The hamlet of Chamonix in France is best known for its skiing, home as it is to the highest mountain in Europe, the 4,807m summit of Mont Blanc. The resort became even more world-renowned after playing host to the Winter Olympic Games in 1924 and has been drawing in thousands of winter sports enthusiasts ever since.
While many of the runs appeal to the more advanced skier looking for a challenge, there are slopes to suit everyone, from nursery slopes to off-piste adventures. The infographic outlines how to recognise the difficulty ratings of ski slopes in Europe.
Thibaut de Roux is a huge fan of Chamonix and spends winters there for the skiing as well as summer vacations for mountain climbing and hiking. For those that are new to the area, this guide details some of the different slopes and activities the resort of Chamonix has to offer.
Chamonix has four ski areas in total, so forward planning is essential to ensure you encounter the types of slopes you prefer. A Mont Blanc Unlimited lift pass covers all of the areas, including the largely separate Les Houches and several smaller resorts in the local area.
However, beginners who are not staying in Les Houches might be better off with the cheaper Le Pass, which covers the three main Chamonix ski areas and several of the small resorts that offer easy and beginner slopes. An individual pass just for Les Houches can also be purchased separately from the Unlimited pass.
Les Grands Montets
Les Grands Montets is Chamonix’s most popular and largest skiing area, expanding over an area of around 1,800 hectares and with a high peak of 3,295m. The full area encompasses Argentière, Lognan, Bochard and Mont Blanc, with mixed and steep alpine terrain and on- and off-glacier ski slopes.
Les Grands Montets, the highest mountain in the area, is north-facing and famous for the exceptional quality of snow cover. Steep inclines and opportunities for tree skiing make this are popular with advanced skiers, while there are also numerous beginner slopes in the region.
Lognan Snow Park is ideal for freestylers and snowboarding enthusiasts who want to play around with obstacles, and there are two levels of boardercross routes, one of which meets internationals standards.
The Brévent-Flégère region of Chamonix focuses mainly on the intermediate skiers, with a broad series of intermediates pistes spread across the south-facing ski area. For more adventurous skiers, however, this region also features a freestyle area equipped with rails for jumps, as well as a speed piste with 150m of height loss over a 500m distance. There is also a beginners area at the bottom for those that want a bit more practice before building up to intermediate.
More information about what freestyle skiing entails can be seen in the embedded short video.
The Balme-Vallorcine area of Chamonix can be accessed from La Tour by gondola. Thrill-seekers can attempt the slalom run in Balme, where their efforts will be filmed for them to watch later. There are many gentle, open slopes for those with less confidence, but the area also provides easy access to some more rugged terrain and woodland runs higher up the mountainside. This area makes a great practice zone for those that want a gentle introduction to off-piste skiing. The views are also spectacular, overlooking the entire Chamonix valley.
The PDF attachment introduces Les Houches, which is located just six kilometres from Chamonix.