Chamonix Resort Reviews
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Visitor reviews for Chamonix Ski Resort
February 07, 2016
Lewis from United Kingdom
Quality before quantity.
Chamonix, how I love and hate it. In some ways, it's simply the best place to ski; ever. In other ways, it's like a high maintenance beauty that's emotionally unstable.
The Aguille Du Midi and the Vallee Blanche are stunning, also Grand Montets is an amazing ski area too. Any advanced or expert skier could live here forever and die happy. However, oddly for many others it really should never be recommended.
Let me explain. Mont Blanc is on the western side of the Alps and is the highest peak, so it attracts the most unstable weather. This can be good because it will probably get some of the best snow, but then can also be bad because fog, rain and high winds are more likely. Cham is at an altitude of only 1000 meters meaning many of the lower runs will be unskiable most of the year. The locals seem slightly laissez-faire: the first lift doesn't open until 8.45 or 9 and you could be hanging around with no information. Then the lifts shut at 3.30. The town is massively popular so the big cable cars on Montets and Aguille Du Midi have to be pre booked.
Some of the ski areas are at a stupidly low altitude and are far apart needing long bus journeys. If you ski the Valley Blach you're unlikely to ski for more than 1.5 hours the whole day over a 1600 meter vertical drop.
So for the improving intermediate or low advanced skier, on a six day ski holiday, Chamonix is a bit of a disaster area. You spend more time queuing, sitting on buses or on slow antiquated chair lifts than you ever will skiing. In this case, it would be better to find a ski area less crowded, better situated and open for longer to get the most from your precious short time on the snow and paying 5 Euros for a can of cola.
However, if you are an expert skier looking for a place to live Chamonix would be a great choice. If you have a season pass and just ski those blue-bird days after a snowfall it couldn't be better. Or maybe you've fully mastered the gnarliest, steepest black runs, and are bored of regular resorts and need some insane ice-climbing/mountaineering skiing.
I'm not saying Chamonix isn't amazing or shouldn't be on every skiers bucket list, but it is something to work toward, especially if you have already had at least 10 days on snow that year.
Overall: 4.0. Based on 36 votes and 80 reviews. Vote
(1) At least one overnight stop, (2) requires a whole day, (3) requires more than half a day – you may have time for a few turns (4) arrive by lunchtime and ski all afternoon, (5) there is a main airport within an hour of Chamonix.
Public Transport: 4.3
(1) There are no buses or taxis to Chamonix, (3) there are slow or infrequent buses / trains available, (5) getting to the resort is easy with frequent bus / train connections.
(1) An ugly resort in a bland setting, (3) average mountain views and resort, (5) a spectacular setting and a beautiful / historic resort town.
(1) No places to stay in/near Chamonix, (3) a few places to stay in the resort, (5) a wide variety of accommodation suitable to suit all budgets.
Cheap Rooms: 4.0
(1) No budget accommodation available, (3) just one or two hostels so book ahead, (5) several cheap hostels and pensions available.
Luxury Hotels: 4.7
(1) No luxury accommodation available, (3) just one or two luxury hotels so book ahead, (5) several up-market hotels in Chamonix.
Ski in/Ski out: 3.2
(1) The ski area is located far from any accommodation, (3) a free ski bus takes you to the ski area in a short trip, (5) Ski-in ski-out accommodation is available.
(1) There are no child care facilities at Chamonix, (5) the resort has excellent child-care facilities including at least one reasonably priced creche.
(1) Occasionally gets enough snow for skiing, (2) is often closed due to a lack of snow, (3) occasionally suffers from a lack of snow, (4) rarely suffers from a lack of snow, (5) Chamonix is snowsure even in the poorest seasons.
(1) Chamonix relies entirely on natural snow, (3) there are just a few snow cannons, (5) there are snowmaking facilities on all pistes.
Snow Grooming: 3.8
(1) There are no snow groomers at Chamonix, (3) occasionally some pistes are left ungroomed and in a poor state, (5) all the runs at Chamonix are groomed daily.
(1) there is nowhere to ski when it is windy or visibility is bad and lifts often shut, (3) there are some trees for poor visibility but main lifts sometimes close, (5) Chamonix is mostly in forest where you can ski in flat-light and windy days, lifts rarely close.
Nearby options: 4.0
(1) If snow conditions are poor at Chamonix, it will be poor everywhere nearby, (3) there are good alternatives within an hours drive, (5) other locations on the same lift pass provide a rich variety of snowsure ski conditions.
Regional rating: 4.1
(1) Chamonix usually has poor snow conditions compared to other resorts in region, (3) has average conditions for the region, (5) usually has the best snow conditions in the region.
Lift Staff: 3.8
(1) The staff at Chamonix are rude or unhelpful, (5) lift staff at Chamonix are pleasant, cheerful and eager to help.
(1) the resort is always busy and there are usually long lift queues, (3) it is quiet apart from occasional weekends and school holidays, (5) it is uncrowded and lift queues are very rare.
Ski Schools: 4.4
(1) No ski schools available, (2) one or two ski schools but local language only, (3) a few ski schools but book early for multi-lingual instructors, (4) plenty of ski schools and multi-lingual instructors available, (5) excellent ski schools with friendly multi-lingual ski instructors.
Hire and Repairs: 4.7
(1) Nothing can be sourced, not even ski-wax or ptex. (3) there are some ski shops but rentals need to be booked in advance, (5) good quality ski equipment can be purchased or hired and overnight repairs are possible.
Variety of pistes: 4.6
(1) The ski runs are featureless and unvaried, (3) the ski runs are varied but not extensive enough for a week, (5) Chamonix has diverse and interesting pistes including forests and high alpine terrain.
(1) Beginners can only watch others ski and snowboard, (3) a few gentle slopes but beginners will get bored in less than a week, (3) Vast areas of gentle terrain.
(1) No intermediate terrain at Chamonix, (3) intermediate skiers will get bored after a few days, (5) vast areas of cruising runs.
(1) Nothing for advanced skiers and snowboarders, (3) enough steep terrain for a few days with some good offpiste, (5) Enough steep terrain and offpiste areas to entertain advanced skiers for at least a week.
Snow Park: 3.3
(1) Not even a kicker at Chamonix, (3) average sized park quite well looked after, (5) huge park area and expertly crafted pipes, jumps and boardercross trails.
(1) No off-piste worth mentioning, (2) off piste is out-of-bounds, (3) some varied offpiste that stays fresh for one or two days, (5) a vast array of off-piste routes that can stay untracked for several days.
(1) There is nowhere to go for cross-country skiing around Chamonix, (3) there are some cross country trails available, (5) the area features many spectacular and well maintained cross-country trails.
(1) No designated luge or toboggan runs, (3) there are toboggan runs that open quite often, (5) Chamonix has long and well maintained luge / toboggan facilities suitable for all ages.
Mountain Dining: 3.5
(1) Nowhere to buy food by the pistes, (3) some places to eat up on the mountain but they are often busy and expensive, (5) there is a variety of excellent mountain eateries right next to the slopes to suit all budgets.
(1) Bring your own food, there isn't even a shop. (5) A wide variety of places to eat and drink in the resort, from fast food to fancy restaurants.
(1) Nothing to do, not even a bar, (3) there are a few bars in the resort but nothing special, (5) clubs and bars stay open until very late and have a friendly atmosphere.
Other Sports: 4.6
(1) No sports facilities at all apart from ski lifts, (3) resort has just a small public swimming pool, (5) resort has all kinds of sports facilities, including a full-size swimming pool.
(1) Besides the snow and walking there is nothing to do here, (3) the non-skier will find things to do for few days but may become bored after a week, (5) the resort area is a fascinating place to visit, regardless of winter sports.
Winter Walks: 4.3
(1) Very limited walking and no snowshoe trails, (3) a couple of designated scenic walking/snowshoe trails, (5) extensive and diverse winter walking trails for all abilities.
Ski Pass Value: 3.7
(1) A 1 week ski pass is overpriced compared to the number of lifts available, (3) the ski pass is averagely priced and covers a reasonable number of lifts, (5) ski passes are excellent value for money and cover a lot of lifts spanning a big area.
Value (National): 3.7
(1) Overall, Chamonix is one of the most expensive ski resorts in the country and not worth the money, (3) overall represents average value for money, (5) overall offers the best value resort in the country.
Value (Global): 3.7
(1) Overall, Chamonix is one of the most expensive ski resorts in the world, (3) overall it offers pretty average value for money compared to resorts from other countries, (5) internationally the resort offers excellent value for money.
April 04, 2015
Athan from Belgium
The 'king is naked', and the management has to realize it....
Maybe 100 years ago, when alpinism was an unknown word, the area gathered thrilled pioneers of the mountains and the winter sports. But in the era of snow resorts like Tignes, Trois Vallees or Sankt Anton am Arlberg (AT) this resort seems like an old aristocrat in decadence. The extremely variable weather and the almost always poor snow quality are obvious reasons for not opting for this "famous" resort. Besides, the 50Euros day pass gives access to only one ski resort (of the size of Bansko in Bulgaria) and not to three as the management claims: it requires at least one hour from base-station to base-station to change a station; if you decide so in the middle of the day. All in all, the day pass is overpriced, unless you include in the evaluation the breathtaking scenery; if the weather allows it. The unusual "offer" to cross the tunnel and to ski in Italy requires not only a respectful amount of money and but usually some time spent on the long waiting queues of the tunnel. Local transportation is very poor and a personal car is more than essential. However, the use of public transportation is strongly recommended but never actualized by the local authorities. Above all, in sustainable developed ski resorts of Austria (and elsewhere) the reimbursement of the ski card is self evident. The obligatory possession of the ski card does not influence the will to return back to a ski resort with so many disadvantages.
January 05, 2015
Lawrie McWilliams from United Kingdom
Fantastic scenery but inadequate infrastructure. The key lifts [e.g. Parsa at Brevent] and Grand Montet are woeful.
Huge crowds/very slow/too expensive. I will never fail to be be captivated by the beauty of the place but after ten years of going three or four times a year I have realised that the customers are being taken for mugs. Definitely visit if you can get there, but only in a quiet period; avoid if it's a busy one!
September 09, 2014
Martin from United Kingdom
I love Chamonix; I hate it in equal measure. I've been there in summer and winter and had great times and truly terrible times there.
I'd consider myself a solid off-piste skier with many powder trips under my belt. But I'd still say that without a guide, I'd be really cautious of taking on some of Cham's powder as the danger factor is ramped up on the heavily crevassed glaciers and risk from seracs above. Maybe I wasn't looking hard enough or didn't have the right inside knowledge but I struggled to find good stuff in what I'd call a reasonable distance from the lifts. As I said, get a guide who will presumably open it all up for you. You've only got to have one timid off-pister in the group to make the powder off limits without splitting up. Most of us can't afford a guide for the whole week. So while we all talk a good powder game, I'd say for most of us, to get a good shot at enjoying powder on your one week away I'd go elsewhere. Controversial I know!
For a long weekend, the pistes are fine with plenty of variety around the valley. For a week, you really do need to get off-piste so without a guide or a seriously blinkered view of your own mortality you're going to be struggling.
Chamonix, like any mountain centre, is at the mercy of the weather and Mont Blanc does seem to create a bit of a micro-climate. So you may find the powder lines you've researched all autumn are totally out of scope when you get there. Be flexible and prepare to get in your car and try elsewhere.
The town itself is good fun with something for everyone. Want posh? It can out-posh the Beckhams. You want grungy? No problem, Cham can go cheap and dirty as you like. As others have said, it benefits from the authenticity of being a proper town, even though the whole town is geared around tourism.
My advice? Give Chamonix a go, maybe for a long weekend at first. Just don't expect it to scratch all your powder itches without serious investment in guides and a touch of good luck with the weather.
March 18, 2014
Exseason from United Kingdom
Spent a season in Chamonix. It is a great place but only if you love mountains; it is not a resort. There is something about it; some quality, it just has "it". I have skied in quite a few other places, but the ski mountaineering here is incredible. A car is great, yes, but of little use when your departure is miles from your exit unless you have two. The train system (and bus) is absolutely spot on. Just plan accordingly with the timetables. Or hitch a lift!
The pistes are pretty poor compared to Verbier, Zermatt etc. But it isn't about that! Consider yourself warned.
As for rude people etc. Utter garbage. Everyone is here to celebrate the mountains. If you want some Disney resort with service, go to North America.
January 20, 2014
corm from Switzerland
I live in Geneva and have a huge choice of ski slopes 2 hrs from my door. I like Chamonix the best (actually more in summer). In winter, there is something for everyone. True, it suits better the intermediate/expert skier but I have 2 young kids learning now and they fit in just fine. Yes, it's marginally more expensive than other resorts but it offers a lot more. Also, true that the major areas are not linked but each provides sufficient skiing for an entire day for piste only skiers. For those willing and able to ski off-piste there are no limits. The locals are not friendly, I hear you say, well it's 90 pct probable you've been served by a Brit, a Swede or a non local French. The French, generally, are surly so get over it. You're here to ski, not make new friends with bar and restauarant staff. Learn the language, at least the basics, it may actually break down some barriers! :-)
January 01, 2014
DB from United Kingdom
If you're a good off-piste skier and the futility of sitting on chair lifts gets too much then the Cham valley is the place to be.
One lift up, skis on the shoulder or skinning and you can access some of the best snow ever. There is a mixed bag of excellent day/multi-day tours/steep slopes, etc.
Beware, do not venture without avalanche rescue kit and possibly crampons/ice axes/ropes. If you don't others will get very annoyed and rightly so. In the mountains everyone looks after each other and all chip in if things go wrong.
It is the spirit of being in the mountains which gives Cham it's unique appeal and gives skiing a real purpose.
November 19, 2013
Rsputin from Switzerland
I am fortunate to live in Geneva and, within 90 mins, have access to the best skiing on the planet. Having skied all over the globe it makes me laugh that people even have the cheek to complain about Chamonix, the resort that gave birth to extreme snow and mountain sports.
It's a no holds barred free ski resort, it's not for beginners nor intermediates but then it doesn't pretend to be. It's a 'balls to the wall' ski mountaineering resort for advanced to expert skiers.
If you don't fit that bill and want to plod around on pistes all day, to shake of that apres-ski hangover go to Morzine, Avoriaz, Flaine etc etc.
If you want to ski the steepest steeps and be surrounded by amazing scenery come to Chamonix. The lift served off-piste with only a 30 min tour or hike is off the chart.
Yes, it's disjointed but it works in the off-piste skiers favour because it keeps the piste/semi off-piste skiers constrained and stops everything being tracked to high heaven early doors.
As for the language issue, simple, learn French, it's not hard. As for the cost, try going to Courchevel or Verbier. Some people really need a dose of reality.
Hands down the best ski resort in Europe, possibly the world.
November 20, 2012
Migrated crow from Australia
After reading lots of reviews from "piste heroes" and tourists with bad attitude I felt compelled to share my opinion of this unique place. Please don't try to compare Chamonix to any other "resort." Chamonix is a real town that operates all year round. It happens to be surrounded by skiable mountains one of which, L'Aguille du Midi (3842m)is open all year round. This peak is strictly for mountaineer skiers of which there is an abundance in Chamonix. The ski areas are not linked but they each offer a great day of skiing piste & off-piste if you are an accomplished skier. The Chamonix area beats every other "resort" in the world for vertical drop. Try the top of Les Grand Montets down to Argentiere a couple of times for a morning warm-up! Chamonix is in France so please at least try to speak French. Chamonix has no more "rude" French than any other resort I have been to. One can be unlucky with snow in any resort, however, Chamonix has an incredible record for number of lifts open and snow cover. There is a huge amount of skiing above 2000m so even when many other European resorts are struggling for snow, Chamonix runs will often remain open as there are mid station lifts on almost every mountain at 2000m. This also makes it a fabulous place to ski in springtime too. Skiing is a fabulous sport which can be practised anywhere there is snow. I don't really care where I ski as long as I ski. I don't manage to get to Chamonix much these days, but without doubt all my best skiing has been done in Chamonix : powder, steeps, touring, bumps, jumps, speed, most vertical in a day, and the list goes on. Simply an amazing and incomparable place full of amazing people. Do yourself a favour before you go there. Learn a little French but more importantly, learn how to ski. You can practice at one of the lower, flatter, more Anglo resorts.
November 03, 2012
Grey on a Tray from United Kingdom
I read a lot of the reviews here with bemusement.
Chamonix is Chamonix "full stop". It is unique, beautiful, sometimes infuriating but hit it on the right day and it will give you moments, or longer, of the reason we go to the mountains: Freedom and experiences that can never be equalled. It is, without doubt, a wild place. Go up high for a while and, whatever your level of experience, enjoy as the saying goes "how can you ever know the valleys if you have not been in the mountains". Cham for me is the best!