International (Europe/Japan/NZ/Au) Tips for Skiing in Chamonix

Discussion in 'General Resort Discussion' started by dovski, Jan 10, 2019.

  1. dovski

    dovski Getting on the lift Skier

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    Hi All,

    So I got stuck with a work trip to Europe in the middle of ski season and I decide to make the most of my Mountain Collective Pass and ski Chamonix. Currently plan is to fly into Geneva and take the Alpy Bus to Chamonix ... and that is as far as I have gotten. Would love some advice from those of you who have been to Chamonix. Specifically can I get recommendations on the following:
    1. Ski in Ski hotels - in other words where should I stay both area and if possible hotel recommendations apprecated :)
    2. Rental/Demo skis - can anyone recommend a shop or better yet service that has great skis
    3. What parts of the mountain/valley have the best skiing?
    4. Great restaurants both on hill and for apres ski.
    Thank you in advance for your words of wisdom
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 11, 2019
  2. Eleeski

    Eleeski Out on the slopes Skier

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    Zermatt instead? Sacrilege but we liked Zermatt better. Nicer village with easier access to the hill. Zermatt seemed to have a larger mountain - it went into Italy!

    The best tram at Chamonix is down right now. Chamonix did not honor my Squaw gold pass which was a Mountain Collective plus. It was harder to get to the lifts. We did stay walking distance to Brevent but Argentiere was the good hill but a long bus ride from town. The pastry shop (it was famous but I can't remember the name) was nice for breakfast goodies.

    We went a few years ago. We'd go back to Zermatt but try a different French resort when we go back.

    Eric
     
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  3. James

    James Skiing the powder Instructor

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    Ok, I'm not sure there's really any such thing. Probably in Les Houches there is, and then there's that hotel you can take the train up to down towards Argentierre way. It's not that far though. Overlooks the glacier Mer de Glace. Name escapes me. I think the place is Montenvers. There's a Cham thread, look in there.

    Be aware that there's really no such thing as "skiing in Chamonix" . Chamonix or "Chamonix-Mont Blanc" is a town. The Chamonix valley has the skiing in different areas.
    This will orient you:
    [​IMG]
    https://www.chamonix.net/sites/default/files/Attachments/map2_chamonix.jpg
    The two most famous areas are L'Aguille du Midi and Les Grand Montets. The Aguille lift goes from right in town of Cham, ascends 9,200 ft in two stages. You will want, really need to join a guided group or hire one yourslf. There's no pistes up there, if your not on the glacier, where you need a guide, you're likely on something very hairy or can easily get in serious trouble. It's very easy in Cham at Compagnie des Guides de Chamonix, Place L'Eglise. It's right in town and you walk in and find out. Across from that is the tourist bureau which is quite good. Or arrange other guides with other companies.

    Unfortunately, there was a fire at the tram station at Les Grands Montets ( which is down valley in Argentierre). Access to the top is now only possible by skinning and that would be with guide since it's not controlled afaik. The piste that goes up is not maintained from what was said earlier. There's skiing from the top of thre gondola at Lognan and down. (Pretty sure gondi wasn't knocked out)

    Be aware that Courmayeur, Italy is right through the 14 km Mont Blanc tunnel. You can join a guided group that goes over there and they take you in a van and drop you off. Snow can be better one side or the other. The other side calls it Monte Bianco. Courmayeur is more what one thinks of as a ski area.

    Certainly you should go the Vallee Blanche. Honestly, if you can get a few people and hire your own guide it's better. Otherwise just join a group. It's like skiing on the planet, not a ski area. Just the top of the tram is like looking down from an airplane. It's kind of insane.

    Cham has everyone. It is not a quaint town. (It seems to now be getting fancier shops unfortunately). You'll have people clomping in their boots on the bus with young kids and world class skiers. Maybe you'll see Plake. All in the same town. AT and tech gear is easily rented, and if you want to do that or say rappel into a couloir it's available with a guide.

    Very easy access from Geneva by Alpybus or the others.

    This is left of the ridge you'll walk out on. There's lots of these people in Cham. They're pretty low key. It's more mountaineering oriented skiing than blasting Alaskan faces. That would get you killed.
    Love this clip.

     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2019
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  4. Thread Starter
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    dovski

    dovski Getting on the lift Skier

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    Ok the Ski tour sounds great, I will be on my own so like the idea of joining a group. Can anyone recommend a good ski tour operator to join?

    Mount Collective get's you the 3 area Charmonix Le Pass - is this of any use? Says it covers these three ski areas:
    Are these worth exploring or should I just do the Ski touring?
     
  5. James

    James Skiing the powder Instructor

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    What's the Ski Tour??
    Grands Montets top is closed. So no loss there. You're missing L'aguille du midi lift. You could buy single ticket.
    Missing Les Houches, never skied it- nice trees I hear, it's lower altitude top.
    Vallorcine is another town outside the valley.
    Is all this free with your MC pass?
     


  6. Thread Starter
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    dovski

    dovski Getting on the lift Skier

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    MC gives you two days of Le Pass which covers these three areas -
    I checked with MCand I just have to go up to a Mont-Blanc Natural Resort ticket booth and show them my MC purchase confirmation to Le Pass. You get 100% access to these areas and their lifts, so trying to figure out the following:
    1. Where do I stay that has good lift access (i.e. a short walk or on the hill)
    2. Is the above enough considering I will have less than two days to ski (Get in late on Friday and have to fly to London on Sunday night)
    3. The ski tour was the guided group you recommended ogsmile Do I need that if I am just skiing in the areas list above
    This will be a quick weekend trip while traveling on business so probably on going to get a day and a half of skiing in as I will have to drive back to the Geneva Airport Sunday afternoon.

    Sofor L'aguille du midi lift, could I just buy an add or separate pass, correct?
     
  7. James

    James Skiing the powder Instructor

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    Ah, Ski Tour = guide = you're from UK?
    Well I think you should try to book a Vallee blanche tour for Sat. If you want the classic experience. Likely you'll have time for other skiing. Instead of getting on bus to go back to Cham you could stay at the area where you vome out or go to Grands Montets.
    You'll need a Aiguille du midi ticket. Beeper. (DVA in French) probe, shovel. Maybe crampons, they'll tell you. All that is pretty standard rental.
    You don't need a guide if you're staying on piste. Only to show you were to go to save time.
    There's a significant chance Aiguille lift is closed for wind. Like below: (note the altitude range)
    IMG_1154.JPG
    There's really no on snow place to stay, esp if you're doing above lift. I suppose you could stay up near Brevent lift or Flegere since you have a car, but it's quite a hilly walk so you'll never go to town.

    Bummer no one's here for more info.
     
  8. Thread Starter
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    dovski

    dovski Getting on the lift Skier

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    I am actually Canadian :)
    Not renting a car hence the desire to stay near the slopes. Sounds like they have shuttle busses though, so that may be the best bet. Will probably stick to the Piste since I am travelling on my own and only have some of my gear with me. Now I just need to find a decent hotel and a ski shop for rentals :)
     
  9. Cheizz

    Cheizz Craving camber Skier

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    If you're not going to do the Chamoix thing (off-piste with guide, Vallée Blanche etc.) may I suggest a different ski area altogether? Any other French or Swiss resorts that are in the Mountain Collective Pass?
     
  10. James

    James Skiing the powder Instructor

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    What's near Geneva? Not a bad idea if the goal is to ski, not check out Cham/ski.
     
  11. Jacob

    Jacob CerebralVortex Skier

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    About a million resorts in western Switzerland and southeastern France.

    Several in Switzerland can be reached by train, and most of the French ones have transfer companies running buses from Geneva airport.

    I'll take the suggestions one step further and suggest taking extra days off to do a week-long trip before the business meetings.
     
  12. dbostedo

    dbostedo Asst. Gathermeister-- Jackson Hole 2020 Moderator Team Gathermeister

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    Nope - just Chamonix in Europe.
     
  13. Cheizz

    Cheizz Craving camber Skier

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    From Geneva, I can recommend Portes du Soleil Area (villages: Châtel, Avoriaz, Morzine, etc.), Megève, La Cluzas, Flaine even... all beter resort skiing than @ Chamonix
     
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  14. Goran M.

    Goran M. Getting on the lift Skier

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    Last year Mountain Collective did include Les Houches. This year that does not appear to be the case. When is storming and there is enough snow cover on the ground, Les Houches could be a very nice little are to explore for a day or two. I also have MCP and will find out on Thursday if Les Houches is still included.

    My favorite restaurant on the mountain is "Les Vieilles Luges" - reservation highly recommended and Beurre Noisette in Chamonix town.

    Plenty of ski shops to rent and the fun thing is that you could try some local brands that are not so common in the US, last year I tried ZAG and ended up with a pair of S-104's. They are located near the base of Grande Montets ski area in Argentiere. Les Houches is the home of Dynastar (we've heard of these guys) and Black Crows are another local brand that are easy to get local ski rental shops.

    As for ski in/out hotels - no such thing in Chamonix as mentioned above. The closest would be finding something "closer" (walking distance) to the lifts in Argentiere or Les Houches (again, not very clear if it is included in MCP). Never been to Vallorcine area. Your lift pass gives you free rides on local busses and trains and it is really easy and fun way to get around town. I like "people watching" and buses are real fun place to see all kinds of people - locals going to work, grandmas coming back from the market, "skiers" with their ill fitted gear, high school kids going to/coming back from school etc.

    In short, great for a short ,couple of days trip. Chamonix could be fun and offers plenty (understatement) skiing to suit everyone. But IMO, it gets old very quickly, too spread out, big scene sometimes bordering on comical. I've never seen town where so many people on the main street are sporting leg and arm casts and all kinds of crutches.

    Now, if you are into kind of "skiing" that incorporates mountaneering, some steep descents bordering on suicidal - Chamonix is probably the place to do it !

    Their mountain rescue crews are probably best in the world !

    Have fun !
     
  15. James

    James Skiing the powder Instructor

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    I've never been to any of those places and I would agree. Cham isn't resort skiing at all. It's a bit odd and if you're not up for it, it could be not so great. You pretty much want to do the guide thing.
    If one is looking for resort skiing, it's not Cham.

    https://www.thenational.ae/lifestyle/travel/ski-central-11-best-ski-resorts-close-to-geneva-1.681844
     
  16. Thread Starter
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    dovski

    dovski Getting on the lift Skier

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    I wish I but c'est pas possible :)

    That said I would love a great recommendation as to where I should go from Geneva by bus for skiing. If the resorts in Charmonix are not the best choices, would love some advice on where to go. Here is the situation:
    • I arrive in Geneva on Friday Feb 1st at 10:40 PM, I leave on a flight from Geneva Sunday Feb 3 at 7:55 PM.
    • I plan on skiing for two days
    Basically I just need some recommendations on where to go and where to stay. The Alpy Bus or one of the other ski busses appears to have direct Airport to hotel routes so planning to do that and get some turns in the Alps :) Any recommendations or advice appreciated.
     
  17. Goran M.

    Goran M. Getting on the lift Skier

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  18. Cheizz

    Cheizz Craving camber Skier

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  19. Thread Starter
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    dovski

    dovski Getting on the lift Skier

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    Ok so I looked at Megève and the cheapest accommodation I could find was about 1500 EUR per night. So found a ski resort in St. Gervais called Le Monte Bianco in SAINT-GERVAIS MONT-BLANC which is part of the Hotel Club ski MMV chain. They have a room with full board for 350 EUR for two nights it becomes 418 EUR if I go all inclusive which includes a 2 day ski pass and. They are walking distance from the lifts. This sounds like a good deal. Any thoughts or feedback on this? Also are their other Ski Resorts/Clubs in the area worth considering?

    Thanks,
    Dov
     
  20. Jacob

    Jacob CerebralVortex Skier

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    Given that you're arriving so late at GVA, I'd be surprised if you can get a bus or train to any resorts at that time of night. Looking at the SBB website, you can get trains to places like Villars, Les Diablerets, and Gstaad starting around 5:00 or 6:00 in the morning on a Saturday, getting you into the resort at 8:00 or 9:00.

    I don't know if any transfer companies are running buses at 11:00 pm on a Friday or how early they start on Saturdays, but I have a feeling that you'll be staying the night Friday at an airport hotel and heading to the mountains on Saturday morning.
     

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