View Full Version : Question about Chamonix France, not the camera

Robert Skeoch
1-Jan-2010, 18:04
Does anyone on the forum live in this area?

-Rob Skeoch

Emmanuel BIGLER
4-Jan-2010, 09:12
Hello from France !

I do not live in Chamonix but I've been there many times for skiing and mountaineering, since it is only 3-1/2 hours drive from home.

I'll be glad to answer any questions you would have about Chamonix and surrounding mountains including nearby Swiss Alps !

4-Jan-2010, 12:29
Besançon. . . I drive past you many times from my home in France to my place in Switzerland. . . maybe we can meet and shoot at each other sometime - out here in the countryside in the Charente there are few shooting large format!

Emmanuel BIGLER
5-Jan-2010, 02:27
maybe we can meet and shoot at each other sometime -

No problem ! drop me a message (see my profile here) any time you expect to travel near or through Besançon !

Robert Skeoch
6-Jan-2010, 10:15
Can you recommend a place to stay. There's five in my group and the normal hotels don't seem to have rooms that large.

I only need it for two nights in Feb. Trying to keep the price down as well.


Emmanuel BIGLER
7-Jan-2010, 09:58
I understand your needs and normal French hotels, as you say, usually do not accommodate 5 people in a single room.
The problem with February is that this this the busiest skiing season in France, due to school holidays starting on Saturday Feb. 6, for one month (there are 3 holiday zones overlapping for one month...) So I have no clue for an affordable accommodation in Chamonix at this time. I've stayed once in my life in a hotel in Chamonix in February for skiing, but it had been booked several months in advance.
However, as an alternate solution, in nearby Switzerland, the village of Trient has a nice hotel with dormitories, a strange combination between a mountain hut and a hotel that you do not usually find in French Alpine valleys. I've been there a couple of times with a group of the French Alpine Club. It is a very friendly place ; Hotel Mont Blanc in Trient features regular hotel rooms plus dormitories including a dormitory for 6. When I was there a long time ago there was even a kitchen for self-catering.


This might be a good solution for you. Trient is not a busy as Chamonix and with today's relatively high Euro rate (ahem) you won't probably find prices in Swiss Francs out of reach in comparison ;-)
Other addresses in Trient :
In Switzerland, in mountain villages, where there are no skilfts & no other resort-like facilities, you always have a café for locals, and many of those café-restaurants have rooms or dormitories !

Back to France in the Chamonix valley, between Saint Gervais and l'Argentière, you'll probably find many possibilities for group accommodation besides regular hotels. It's a long time since I went there for lodging so I prefer not to recommend something totally irrelevant..

Have nice time in Chamonix !

Struan Gray
7-Jan-2010, 13:08
If you're really keen to save money, there are bunkhouses at various places around Chamonix which cater to impecunious climbers and ski bums.

However, if you're not desperate (or keen on communal showers and kitchens), there are also plenty of self-catering apartment complexes with rooms for groups of five. Usually at least two of those beds will be bunk-beds. Most prefer you to book for a whole week, but some are run more like hotels and will happily accept you for a shorter stay. Almost all will let an empty apartment for a couple of nights if you have the nerve to wait until the last minute.

The tourist office in Chamonix have always been exemplary when I have been looking for information and accomodation, and I have found some great places to stay through them.

Personally, I have always preferred to stay a little way up the valley in Argentiere. A great patissierie and briocherie right next to each other, and it has a less barrel-scraping ski-bum feel - Chamonix itself is very un-French.

7-Jan-2010, 13:27
I have to ask what is the purpose of your visit?
Unless you are climbers then walking at altitude is really going to be extremely difficult without the right equipment. Deep Deep snow plus possible avalanche danger.
Ski Lifts are horrendously expensive for day visitors and at 12,000 feet it will be so cold your film will freeze very fast.
Chamonix is a place for experts and not beginners. There are far better places. The town is a hell hole full of ski bums and climbers but mostly ski bums in winter.
As a skii resort it has less "Ambience" than just about any other ski resort I've been to.
Go up the valley 5Km to Argentiere which is very very small but far more atmospheric.
So unless you have a very specific reason for being there...
Or go just through the Mont Blanc tunnel to Courmayeur (tax free region) in Italy and try a Grolla Pot or two.

David Hedley
10-Jan-2010, 13:11
I like Chamonix (and the surrounding area), both for skiing and summer hiking.

A good place to stay, with reasonably large rooms and a secure garage is Les Balcons du Savoy. (http://www.les-balcons-du-savoy.com/) No restaurant, but the main town is 5 minutes walk away. Les Houches and Argentière are other good choices for places to stay.

The Aiguille du Midi lift will be operating (as long as the weather is OK), and is well worth doing if you are there for only a couple of days. I wouldn't contemplate any walking in the winter.

Robert Skeoch
17-Jan-2010, 19:02
We were hoping to ski for a day and sight see for a day.

17-Jan-2010, 19:27
We were hoping to ski for a day and sight see for a day.

Well Argentiere might be your best option. If grand Montets Lift is open and snow cover reaches to bottom, then you get 2000 meters vertical to play with which depending on your level might take 10mins to most of the day. Be warned though, the exit from the lift to get on the piste can be an experience to remember and the moguls get very BIG if it hasn't snowed for a while. If you are not hot skiers then Les Houches might be a better option for a day which is the other end of Chamonix.

Chamonix is not a linked up resort like the modern French resorts so you can't ski from one area to the next but for only one day each area has more than enough.

Check out Flyers-lodge (http://www.flyers-lodge.com/) run by Dennis Trott, a Brit, for cheap accomodation just down the valley from Chamonix. 20 mins by car into Chamonix and you pass by Les Houches on the way. He may even run his mini bus up there for clients.
He used to run a ski holiday company called Trott-Ski before he took up flying.

Still recommend a trip through the tunnel to Courmayeur for a days skiing though. Predominantly intermediate level. If its snowing in chamonix its probably sunny the other side of the Mont Blanc and vice versa.

Emmanuel BIGLER
18-Jan-2010, 10:26
We were hoping to ski for a day and sight see for a day.

I second percepts for Grand Montets, probably the most spectacular piste in Chamonix.
I mostly know the Grand Montets as the access point to several classic ski-alpinism tours, including the first day of the legendary Chamonix-Zermatt route plus some other classical tours like "Les Trois cols" and "Col du T our Noir" ... and access to the Argentiere mountain hut (definitely not for beginners and probably closed in February...)

For the sight seeing day, you could try La Flégère, on the other side of the valley, above Chamonix, where you can both go skiing and have a grand view over the whole Mont Blanc range.

19-Jan-2010, 13:42
[i]For the sight seeing day, you could try La Flégère, on the other side of the valley, above Chamonix, where you can both go skiing and have a grand view over the whole Mont Blanc range.

Yes, depending on skiing ability you may find one the other satelite resorts easier with well groomed blue(easy) and red(intermediate) runs. Black (expert) runs in Chamonix / Argentiere tend be very black compared to many other resorts.

If you are not a very good skier and fit, then the top of Grands Montets is not the place to head for on your first mornings skiing.

If you find lodgings at Flyers Lodge then dennis will advise where to go based on your fitness / experience level.

David Hedley
20-Jan-2010, 05:45
For the sight seeing day, you could try La Flégère, on the other side of the valley, above Chamonix, where you can both go skiing and have a grand view over the whole Mont Blanc range.

Last summer we walked from the top of L'Index, via Lac Cornu and les Lacs Noirs, to Planpraz. The views across to l'Aiguille Verte and the Massif du Mont Blanc were sublime;


but it's not a walk that I'd consider in the winter.

Robert Skeoch
22-Jan-2010, 15:24
Nice shot and a nice area.
We're getting excited about the trip.