Coming to Chamonix for your ski holiday is a great decision that you will never regret. To help plan your holiday we have provided a little bit of information of each ski area to give you a flavour of what’s on offer and what to expect.
In general the Brevent-Flegere ski area is excellent for those of intermediate ability or above with long challenging descents on Chamonix’s sunny side!
Brevent and Flégère ski areas were initially two separate ski areas combined in 1997 by the Liaison cable car making it one of the biggest ski areas in the valley. It is the closest resort to Chamonix centre accessed via the Plan Praz gondolas or the Flégère cable car further down the valley from Les Praz. Both can be accessed via the free shuttle bus or car if not achievable on foot. The slopes are south facing allowing its occupants to basque in the sun all day (weather permitting) whilst embracing probably the most panoramic view of Mont Blanc. Although now combined, the two sides of the area are very distinctive in terms of the ski terrain, offering diverse on and off-piste possibilities.
The first thing that comes to mind at the thought of Brevent is its Steep! Although there maybe a green run we would not recommend this area beginners. However, for the more competent skier it is an exciting playground to challenge even the most accomplished skiers. And they do, every year in the form of the Swatch Freewide World Tour. But you don’t have to be a backcountry skier to enjoy the off-piste on offer with patrolled but non-pisted runs such as the Charles Bozon black run even those new to the delights of powder skiing can get their teeth stuck into the Brevent mountain side.
Flégère is slightly more beginner friendly but still by no means the most suitable area for complete beginners. Most of the Flégère area being a huge bowl keeps skiers and boarders satisfied both on and off-piste. For those new to the whole ‘off-piste freeride’ phenomenon Flégère can provide a fabulous (almost) consequence free introduction, and we are sure you will never look back! Well recommended on a powder day if wanting to escape the masses flocking to Grands Montets, meaning you will find fresh virgin powder well into the afternoon. New lift editions like the 6-man Index and 4-man La Trappe chair means its unlikely that you will be queuing even at the busiest times of the day.
- Keeping entire mixed ability groups thoroughly entertained and challenged
- Intermediate skiers looking for a quieter but thrilling introduction to off-piste skiing not too far away from pisted escape routes
- Advanced skiers wanting to hit some mouth-watering steep all mountain powder without too much company
Live webcams, lift and piste status can be found at the Compagnie du Mont Blanc Brevent-Flégère Info Page.
Grands Montets is the largest and most popular ski area of the Chamonix Valley. Renowned for its world class off-piste and freeride descents it’s one to tick off the bucket list for serious off piste enthusiasts.
For those staying outside of Argentière Grands Montets is easily accessed via car with a substantial free car park at the bottom of the Plan Joran and Lognan lifts. Alternatively, by the free Chamonix ski buses or in fact by the Mont Blanc Express Train. Located predominantly on the Argentière glacier at high altitude with a north by north-west aspect means that there is always plenty of snow cover, maintained longer than many other resorts. Grands Montets is often open early December through to May, it not being uncommon for the top to receive snow in June! However, this snow guarantee comes at a sacrifice, the sun. Grands Montets is almost totally in the shade throughout the day, so be sure to put on an extra layer.
This ski area is purely focused on one thing and one thing only… Offpiste. You will not find much in the form of snow parks or beginner areas. If long dreamy 2,100m vertical descents and bountiful bowls are what you are after then look no further. Large bowls occupying open expanses between scattered pistes just cry out to be explored. It is easy to forget that this area is located on a glacier, and with glaciers come crevasses, pretty big ones too! Anywhere other than the marked pistes this is a very potential risk so appropriate equipment and knowledge is required. If not it will be beneficial to hire a guide.
For those that have skied Grands Montets previously will know that when it comes to a fresh powder day it often becomes a victim of its own success with long exhausting ques. However, having received a well overdue upgrade swapping out the old sluggish 4-man chair lift for the brand spanking new Plan Joran 10-man gondola. 3,000 over excited skiers and snow boarders can be shifted up the mountain every hour. It’s worth noting that not all passes cover the Les Grands Montets téléphérique (3300m) otherwise known as ‘the top lift’. Run by an independent company only the Mont Blanc Unlimited pass (see Ski Passes) can access free of charge. Don’t worry if you don’t have access, daily extensions can easily be brought at the bottom station or Argentière ticket office for €10, well worth it if planning a whole day on the mountain. Plus you will get to access and take in the view of the Aiguilles and Mont Blanc from the observation platform.
- Offpiste, Offpiste and more Offpiste
- Best for advanced skiers and boarders wanting an exhilarating challenge.
- Guaranteed late season snow cover
- Not beginner friendly due to it’s steep, icy and glaciated terrain.
Live webcams, lift and piste status can be found at the Compagnie du Mont Blanc Grands Montets Info Page.
Balme Tour Vallorcine
If beautiful tree-line skiing in glorious sunshine is more your style then the Balme Tour Vallorcine ski area is your beloved companion. At the far end of the valley bordering our Swiss neighbours lie the snow covered alpine pastures of the linked slopes of Le Tour and Vallorcine.
With a couple of extensive designated beginner areas (Vormaine being one) and gentle wide open blue runs descending both sides of the valley, this is by far the best area for a ski holiday in Chamonix for young families and total novices. In fact those of you booking into beginner lessons will find you will be asked to meet at Le Tour, something to consider if planning to stay closer to Chamonix centre that it will be a 25-30 minute drive each way, even longer on the free ski bus.
The fact that the pisted opportunities are milder than the rest of the Chamonix Valley should not deter any advanced skiers in the group. Not only is the area a great ‘first day wake up call’ for the legs but is also has a number of scattered off-piste gems. Le Tour and Vallorcine is a secret locals favourite with some of the most enjoyable terrain including our favourite the forest runs down to Vallorcine train station.
- Best resort for beginners and youngsters but has something for everyone
- Tree-line skiing
- Scenery and traditional savoyard alpine village feel
- Good snow cover and less rocky than the rest of the valley
Live webcams, lift and piste status can be found at the Compagnie du Mont Blanc Balme Tour Vallorcine Info Page.