Chamonix – France
A winter wonderland
I am sure that you have heard of Chamonix at some point being talked about. Its an iconic French ski resort that borders Switzerland and Italy. Both of which you can ski into as well.
Chamonix is one of the largest ski resorts in the French Alps. It is actually a number of ski areas in the Chamonix valley served by a very efficient transport system. Chamonix itself was once home to the first ever winter Olympics in 1924 and continues to host sports events such as the Redbull Freeride World Tour,
We have stayed here a couple of times over recent years with varying degrees of success. The first time we visited Gavin was still in the early stages of learning to snowboard and I had no intentions of even getting on two planks and throwing myself down a slippery slope in a very uncontrolled manner!
Well, more like 5 resorts in one. Chamonix is actually the valley in which the 5 ski resorts are based. These are Grands Montets, Les Houches, Le Tour/Balme, La Flegere and Le Brevent. At the heart of these resorts is Chamonix town centre. Here is where the apres ski happens after a long day on the slopes.
There is no shortage of anything here. There are bars and restaurants ranging from the budget to the a La Carte offerings and if you like fast food, a McDonalds. Chamonix has a certain reputation aligned with the likes if Val D’Isere, so you can expect to find designer stores such as Chanel, Gucci, Rolex etc ( we did ALOT of window shopping).
The resort is served by a very efficient ski bus service. If you are skiing, included in your ski pass price is the use of the buses. These run all day long from one end of the resort at Le Houches to the opposite end at Le Tour / Balme. If you are not skiing, you can still use the buses buy purchasing a week or day pass which allows unlimited use.
Our choice of travel to get to this wonderful place was by car. Its easy enough to fly form any major airport into Grenoble. From here you can book a coach transfer, taxi etc into the report.
We decided to drive as it gives us the flexibility to make our own timetable, plus we can pack exactly what we need without having to worry about luggage restrictions. The drive takes about 8-9 hours plus a number of stops on the way makes its around 10 -11 hrs total.
Our French Chateau
Well, not quite a Chateau, but a beautiful apartment.
Our base for the week had unbeatable views of Mont Blanc, which was breathtaking to look out on each day when having breakfast. Most apartments in the the French Alps are usually of a similar design, with lots of wood panelled walls and wooden window shutters.
Our’s was more the luxury end of the scale. We were staying with some very good friends and their children, so the apartment was able to cater for all of us. There is no shortage of places to stay in Chamonix, but as with everything else, the resort dictates a high price.
Our booking was made through Ski Line who offer a great range of accommodation options.
Let’s get real: People love to ski and snowboard knowing that, come day’s end, regardless of snow conditions or how many drag lifts completed, the good times will roll on a sun-washed deck, in a bar, or across a sprawling base village “beach” complete with local draught beers and live band playing pop country covers.
Yeah, we thought so. All the more reason to be grateful to our Nordic ancestors who invented après-ski and our friends in the Alps who coined the term.
There is no shortage of places to go in Chamonix. The centre of the resort has a number of bars and pubs to while away a few hours before dinner, recounting the number of times you face planted while attempting to go ‘ off piste ‘. We’d recommend going to Brasserie L’M. Its situated in the centre of town and is one of THE places to go.
A wooden sun deck outside with an outside bar and music playing, makes for the ideal spot for an afternoon drink. The evening is even more lively as the music turns up and the bar begins to fill with people ready to party.
Get out and ski. You wont be disappointed.
Becky & Gavin