Sometimes a weekend skiing is all you can fit in. Or maybe you’re lucky enough to squeeze in an additional ski weekend on top of your usual ski trip. Whatever the reason, if you are contemplating a weekend ski break, you should consider a weekend ski break in Chamonix. It should certainly be on your list of potential destinations for a weekend break.
We think that Chamonix ticks all the boxes for a great place for a weekend ski break:
Short transfer time – Tick! Chamonix is only an hour drive from Geneva airport
Good skiing – Tick! Chamonix is a skiers (or snowboarders) paradise. With 4 main areas to choose from there are plenty of skiing options. Whilst, the area mainly caters for the intermediate to advanced skiers, there are some beginner options too.
Good après-ski – Tick! Being a town in its own right and not just a ski resort, it really does have it all. There are bars a plenty and enough restaurants across all cuisines to keep everyone in your party happy.
Whilst we love Morzine for family friendly skiing, we love Chamonix for child free weekends skiing. So, to help you make the most of a weekend skiing in Chamonix we have pulled together our tips and recommendations on the resort.
Bear in mind, that as Chamonix is pretty spread out it pays to plan ahead. Whilst there are plenty of ski areas to choose from, as they are separate entities it is best to pick your ski area and stay there for the day.
Go prepared with an idea of where you would like to go and what you would like to do. That way you’ll make the most of your short ski trip away.
Read on for our tips for making the most of your weekend ski break in Chamonix
Transfer to Chamonix
Car hire may be more expensive than a transfer but it will give you more flexibility. And as you won’t be waiting round for ski busses it will also maximize your time on the slopes. Car parking is readily available at the base of the slopes. Most charge a couple of Euros per day and in some cases they are completely free.
Be sure you pack your sallopetes at the top of your luggage with easy access. Wear your thermals and ski jacket and that way you can drive straight to the slopes. We swap our jeans for sallopetes in the car and then we’re straight on the slopes for an afternoon ski. Save the hotel check-in for later.
Chamonix Lift Passes
As we were skiing for a weekend only (3 1/2 days max skiing), we took the decision to buy individual passes each day.
All the regions below are covered by purchasing the Ski Chamonix – Les Pass (costs €51.50 per day). To go up to the top of Grand Montets you need to purchase an add on which you can do at the base.
There is the option of purchasing the more expensive Mont Blanc Unlimited Pass. This gives you access to plenty more ski areas but you’ll struggle to make use of it in a weekend. The pass includes all the Chamonix regions, plus Megeve and Evasion Mont Blanc (the top of Grand Montets) and the Aguille du Midi. It even covers the ski areas of Courmeyeur in Italy and Verbier in Switzerland. We would definitely recommend this for a weeks ski holiday, but for a weekend you’ll struggle to make the most of it.
You can look at all ski passes here.
Chamonix Ski Areas
There are 4 main regions to pick from and even more options further afield.
Brévent is the only ski area in Chamonix town itself. As getting there involves a long trek up a steep hill (not great in ski boots), it is much better to take the car or catch the ski bus. We recommend heading to Brévent on day one before you’ve even unpacked your bags. Change in the car and get straight on those slopes.
In Brévent there is a good selection of slopes to keep intermediates and advanced skiers happy. Brévent linked by cable car to the neighbouring ski area of Flergere and is now officially referred to as Brévent-Flegere.
It is worth taking the cable car up to the Charles Bozon piste, the black run which awards you with spectacular views. Also, being higher up it also has the best snow.
Flégère caters for all abilities. It also has some great places to test out your off piste skills with areas in close proximity to the main piste. Its southerly aspect means it benefits from the sun all day, a definite plus point.
Les Grands Montets
The largest and by far the most popular of all the ski areas. An altitude of 3,300m and a northerly aspect guarantees quality snow which lasts the day. When there are high winds it also means that it can get pretty icy. It also feels much more exposed than the other areas.
Les Grand Montets is about a 10 minute drive from Chamonix town. You can also take the free ski bus.
When you are at the base, there are two choices. You can either take the main cable car or the gondola. Depending on how busy it is, it is often best to opt for the quieter queues for the bubble.
Skiing from the top of the Grand Montets is an absolute highlight with its two challenging black pistes. The off piste skiing here is also legendary, although we recommend a guide if you want to try it out.
There is a small snack bar at the top which offers the most spectacular views and is a nice place to call in for a hot chocolate.
2/3 down the black is where you will find the very rustic but charming Chalet Refuge de Lognan. This is an ideal spot to stop for lunch.
You will need to pay for your trip to the top separately or as an add on to your pass. You can do this at the base station in Argentiere.
Le Tour is an easy 15 minute drive outside of Chamonix town, just passed Les Grand Montets. It can also be accessed by the free ski bus.
This is by far the best place to head for beginners to intermediates with its 1 black, 7 reds and 11 blues. There is also a section at the base with drag lifts and green slopes.
Experienced boarders and skiers shouldn’t rule out Le Tour however. As it has lots to offer in terms of off piste with a run that the locals call the magic forest. This will take you through the trees.
If you’re in Chamonix for longer than a weekend, or If you have the time, a day trip to Courmayeur, in Italy is definitely worth it. Its about a 45 minute drive from Chamonix. In Courmayeur you will be treated to wide, open, well groomed pistes where you can cruise to your heart’s content.
On the slopes there are some very good self service restaurants for which booking isn’t required. There are also some seriously good restaurants to try out too, for which it is safer to book for. We recommend trying the following:
Chamonix Mountain restaurants
La Bergerie de Pla Praz – Located at the Planpraz mid-station in Brevent. Weather permitting, outside is the place to sit. There is a fine terrace set on the sunny side of the slopes, with spectacular views over the valley. Inside is pleasant enough, with a traditional wooden alpine décor.
This high end restaurant serves up a fairly limited menu with flamed grilled steaks, a choice of the day and cheese dishes. The café gourmand, a selection of miniature desserts with coffee is also a lovely way to end the meal.
Lift access: Télécabine de Plan Praz, Chamonix
Chalet Refuge de Lognan – located in the Les Grands Montets area. This rustic restaurant is set about 2/3 rds down the testing integrale top to bottom run, just off the main piste.
Be warned it also involves a challenging stint of un-groomed runs and off-piste skiing post lunch too. But I guess its this that really does make it feel like its name sake by providing a refuge from all the main bustle.
This cosy wooden shack serves up unpretentious hearty French dishes. What’s on offer will depend on what they have been able to carry up the mountain! Make sure you book ahead, you don’t want to make all the effort of getting there to then not get in!
Tel:+33 6 88 56 03 54
Lift access: Herse chairlift or Grands Montets summit cablecar
Plan Joran – this also located in the Les Grands Montets area, but is more readily accessible than Chalet refuge de Lognan. The main restaurant offers a very good menu of french dishes from Foie Gras to Ox cheeks. To ensure you get in, make sure you book ahead.
For budget options the self service is also pretty good with hot and cold options The pizzas are great to eat on the terrace. Be warned though, it is pretty big and pretty busy.
Lift access: Plan Joran chair lift or Lognan cable car then follow the Liaison piste, Grands Montets, Argentière
Chamonix Town Restaurants
In the town itself, away from the slopes there is much more choice. If you are visiting in the height of the season, make sure you book ahead.
Chez Constant – A cozy French bistrot in the centre of town serving up delectable French fare. The menu is quite small and changes with the seasons. We sampled the hearty beef with dauphinoise potatoes and the fish served on creamy mashed potatoe.
The small restaurant is cosy and intimate and so less touristy than other restaurants based in the town. Expect delicious food and friendly service.
Neapolis – This little gem is relatively hidden away from the main thoroughfare, but right next to the hotel where we stayed. It is an unassuming Italian restaurant.
Not much to look at from the outside, but on the inside it is full of charm and packed with locals in the know. Both pasta dishes and pizzas were very very good.
Tel: +33 4 50 53 98 41
Where to stay
We stayed at the Hotel L’Arve, which was a welcoming and very pleasant small 3* hotel, within easy walking distance to the main hub of the town. It’s set next to the river and so the rooms have pleasant views of the town and surrounding Alps. There is also a small secure car park with free parking for the duration of your stay. You can leave your skis in the heated ski storage locker.
The basic rooms are particularly small and so it is worth paying the extra for a larger room. We ended up staying in the family room which was particularly spacious.
At 4pm they serve up complimentary tea, coffee and cakes by the fire, although we only made it back on time once to make the most of it. A continental breakfast is an additional 12 Euros, we tried this once and it was very nice. But to save our pennies and to hit the slopes quicker we ended up grabbing a croissant from a local patisserie and went for a bigger lunch instead.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that ski weekends are the budget option. Cost wise, relatively speaking, you’ll get better value for your money if you go for a week. The benefit of a weekend skiing however is that you minimize your days off work and still get in some good ski days.
In our experience, you will more than likely find good deals on flights if you book really early. Whilst booking late may reward you with some bargains in terms of hotels, you’ll have to be prepared to play the waiting game and be more flexible with your dates. Be warned, Chamonix is a popular resort so the best hotels tend to be snapped up quickly.
Make sure you travel light – it’s only a weekend after all and this keeps the cost down. We managed with just hand-luggage and sports equipment.
Cost wise you’ll likely get a cheaper weekend by booking it all independently. Yes, there’s more work involved but inevitably it will typically cost you a lot less than packaged options. Also if you are driving, you could consider staying somewhere further out and driving to the slopes each day. This will reduce the cost considerably.
We would love to hear from you if you have any additional tips or recommendations on skiing in Chamonix using the comments box or contact us page.
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