Guide to Chamonix, France
What we Love About Chamonix
For those who have travelled extensively around the globe you probably hanker back to the time you were on a luxury chalet holiday in the valley of Chamonix and recall, with fondness just how spectacularly beautiful it is. The outstanding beauty of this ski resort is absolutely what we love most.
From the ski domains of Brévent and Flégère on the north side of the valley, the jagged peaks reflect the afternoon sun and lead southwest towards the Mer De Glace. An old funicular railway can be seen climbing around the back of the of the Aiguille Du Midi and a glance to the right will lead you to Europe’s highest mountain, Mont Blanc. It is a view of breathtaking proportions and one you’ll want to savour again and again on a luxury ski holiday in Chamonix.
Best Time to Visit Chamonix
Open all year round, this French resort has peak seasons in both summer and winter. The Chamonix ski passes run through from early December to around the middle of April.
Getting to Chamonix
Chamonix is just a 1hr drive from Geneva airport. We often find avid skiers will take a rental car with them to Chamonix so that they can easily access the unlinked ski areas.
Skiing in Chamonix
Chamonix offers some of the most challenging skiing in the Alps, especially when it comes to off-piste, but it also caters for beginners and intermediates. There is a choice of lift passes, from the all-encompassing Mont Blanc Unlimited, to individual tickets for cable cars. Chamonix has five separate ski areas, each with their own lift systems. There’s enough to keep you busy for a day at each one but having a car to get around or chauffeur service as part of a luxury ski chalet is an advantage.
Though Chamonix is known as being an advanced skier’s haven, Les Planards and Les Houches have excellent skiing for beginners. Les Grands Montets has the largest pisted area in Chamonix with challenging un-bashed runs. There is also an excellent snow park in Les Grand Montets where you can have your run recorded and timed. There are kickers, rails, boxes, rollers and of course a nice chill area for some spectating and socialising. Les Grands Montets is north facing as well, which means it is very much known for the impeccable quality of snow. This naturally also means it can be cold up there above the treeline, so it is wise to layer up.
Expert skiers will likely use their Mont Blanc unlimited lift pass to make their way up to the top of the Aiguille du Midi to access La Vallee Blanche ski area. The Mer Du Glace or Vallee Blanche is one of the world’s few advancing glaciers and thus offers year-round skiing. The Aiguille Du Midi is Europe’s highest accessible point without the need for crampons and is accessed by, until recently, the world’s longest single span cable car that effortlessly transports you up to a dizzying 3842m. From here the views across France, Italy and Switzerland are sensational and the peak of Mont Blanc, although a further 1000m up, feels like it’s touching distance away. It is highly recommended to take an experienced guide with you when you first explore the 20km of enthralling off-piste. If you can set aside a day to enjoy La Vallée Blanche, you should. It will be a truly unforgettable experience.
The closest ski areas to Chamonix town centre are the Le Brévent and La Flégère ski areas. This is where to head if you’re searching for some sunshine as it has a south-facing aspect with some of the most beautiful views in the valley. The runs are perfect for all levels with wide, long pistes and thanks to the Liaison cable car, the two areas are linked to create one big area to explore.
Things to Do in Chamonix
As well as excellent skiing, there is plenty of action going on in Chamonix. You can keep active at the indoor swimming pool, skating rink, climbing walls and bowling alley, and chill out in the many beauty salons and health spas. The shopping in Chamonix is great too – there are numerous chic French boutiques, plus everything from delicatessens to specialist wine shops and supermarkets.
The Chamonix cinema regularly shows films in English and there is even an elegant casino if you fancy a flutter. A visit to the excellent Alpine Museum is the best way to appreciate the local history and culture on your luxury ski holiday.
The Chamonix Alpine Coaster Luge takes tobogganing to the next level. Race down a 1.3km rail track with views of the valley below. It is sure to be a highlight for any children you might have on your luxury ski holiday in Chamonix.
Finally, no visit to Chamonix is complete without a trip up the famous Aiguille du Midi cable car, rising to over 12,000ft. You’ll be rewarded with incredible views of Mont Blanc and intrepid mountain climbers.
Best Places to Eat and Drink in Chamonix
If you are staying in a self-catered luxury ski chalet, Chamonix has it all – from cheap pizzerias to Michelin starred restaurants. Just take your pick. Le Comptoir des Alpes at Hotel Morgane is one of several fine dining restaurants, whilst local Savoyard dishes are a speciality at La Calèche and Le Monchu.
La Maison Carrier is a particularly popular Savoyard restaurant, part of the 5* hotel Le Hameau de Albert Premier. This traditional restaurant will not disappoint, especially when you are settled in front of the fire and enjoying typical dishes such as a spit-roasted rack of lamb or Piedmonteuse risotto. The hotel also plays host to the 1 Michelin-starred Albert 1er Restaurant which offers modern cuisine inspired by the local area using local produce and dishes being elevated by the restaurants very own aromatic garden.
If you are not staying in a luxury catered ski chalet in Chamonix, every village in the valley has its own restaurants and bars. Argentiere has a range of restaurants including pizzerias, a tapas bar and modern cuisine, and in Les Houches there is an excellent choice, from sophisticated French cuisine to cosy home cooking, and even an Indian restaurant.
Bars, music venues and nightclubs, often all mixed into one, are all over Chamonix and the surrounding area. The après ski scene is lively and fun, encompassing everything from sedate piano bars to full-on, ‘dancing on the tables to a live band’ action.
Our Flagship Ultra-Luxury Ski Chalets in Chamonix
If you haven’t been to Chamonix before, choose one of Firefly Collection’s luxury ski chalets to rent and book up a week of serene pampering in one of the world’s greatest ski resorts. Chamonix is one of the oldest ski resorts in Europe and well renowned for its superb skiing, lively nightlife, and of course spectacular luxury ski chalets. There are myriad activities to do that don’t require skis or snowboards making Chamonix a favourite for families and non-skiers too.
Chamonix’s history and affluence affords the valley an extraordinarily diverse range of chalet styles; from ancient old, converted farmhouses to the ultra-modern, wow-factor chalets. The only decision is which one?
Combining modern stainless steel, granite and timber, Chalet Couttet is a designer’s paradise. Myriad angles make up the structure of this fascinating building and therefore make intriguing rooms of all shapes and sizes. The main living space has double height windows affording views across Chamonix Valley beyond a super stylish suspended stainless-steel fireplace. Every inch of the space has been thoughtfully designed and impeccably furnished at this luxury ski chalet, making Chalet Couttet one of the most exclusive and classy places to spend a luxury ski holiday in Chamonix.
Chalet Alta is all about style. From the multi-angled stone and timber exterior to the colourful feature walls and sassy soft furnishings, Chalet Alta oozes sophistication throughout. Each of the six exquisite bedrooms has been given a unique makeover and the classic living space with its Baroque style furniture and stone central fireplace epitomise the vision the designers had when scribbling their ideas down in 2015. A luxury ski chalet of this scale wouldn’t be complete without a ‘piece de resistance’ and the indoor octagonal swimming pool area fits the bill with aplomb. The azure waters reflect beautifully on the intricate timber and glass roof above making the perfect setting for a morning dip or afternoon relaxation whilst being part of nature itself.
Luxury Ski Chalets in the Centre of Chamonix
As the Chamonix ski area is made up of several small, satellite villages, you may find that the luxury ski chalets on offer are spread out across these. There are, however, a collection of stunning luxury ski chalets in the heart of the action.
Spread out across two floors, Penthouse Le Lustre is at the top of the Pas de Chevre, one of the most beautiful and historic buildings in Chamonix. The carefully thought-out interior decor oozes sophistication and glamour. The floor-to-ceiling glass basks the living area in natural light, and out on the large balcony, you’ll be met with an unforgettable view of Mont Blanc. Though you can request a fully catered week in Penthouse Le Lustre, you may want to opt for self-catering and explore the countless gastronomical delights on your doorstep.
Perched at the entrance of Chamonix’s town centre, three sister chalets sit beside one another, making it a perfect trio for larger groups. Chalet Alaska, Chalet Saphir and Chalet Azurite are in an idyllic setting with breathtaking views of the mountains. Each chalet is beautifully modern with traditional alpine touches throughout. Open-plan living areas and floor to ceiling windows light up the rooms. The gorgeous wrap around balconies are the highlight of these chalets for us, equipped with outdoor hot tubs and seating areas made with the morning coffee drinker in mind!