Chamonix. A mythic place in the Alps.
Located in the Haute-Savoie department in the Rhône-Alpes region, France.
The first time you visit the Chamonix Valley you must remember the words of Horace Bénédict de Saussure, scientist responsible of the first ascent to the Mont Blanc and the father of Alpinism, evoking his first visit in 1760: “ The fresh air one breathes… the good cultivation of the soil, the pretty hamlets met with at every step… give the impression of a new world, a sort of earthly paradise, enclosed by a kindly Deity in the circle of the mountains (…) These majestic glaciers, separated by great forests, and crowned by granite crags of astounding height cut in the form of great obelisks and mixed with snow and ice, present one of the noblest and most singular spectacles it is possible to imagine”.
Chamonix is the perfect place, a kind of paradise for skiers: landscape – Montenvers-, history –the first Olympic Winter Games took place in Chamonix in 1924-, gastronomy –amazing sausages and “diots”, and superb cheeses-, and obviously snow and amazing downhills.
Four ski areas integrate the Chamonix Mont-Blanc domain: GrandsMontets (1235 m - 3300 m), Brévent / Flégère (1030 m - 2525m), Le Tour-Vallorcine (1453m - 2270m) y Les Houches (950m - 1900m).
We recommend to spend a day in each one and if the weather is good enough spend an extra day doing the mythic ski downhill of the Vallée Blanche. The legend associated with off-piste in the Chamonix valley was born on the confines of the glaciers, where the slopes seem to go on forever.To go up you must take the Aiguille du Midi cable-car, one of the first to be built in the Alps. The ascent from the base (1020 m) to the top (3842 m) lasts 20 minutes.
From the top you can ski down through several variants: the normal Valley, the Petit Envers du Plan or the Grand Envers du Plan. This glacial route is very popular in early spring, but you should remember it is a high-mountain intinerary and the presence of a mountain guide is strongly recommended (Office de Haute Montagne).
Be sure to pay attention to snow conditions and to the weather forecast. Avalanche search device, probe and shovel are indispensable.
(All information about this high mountain itinerary. English version).
The Valley Blanche, as the Pas de Chevre, and the Rognons glacier, are many of the fabulous names and places that, each year, attract the elite from the “planet freeride”.
Les GrandsMontetsis the largest and most popular ski area in the Chamonix Valley. Situated between the altitudes of 1235 m. and 3300 m., the GrandsMontets area enables you to ski the greatest height losses in the world in the heart of the mountains, close to a glacier.
The pistes are spread over three slopes - the Argentière glacier, Lognan and the Pendant which also offer magnificent off-piste, known throughout the world and essential for freeriders. The quality of the snow coverage is remarkable up until May. For freestyle enthusiasts, a snowpark and a boardercross are open in the Lognan area.
From the top you can ski all the way down toArgentièreon the Pierre à Ricpiste (8 km and 2,100 meters of pure joy).
Brévent and Flégère (1030 m - 2525 m) are located in the Aiguilles massif. These ski areas have been linked by a cable car since 1997 and offer one of the most outstanding panoramas of the Alps. South-facing slopes with a wonderful variety of pistes and enviable views over the Mont-Blanc Massif (we highly recommend you to ski down through the Floriapiste).
You can ski your way back to the base by The Combe, Lachenal and Prazpistes.
Le Tour-Vallorcineand LesHouchesare specially recommendable to ski in case of bad weather.
The first one is located in a beautiful place in the heart of nature. Accessed via the villages of Le Tour and Vallorcine, the snow-covered alpine pastures offer numerous possibilities on two distinct mountain sides.
From Charamillon, enjoy the wide open gentle slopes overlooking the entire Chamonix valley and on the Vallorcine side, ski beautiful tree-lined pistes bordering on Switzerland.
Every year the best skiers of the planet come to Les Houches for the downhill World Cup (The Kandahar).
To end your ski day nothing better than an amazing dinner in one of the 100 restaurants you can find in Chamonix. From alpine delicatesen to oriental cooking, there is something for everyone. And to end an amazing evening you can enjoy a long drink in one of the multiple bars offering live music.