Learning to ski in the Chamonix Valley is definitely the dream of many. However, with the area being as large as it is, there are certain things you should research before you start planning your trip, such as where to go to make sure you are close to the best slopes for your level.
The Chamonix Valley is a ski resort that extends into many villages. Vallorcine, Le Tour, Argentiere, Chamonix, Les Houches and St Gervais. The Chamonix ski resort comprises a total of 492 slopes: 61 green slopes, 156 blue slopes, 209 red slopes and 66 black slopes.
This article aims to clarify which area is best for you. To get started, you will find a map to help you find your way around the ski area, and below, a description of the various ski areas and links to further reading on the individual resorts.
Discover the Chamonix Valley
The Chamonix Valley resort has 6 ski beginners areas (marked green on the map), Le Savoy and Les Planards being the closest to Chamonix village. In addition to the villages described below (in order from north to south), holders of the Mont Blanc Unlimited ski pass can take advantage of 3 additional areas (marked white on the map): Skyway (Italy), Courmayeur (Italy) and Verbier (Switzerland).
- Ski area: Domain de Balme
- Ideal place for: The area is ideal for a relaxing vacation.
- Features: 7 km from Argentière, the area offers maximum comfort and relaxation. Since Vallorcine is the last village in the valley, skiers can enjoy a very peaceful atmosphere. The children’s area is very close to the city center. For families it is therefore easy to accompany the children to the ski course and then enjoy the Balme area. Indeed, adults can also learn to ski in Vallorcine thanks to the lessons offered in the area of de Balme.
- Ski area: Domain de Balme
- Ideal place for: The most popular place in the Chamonix Valley for snowboarders.
- Features: 2.5 km north of Argentiere, Le Tour is located at an altitude of 1453 m above sea level. While also suitable for beginners, Le Tour is especially known for its large off-piste area and is very popular amongst snowboarders. Le Tour also attracts particularly adventurous skiers and snowboarders, thanks to its many slopes that branch off into the forest.
- Ski area: Les Grands Montets
- Ideal place for: The resort is perfect for families because it offers a great setting for all levels and all ages.
- Features: 8 km from Chamonix, located at a height of 1,252 m, Argentière is an area that offers perfect slopes for all levels, from absolute beginners to those who want to try themselves in freestyle skiing. In addition to a children’s area and several slopes for beginners, Argentière’s cable car takes you up to Les Grands Montets, a very famous location known for its difficult descents both on- and off-piste.
- Ski area: Brévent/Flégère
- Ideal place for: For all those who wish to experience the magic of Chamonix with a view of Mont Blanc, a vibrant nightlife and a central location that is perfect for exploring the surrounding area.
- Features: Situated at 1035 m above sea level, Chamonix is the most famous place in the valley. Renowned and much appreciated by tourists, the resort offers two small areas for children directly in the town centre and slopes of medium difficulty. Starting from Chamonix, you can ski on two peaks: Brévent and Flégère. Both peaks offer a spectacular view of Mont Blanc. The Flégère-Brévent area offers a freestyle zone, a speed piste and the beginners’ area of Le Savoy. On the other side of the village, you can find the children’s area of Les Planards.
- Ski area: Les Houches / St Gervais
- Ideal place for: The area is a great place to learn to ski with a private ski instructor. CheckYeti has a large selection of private lessons that you can easily book online.
- Features: Les Houches is 6 km from the famous town of Chamonix and offers a magnificent 360-degree panoramic view of the Mont Blanc, numerous ski slopes and the famous World Cup run “La Verte des Houches”.
- Ski area: Les Houches / St Gervais
- Ideal place for: Here, you can learn to ski at your own pace. CheckYeti will help you find the right private ski instructor for you.
- Features: Officially not part of the Chamonix Valley, St. Gervais can still be considered as the beginning of the overall ski area because it is on the opposite side of the mountain from to Les Houches and the two resorts merge on the peak of the mountain.
Getting around Chamonix couldn’t be easier thanks to the free shuttle bus departing every 30 minutes and traveling to each of the ski schools’ meeting points within the Chamonix resort. Additionally, skiers staying in the Chamonix Valley are given a free travel pass for train journeys within the entire ski region.
Chamonix ski pass
Chamonix-Mont Blanc valley has 3 ski passes: The Chamonix Le Pass is for use within the beginner’s areas of le Savoy and les Planards, (Chamonix), la Poya (Vallorcine), les Chosalets (Argentière) and la Vormaine (le Tour). The Pass also covers the Brévent, Flégère, Balme (Tour & Vallorcine) and Grands Montets areas.
The Les Houches Forfait card covers the Les Houches and St. Gervais skiing areas, plus the Mont-Blanc tramway.
The Mont Blanc Unlimited card (marked grey in the map) covers all of the skiing areas within the Mont Blanc region. This means that the ski pass not only includes the Chamonix Valley ski area and its resorts but also another large ski area, the Evasion Mont-Blanc, which, in turn, includes 7 resorts. Depending on the number of days your ski pass is valid for, you can also ski in 2 areas in Italy and 1 area in Switzerland.
With a 1-day ski pass, you can already use the Skyway cable car (Italy). However, in order to access the area of Courmayeur (Italy), you need a ticket for at least 2 days. Finally, with a ticket valid for at least 6 days, you can even access the area of Verbier (Switzerland). Holders of a ski pass that lasts more than 3 days can also have free access to many leisure activities such as ice skating, a swimming pool and much more.
What to do in Chamonix: The most beautiful panoramic views
– Cross the border between France and Italy by cable car: At an altitude of over 3000 m, the Panoramic Mont Blanc cable car offers a simply unmissable panoramic view.
The cable car leaves from the French station of Aiguille du Midi, which can be reached free of charge if you have the Mont Blanc Unlimited ski pass, and arrives at the Italian station of Punta Helbronner. Both Aiguille du Midi and Punta Helbronner boast spectacular panoramic viewpoints.
Once you arrive in Italy and enjoy the scenery, you can decide whether to take the Panoramic Mont Blanc cable car and go back or take the Skyway Mont Blanc cable car, which is also included in the Mont Blanc Unlimited ski pass, to reach Courmayeur and then return to France with a shuttle. The shuttle is reserved for those who have a ski pass and is free of charge.
– Explore Aiguille du Midi: The Aiguille du Midi cable car holds the world record for the highest vertical ascent of almost 3000m. At the top, visitors can learn about all things Mont Blanc at the world’s highest museum, the Musée d’Alpinisme. One of the highlights of the museum is the heart-stopping “step into the void” experience, where those who dare can step into a glass cube secured to the uppermost terrace of the mountain, at an altitude of 3777m.
– Montenvers Mer de Glace: From Chamonix, a train will take you to the glacier at an altitude of 1,913 m above sea level. After a trip through nature with astounding views and landscapes, you can pay a visit to the ice cave. About a 20-minute walk away, this cave can also be reached by cable car followed by a stairway of over 500 steps. A visit to the cave will let you discover the life of the glacier, thanks to its many ice sculptures and an interactive exhibition.