Chamonix Ski Areas

The Chamonix valley is legendary in the amount and variety of terrain it offers.
It can be a bit bewildering though when trying to decide which lift pass to buy, or which area to head for.

Here is our guide to skiing in Chamonix, for everyone from beginners to experts!

Brevent & Flegere

Brevent and Flegere are two separate ski areas stretching across the sunny side of the valley, linked by a cable car to provide one big network of south-facing pistes.

Brevent is closest to Chamonix centre, just a few minutes walk from the tourist office. The high speed gondola will whisk you up to Plan Praz at 2000m where you'll find a choice of pistes, 2 restaurants, a bar, big air bag, freestyle area, slalom course and a cable car up to the summit at 2525m. One long black run takes you all the way from the top right down to the bottom, a descent of 1495m!

As well as a small beginners area at the top of the Plan Praz gondola there is also a dedicated nursery slope at the bottom, Le Savoy. Find out more in the nursery slopes section.

Flegere lies above the pretty village of Les Praz with the cable car station being right next door to the golf course. A great area for families, it has plenty of gentle slopes and a children's snow garden. Popular with ski tourers for its excellent back country access and the local's favourite on a powder day.


Les Grands Montets

With lift access up to 3300m, Les Grands Montets is the highest pisted ski area in the valley and offers some of the best off-piste terrain around.

High altitude and north-facing slopes means that Les Grands Montets often has the best snow conditions. The first area to open and the last to close it gets a full 5 months of winter, it's even been known to open in November when conditions have been too good to miss!

Long steep pistes, a snow park and a bordercross are just some of the reasons why Les Grands Montets is so popular. Add to that, the glacier access and amazing off-piste and you can see why ski instructors and mountain guides love to bring their clients here.

The majority of the ski area is included in the Chamonix Le Pass lift pass but the "top bin" up to the summit is only accessible with the Mont Blanc Unlimited lift pass, or you can buy a ticket at the mid-station. Up at 3300m you'll be amongst the soaring birds and jagged peaks with an incredible view down into the blue crevasses of the Argentiere glacier. This is the starting point for many an off-piste run or ski tour, or even a parapente flight over the valley!

There are a number of restaurants up the hill and a small but lively apres-ski scene going on in the town of Argentiere, you can get the train or bus back to Chamonix free of charge with your carte d'hote.


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Le Tour

Also known as "Domaine de Balme", this wide sunny ski area links the two villages of Le Tour and Vallorcine.

With wide slopes and gentle gradients, this is one of our favourite areas for cruising the pistes and stopping for a leisurely lunch. Featuring lots of intermediate runs with easily accessible off-piste in between, this is a great area for getting your ski legs back and warming up before you hit the steeper terrain at Les Grands Montets.

It's very popular with ski tourers and many itineraries involve crossing the border and dropping down into Switzerland, from where you can ride the train back to Chamonix! Known for being one of the best places in the valley on a powder day, it also has areas that are highly avalanche prone. Don't contemplate going back country without a mountain guide, too many accidents happen up here for it to be worth the risk.

Le Tour is home to a couple of great restaurants, Les Ecuries under the Charamillon chairlift and Les Alpages at the bottom of the Aiguillette des Possettes - both are small but very popular so booking is highly recommended!

As well as all the pistes at the top of the gondola there is also the biggest nursery slope in the valley, La Vormaine, at the bottom. You can buy a separate lift pass to access the drag lift (payable on-site) and practice your pizza and french fries before mustering up the confidence to try out the bigger slopes. The home run from Le Tour brings you right down beside La Vormaine, making it ideal for mixed groups. More experienced skiers can take the gondola up top while beginners stay down at the bottom and then you can all meet up for lunch easily!

As well as skiing and snowboarding, Le Tour has something else up its sleeve - speed riding. Using a small fast parachute to skim the pistes and swoop over drops, you don't have to be an expert skier and your tandem pilot will teach you all you need to know to have the ride of your life!


Les Houches

Les Houches is a little gem of a ski resort, often underrated by more experienced riders but with plenty to offer to those in the know...

With 55km of slopes, mostly wide and undulating, Les Houches is certainly a great resort for families and beginners. Most of the slopes are graded blue to red and the lifties are great at helping little ones (or unsteady ones!) on and off the ski lifts. There are plenty of cosy cafes and restaurants to stop at for hot drinks and the overall atmosphere is one of gentle cruising rather than hardcore shredding.

However, it is also pretty amazing on a powder day, particularly when visibility is poor in the rest of the valley. While everyone else is battling it out for fresh tracks at Les Grands Montets (don't bother, the Swedes will have got there first) you can find untouched snow all day long at Les Houches. Lower down and nestled amongst pine forests, many of the runs are tree-lined and the ski area is well sheltered from high winds, making Les Houches your best option on a bad weather day. There are plenty of easy-to-reach powder stashes, the avalanche risk is low to non-existent and you can stop for coffee without the whole area getting tracked out in the meantime.

Les Houches is also great for non-skiers as it has a wonderful snowshoe trail with breathtaking views of the valleys on either side. Pedestrian lift passes are cheaper than ski passes, so everyone can meet up on the mountain and enjoy lunch or a mulled wine together.

A family-friendly ski area with charming old restaurants, a snow park, cross-country tracks, snowshoe trails and the friendliest lifties in the valley!

Nursery Slopes

Chamonix has a wide choice of dedicated learner areas with gentle slopes and slow lifts to help you find your feet before you progress to the bigger slopes!

Most are included on your Chamonix Le Pass and Mont Blanc Unlimited lift passes, or you can buy separate tickets for each area on-site.

Le Savoy: At the foot of Brevent and just a few minutes walk from the centre of Chamonix, Le Savoy is the most easily accessible of the ski areas. With 2 drag lifts, a magic carpet and a sledging hill it is ideal for young children and the first choice for many ski instructors to bring beginners.
Price: 18€ adult / 15.50€ child per day (other ticket options available)

Les Planards: Located just behind Chamonix train station, Les Planards is also very easy to get to. It is a larger area than Le Savoy and has the dual benefit of having a nursery slope with a small draglift as well as 2 longer slopes with a chairlift to progress to once you've mastered the basics. They have a snow garden for young children, complete with magic carpet and fun obstacles for them to ski their way around. It also has the "Alpine Coaster", a 2 seater roller coaster that whizzes through the trees and alongside the ski slopes! Visit the Les Planards website for more information
Price: 22€ adult / 19.50€ child (other ticket options available)
Alpine Coaster: 5.50€ (one free ride included in Les Planards ski pass and Mont Blanc Unlimited)

Les Chosalets: A charming little ski area in Argentiere, between Les Grands Montets and the cross-country ski trails. Just one drag lift and a wide gentle slope, it is a great family area as you can go for a walk in the surrounding forest, sledge down the side of the piste or go for a crepe and a hot chocolate at the little snack chalet.

La Vormaine: Stretched out at the foot of La Tour, La Vormaine is great for adult skiers and snowboarders who may be part of a mixed group - beginners can stay at the bottom while more experienced riders head up top and you can all meet up for lunch or coffee breaks. 4 drag lifts, 2 green pistes and 1 blue piste allow you to build your confidence before hitting the bigger ski area. If you're feeling lucky you can have a bash at the snow park - 3 modules designed to ease you in to the world of freestyle. Visit the La Vormaine website for more information
Price: 12.80€ per day (other ticket options available)

La Poya: Tucked away at the far end of the valley in the small village of Vallorcine, La Poya is a quaint little ski area with 2 drag lifts, 3 pistes and a snow garden. There is a small café at the bottom serving crepes, hot dogs and drinks.
Price: 14.50 adult / 11.40€ child per day (other ticket options available)
NB La Poya is not included in the Chamonix Le Pass or Mont Blanc Unlimited lift passes

Le Tourchet: A family ski area that is also open some evenings for floodlit skiing! Located in the centre of Les Houches, it has 2 drag lifts that give access to a wide gentle slope.
Price: 15.50€ per day (other ticket options available)



Aiguille du Midi & Vallée Blanche

Ride the highest cable car in Europe up to 3842m and step out into another world surrounded by mountains as far as the eye can see, looking out over France, Italy and Switzerland.

The Aiguille du Midi is the highest point in Chamonix other than the summit of Mont Blanc and is the starting point for the world famous Vallée Blanche, as well as many alpine expeditions. Although not technically difficult, the Vallée Blanche is an unpisted, unpatrolled route that weaves around glacial crevasses and passes under seracs - it is unthinkable to attempt it without a qualified mountain guide. Besides the obvious safety aspect, your guide will also know the best route to take for the conditions, ensuring that you'll experience this incredible run at its very best!

Once you've stepped out of the top cable car you'll find a network of bridges and viewing platforms looking out on 360° views of the French, Swiss and Italian alps. The world's highest museum shows how it was constructed and tells stories of the famous mountaineers that have set off from here to break records and make incredible first descents. There is also a restaurant, toilets and gift shop.

The Panoramic Mont Blanc gondola takes you over the jagged peaks to the Helbronner peak in Italy, a round trip takes about 50 minutes. (not included in the lift pass)

If you've got the nerve you can "Step into the Void" - a glass box suspended over a 1000m drop with nothing but ice and snow beneath! (closed until spring 2015 for access work)

Whether you're roped up for an expedition or just here to marvel at the view, the Aiguille du Midi is an absolute must.