The Chamonix Valley is very different from most other ski areas in the Alps in Europe. It is a fully functional town that operates the year round with diverse infrastructure. It is not a purpose built resort, constructed purely for ski holidays. To me, this is a real strength of the Chamonix Valley – it has kept much of its original charm as the birthplace in Europe for mountaineering and alpine activities.
The panoramics enjoyed whilst visiting the Chamonix Valley will rival any alpine environment in the world – they are truly breathtaking.
The logistics of the valley is such that it runs for the length of 16km’s (and approx 2km wide). As a result, there are ski areas on both the south and north sides of the valley and one resort at either end of the Valley. Therefore, it is not possible to have all the ski areas linked together.
Once again though, this is a real charm of the valley – visitors have the opportunity to ski 5 different ski areas, with options to also ski the infamous back country route, la Vallee Blanche, the brilliant Italian resort of Courmayeur, the giant Swiss resort of Verbier and unlimited access to the Evasion ski lift system (St Gervais / Megeve / les Contamines).
What guests normally do when they come to the Chamonix is to ski each area once during their week. There is more than enough skiing terrain to keep guests entertained in each ski area but not so much that they become disorientated. It is a different type of ski week to your purpose built resorts which can lack a little character.
The quality, quantity and variation of skiing terrain is outstanding.
To arrive at the various ski areas transport is required.
Les Grands Montets resort is accessible as a ski in ski out option from the chalet Marmotte Mountain Retreat, via a cross country ski track located adjacent to the chalet – to access the homepiste takes approximately 5-10 minutes and to ski back you are able to return within 200m’s of the chalet.
For Marmotte Mountain Azimuth, skiers can take the nursery ski lift of les Chosalets and then cut across the nursery slope to the cable car that takes you up onto les Grands Montets resort.
For Marmotte Mountain Petit Zenith, Marmotte Mountain Zenith (1) and Marmotte Mountain Zenith (2), these chalets are located in the heart of Argentiere village and to arrive at les Grands Montets by transport takes no more than a few minutes and by combination of walking/skiing approx 10-15mins.
The other ski areas you access with transport. To arrive at Le Tour from Argentiere takes less than 5 minutes, to arrive to la Flegere is also no more than a 5 minute drive, to le Brevent or l’Aiguille du Midi in Chamonix, not more than 10-15 minutes and les Houches is another 5-10 minutes further on from Chamonix.
Worth noting is that Le Brevent and La Flegere are two of the resorts that are interlinked with one another.
With the ski pass Mont Blanc Unlimited, guests are also are able to ski in Courmayeur in Italy – Courmayeur is located just thru the Mont Blanc tunnell and it takes approximately 30-40 minutes to arrive – this is always a great day out with the possibility to visit the very beautiful thermal pools at Pre St Didier for an after ski soak and relax!
Which ski pass should i buy? MBU V Cham le Pass?
For ski passes, the advantages of buying the Mont Blanc Unlimited ski pass are as follows;
o Security for bad weather (i.e. snow storms), les Houches provides the best protection from wind and the best visibility in the Chamonix Valley as it is all in tree line – and Courmayeur also offers good tree covered terrain – both only included in the MBU ski pass.
o Aiguille du Midi – even if not skiing la Vallee Blanche, a visit to l’Aiguille du Midi is on most people’s list of activities when they visit – it is a top 10 attraction of France and provides the perfect activity if you want a rest day / afternoon from skiing.
o Montenvers – guests can take the Montenvers train up to the Mer du Glace glacier to visit the glacier and walk thru the ice tunnel. Can be a good family activity.
o Access to top station of les Grands Montets to ski les Grands Montets glacier – fantastic ski terrain and highly recommended for advanced skiers.
o Courmayeur – a visit to this great Italian resort is included within the MBU ski pass and is highly recommended. Great food / great ambience / great resort. Approx 30-40 minute transfer thru the Mont Blanc tunnel.
o St Gervais / Megeve / les Contamines – good options to explore nearby resorts – St Gervais and Megeve can offer a great option to go on a ski safari day, using linked pistes to go from one end of the resort to the other and back again.
Check in / Check out?
Check-in is after 4pm.
Check out is before 10am.
Where possible we will try our very best to accommodate earlier check-ins and later check-outs. If arriving before check-in, we can arrange a restaurant in either Chamonix or Argentiere for your group to have lunch. We can then pick you up after lunch and transport you to your chalet.
Same for early check out. We can store your bags and drop you in Chamonix for shopping, coffee or lunch and arrange your return airport transfer to pick you up at a pre-organised pick up place.
How much deposit is required? When is balance of payment due?
We require a 30% deposit to secure your reservation.
The balance of payment is due 12 weeks prior to arrival.
In the case that the arrival date is less than 12 weeks when making the reservation, full payment is required at time of reservation.
Are airport transfers included within the package?
Airport transfers are not included in the accommodation package. However, we work closely with local transfer companies who know both our chalets and our business well so we are happy to arrange return airport transfers for you on your behalf if/as required. Please ask for more details.
Are in-valley transfers included with the package?
Yes, if you have a catered ski chalet package, we include a complimentary in valley transport service. We normally operate this as a morning drop off and an afternoon pick up from you ski area of choice. If you require additional occasional in valley transport we are also quite flexible in providing this extra service also as a complimentary service. However, this does not include unlimited transfers all throughout the stay.
If guests prefer to have transport on call all day to use as often as they like, we can arrange this service for them at a supplementary rate. Please enquire for more details.
Panda Club Ski School Class Levels for kids
For ages 3 and up. The little ones will take their first steps on snow, learn about balance, discover the sensation of sliding on snow, and start making their first snowplough turns on a very gentle slope.
For beginner children aged 4/5 and up. They will learn to snap into their skis/bindings, pick themselves up from a sitting position (with skis on!), side-step up a gentle slope, use a drag lift, and start linking snowplough turns on a gentle slope.
For those who are at the Yetison level (or equivalent). They will learn to side-step up a gentle slope, pick themselves up after a fall, practice their balance on small bumps, use the drag lifts, and practice their snowplought and parallel travers.
Required level: Petit Yeti (or equivalent). Yeti 1 students will learn the basic principles of turning on gentle slopes; lifting the inside ski, edging the ski, skating, balancing with poles, coming to a sliding stop at the end of a snowplought turn, and experimenting with a hockey stop on green slopes.
Required level: Yeti 1 (or equivalent). Yeti 2 students will learn sliding turns, controlled skiing across varied terrain, good body position (arms, poles, knees), and will finish with parallel turns on blue slopes.
Required level: Yeti 2 (or equivalent). Yeti 3 students will practice skiing at higher speed and controlled braking, using vertical body movement to start turns, quick turns on red slopes, advanced forward body position, and will finish with comfortable parallel turns on red slopes.
Required level: Yeti 3 (or equivalent). Improvement of all type of turn and black slopes. Short radius stop. Introduction to carving and to Freestyle via Snowpark.
Junior Academy level:
The Junior Academy is THE program for kids and teenagers who already have a good level on piste (Super Yeti level or equivalent, such as Bronze Star etc.) and who want to become a fully competent skier in all condition.
Junior Academy 1 – Yeti Rider
Required Level : Super Yeti (or equivalent). Junior Academy 1 students will perfect their technique on black slopes, practice jump turns and begin learning about off-piste skiing and safety as well as the relevant safety equipment.
Junior Academy 2
Required Level : Junior Academy 1 (or equivalent). Junior Academy 2 students will practice jump turns on black slopes, lay down fresh tracks off-piste while controlling their speed, use off-piste safety equipment, and picking themselves up from a fall off-piste.
Junior Academy 3 – Rider Evasion
Required Level : Junior Academy 2 (or equivalent). Junior Academy 3 students will practice quick jump turns on black pistes, lay down fresh tracks off-piste, perfect their use of off-piste safety equipment, learn about different types of snow and how to analyze them, and experiment with more technical off-piste routes all over Chamonix valley.
(Full day course only)
With the Rider Evasion groups, we go in the mountains for the entire day with our lunches packed, all of our safety equipment (transceiver, probe and shovel) and a whole bunch of fun to discover the real skiing experience, the mountain and the freedom ! Our goal is to train the new generations for them to become fully accomplished skiers, respectful, autonomous and aware of their environment.
Can I ski la Vallee Blanche
La Vallee Blanche is an incredible ski descent on offer when visiting Chamonix.
The ‘classical’ route is not difficult in terms of gradient but the entire descent is on off-piste terrain. Therefore, being confident in being able to ski all ski conditions such as powder, moguls, ice, hardpack and uneven terrain is essential.
You will often come across many different types of snow conditions on the one descent so being able to manage all conditions is a necessity.
If unsure whether you are capable, we strongly recommend you take a guide for les Grands Montets prior to attempting la Vallee Blanche. This way, your guide will see you ski and will know your strengths and weaknesses before heading up l’Aiguille du Midi.
Skiing on les Grands Montets is also a real highlight and truly unique. Skiing on the Argentiere glacier is exceptional so taking your guide for an extra day not only allows your skiing to be accessed for a valley blanche descent, but also offers incredible opportunities to experience some more of Chamonix’s famed off-piste terrain. All under the watchful eye of a local professional.
I heard Chamonix is for advanced skiers only - what options are there for beginners
Le Tour is a great resort to start your week if you are a little nervous – the big wide open nursery slopes of La Vormaine allow you to regain your confidence on very gentle terrain – once you feel like you are getting all the old skills back, you can head up on the cable car to tackle the nicely groomed blue slopes including the very picturesque run – ‘belle place’ – which takes you through beautiful tree lined terrain and over to the Swiss facing slopes of the resort. La Vormaine (having it’s unique isolated location) is also a great area for complete novices whereby beginners can be re-assured that skiers of a more competent ability won’t be rushing by them when they are learning.
A good choice for your second day would be les Houches – this ski area is very well suited for beginners and intermediates alike – on the top of the resort there is a gentle plataeu that provides great terrain for the beginner whilst for those a little more experienced, there is the Kandahar piste – home of the world cup downhill event – this resort is very picturesque and a good choice for bad weather as it is all tree lined skiing.
Next day, a good choice for the beginner would be la Flegere – there is a big wide open green piste that runs parallel with the Valley floor – there are many different options on what route can be taken – the panoramics of the Mt Blanc chain from La Flegere (and Le Brevent) are absolutely incredible – if confidence is up for the beginner, they could try some of the higher pistes that run perpendicular to the valley below.
Next day could be spent at Courmayeur in Italy. This resort caters for all levels and the pistes are generally very wide allowing beginners to try slopes a little more difficult as they have more room to manoeuvre – the mountain restaurants of Courmayeur are also a highlight of skiing at this resort – after the ski day at Courmayeur, there is an option to visit the very relaxing thermal pools of Pre St. Didier – a highlight for many guests.
Day 5 could be spent on Le Brevent – the blue slopes that run parallel to the valley are great beginner progressions and the higher slopes are perfect for the intermediate skier.
Then on the last day you could return to the resort of choice from the previous 5 days or attempt a day at les Grands Montets – les Grands Montets is the more advanced ski area in the Chamonix Valley but you can find some more gentle terrain around the Plan Joran area.
What is the skiing like in Chamonix?
Chamonix does have a reputation for advanced skiing but this mainly comes from the very accessible back country terrain it has to offer (such as la Vallee Blanche, Argentiere Glacier).
However, the majority of the piste skiing caters to the intermediate skier, always with an option for the beginner (either in the form of a nursery slope at its base or some easy beginner slopes on top of the mountain).
Le Tour, les Houches and Courmayeur have the best variety of terrain catering for skiers of all ability levels.
Les Grands Montets resort is known as being one of the premiere off piste ski resorts not only in the Alps region but also in the world – people travel from all over the globe to have the opportunity to ski this fantastic resort – les Grands Montets offers more than 2000m of vertical skiing terrain spread over three huge bowls, including the very picturesque Argentiere glacier.
La Vallee Blanche is also an amazing experience not to be missed (named as 1 of the 100 things to do before you die). La Vallee Blanche is the world’s largest lift-served vertical descent of 2807m’s. This incredible back country adventure of 22km’s, takes you on a spectacular voyage of high mountain glacial discovery. To ensure your safety, a mountain guide is definitely recommended when you undertake the valley blanche.
On the south facing sunny side of the valley is Le Brevent and La Flegere – both are great resorts for intermediates and beginner progressions – with their south exposure, they receive lots of sunshine with the added advantage of some of the most incredible panoramic mountain landscapes you will ever see in any Alpine climate.
At either ends of the valley are Les Houches and Le Tour. Les Houches, home of le Kandahar World Cup skiing event, is a typical Savoyard resort with lots of charming mountain restaurants, that excel in keeping old traditional local architecture and cuisine. Les Houches is completely tree lined, making it a great resort for bad weather days. There is a plateau on the top of the resort, providing perfect terrain for the beginner skier. Le Tour up the other end of the valley also has lovely big wide open pistes suitable for the beginner and intermediate skier. However, for those who enjoy off-piste skiing, there are also many fantastic opportunities on the Swiss facing slopes – having a fully qualified mountain guide is also highly recommended for this terrain, not only as it can be avalanche prone but also as it is very difficult terrain to find! Le Tour also offers some great tree lined pistes, making it another good area to ski in bad weather.
Located just the other side of the Mont Blanc tunnel in Italy, Courmayeur offers a great addition to your ski week in the Chamonix Valley. With a much slower pace than in Chamonix, often the most difficult challenge you might encounter for the day is to hunt down a deck chair to soak up the beautiful Aosta Valley sunshine. Courmayeur offers a good variety of big wide open pistes that cater for skiers of all ability levels and the mountain restaurants are really something else – be sure to arrive hungry! The Mont Blanc Unlimited ski pass covers the Courmayeur ski area so there is no need to buy an additional ski pass.
Are Marmotte Mountain chalets ski in / ski out
Marmotte Mountain Retreat offers a ski in ski out option via a cross country ski track that is located adjacent to the chalet. To arrive at les Grands Montets takes approximately 5-10 minutes.
But as a general rule, guests access the ski areas with our complimentary minibus service.
However, if searching in Chamonix, it is more important to have an efficient transport service rather than being located close to a ski lift. In the Chamonix Valley, there are 5 different ski areas, plus l’Aiguille du Midi, Helbronner as well as Courmayeur, St Gervais, les Contamines and Verbier. All of these areas are included within the MBU ski pass – and only 2 of these ski areas are interlinked. Therefore no matter where your chalet is located you will rely on transport.
I believe this is a positive feature of Chamonix whereby you can adjust the plan to where you ski for the day by taking into account, the last snowfall, current weather conditions, which direction the last snowfall came from (Siberia or Atlantic), you can ski in sunny south facing ski areas (if you need the sun to soften hardpack snow), shady north facing ski areas (if you don’t want sun to transform new snowfall), lower tree-lined terrain (for bad weather days) or high mountain glacier ski runs (for more adventure and amazing scenery). The variety of terrain on offer in Chamonix is 2nd to none and means that you can normally always make a good decision to achieve the very best snow conditions available from a good variety of choices.
But it does involve short drives to access the various ski areas.
So once again, choosing an operator that perfects in-valley transport is a vital key to consider when choosing your accommodation in Chamonix. I believe we excel in this.
I want ski lessons - what are advantages of private ski instructors
We have found that when our clients take the services of one of our recommended best 4-5 instructors/high mountain guides, they tend to have a higher satisfaction level when they review their week (and very often re-book with the stipulation that we must rebook their instructor/guide).
We believe our carefully chosen instructors and guides are a wonderful asset to your week here in Chamonix with them offering much more than just regular ski tips.
They meet you at the chalet each morning after breakfast to come up with a plan for the day.
They help choose which mountain to ski on each day (based on weather, current snow conditions, ability level of group, group logistics etc etc)
They ensure that you ski the most varied terrain for the full week, often in areas that a guest visiting for 1 week may not find on their own accord.
They reserve the most charming and best quality mountain restaurants, taking into consideration the individual requirements of the group (long/short lunch, budget, style of food etc etc).
They provide local knowledge on the mountains, landscape, culture and history of the Chamonix Valley.
They assist with transport if/as required.
And they obviously work on improving your skiing ability over the week.
Many groups engage an instructor and then share him/her throughout the group during the week. Sometimes he/she may work with the whole group / the males / the females / the kids / the adults / the advanced / the beginners / 1 on 1 specialist coaching etc etc – but always taking into consideration the other members of the party to ensure the group meets at strategic times in the day (good for multi ability groups).
Is the Chamonix Valley a snow safe destination?
With 90% of the ski terrain above 2000m’s, the Chamonix Valley has a perfect track record of having very good snow conditions all winter.
Les Grands Montets in particular is a very good option in the spring season. It has the added advantage of having north facing slopes, meaning the snow does not get sun affected. Les Grands Montets is regularly regarded as having the best snow conditions in Europe in the latter part of the season.
This is evident with les Grands Montets remaining open until the 1st weekend in May, well beyond the closing dates of most other ski resorts in Europe.
What is best airport to fly into?
The Chamonix Valley is approximately 100km’s from Geneva Airport. The transfer from Geneva Airport is fast and efficient with the majority of the route on motorway.
This makes Chamonix a great destination for guests looking to stay for a long weekend or for families who prefer not to travel for long periods with young children.
Does Marmotte Mountain offer discounted ski passes to their guests?
Yes we do. If guests book their ski passes before the end of November, they qualify for an early booking discount on all MBU ski pass. This special offer is available for non peak weeks only and must be complete by the 30th of November.
In season, Marmotte Mountain is also able to reserve 6 days for the price of 5 days when a 6 day pass is requested.
Please email us for more details on rates.
Does Marmotte Mountain offer discounted ski hire to they guests?
Yes, we work with Sanglard Sports who offers all Marmotte Mountain guests a discount from their normal retail prices.