The ski season is passing by with speed and snow fall is beginning to get less reliable for an adventure holiday. Chamonix is a fantastic option later in the season and pretty much guarantees big drops of fresh powder on its north facing sides. Picture this: the sun’s beams are bouncing off the glittering snow and you’re laid back with a vin chaud taking in the sweeping views of the vast mountains. It seems worlds apart from the drizzling March at home, but it could be only a short flight away.
The Chamonix ski area is a hugely varied, snow-filled playground. Ranging from a resort height of 1,035m climbing all the way up to 3,842m at the top lift, the area feels huge. There’s options for a leisurely venture through the low tree-lined runs or a thigh-burning race down the big glacier runs. Every day will feel different and exciting because of the huge array of slopes and differing difficulties.
In 1924, Chamonix hosted the first Winter Olympics and has continued to soar in popularity ever since. The sublime beauty of Mont Blanc is renowned, and has been written about for centuries, most famously by Percy Bysshe Shelley who was in awe of its immense beauty. A steep-sided valley, characterised by dramatic glaciers and rocky spires, Chamonix is undeniably picturesque.
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The mountains are wonderful for learners as well as veterans and thousands of ski instructors and mountain guides come here to qualify. There’s a buzz on the slopes as visitors try their hand at new tricks and the risk-taking spirit is rife among groups. Be sure to take your go-pro with hope of catching some veteran skiers or boarders showcasing their skills.
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If you’re a newbie to skiing, Chamonix also caters to your needs. There are optional ski schools, private lessons, and advice on equipment hire to help you get going. Alternatively if you’re just looking to explore the vast area then hire a guide, or an off-piste guide if you’re feeling brave, and they’ll show you the best spots for your taste. The famous 20km Vallée Blanche glacier run should definitely be on the list though, you will need some experience but you don’t need to be an expert. Plan you’re days using the piste map to avoid big ques in busy periods, and to avoid missing the last lifts back to your accommodation.
Mer de Glace, France’s largest glacier, is situated on the the northern side of Mont Blanc. It’s a 200m-deep ‘sea of ice’ and flows for 7km, moving up to 1cm an hour. In 1909, a 5km-long cog railway opened, the Train du Montenvers, and from here you can take a cable car to the glacier.
For more stunning views of the scenery, head up the Aiguille du Midi (3842m). It’s a great broken tooth of rock and from the summit you can see 360-degree views of the French, Swiss and Italian Alps. Completely breath-taking. To get up there take the cable car up from Chamonix and remember to wear your coziest clothes and be prepared for the altitude.
The bustling town is exciting, so if you’re worn out and fancy a day off the slopes there’s plenty to do. The centre is traffic-free and the buildings are charming and attractive nestled into the mountain. There’s museums to explore, galleries, shops and plenty of delicious food in bakeries and restaurants. Every Saturday morning there’s an open air market which makes for a nice wander. The aprés ski is lively in Chamonix and whether you’re chilling at the bottom of the piste or out in the town all night it’ll definitely be busy and have a buzzing atmosphere. As for the restaurants, well we all know one of the best things about mountain holidays is the divinely rich food. Tartiflette, stone-baked pizzas, cheese fondue and flaming meat are in abundance in the range of restaurants Chamonix has to offer.
Only a couple of hours transfer from Geneva airport, Chamonix is really easy to reach. Flights to Geneva are typically cheap and quick so it’s possible to enjoy Chamonix for a short trip over a long-weekend. A relaxing break for work in March.
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What do you love most about Chamonix? Let us know in the comments below.