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Want to spend your Winter in Chamonix?

A Winter in Chamoix

So you’re thinking of doing a ski season in Chamonix but aren’t sure if it’s for you or how to go about it. Here you will find all the answers to your questions, plus some useful tips that will make your ski season even more awesome.
 

Why Chamonix?

Chamonix is nick-named the Extreme Sports Capital of the World and once you get there it’s obvious why.
 
Hardcore skiers, mountaineers, climbers and mountain bikers travel from all over the world to train and play here. The ground is not the only place with all the action however, look above you and you will likely see numerous paragliders and maybe even the odd base jumper speeding past you in a blur.
 
Although Chamonix is popular in the Summer, particularly for those wanting to take on the challenging Mont Blanc; the majority of seasonaires head to Chamonix for it’s winter conditions.

Is Chamonix the best place for me?

Like most ski towns, a range of piste skiing is available across several sites. Although lift waiting times are generally not too bad, the slopes can get pretty congested during school holidays.
 
If you’re a ski-touring enthusiast then you will definitely be in your element here. Chamonix offers world class ski touring and mountaineering, so if you have the skills and equipment, you can escape the crowds on the pistes and seek out fresh lines most days.
 
Although a good number of snowboarders will be seen on the slopes here in Chamonix, it is far fewer than in neighbouring resorts due to the smaller number of play parks on offer. Boarders can still have a great time in Chamonix however, and visiting neighbouring resorts is relatively simple.
 
Due to the typically steep terrain and the reputation for high end extreme sports, it is assumed that Chamonix is not appropriate for lower ability skiers, or complete beginners; and although other resorts may have more on offer for these levels, there is in fact a good choice of green and blue slopes at each site, as well as several ski schools.
 
Most new skiers will head to La Planards ski area, where there is a ski school and a couple of nice baby slopes, as well as a pretty fun Alpine Coaster! Les Contamines is a fantastic ski area for slightly more experienced skiers, who want to improve their skills or confidence with lots of less steep but super fun options. There’s also some great touring for the more experienced skiers. It is generally less busy here, which is likely due to it being a bit tricker getting here without a car.

Can I afford it?

Accommodation
Chamonix is one of the more expensive resorts, with accommodation and food prices being typically higher than alternative locations. A small studio flat can cost anything from €300 to €600 per a month, depending on location and facilities included. The lower price bracket apartments tend to be located in the southern part of town, known locally as Chamonix Sud, and are attractive to socialites due to the close proximity to several bars and restaurants.
 
If being in the centre of Chamonix isn’t too important to you, going up the valley could be a good option for finding cheaper accommodation. Argentière is a small town, but still has a couple of good bars and restaurants, not mention a great bakery! It’s also less than 10km outside of Chamonix, with a good bus service so getting to other ski areas is super straight forward. However, you may not bother going anywhere when you realise Les Grand Montets lift stations are walking distance! away
 
Lift Passes
There are a few different options when it comes to buying your lift pass, depending on which sites and lifts you want to use. The Mont Blanc Unlimited Pass, as the names suggests is the most flexible option but comes at a considerably higher price. The increased price is mostly due to the inclusion of the Aiguille du Midi lifts, which get you access to the world famous Vallee Blanche. However if you are not at a standard for skiing the Vallee Blanche, it may be worth considering one of the cheaper passes.
 

And what about work?

With the relatively high living costs, most seasonaires will need to work whilst in Chamonix. For those that are fluent in both french and English, there are many employment options such as in retail, catering, ski lift work and more. If you don’t speak French, there are still many opportunities for employment, but considerably less choice and more competition. Unlike most other ski resorts, chalet hosting work is less common. A lot of seasonaires will work in cleaning services or for transfer companies, either as airport reps or minibus drivers. If you have your D1 and a clean driving license, you will likely find work with one of the numerous transfer companies in town.
 
For any type of employment, start planning early. Most jobs are secured well before the season begins. Some employments will require you to have a French bank account, but this, along with other details, is something you should discuss with your employer before heading out.
 
It may be possible to pick up work once you are in Chamonix, however as explained above, unless you are fluent in French, there are very few options and a lot more competition; and you need to pay your bills somehow!
 

Will I need a car?

There are six main sites for skiing or boarding in and around Chamonix (seven including the Vallee Blanche), however they are fairly well spaced out and skiing between them is not an option for most. Brevent and La Planards are the most central ski areas, walkable from the town centre, whereas the other areas are a bit out of town. Owning a vehicle is not necessary though, as there is a very good bus service running between each location regularly throughout the day, and less regularly through the evening.
 
These local buses are included in the price of your ski pass, however prepare yourself for some serious squashing at peak times. Think London tubes at commuters’ rush hour, with the addition of skis and boards going flying on every bend.
 
It is also possible to travel to resorts outside of Chamonix by using other bus services or the train, at an additional cost.
 
If you do decide to take a vehicle don’t forget to install good winter tyres and to consider storage, as parking in Chamonix is not always easy.
 

Is it worth the hassle?

Definitely! Imagine standing in the middle of town looking up at Mont Blanc, whilst watching paragliders riding thermals and sipping on a creamy chocolat chaud. With the famous Aiguille du Midi and Vallee Blanche right on your doorstep, this really is an outdoor-enthusiast’s heaven. It is no exaggeration to say that Chamonix is an incredible location and you will not be disappointed!

See you on the slopes

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