
36 Allée du Savoy
Tel: 33 4 50 55 90 22
85 Place du Triangle de l'Amitié
Tel: 33 4 50 53 23 33
Concierge.com's insider take:
While it's possible to learn to ski in Chamonix—Le Tour at the head of the valley, has beginner slopes and there are other isolated novice lifts and trails—it's best suited to adventurous intermediates and experts because the disparate nature of the ski areas makes it unsuitable for groups or families of different levels.
The town's main skiing is reached by cableway from the outskirts of the resort or from Les Praz, a short bus ride away. Both serve the two areas of Le Brévent and La Flegère, which are linked by cable-car. Together they provide a sunny playground with lots of serious challenges and magnificent views of Mont Blanc. But the pièce de résistance is situated five miles up the valley at the little village of Argentière. An 80-person cable-car and a four-person chair-lift give access to the mid-mountain station of Lognan. From there a further cable-car (you pay a supplement on the local lift pass) takes you up to Les Grands Montets, one of Europe's greatest ski mountains. This is the starting point for some epic off-piste descents such as the infamous Pas de Chèvre.
The fourth and most famous of the main ski areas is the 12,600-foot Aiguille du Midi, reached by the world's highest cable-car (it also has the largest span of cable), which starts from the south side of the resort. From the first stage you can ski back down to town. The top is the vertiginous starting point for the Vallée Blanche, a beautiful 14-mile glacial descent. It is essential to take a guide, but the actual skiing is not difficult; anyone who can ski parallel and is fit can tackle the easiest of the four routes. However, you do need a head for heights—the descent begins with a slither down ice steps with a 6,000-foot vertical drop to your left. The best guides rope up their clients at the start.
Guides can be arranged through the Association Nationale des Guides de Mont Blanc or the Compagnie des Guides de Chamonx. If you want ski lessons there's a choice of six main schools including the École de Ski and Evolution 2. Both also provide care and lessons for kids from three years old.
Your choice of lift pass depends on where you want to spend most time. Chamonix Le Pass covers Le Brévent-La Flegère, Le Tour/La Balme, and Lognan (excluding the Grand Montets cable-car) as well as the various nursery slopes scattered along the valley. The wider Chamonix Unlimited covers all transport including the Grands Montets and L'Aiguille du Midi as well as the neighboring resort of Les Houches. Both passes can be purchased through the Chamonix Office of Tourism.