- CHALET COSMIQUE -
Les Grand Montets is situated above Argentière and with over 1800 hectares, is the largest of the pisted skiing areas in the Chamonix valley. In comparison to linked ski-systems across the Alps, the Grand Montets area isn't huge but the sheer number of combinations of possible descents both on and off piste combined with the consistent steepness and difficulty of its slopes is one of the reasons why Les Grands Montets is a favourite with many skiers and riders in the valley.
Les Grands Montets has a reputation for offering some of the hardest pistes in Europe, and this is a reputation fully justified. Don't be put off though, there are still long, wide slopes that can be attempted by daring beginners that suit an advanced skier just as well. There's usually a board/skier cross park built here but if that's not your thing, then there are plenty of runs to get the blood flowing with the Bochard and Lavancher bowl both lots of fun.
THE GRANDS MONTETS SNOWPARK!
At Les Grands Montets, there's a boarder/skier cross park with table-top jumps, a step-up, rollers and banked turns, which can be accessed from the top of the Tabé chair. Often, there are some big kickers at the bottom of the course that get used for contests but have a look first before jumping them as coming up short could result in a trip to the hospital. In spite of what the lift map says, some years they don't build a half pipe here. Le Brevent sometimes has a small boarder cross area built but it's often not in good condition. In general the natural terrain in Chamonix is far better for trying tricks than the snow parks.
1235m - 3300m
Aiguille du Midi
The Aiguille du Midi (3,842 m) is a mountain in the Mont Blanc massif in the French Alps. The cable car to the summit, the Téléphérique de l'Aiguille du Midi, was built in 1955 and held the title of the world's highest cable car for about two decades. It still holds the record as the highest vertical ascent cable car in the world, from 1035m to 3842m. It travels from Chamonix to the top of the Aiguille du Midi - an altitude gain of over 2,800 m - in 20 minutes. An adult ticket from Chamonix (as of April 7th 2008) is €35 single / €38 return. An elevator ride to the "needle tower" (an additional 60m) is €3.
The Aiguille summit contains a panoramic viewing platform, a cafe and a gift shop. The Vallée Blanche ski run begins here, and the nearby Cosmiques Refuge is the starting point for one of the routes to the Mont Blanc summit. From the Aiguille another cable car (summer months only) crosses the Glacier de Geant to Point Helbronner (3,452 m) at the Italian side of the Mont Blanc Massif. Point Helbronner is served with a cable car from La Palud, a village near Courmayeur in the Aosta Valley (Italy).
The name "Aiguille du Midi" translates literally as "needle of midday". It is so called as the sun sits directly over the peak at noon, when viewed from Chamonix.
1030m - 2525m
Le Brevent and La Flegere (2525m) on the sunny south side of the Chamonix Valley are the closest skiing areas to Chamonix's main town centre. Skiers and snowboarders are guaranteed to find something to their liking from the vast array of moderate, challenging and difficult runs from the top of Planpraz (Le Brevent), Cornu (Le Brevent) and Index (La Flegere) chairlifts. For many years these two areas were seperate until lift systems linked them together in 1997 with the introduction of the Liaison cable car forming one much larger area. The combined area has rollers, couloirs, natural table tops and half pipes so there's much whether you are a freestyle or an advanced skier there's bound to be something that will keep you entertained for the day.
Being south-facing these fairly high altitude areas tend to get plenty of sunshine with many opportunities for lunchtimes soaking up the rays at the various restaurants. Conditions often remain good on the slopes throughout the season with Brevent typically staying open until the end of April. ... see "Le Brevent & La Flegere Ski Area" for more
If you are just starting out in your snowsports career and have heard that Chamonix is only for the hardcore don't believe it: you will find the Domaine de Balme area (formally called Le Tour & Vallorcine) is perfect for you. Le Tour with its rolling meadows in the summer is the gentlest of Chamonix's snowy areas in the winter. It's a mixed terrain that's relatively rock free and where pistes tend to be wide cruisy blues or fairly easy intermediate reds.
Being right at the top of the valley means that it's the furthest ski area from Chamonix but it's worth making the 20 minute journey up there either by car or the local free bus. The train ride to and from Vallorcine is a pleasant one however, the train doesn't go directly to Le Tour and instead has a stop at Montroc, about 1km from Le Tour itself which therefore requires a bus ride to reach the main lift station area.
1453m - 2270m
950m - 1900m
Les Houches is a great area for mixed ability groups, as the slopes at the top of the mountain range right through from green nursery slopes to the famous "Verte" black run used in the Kandahar World Cup skiing! Hidden among the tree-lined pistes, you'll find delightful mountain cafes and restaurants, offering some of the nicest lunches to be had in the valley. A word of warning for snowboarders and nervous skiers - Les Houches is littered with draglifts. Some, like the Plancerts and Grands Bois are marked as being "Tres Difficile Telesiege", but most of the drags tend to be quite frisky at the start and pull you forward at warp speed before settling back to a more gentle pace. When the snow is soft, deep ruts can also appear on the drag's run up the mountain, which can be awkward for boarders..