We love the mountain and were taught to share……

Chamonix is probably best known as the alpine capital of the world. Chamonix town lies at the foot of Mont Blanc . It was one of the world’s earliest ski resorts, even hosting the first winter Olympic Games in 1924. The town is quite the international hub and as a destination it has a reputation for the extreme and this, whilst undoubtedly true, can mask a wide array of sporting and leisure activities (particularly in summer), peace and quiet, great nightlife, and superb scenery which can be enjoyed at whichever pace suits you.  If you don’t like to be bored, Chamonix is the place to come.

Situated at 1035 metres in the Haute-Savoie commune in the Auvergne-Rhone Alpes region of south eastern France.  Chamonix is bordered by Switzerland and Italy and is dominated by the spiky mountain chain which peaks at the top of the Mont Blanc (4811m) – the highest mountain in Western Europe.  

Chamonix has a permanent population of approximately 10,000 people. The town boasts a wide range of restaurants, bars, cafes and shops and includes facilities such as a sports centre with indoor and outdoor (summer only) swimming pool with slides, ice rink and cinema showing films in both English and French.

History of Chamonix

Chamonix, called “Chamouny” in early days was discovered in 1741 two Englishmen, Windham and Pococke. They encountered a rural, agricultural population of mountain farmers and modest monastery high in the hills living sparsely from their farming efforts. The two Englishmen toured the valley and encountered La Mer de Glace, which translates as Sea of Ice  – referring to the wave like formations of ice at the foot of the magnificent glacier whose source is near the summit of Mont Blanc.

They published their journeys and expeditions in journals around Europe and this sparked massive interest at large to know more about Chamonix.

On 8th August 1786 two local men, two local men Dr. Michel Paccard and Jacques Balmat, made the first ascent of Mont Blanc marking the beginning of modern mountaineering. Marie Paradis was the first woman to summit the mountain in 1808. The record for the youngest person to climb Mont Blanc was set in 2009 by 10-year-old Asher Silver (UK).

In 1821, ‘La Compagnie des Guides’ was created following an accident on the Mont Blanc. Until the end of the 19th century, mountain guides were the main economic power in Chamonix.

The first guest house was opened by Madame Coutterand in 1770 and by 1783 celebrities including Saussure, Goethe and Bourrit, had visited raising the profile of Chamonix further.

Then the first luxury hotel was built in 1816 (The Hotel de l’Union), followed by ‘la Couronne’, ‘le Royal’ and many more since.

However, from the beginning of the 20th century with the construction of numerous hotels, the hotel industry become the predominant economic power in the valley.

In 1860 a carriage road was built joining Geneva to Chamonix via the nearby town of Sallanches and in July 1901, the railway line that passes through the Chamonix valley was inaugurated. The nearest TGV station is just outside the valley in St. Gervais les Bains just 25 minutes by road to the town of Chamonix connecting to the French high-speed national railway network. This presaged the area as a mass tourism destination.

Between 1908 and 1910 Chamonix took on its present rhythm of winter and summer tourist seasons and now approximately 5 million visitors come to the area annually.

‘Chamonix’, however, made up of several distinct and charming villages including ServozLes HouchesLes Bossons – the ‘base-camp’ of alpinism, Les PrazLes TinesArgentiereMontroc, and at the top of the valley: Le Tour.


Servoz  is the first village of the Chamonix Valley, in the Haute-Savoie department. It extends to 816 meters of altitude in the high valley of the Arve.  Servoz has been built on the site of an ancient lake which over the centuries was eventually filled in by landslides.  Located between Chamonix-Mont-Blanc and Saint-Gervais-les-Bains, it rises at the foot of the Pormenaz mountain. The village is extremely picturesque and there is a superb gorge to visit and wander through.


Area :

13.47km² (1,347 hectares)


Minimum altitude



Maximum altitude



Average altitude



Altitude of the city hall



Sexagesimal geographical coordinates (WGS84)

Latitude: 45° 55′ 54” North
Longitude: 06° 45′ 43” East

Decimal geographical coordinates


Latitude: 45.931 degrees (45.931° North)
Longitude: 6.765 degrees (6.765° East)

Lambert 93 geographical coordinates

X: 9 914 hectares 
Y: 65 438 hectares

Road map of Servoz

Les Houches (1010m) was really the first big settlement in the valley. With its own lift-system and identity, it is the starting point for many attempts to climb Mont Blanc. Weather and snow permitting, the village annually hosts Le Kandahar World Cup ski race on its famous La Verte piste.



43.07 km² (4 307 hectares)


Minimum altitude

796 m


Maximum altitude

4 280 m


Average altitude

2 538 m


Altitude of the city hall

1 000 m


Sexagesimal geographical coordinates (WGS84)

Latitude: 45° 53′ 24” North
Longitude: 06° 47′ 55” East

Decimal geographical coordinates

Latitude: 45.889 degrees (45.889° North)
Longitude: 6.798 degrees (6.798° East)

Lambert 93 geographical coordinates

X: 9 944 hectares 
Y: 65 393 hectares

Road map of Les Houches

Les Bossons (1000m) is perhaps the ‘base-camp’ of alpinism as it is from here that the very first excursions to Mont Blanc used to depart from. The village is much calmer nowadays and has several chalets and hotels that enjoy spectacular views straight up the Glacier du Bossons and the Taconnaz Glacier. These glaciers join at “La Jonction” which is a good 3-4 hours walk (safety precautions must be taken though).

Les Praz (1050m) is home to the Chamonix Golf Course, several fine hotels and chalets, and of course the La Flégère cable-car giving access to the ski area and Les Aiguilles Rouges nature reserve. Situated a short drive or 20 minutes walk from Chamonix Town, Les Praz is bordered by woodland and is the start or end of some great walks, runs, or hikes.

Les Tines is a small development of charming chalets (some of which are very luxurious!), again bordering on the golf course and giving superb views of Mont Blanc and the lower parts of the valley. On the plateau just above you will find the delightful hamlet of Le Lavancher, which is more than suited to a quiet getaway whilst remaining within easy reach of all the activities.

With the exception of Chamonix itself, Argentière (1250m) is the biggest village in the valley and sits at the foot of Les Grands Montets (1250-3300m). It has a great character of its own, with brightly coloured buildings, notable bars and restaurants, and several choice chalets, hotels and apartments. As locations go you can’t go far wrong with Argentière and it provides a more laid back atmosphere than Chamonix Town.

Driving through the valley you will come to signs for Switzerland and the scenic road departing from Chamonix Valley winds up to the high valley of Vallorcine and Le Buet and eventually to the Swiss border and on to Martigny. Just outside Chamonix Village is the Mont Blanc tunnel which was bored directly through the mountain and under the summit of L’Aiguille du Midi. It was opened on 19th July 1965. The tunnel connects Chamonix with Italy arriving on the hillside above the picturesque village of Courmayeur.

Leaving the valley at Les Houches and winding through the dramatic viaduct connects Chamonix by road to the lovely skiing of St. Gervais, Megeve, Le Contamines and about 30 minutes’ away. Only 70 minutes’ away is the famous and enormous ski area know as Les Porte du Soleil with it’s 650km of connected pistes and well know villages of Avoriaz, Morzine, Chatel, Morgins. Les Crosets, Champery and Les Gets amongst others.

Given Chamonix’s location it is an excellent hub enabling the keen adventurer to experience the high mountain and varied domains of the Chamonix mountais but also to access the many other resorts within an hour or so in Italy, Switzerland and nearby in France. 

about the ski areas

Chamonix offers an unparalleled mix of skiing terrain, from beginner and great intermediate skiing and boarding on easy slopes to challenging black runs and extreme off piste, and always with incredible vistas.   With numerous different ski area there is something for everyone in Chamonix.

A detailed summary of the Chamonix Ski Area can be found on www.compagniedumontblanc.fr or you can buy your ski passes at www.chamonixskipasses.com arrange transfers on www.chamonixskitransfers.com or book a guide on www.chamonixskiguides.com too.

After lunch, a great way to stock up on sunshine with a choice of unsurpassed, azure sandy beaches like Cala Bassa. With shady pine forest and headlands jutting up from the silky waves. A trip around the mysterious “Es Verda” is something you cannot miss. Known for the magical folk tales of sirens, goddess Tanit’s birth. The third most magnetic spot on earth.

About the winter park terrain and winter sports areas 

Chamonix and the apron of mountains circling around the valley and villages present an unparalleled mix of snowboarding and skiing terrain both on the piste or off piste. Each domain or ski resort has a blend of slopes suitable for beginners, great intermediates and boarding on easy slopes to challenging black runs and extreme off piste watermarked always with incredible vistas.   With such variety there is something for everyone in Chamonix.


Le Tour / Domaine du Balme and Vallorcine: A vast domain with lots of sun and good snow cover, offering skiing for all levels. Le Tour is on the Swiss border with scenic tree runs and largely undiscovered off piste bowls on the forested Swiss side, which avoid queues on even the busiest of days. The wide beginner and intermediate west facing slopes directly behind the chalet are perfect for learning new skills or relaxed afternoon cruising. Le Tour is one of the highest snowfall sites in France.


Argentière / Les Grand Montets: Characterised by large bowls and long runs, this area offers intermediate and advanced levels challenging and scenic descents with up to 2,100m vertical drop. As it is high and north facing, there is usually snow from November through till May . From the summit of Les Grands Montets (3,345m), the glacier runs offer skiers and boarders some of the most spectacular on and off-piste runs in the world.     


La Flégère: This area is mostly for beginner and intermediate levels with some exciting off-piste routes in sunny “couloirs” (gullies). Outstanding views of the magnificent “Mer de Glace” ( Sea of Ice ) as well as the Mont Blanc chain.


Les Brévents: Located on the sunny side of the mountain directly opposite Mont Blanc, the highest in Europe . Suited to all levels of ability with good off-piste skiing routes and fabulous views. Brévent and Flégère are linked together (and it is usually quicker to go up the gondolas at Brévant and ski across than to queue for the cable car at Flégère).                                                       


L’Aiguille du Midi: One of the highest cable cars in Europe taking you to 3,800m and a spectacular view of the Alps.  This is the beginning of the famous “La Vallée Blanche” a 20km day trip navigating one of Europe’s epic and retreating glaciers. You should always do this with a professional mountain guide because of the specific risks that are present in the high mountains and glaciated terrain but good intermediate skiers and boarders can take the classic route, while for advanced levels there are more challenging variations and many off-piste itineraries.   

Other Areas Nearby

Courmayeur: On the other side of Mont Blanc and a 20 minutes drive through the Mont Blanc tunnel, this classic Italian resort is a fun day trip to experience skiing “the Italian way” with 20 restaurants to choose from. Any stay in Chamonix is not quite complete without a day trip to Courmayeur. The skiing on-piste is gentle, well groomed and tree-lined for the most part. The skiing off-piste ranges from steep trees above the village to wide open bowls on the Helbronner faces of the Mont Blanc. Courmayeur is building a huge new lift to access the Helbronner side of the mountain scheduled to be open in 2015.


Megève/St Gervais: 40 minutes drive from Chamonix, Megève is a charming village and an ideal day trip to explore the many intermediate slopes. The lower altitude slopes of Megève have a different microclimate to Chamonix and may be an alternative when weather conditions make Chamonix difficult. It is best to access it the ski area from the St Gervais section with the gondola parking on the road just after the St Gervais village on the road to Megeve (30 minutes from Chamonix).


Verbier : If the above choices are still not enough, Verbier in Switzerland is 45 minutes drive away from Le Tour and roughly an hour from Chamonix across the beautiful Col de Montet and Col de Forclaz. The pisted domain now encompasses four valleys and 410kms. The off piste is legendary too including the back side of the Mont Fort and of course the world famous Tortin mogul run! The ski area is now immensely connected and provides skiing for all levels.