Chamonix is the sort of ski town you’re either on board for, or you’re really not. I’ve yet to find anyone who’d tell you it’s just ok. It’s either the European ski Mecca, or it’s overrated, badly connected and far too low for ski in ski out accommodation.
They’re not entirely wrong about those last two points; the different ski areas are connected by a bus that is often late and stops running far earlier than you’d want in an ideal world. The town is absolutely too low for ski in ski out to be an option.
That’s almost certainly not why you’d be going. Chamonix is, despite pulling in hordes of skiers every year, still very much a cult resort. You very rarely find punters (or gapers for our friends across the pond), instead, the slopes are filled with ski tourers and backcountry specialists who head for the lifts kitted up for a climb to the good stuff. It’s not uncommon to find yourself sharing a lift with a guy with crampons and a harness, and practically everyone has touring bindings. Chamonix is not for the faint of heart.
If all of that sounds like your cup of tea, and you’re hoping I’ll be able to give you some good tips about my favourite European ski resort, you’re in luck. That’s exactly what I’m going to do.
Firstly, Brevent-Flegere might be the largest ski area in the immediate vicinity, but the skiing there is as chill as it gets in Cham. You’re not going to find the gnarly park, the good tree skiing or the steep drops; that’s not to say it isn’t good skiing though. Steep powder skiers should head to Grand Montets though, while Le Tour is rarely busy, has one of the best mountain restaurants, and is home to the snow park.
If you’re looking for somewhere to grab a post ski beer, a lot of people and websites will tell you to check out Moo Bar. I like it well enough in there; some of the tables have taps on them, which is always appreciated, but it wouldn’t be my first choice. Chambre Neuf, across the road, has live music on until 7pm, and it’s always rammed. Monkey, down in Cham Sud is good for a pitcher and a chilled out vibe.
In terms of restaurants to eat at when you get off the mountain, Poco Loco does great burgers that don’t break the bank (and if you’re a local you get a discount). Unexpectedly, both the Indian and the Japanese restaurants are great if you’ve got a bit more of a budget.
I’d go into night out tips too, but let’s face it, you probably want to get up early and hit the hill…