This will provide you with all the practical information about Chamonix, it’s lifts, hiking ideas, mountain bike itineraries, webcams, directory and map of the town, transport and mountain conditions. You can also reload your lift pass.
If you are a beginner then Les Houches will be more than enough for probably the whole week. You can however upgrade your pass for the remaining days if you wish to explore further.
Les Houches and Le Domaine des Balme are great areas for beginners to intermediates. You can start off on the easier, gentle slopes, and once you’ve got your confidence up you can go and try the harder ones.
I’d also definitely recommend a day in Courmayeur in Italy. It’s like Les Houches, with lots of well groomed slopes and plenty of delicious restaurants to eat at.
If you’re an advanced skier than you’ll actually want to ski all the areas. Weather conditions permitting, I would recommend skiing Les Houches the first day, Domaine de Balme then next, then Brevent & Flegere and finally the Grande Montets. And don’t forget your MBU pass covers you for Courmayeur in Italy too.
There’s also a mega board park in Domain de Balme if you are just interested in being really gnarly and pulling tricks all day.
If you’re only interested in powder then I’d recommend going to the Grande Montets (on a powder day). You can see vasts amount of off piste terrain that is easily accessed from the pistes.
Chamonix is also famous for it’s Valley Blanche – a 14 km, off piste, glacial run with views that will take your breath away. Book a guide (mandatory) and I promise you’ll it will be a day you never forget.
If the weather is bad then Les Houches may be your best bet, as the tree lined pistes offer some points of reference in bad visibility.
If it’s raining on the lower slopes, go higher. Check out your Chamonix app weather forecast and ski areas to see the different heights of the mountains.
If you are in trouble phone the PGHM (Mountain Rescue) on +33 4 50 53 16 89 or the Emergency services on 112.
Chamonix is unlike your average French Alpine ski resort in that the ski areas are not interlinked. Even if you choose to stay in Chamonix itself you will need transport to go skiing or you’ll have a pretty substantial walk up hill to get to the Brevent ski area. For this reason your three options are self drive, concierge or public transport.
At Chalet Schuss I would 100% recommend hiring a car at Geneva. The chalet is located 250 meters above the village of Les Houches where the free bus runs.
In summer it’s a 10 minute walk down to the bus stop (and 15 minutes up). In winter it’s probably longer.
The odd guest has taken local transport but really for your convenience and to get the most out of you holiday I’d say either having a car or taking taxi would probably a preferable option.
At Chalet Sous les Bois the majority of our guests choose to hire a car at Geneva. Those with a bigger budget opt for the concierge service in the winter, and the few, who are on a tighter budget but really want an awesome place to say, choose to take the bus. (The bus from this chalet is 100% doable but it’s time consuming and therefore you need to decide how best to fill your time).
If you want to have at totally ‘hands off’ holiday then the concierge service is FANTASTIC – especially if you are a group who need to accommodate a lot of different needs.
CVT (Chamonix Valley Transfers) charge 400 euros a day for a private minibus with a dedicated driver for 10 consecutive hours (for our guests only). The driver must get two hours off around lunch and it’s in-resort only, so you may have to pay for the going to Italy, but that’s it. It sounds expensive, but if you think a private transfer from Geneva costs between 175 and 200 euros one way, in my opinion, it’s actually exceptionally good value.
Your driver will also go above and beyond the call of duty. They know the resort and can recommend where best to ski that day, recommend and book a nice restaurant and if there’s something else you fancy doing, just ask.
If you have a ski pass your transport within the valley is free. If not, then it’s a euro or two depending on where and what mode of transport you take.
The buses run every half an hour from Les Houches to Les Praz (La Flegere) until 7 pm. After that in peak season there’s a bus until 11 pm but you have to pay (2 euros). Unfortunately they don’t run all the way through to Les Grandes Montets and Le Domaine de Balme, which means if you are going past La Flegere you’ll have to take two buses.
From Chalet Sous les Bois the bus into town for the evening is great, but if you’re skiing bear in mind you need to walk the 700 meters to the bus stop.
There’s also a train which runs all the way to Martigny in Switzerland and stops at Les Grandes Montets and Vallorcine (Domain de Balme).
Check out the ‘Chamonix’ app for public transport schedules.
This is a great idea. Say if you plan on staying at Chalet Schuss and will mostly ski from the chalet, then the odd taxi to another ski area or town for dinner is a great idea.
An 8 seater minibus costs 40 euros to anywhere in the valley, so it’s 5 bucks per person and they’ll come and pick you up from your chalet and drop you exactly where you want to be.
We work with and highly recommend CVT. Tell them you are staying with Charlie (my non professional name) and they’ll be sure to look after you.
Click this link and from there you can buy the Les Houches, Chamonix or MBU pass. If you are unsure which ski pass to buy read the top section on this page. Really I would recommend either buying the Les Houches or the MBU. The Chamonix pass is an option if you are staying at Chalet Sous les Bois but all of my guests have enjoyed skiing in Les Houches. You could buy a one to three day Les Houches pass and then a few days Chamonix le Pass if you are trying to keep costs down.
Two things to remember are that the MBU pass also gives you access to Courmayeur in Italy, the sight seeing lifts of the Aiguille du Midi and Montenvers (if you fancy a day off skiing) and Saint Gervais, Megeve and Combloux. You can also upgrade your pass from Les Houches to the MBU mid week and pay the extra for those days only.
There are a multitude of ski shops in Les Houches you can use so please feel free to go wherever you please. However we have negotiated a 20% discount with Cyprien Sports. They are the largest outfit in Les Houches, they’ve looked after our clients for since 2003 and we’ve never had a complaint.
You can book your skis through their site by following this link.
It isn’t really necessary to book your skis in advance unless you want the pro skis. If you just turn up at the shop instead make sure you tell them you are a CHALET 1802 guest and they will give you your discount.
If you want your skis delivered, (an excellent service for busy weeks like New Year and the February holidays), then you can pre book online and set up a delivery time with Chamonix Ski.
You have two options – either you can book a private instructor or you can go with ESF.
I can recommend a number of private instructors and schools. If you book a full day the advantage of doing this is that if you wish to ski all the ski areas you can decide where you ski and you can say how you want the day to be structured. (For example, perhaps the kids take the first 2 hours and then Mum has an hour, and so on and so forth).
The ski instructors I recommend here all speak excellent English (or are English) and give professional and enthusiastic training.
Christophe has a team of guides and instructors. I have used them since the outset and recommend them highly. They charge 400 euros for a day or 260 for half a day. Christophe’s number is 00 33 680 426 592. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org https://www.topofeuropeorganisation.com/
Jacques is a fantastic SNOWBOARD and ski instructor in Les Houches. He is fun and cool, and is great for kids and teenagers. He charges 350 for a day and 200 for half a day (3.5hrs). His number is 00 33 6 03 24 95 06 and his email address is email@example.com
Audrey is a French ski instructor who speaks brilliant English, she is sweet and diligent in her instruction. She charges 340 euros for a full day and 220 for half a day. Her number is 00 33 68 00 55 490.
Ed is an English ski instructor who has been in valley for years. He charges 400 euros for a day and 280 for a half day. His details are 00 33 683 22 87 57, firstname.lastname@example.org
For ski school you need to book directly with ESF. There webite is the following: https://www.esf-leshouches.com/
You can also book private 1 hour/2 hour or longer lessons with ESF. Sometimes you will get a great teacher and sometimes you may get one who isn’t as committed or whose English isn’t as good as those I have recommended but they will still be adequate.
Super U is open from 8-19:30 Mon – Sat and 8-12:30 Sunday. It’s just a km from Chalet Sous les Bois – Avenue des Alpages, Les Houches, 74310. They will also deliver.
Carrefour is smaller but open longer and the closest supermarket to Chalet Schuss. 32 Place de la Mairie, 74310 Les Houches, 8-20:00 Mon – Sat and 8-13:00 Sunday.
The Bio market sells a reasonable selection of food for a French bio shop. 804 Avenue des Alpages, 74310 Les Houches. Open – 10-19:00 Mon – Sat.
There is also a market every Saturday morning in Chamonix.
Baby-cham have nannies that have all been vetted and police checked. Call Claire on 00 33 6 48 61 31 92 or email her at INFO@BABY-CHAM.COM
In Chamonix our favorite places are Mumma, Point Isobel, Moo, Munchies, Monkey, Big Horn, Cap Horn, Atmosphere, Maison Carrier, Le Cave, The Mix Bar, Casa Valerio and Elevation. You need to book Mumma, Munchies and Atmosphere beforehand, but probably some of the others too if it’s peak season.
In Les Houches, we love LE DELICE, the food is, well, delicious. Rocky Pop is 5 minutes walk from Sous Les Bois, has a fun atmosphere and is great for children that don’t really want to sit down all the time. The only downside is the food isn’t anything to write home about. We go there quite a lot but always stick to the classic pizzas and burgers. The Kitsch Inn is cheap(ish) and cheerful, does apres-ski and has a kids’ area. Le Solery is the local brewery pub. We enjoy it here more and more as children and friends’ children now take themselves off ice skating or tobogganing on the beginner slopes at Le Torchet just in front of the bar (when the slopes are closed of course). Gandhi also does good takeaway curries and a really good lunch time deal (10 euros for a curry, beer and more), and there is a takeaway pizza just opposite Le Delice so you can have a drink there while you wait for your pizzas. For chalet Sous les Bois, there’s a new artisan Sushi take away (Wed-Sat), just 5 minutes walk away but you need to pre-order the day before. http://www.artisansushi.com/
Here are some places we’d recommend. As a general rule though the easier it is to get to a place the worse the food will be. I’d recommend phoning and booking beforehand on your way to the slopes. They are normally in setting up shop by 10 am.
La Taniere – T: 0033 450 934257
Located off the back off Les Houches. Nice sun deck and home cooking. They are Argentinian so the steak is their best dish.
The Kitsch Inn – T: 0033 4 50 34 41 74
Cheap and cheerful, good for informal, laid back lunch.
0 1600 – T: 0033 670 68 69 38
New, not that cheap but fair enough for a mountain restaurant. Very good food apparently. I’m yet to try it.
Le Bergerie De Plan Praz – T: 0450 530542
Have views to die for. Traditional dishes, but expensive. Has a snack bar downstairs.
There’s absolutely nothing to recommend here. If you’re looking for a decent lunch then your best bet is to eat at Le Bergerie at Brevent, or head down in the lift to La Cabane.
Les Grands Montets
Refuge Lognan – T: 0688560354
This rustic chalet refuge is accessed by skiing the black runs from the top of the Grands Montets. It’s recommended to book ahead. Traditional Savoyard food – lots of cheesy baked dishes.
La Cremerie du Glacier – T: 0450 540752
Accessed on the right near the bottom of the Pierre-a-Ric home run (or on foot up an access road from the bottom of the Grands Montets). Phone ahead. Very good value and delicious croutes.
Le Domaine du Balme
Alpage du Balme – T: 0683338661
A great little place, reasonably priced and good rustic food. Book ahead.
Vallorcine Gare – T: 04 50 54 63 04
Down the back of Le Tour by the station, accessed by a blue run. Cheap and cheerful and very peaceful.
La Maison Vieille – T: +39 337230979
There are plenty of restaurants on the mountain in Courmayeur but this is the only place that locals go, a veritable institution. Why risk anywhere else? Opposite the top of the Maison Vieille chairlift.