Must-read guide to Chamonix

Winter in Chamonix- Photo credits: Salome Abrial. OT Chamonix. Must-Read guide to Chamonix

Must-read guide to Chamonix Mont-Blanc

Why visit the Chamonix Mont-Blanc Valley? Well, it should be in every mountain lover’s bucket list! There are plenty of reasons why to go and visit Chamonix Mont-Blanc Valley. That is why I put together a Must-Read Guide to Chamonix Mont-Blanc.

 

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You can summarise why Chamonix is so amazing in seven facts:
1) Chamonix lays at the foot of The MONT BLANC (4810m), the highest mountain in Europe, making of it, a unique spot! (You must have read already my Must-Read Guide to Courmayeur. Courmayeur is on the other side – the Italian side, of the Mont Blanc or Monte Bianco).
2) Chamonix in winter is famous for its freeriding and lots of activities for non-skiers. Plus Chamonix is not only for the daredevil! It offers activities and variety of slopes for all levels.
Ski de Randonnée in Chamonix. Photo: Christophe Raylat. OT Chamonix. Must-Read guide to Chamonix.
Ski de Randonnée in Chamonix. Photo: Christophe Raylat. OT Chamonix. Must-Read guide to Chamonix.
3) Chamonix in summer is amazing, and you can tell that a favourite spot for visitors. There are lots of incredible sightseeing tours to take. And wide range of outdoor activities for all.
4) Chamonix is a year-round destination and a lively Alpine city. This is not a purposed-built resort, people live here all year. That makes the vibe of the place!
Architecture in Chamonix. Photo: Salome Abrial. OT Vallée de Chamonix. Must-Read guide to Chamonix.
Architecture in Chamonix. Photo: Salome Abrial. OT Vallée de Chamonix. Must-Read guide to Chamonix.
5) Chamonix’s heritage. You can find it through its art, culture, architecture and cuisine.
6) Very close to the highway. Chamonix is one of the easiest towns to reach .
7) Chamonix offers a wide variety of accommodation for all budgets. So, it is not only for the rich and famous!

History of Chamonix. Must-Read Guide to Chamonix

Chamonix has a long and fascinating history. Starting from the first explorers to the golden age of winter sports.
The town has an amazing cultural and architectural heritage.
Architecture in Chamonix, painting at the Office of the Mountain Guides. Photo: Salome Abrial- OT Vallée de Chamonix. Must-Read guide to Chamonix.
Architecture in Chamonix, painting at the Office of the Mountain Guides. Photo: Salome Abrial- OT Vallée de Chamonix. Must-Read guide to Chamonix.
You can book one of the weekly guided heritage tours. In these you can discover the architectural diversity of Chamonix. Baroque churches to Protestan chapels. Hotels and palaces from the “Golden Era” to “Art Deco” facades. From traditional farmhouses, to colossal villas passing through chalets contrasting with modern buildings.
1741: Two English men Windham and Pococke discovered “Chamouny” valley and its glaciers. The population at the time was living on farms. These two men lead the first touristic exploration climbing the Mer de Glace glacier.

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Aiguille du Midi vs Punta Helbronner – which one you should do?

Skyway Monte Bianco viewed from Pavillion, at 2,200m - mid-station of the Skyway Monte Bianco.

Aiguille du Midi vs Punta Helbronner – which one you should do?

Aiguille du Midi or Punta Helbronner- which one you should go to visit? Honestly, I would visit both and connect from one another through the Panoramic Mont Blanc Tunnel gondola.

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You can tell my happiness of being on top of the world (at least European world). Here at the Aiguille du Midi. Aiguille du Midi vs Punta Helbronner – which one you should do?
You can tell my happiness of being on top of the world (at least European world). Here at the Aiguille du Midi. Aiguille du Midi vs Punta Helbronner – which one you should do?

The case for Aiguille du Midi – Aiguille du Midi vs Punta Helbronner – which one you should do?

Aiguille du Midi (3842m) is located in Chamonix, in the border with Italy, and is one of the biggest attractions to go year-round, and lots in the summer to go and see the Mont Blanc (4810 m).

The funicular departs from a very modern lift base that has a shop, a food outlet and the big funicular that takes you to the middle station, from where you take a second funicular to the top. The top has a series of different terraces at different heights, to see 360-degree views of the French, Swiss and Italian Alps in all their splendour plus the magnificent Mont Blanc. Inside the structure is a bit old and you go within a cave, taking an elevator to go up the rock. This does not take the awesomeness of the landscape… It is really worth to go up there, you do feel you are on the top of the world, even though is really the top of Europe!

The Panoramic Mont Blanc lift connects Aiguille du Midi in France, with Punta Helbronner, in Italy. Aiguille du Midi vs Punta Helbronner – which one you should do?
The Panoramic Mont Blanc lift connects Aiguille du Midi in France, with Punta Helbronner, in Italy. Aiguille du Midi vs Punta Helbronner – which one you should do?

You can connect to go to Italy via the Panoramic Mont Blanc lift, which is a series of three gondolas (cable cars) going together on top of the Mer de Glace (the glacier sea) that zips you to Italy to Punta Helbronner (3466 m). This gondola has reopened last year after being closed for a bit due to one of the cabins falling on the glacier. I’ve written about it in this post some time ago. Still, this happened in winter, when this lift was closed, and it was due to a massive snow storm combined with really cold temperatures which froze the snow on top of the cable and its weight made it snap.

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Courchevel’s plans to reopen in the summer season.

Copyright: Courchevel Tourisme. Sun coming down at the Saulire. Courchevel’s plans to reopen in the summer season.

Courchevel’s plans to reopen in the summer season.

This article may contain affiliate/compensated links. For full information, please see our disclaimer here.

Most of European ski resorts are planning to reopen with social-distancing measures this summer. Courchevel is one of them.

Right now, you can only visit if you live within 100 km away from Courchevel. Starting today, May 11th, people can visit and enjoy three sports in the great outdoors:

🎿 Ski touring: there is a lot of snow in the Saulire massif (Alt. 2710m) and the surroundings.

Rando trace and ski poles. Copyright: Courchevel Tourisme. Courchevel’s plans to reopen in the summer season.
Rando trace and ski poles. Copyright: Courchevel Tourisme. Courchevel’s plans to reopen in the summer season.

🚴‍♂‍ Cycling: The Col de la Loze (Alt. 2304m) has been cleared of snow.

Copyright: Courchevel Tourisme. Cycling with views of the Montre Loze. Courchevel’s plans to reopen in the summer season.
Copyright: Courchevel Tourisme. Cycling with views of the Montre Loze. Courchevel’s plans to reopen in the summer season.

🏃‍♂‍ Rando / Trail: the summit of the Dent du Villard (Alt: 2284m) is accessible.

Copyright: Courchevel Tourisme. Crete de Mont Charvet. Courchevel’s plans to reopen in the summer season.
Copyright: Courchevel Tourisme. Crete de Mont Charvet. Courchevel’s plans to reopen in the summer season.

The Silva MOONtain Races are coming back to Courchevel this summer.

This famous race will return after five years of being absent. It entails an original trail, at night on full moon Wednesdays – dates are August 5, September 2 and 30).

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A Mums’ Long Weekend in Morzine

Morzine-Les Gets. A Mums’ Long Weekend in Morzine

A Mums’ Long Weekend in Morzine

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We tend to ski with some families over the February Half Term, and I always see that the mums are not as confidents as dads are. This can be the case when parents start skiing when they are adult, as a way to introduce their little ones to the snow. Everything is easier to learn when you are a child, and mums tend to think more of the consequences of getting hurt than dads tend to do.

As everyone is getting better, usually mums are the slowcoaches and get all kind of unhelpful comments from their kids and husbands, which is not very cool, if you ask me!

On the way up to Morzine from Geneva Airport. A Mums’ Long Weekend in Morzine.
On the way up to Morzine from Geneva Airport. A Mums’ Long Weekend in Morzine.

Fortunately, I started skiing way earlier than my husband, and he can’t tell me anything! I could tell him, but I don’t think that helps anyone getting better. I do understand what is to be cautious and afraid, as I was very afraid when I’ve started at 14 years old. I am very patient when skiing with others and can recognise what they are nervous about it.  I am still the one that can ski best in the family (not for long with the boys!), and thankfully I don’t have to deal with listening to my significant other telling me to hurry up!

As last year I got on my first day of the half turn run over by a snowboarder that catch the interior of the back of my ski, resulting in an MCL distension, I was a bit afraid to go back skiing with lots of people. This is how the idea of going for a long weekend with these mums came about. In this way, we all could enjoy skiing at our own pace. Then another friend came along, one that had only skied very little, ages ago.

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Val Thorens hosts the first stage of the World Cup Ski Cross

Val Thorens World Cup Ski Cross- PhotoL Laurent Salino. Val Thorens Tourism Office. Val Thorens hosts the first stage of the World Cup Ski Cross.

Val Thorens hosts the first stage of the World Cup Ski Cross

This article may contain affiliate/compensated links. For full information, please see our disclaimer here.

Val Thorens starts the 2019-20 ski season hosting the first stage of the World Cup Ski Cross on 6-7 December. 

Ski Cross World Cup. Photo: C. Ducruet. OT Val Thorens. Val Thorens hosts the first stage of the World Cup Ski Cross.
Ski Cross World Cup. Photo: C. Ducruet. OT Val Thorens. Val Thorens hosts the first stage of the World Cup Ski Cross.

Val Thorens, the highest and more snow-reliable resort in the massive Trois Vallées of France is hosting as every year the Audi FIS Ski Cross World Cup, which will kick off on 6-7 December with 30 women and 70 men facing each other on the slopes. Within the international line up we’ll have two Britons: Emma Peters and Oliver Davies.

The village of Val Thorens gets very busy this weekend with cheering fans and competitors alike. If you want to view the action, a great spot is on the ‘Jean-Fred Chapuis’ slope, named after the French Olympic champion and Val Thorens local.

During the Audi FIS Ski Cross World Cup, teams of four compete coming down a course full of bumps and jumps. It is very interesting to see how they make it down (if they do and do not crash on the way) and who makes it first. Obviously, it is lots of fun, even though deep down, people wish the riders to have some falls (I guess not getting hurt!). But this race is definitely not for the faint hearted!

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Where to Stay in Méribel: Hotel Le Coucou – opening December 2019

Where to Stay in Méribel: Hotel Le Coucou - opening December 2019.

Where to Stay in Méribel: Hotel Le Coucou – opening December 2019

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The Pariente family are delighted to announce the launch of Maisons Pariente, a new luxury collection of boutique five-star hotels in Provence, Saint-Tropez and Méribel. Fashion and property entrepreneur Patrick Pariente and his two daughters, Leslie Kouhana and Kimberley Pariente, are the driving force behind this new venture, which offers guests exclusive escapes to beautiful properties in stunning French destinations.

Where to Stay in Méribel: Hotel Le Coucou - opening December 2019
Where to Stay in Méribel: Hotel Le Coucou – opening December 2019

Maisons Pariente will round off 2019 with the opening of Le Coucou in Méribel in December. Set on the ski slopes, the brand-new hotel will offer 55 guest bedrooms and suites as well as two private chalets, two restaurants and a spa with six treatment rooms and hairdresser, indoor and outdoor pools, hammam and sauna. With two kids’ clubs to suit both toddlers and teens, Le Coucou looks set to be an ideal choice for families looking to hit the slopes. Interior designer Pierre Yovanovitch is working with the Pariente family to bring this exciting new project to life.

Nightly rates at Le Coucou start from 610 Euros on a bed & breakfast basis. To reserve your room at Le Coucou click here.

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Book your Eurostar Ski Train as soon as it goes on sale on Wednesday 17th July 2019

Photo: Randy Laybourne. Unsplash. Book your Eurostar Ski Train as soon as it goes on sale on Wednesday 17th July 2019.

Book your Eurostar Ski Train as soon as it goes on sale on Wednesday 17th July 2019

It is very civilised arriving to the slopes by train, if you can do it. This is not only for us living in Britain, but whoever is planning to ski in the Alps and might want to also come and stay in London for some days before or after.

As per Daniel Elkan, Snowcarbon Founder, who is always monitoring what is going on with the sale of the Eurostar Ski Train and the combined Eurostar to Paris with connections to the French trains to get to some of the French Ski Resorts, you need to be vigilant, as the Eurostar Ski Train goes on sale at 8am on Wednesday 17th July 2019.

Book your Eurostar Ski Train as soon as it goes on sale on Wednesday 17th July 2019
Book your Eurostar Ski Train as soon as it goes on sale on Wednesday 17th July 2019

There is a daytime and an overnight Eurostar Ski Train.

The Daytime train travels from London to the French Alps- The first outbound train departs on Saturday 21st 2019 and the final one on Saturday 4th April 2020.

Coming back from the French Alps the first train is on Saturday 28th December 2019 and last inbound daytime train is on Saturday 11th April 2020.

Overnight travel dates are the following:

From London to the French Alps:

First train outbound is on Friday 20th December 2019.

Last train outbound is on Friday 3rd April 2020.

From the French Alps inbound into London:

The first overnight returning train is Saturday 28th December 2019.

The final overnight returning train is on Saturday 11th April 2020.

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What is new for Val Thorens for 2019/20.

Works are undergoing at Val Thorens this summer for the next winter season 2019-20. What is new for Val Thorens for 2019/20.

What is new for Val Thorens for 2019/20.

Following the closure at the end of January of the cable car Cime Caron, the replacement of the load carrier cables has started in May. This gigantic project will cost €6 million and will be finished in November, right on time for the start of the winter season 2019/2020.

Lac 2 - lake reservoir for snow making at Val Thorens. What is new for Val Thorens for 2019/20.
Lac 2 – lake reservoir for snow making at Val Thorens. What is new for Val Thorens for 2019/20.

Furthermore, two Gazex will be installed under the line of the cable car in order to secure even more the area and allow a faster opening to customers in the mornings.

The water reservoir Lac 2, used for snow making, will be expanded with a capacity going from 88 000m3 to 306 000m3.

Snow guns are added at the top of the blue piste Plateaux in order to improve customer satisfaction on this highly frequented area between the snowpark and the Family Park. In addition, it will facilitate the access to Funitel Grand Fond at the beginning of the season.

Col, the last fixed-grip chairlift of Val Thorens, will have its 25 years “Grande Inspection”. The top of the lift offers stunning views over Glacier de Chavière and Parc de la Vanoise.

Val Thorens- Lorries are carrying the loading cables. Photo: Val Thorens TO. What is new for Val Thorens for 2019/20.
Val Thorens- Lorries are carrying the loading cables. Photo: Val Thorens TO. What is new for Val Thorens for 2019/20.

Funitel Peclet, situated at the spine of the ski area, will undergo a major check-up, starting this summer with a three-year implementation timeframe.

The descent speed of Cairn and Caron gondolas will be increased. For our non-skiing customers, those two lifts link the summit of Cime Caron from the resort centre.

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New lifts and piste for Portes du Soleil for the 2019-20 ski season

News lifts and piste for Portes du Soleil for the 2019-20 ski season. Avoriaz photo.

New lifts and piste for Portes du Soleil for the 2019-20 ski season

Portes du Soleil will be improving its ski area and strengthen the lifts connecting the resorts. SERMA – (Avoriaz Ropeway Operating Company), is launching replacement works for the Léchère chairlift, as well as the construction of a new chairlift and a new red run on Les Cases. The chairlift manufacturer will be from the Bartholet company.

Avoriaz will open a third connection between its ski area and the Swiss resort of Champéry – Les Crosets. This will be made possible with the construction of two new lifts to facilitate the skiing opportunities throughout the Portes du Soleil ski area, composed of 12 resorts with 650 km of linked runs in France and Switzerland.

New lifts and piste for Portes du Soleil for the 2019-20 ski season. Avoriaz photo.
New lifts and piste for Portes du Soleil for the 2019-20 ski season. Avoriaz photo.

The first chairlift will replace the current triple chairlift La Léchère with a high-speed detachable sextuple alleviating the uplift of skiers and riders. The new sextuple will carry 2700 skiers per hour in comparison of the 1,800 carried by the actual triple.

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The Panoramic Mont Blanc gondola to re-open 15 June

The Panoramic Mont Blanc gondola to re-open 15 June

The Panoramic Mont Blanc gondola to re-open 15 June

The Panoramic Mont Blanc Gondola has been closed since January 2018, when storm Eleanor laid too much snow on the cables and that cause them breaking and  two gondolas falling down on the Glacier du Géant.

The lift connects the Aiguille du Midi (3,842m) in Chamonix, France to Punta Helbronner (3,466m) in Courmayeur, Italy, and the people that ride on the lift can see the marvellous Mer de Glace underneath. The ride takes 30 minutes to cross 5 km and is only opened in summer.

Around February the Compagnie du Mont Blanc found some more faults, but the company was still optimistic to open by the end of May. Now they are announcing its opening on 15 June. Last summer the gondola has to remained closed in order to change its power cable.

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