About the local ski areas
Chamonix offers an unparalleled mix of skiing terrain, from beginner and great intermediate skiing and boarding on easy slopes to challenging black runs and all levels of off piste and out of bounds skiing always with incredible vistas.
Chamonix village elevation 1,035m
Highest lift 3,777m
Total pistes 762km
Longest run 24km (off-piste)
Total Lifts 64
Gondolas/Cable cars 13
Drag Lifts 32
Snow Parks 1
Most of the ski areas in the valley are unconnected but if you are staying in Chamonix village, they are all within 10-15 drive by car except in high season when the roads are slower. All the areas have parking facilities nearby the base lift stations. With numerous different ski area there is something or a lot for everyone in Chamonix when choosing to come to Chamonix for a ski holiday.
It is important to understand the geography of the valley so that when you select your holiday chalet you bear in mind where you and your party will most likely ski. Saying that, one of the advantages of Chamonix is that you can ski in a different area most days and vary the skiing or snowboarding that you like to do.
To start though, Chamonix valley is long and narrow with different ski areas on either flank as you move up the valley. To summarise the relationship between the villages and skiing here is a simple guide as you drive into the valley and along from bottom to top….
Location Village Ski Area Level
Valley entrance Les Houches Les Houches Beginner/intermediate
Chamonix Village Chamonix Le Brévent (connected to La Flégère)
L’Aiguille du Midi Advanced/expert (off-piste)
Les Planards Beginner
Le Savoy & Le Brévent Beginners
Les Praz Les Praz La Flégère Intermediate
Les Chosalets Les Chosalets Les Chosalets Beginner
Argentiere Argentiere Les Grand Montets Advanced
Le Tour Le Tour La Domaine de Balme Beginner/intermediate
linked to Vallorcine Vallorcine Buet/Vallorcine Vallorcine Beginner/intermediate
Distance from Chamonix village 6km
Base elevation 990m
Maximum elevation 1,900m
Number of lifts
Kilometres of piste
Snow park 1
Cross country trails Yes
Suits Beginner and intermediate
As you drive up the viaduct into the Chamonix valley the first village you reach is Les Houches and its charming satellite villages. The Bellevue cable car and Le Prarion chair lift are its twin access points to what is a lovely, family friendly, sunny ski and snowboard domain. There are wide carving runs and a selection of friendly restaurants and canteens.
The mix of slopes and tree lined runs are attractive are appealing and if the weather is bad the trees offer some help when visibility is poor. Les Houches is the go-to ski area when the high mountain ski areas of Chamonix are closed due to high winds or avalanche risks.
It is worth noting that that because it is relatively low, the snow and conditions will be affected when it is warm but as the slopes are on grassy alpine meadows, there does not need to be a great deal of snow for the whole area to be skiable.
The snow park 'Ski Camp' is an area designed for young children and is that top of the Prarion gondola with sledging, snowtubing and tepees as well as a picnic area.
Les Houches also has a small nursery slope area, Le Tourchet a short distance from the main ski area there and offering night skiing on Thursdays during the season.
If you have a Mont Blanc Unlimited lift pass and are staying further up the valley the Les Houches is included in the pass benefits. This is not the case with the Chamonix Le Pass.
Although the ski area suits intermediate every other year Les Houches hosts the Kandahar World Cup race on the black “Verte” run and is famous for the international competition.
Please note, Les Houches ski area is not covered by the Le Pass ski pass, however, holders of the Mont Blanc Unlimited ski pass are able to use the ski area.
Distance from Chamonix village Edge of the village
Base elevation 990m
Number of lifts
Kilometres of piste
Located on the sunny side of the mountain directly opposite Mont Blanc, the highest in western Europe. Suited to all levels of ability with good off-piste skiing routes and fabulous views. Les Brévents and La Flégère are linked together (and it is usually quicker to go up the gondolas at Les Brévents and ski across than to queue for the cable car at La Flégère).
L’Aiguille du Midi: One of the highest cable cars in Europe taking you to 3,800m and a spectacular view of the Alps. This is the beginning of the famous "Vallée Blanche" a 20km day trip. Intermediate skiers and boarders can take the classic route, while for advanced levels there are more challenging variations and many off-piste itineraries.
Distance from Chamonix village
Number of lifts
Kilometres of piste
Suits Beginner & Intermediate
After many years of waiting for and in the queues the replacement gondola will be in service at La Flégère for the 2019/20 season. This will provide a significant increase in capacity over the previous cable car which had seen long service and has now been retired and removed.
La Flégère is mostly for beginner and intermediate levels with some exciting off-piste routes in sunny "couloirs" (gullies) around the Index area of the mountain. There are outstanding views of the magnificent "Mer de Glace" (Sea of Ice) as well as the Mont Blanc chain.
Le Tour / Domaine du Balme and Vallorcine: A vast domain with lots of sun and good snow cover, offering skiing for all levels. Le Tour is on the Swiss border with scenic tree runs and largely undiscovered off piste bowls on the forested Swiss side, which avoid queues on even the busiest of days. The wide beginner and intermediate west facing slopes directly behind the chalet are perfect for learning new skills or relaxed afternoon cruising. Le Tour is one of the highest snowfall sites in France.
Argentière / Les Grand Montets: Characterised by large bowls and long runs, this area offers intermediate and advanced levels challenging and scenic descents with up to 2,100m vertical drop. As it is high and north facing, there is usually snow from November through till May. From the summit of Les Grands Montets (3,345m), the glacier runs offer skiers and boarders some of the most spectacular on and off-piste runs in the world.
A detailed summary of the Chamonix Ski Area can be found on www.compagniedumontblanc.fr or you can buy your ski passes at www.chamonixskipasses.com arrange transfers on www.chamonixskitransfers.com or book a guide on www.chamonixskiguides.com too.
Other Areas Nearby
Courmayeur: On the other side of Mont Blanc and a 20 minutes’ drive through the Mont Blanc tunnel, this classic Italian resort is a fun day trip to experience skiing "the Italian way" with 20 restaurants to choose from. Any stay in Chamonix is not quite complete without a day trip to Courmayeur. The skiing on-piste is gentle, well-groomed and tree-lined for the most part. The skiing off-piste ranges from steep trees above the village to wide open bowls on the Helbronner faces of the Mont Blanc. Courmayeur is building a huge new lift to access the Helbronner side of the mountain scheduled to be open in 2015.
Megève/St Gervais: 40 minutes’ drive from Chamonix, Megève is a charming village and an ideal day trip to explore the many intermediate slopes. The lower altitude slopes of Megève have a different microclimate to Chamonix and may be an alternative when weather conditions make Chamonix difficult. It is best to access it the ski area from the St Gervais section with the gondola parking on the road just after the St Gervais village on the road to Megève (30 minutes from Chamonix).
Verbier If the above choices are still not enough, Verbier in Switzerland is 45 minutes’ drive away from Le Tour and roughly an hour from Chamonix across the beautiful Col de Montet and Col de Forclaz. The pisted domain now encompasses four valleys and 410kms. The off piste is legendary too including the back side of the Mont Fort and of course the world famous Tortin mogul run! The ski area is now immensely connected and provides skiing for all levels.
Skiing and snowboarding for all levels of ability and experience
Chamonix is well known as the ‘off-piste’ capital of the world, but valley provides a huge variety of skiing and snowboarding for all levels. Below is a brief description of each area.
Beginners & Children
Chamonix caters for first timers and children, below are the main beginner areas most of which have their own children’s ski club and crèche.
Les Planards (1062 m - 1242 m) Just 2 minutes from the centre of town, large ski area for beginners and intermediate skiers with 4 runs (1 red, 1 blue and 2 greens). 41 snow canons guarantee conditions all winter long. Restaurant, sun terrace and free parking. Floodlit night skiing is available on this slope every week through the winter season.
La Vormaine (1480 m) – Beginners skiing Located at the foot of Charamillon on the Balme ski area, these sunny slopes are ideal apprentice skiers and snowboarders, for the little ones a ski kindergarten is available.
Le Savoy (1049 m) - Beginners skiing In the heart of Chamonix, at the foot of the Brevent, 2 drag lifts and a rolling carpet welcome beginners and children for their first turns. Artificial snow and ski-kindergarden, make this an excellent place to start out.
Intermediate / Experienced
Les Grands Montets (1235 m - 3300 m) – an ‘off-piste’ heaven
The pistes are spread over 3 mountainsides (the Argentière glacier, Lognan and the Pendant) and offer tremendous on and off-piste possibilities. Ski or board adjacent to the glacier and take advantage of excellent snow conditions right up until early May. For freestyle fans, a new snowpark and boardercross are open at the mid-station of Lognan.
Le Brévent / La Flégère (1030 m - 2525m) – wide, open pistes for beginners, intermediates and experts
These 2 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. Gently acquire a tan in this idyllic environment whilst enjoying skiing on slopes adapted to all skiing abilities.
Le Domaine de Balme (1453m - 2270m) – wide, open slopes and the very top of the valley.
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.
The (La) Vallée Blanche ( La Vallee Blanche) - world famous off-piste (3,842 m) - We could not talk about Chamonix in the winter without a mention of the magnificent high mountain terrain of the Vallée Blanche, an enormous off-piste Mecca rising some 3,842m from the valley floor and offering 25km of uninterrupted off-piste heaven to those who wish to experience a truly world renowned run. It is somewhere that must be respected and has many crevasses and other dangers associated with this type of high mountain terrain, as such we only recommend attempting this area if your skiing / boarding is at a strong intermediate / advanced level, and then only with a qualified guide.
If the advanced skiers in your group would like to do the Vallee Blanche or have a day off-piste skiing elsewhere in the valley, we can arrange a guide for you.