Art & Culture in and around Chamonix
There’s much more to Chamonix than skiing and snowboarding - there’s also a thriving arts scene with regular exhibitions, workshops, concerts and more.
© Alison Shayler
© Alison Shayler
© Alison Shayler
Discover the top Chamonix activities
The main draw for people coming to Chamonix in winter is, of course, skiing and snowboarding. With five different parts of the valley to ski in, and a wealth of off-piste areas, the valley has something for every level of experience. There are around 150km of piste, 65 ski lifts, the pisted terrain ranges in altitude from 950m to 3,300m and not forgetting the world famous Vallée Blanche descent - a 20km long route that takes you from the Aiguille du Midi down 2,700m to town. However, there’s also a whole host of other activities to do in Chamonix in the summer. So, whether you're just looking for something to do when the lifts close or you simply don't ski, we promise you, you'll have no time to get bored here!
What to do in Chamonix?
Chamonix is an outdoor activities paradise. The Alpine town and its surrounding mountains offer hundreds of things to do for every ability and every age. Some activities are perfect for solo travellers while others are more suited to romantic couples. Families and groups will also find a wide range of things to do in Chamonix. From relaxing to full on adrenaline, from child friendly to adults only, from outdoor fun to bad weather indoor activities, there is something for everyone in Chamonix.
Activities Guest Card
The Chamonix Guest Card ('carte d'hote') is valid throughout the year (for the duration of your stay) and entitles you to various discounts throughout the valley, such as reductions at all the sports and cultural facilities including the swimming pool, ice rink, museums and covered parking. If you do not receive one when you check into your accommodation, you can buy one from any of the tourist offices in the valley at a cost of €10 per person per week. It also entitles you to free travel on the buses and trains between the valley's resorts from Vallorcine to Servoz (with the exception of the Chamo’nuit night bus). If you wish to take the train all the way through to Martigny in Switzerland or down to Le Fayet and St Gervais, you just need to pay the difference from Vallorcine or Servoz.
Below are our three favourite activities in Chamonix but there are plenty more to choose from. Check out the selection of things to do below for some holiday inspiration – you'll see that there are plenty of alternatives to skiing and snowboarding in Chamonix.
1. Winter sports, skiing & snowboarding: Skiing and snowboarding are probably the most popular winter activities in the the Valley. But we're not talking about lift-assisted, downhill skiing and snowboarding only – there's a whole host of activities that involve boards strapped onto your feet including ski touring and split boarding, cross-country skiing or telemarking. But there's much more than just skiing and snowboarding in Chamonix in the winter. The the Valley mountains are the perfect setting to go snowshoeing and husky-dog sledging, while the ice skating rink in Chamonix town centre will keep the whole family entertained.
2. Mountain biking: The valley tracks and trails in the area attract hundreds of enduro and downhill biking aficionados every summer. The trails meander through lush forests to reach stunning mountaintops with breathtaking views. An experience not to be missed!
3. Walking, hiking & running: In the summer, the pistes turn into meadows and deep-forested trails to explore on foot. From easy valley strolls to gruelling trail running climbs, everyone can explore the beautiful sunny landscapes.
Like most of the Alps, Chamonix is a great place to go rock climbing. Chamonix has numerous spots along the valley for cragging. In France, it is common to find bolted routes or single pitch or top rope, which makes climbing relatively accessible as less gear is required. The most popular spot is at Les Gaillands which is within walking distance from the town centre and has an open park ideal for barbecues. It is a great location for a day out as it is set next to a lake and has many walking trails nearby, as well as a buvette (snack bar). Les Gaillands is one of the oldest climbing sites in France with the first of its 130 bolted routes being put up in the 1930's by Alfred Couttet. The routes are now maintained by the Compagnie des Guides de Chamonix and offer a variety of slabs, cracks, and overhangs at all levels of difficulty.
How much does it cost to go rock climbing in Chamonix? Rock climbing course prices in Chamonix start at around €45 per person for a half-day group lesson and up to €400 for a full-day climbing private guide.
Rock Climbing in Vallorcine
At the high end of the Chamonix Valley and twenty minutes by car sits the pretty village of Vallorcine. It is the perfect place to head if you want to escape the busy world of Chamonix and enjoy some great rock climbing. The options available range from children’s routes to highly technical routes with official climbing grades up to 8a+.
La Dalle de Vallorcine is a wide and large climbing wall that's a great way to discover the sport, it's usually used by schools and groups for lessons. The face is very easy to access. Driving from Chamonix turn right just as you enter ‘Le Buet’ and take the signs to the ‘Montets’ campsite. Before the campsite, park and then take the tunnel under the railway and it’s just a short walk. There are over thirty mid-range climbs available here, ranging from grade 4 to 7a. They are typically north-west facing.
Les Perrons de Vallorcine is a more challenging crag with routes up to 370m high. There are over 20 climbs here on south-east faces that will demand the best from climbers. The way to access these is via the Emosson Dam, just across the Swiss border at Chatelard. This includes the Bada Boom route, the hardest and longest (at 400m) on Les Perrons.
Bouldering in Grands Montets
Just up from Vallorcine, there are two bouldering areas located on either side of the Col des Montets, with more than 50 problems from 3a to 7c grades. The first is located about 200m from the Col on the Vallorcine side, while the other is on the Col itself, looking back towards the Grands Montets. Parking is roadside or just opposite the Col.
The Chamonix valley is home to one of the largest indoor climbing walls in France. Mont Blanc Escalade is located in Les Houches and is open all year, with more than 100 routes to the roof ranging from 16 to 21 metres in height. All necessary equipment is available for hire. In Chamonix town, there is a good sized bouldering wall in the Sports Centre (Centre Sportif Richard Bozon). There is another climbing wall at the ENSA, but you need to be a member of the local Club des Sports to gain access.
Via Ferrata climbing offers an element of security that still allows beginners to enjoy the achievement of having scaled a mountain! This form of climbing was invented by Italian soldiers in the Dolomites who used it to enable them to scale vertiginous faces easily and quickly. These days it is a popular sport that makes the thrill of mountain climbing more accessible to children, beginners and those who want a bit more security when they climb. Following marked routes through the mountains, you are helped along by metal steps, bridges and ladders whilst being roped up for extra safety. Suitable for adults and children over the age of eight; guides can be arranged on request.
At Flegere there is a Via Ferrata course called the Via Ferrata des Evettes which can be found at the top of the Index chairlift. There are two different routes which can be done separately or joined together for a full day out. There is also a Via Ferrata route at the Mer de Glace which is easily accessible from Chamonix town centre. Take the Montenvers train and, from the station, descend the ladders down onto the Mer de Glace following the signs marked ‘Le Refuge’. Cross the glacier heading for the white square painted on the opposite rock face, from here you will find a well-marked Via Ferrata route that consists of around 30 ladders and, if climbed to the end, finishes at the Refuge de Couvercle. One way should take around four to five hours, there is a shorter return route through Les Egralets that takes a further three hours.
Further afield, there is also a Via Ferrata route above Passy. The route sits under the Aiguille de Varan on a cliff face and climbs up 180m over a length of 400m. Access to the spot from car park takes 20 minutes and then the average time to complete the Via Ferrata takes 1 hour 30 minutes.
How much does it cost to try out Via Ferrata in Chamonix? You can hire all the essential equipment, including helmet, harness and "cows tails" at most sports shops in resort – it'll set you back around €20. If you're a beginner, you should also book a mountain guide or instructor. Prices for Via Ferrata group lessons in Chamonix start at around €45, with private guides charging around €220 for a half-day.
For the true mountain enthusiast, why not scale an amazing frozen waterfall or glacier? Chamonix has a multitude of ice-falls and gulleys where you can experience the thrill of ice climbing with a guide. This is a fantastic sport, and not just for experienced mountaineers. Beginners can start off at La Crémerie in Argentière, while the more experienced can sample some of the many other sites around Chamonix, Servoz, Les Houches and Argentière. The ice climbing season peaks between December and March. Some knowledge of ropes and basic climbing skills will give you a head start, but if you are a complete novice then your guide should be able to teach you from scratch.
How much does ice climbing cost in Chamonix? Ice climbing prices in Chamonix start at around €250 for a half-day group course.
Mountaineering & mountain climbing
Chamonix is quite simply the Mecca of mountaineering. Whether you are a rock climber, ice climber, ski tourer, or just enjoy being in the mountains, Chamonix really is the place to be. The glaciers and icy slopes of the Mont Blanc Massif offer a massive number of climbing routes for alpinists, while the world famous Chamonix granite is extremely popular with rock climbers. Chamonix is also home to what is perhaps the most popular high-mountain route in Europe, the climb to Mont Blanc. However, this is no mean feat, in order to tackle it, you must be very fit and should book a guide to accompany you.
How much does it cost to climb mountains in Chamonix? Local mountain guides offer formulas for all skill levels, from beginner mountaineers to expert climbers. Private guiding prices start at around €400 per day.
The Aiguille du Midi
The Aiguille du Midi is Chamonix's number one attraction. It's the highest you'll be able to get without being a mountaineer and offers spectacular views of Mont Blanc and the glaciers surrounding it.
The Mer de Glace
The Mer de Glace is undoubtedly one of the most popular visitor attractions in the Chamonix Valley, and rightly so. It is one of the largest glaciers in the valley. You can access it via the Montenvers train and visit the ice cave once you're there. Other points of interest at Montenvers are the Crystal Gallery, the Museum of Alpine Fauna and the famous Hotel du Montenvers. Built in 1880, the hotel is an integral part of Chamonix’ history. Leading on from there are a number of beautiful walks and hikes: the Forbes Signal is great for truly spectacular views of the Mer de Glace (approx. 1hr up and 30 mins back down with 300m total ascent), the Grand Balcon Nord leads from Montenvers across to the Plan d’Aiguille (approx. 2h30 – 3hrs) or the descent back to Chamonix through larch and pine forests via the original Mule Trail (approx. 1h45).
One way to find your way around town in the summer is to hop aboard the miniature tourist train that trundles daily through Chamonix from early May to mid-October. From 10:00 to 19:00, it makes its way past the sights of Chamonix with a multi-lingual commentary telling you about the history and culture of the area. It leaves every 30 minutes from outside the Post Office, the Montenvers Train Station and the Aiguille du Midi lift station.
Gorges de la Diosaz
In Servoz, the Gorges de la Diosaz are a series of natural waterfalls that gush down through a deep gorge. By following a man-made footpath you can walk along the side of the gorge, learning about the geology and the remarkable history of the site as you go. To walk all the way along and back takes around an hour and a half at a gentle pace. This walk is suitable for children of all ages, but the path is not suitable for pushchairs and although there are safety barriers, you are advised to keep hold of small children by the hand. The gorges are open from June until September, the most impressive time to visit is after heavy rainfall when they are in full flow. Servoz can be accessed by train from Chamonix, the Gorges are just a five minute walk from Servoz train station.
Every Tuesday evening (from 18:00 in winter), a group lead by artist Sylwia Pwydych gets together for a life drawing session. All abilities are welcome and the group is very international, so don’t worry if your French isn’t up to scratch! Living Chamonix also run art classes for children and adults in Argentiere in winter.
There are various traditional weekly markets around the Chamonix Valley. Every Saturday morning you can head to Chamonix's Place de Mont Blanc, while in Les Houches, a farmers market takes place every Wednesday afternoon at a farm on Route du Pont.
The Chamonix Valley offers quite a wide range of museums and galleries to suit all tastes. Most of them open during high season and school holidays.
Those interested in the traditions and customs of the Alps can head to the Maison de la Memoire et du Patrimoine in Chamonix centre, dedicated to the town's history, or the Maison de Barberine Museum in Vallorcine, a 18th-century house showing pastoral life. The Montagnard Museum in Les Houches is the place to learn about old mountain lifestyles while the Maison de l'Alpage in Servoz is dedicated to agriculture and landscapes.
Being the birthplace of alpinism, the valley also has exhibitions on this sport and on the mountains in general, mainly at the Alpine Museum, while the Espace Tairraz has a nice collection of crystals. At the site of Montenvers, you can also visit a range of museums and exhibitions, from a display of the types of gems that have been found in the area at the Crystal Gallery to the Glaciorum, a very interesting small exhibition on the creation and evolution of the glaciers over the centuries, while the Temple of Nature takes visitors on a trip back to the past thanks to an innovative optical theatre system where you can meet Forbes, Chateaubriand or Louis Pasteur.
Finally, there are two galleries in Chamonix: Gallerie A2 & the Mario Colonel Gallery.
Merlet animal park
The Parc de Merlet in Les Houches is a great place to spot some local animals in their natural environment. A nature reserve, rather than a zoo, the park is perched on a large plateau high above Les Houches.
Petanque or Boules is one of France's favourite pastimes. There are outdoor petanque areas in Les Houches by the ice rink and the Chavants lake, in Chamonix by the Bois de Bouchet and in the centre of Vallorcine. You can also play petanque indoors at the Espace OLCA in the centre of Les Houches.
The whole of the Alps are known worldwide for hosting some of the most gruelling stages of the Tour de France so, to gain the most from your riding in the area, you need to have a reasonable level of fitness. There are some renowned climbs near Chamonix, including the Col de Colombière, Col du Grand Saint Bernard, Col de Joux Plaine or Col des Aravis, as well as lesser-known but fun rides like the Col des Montets, the Emosson dam, the Col de la Forclaz or the tour around Lake Annecy.
How much does it cost to go cycling in Chamonix? Once more, cycling prices in Chamonix are a matter of your personal wants and needs. If you've brought your bike with you, then you can just get on the road and challenge your fitness as you climb some of the Alps most famous mountain 'cols' at no cost. Those in need of wheels will be glad to know that renting a carbon road bike starts at around €45 per day.
Chamonix offers some of the best terrain for mountain biking in Europe. There are hundreds of kilometres of fast, smooth and rocky trails available all under the backdrop of Mont Blanc. If you’re not a fan of the uphill, then you can always take the stress out of it all by taking any of the main lifts up and enjoying the descent. Mountain biking in Chamonix has something for all riders, from beginners right up to the more technically advanced. Note that, in French, mountain biking is called VTT (Vélo Tout-Terrain!).
How much does it cost to go mountain biking in Chamonix? Mountain bike prices in Chamonix depend on what you need. If you have all the gear and all you want is to access the trails, then you'll only need a mountain bike lift pass – a one-day pass costs around €30. Then there's bike hire – renting a hardtail or full-suspension mountain bike for a day starts at around €70, and about €350 for a seven-day electric mountain bike hire. Finally, you may want to get a private guide to show you around the local trails – expect to pay around €45 per hour.
A fairly recent craze, the fat bike is completely at home in the snow. Although it will be difficult to mountain bike along the valley floor during the winter months, hiring a fat bike can offer you hours of fun in the snow. Several of the ski hire shops in town will also rent fat bikes and they can also tell you the best trails in the valley to tackle.
At the Richard Bozon Sports Centre, there's a gym with weights and cardio machines. They offer a timetable of fitness classes such as aerobic or step. Many hotels in the valley also offer fitness facilities.
How much does gym access cost in Chamonix? Expect to pay around €15 for one entry to the gym or €35 for the whole week. It will cost more if you want the spa facilities included.
There are a number of swimming facilities in the Chamonix Valley, from hotel pools to the sports centre and the outdoor lakes. The indoor pool at the Richard Bozon Sports Centre is 25m long and also features a separate children's pool with bubble jets and a water slide. The sports centre has a 50m outdoor pool surrounded by sunbathing terraces and a children's splash pool. There is a large grassy area by the lake within the sport centre grounds, which has a snack bar and is perfect for sun-bathing or letting the children run around (swimming not allowed in the lake). Bear in mind that chaps of all ages have to wear Speedo-style trunks which can be bought at the ticket desk.
How much does it cost to go swimming in Chamonix? Swimming pool access prices in Chamonix start at around €6 for adults, up to around €13 when it includes spa access.
Another great swimming spot is Lac du Passy, just 15-20 minutes drive from Chamonix. Popular with locals and tourists alike, the natural lake has a children's play area, snack bar and toilet/changing facilities. There are also a few hotels in town that allow non-residents to use their swimming pools for a small fee. The Hotel Excelsior, in Les Tines, has a nice outdoor pool with sunbathing area and grassy play area. All you have to do to use the pool all day is book a table on the terrace for lunch (the lunches are very nice too!). You can use the swimming pool and the whole spa area of the Le Refuge des Aiglons Hotel by booking the lunch and spa package.
In the centre of Chamonix, right by the Richard Bozon Sports Centre and the ice skating rink, there is a running track and multifunctional sports courts where you can play basketball and football outdoors. The indoor court can also be used for indoor football. Les Houches also offers a couple of basketball courts near the beginner ski area of Le Tourchet, by the outdoor ice rink. There are also a number of astro turf football pitches in Les Pellerins area of town that the local football team use.
Beach volleyball in the heart of the French Alps may sound strange, but in Chamonix you can hop on the sand and play a game of volleyball with your friends or family. Located next to the tennis club, the beach volleyball court is open in the summer.
Join in with locals and holidaymakers alike with the local Ultimate Frisbee club who organise ultimate frisbee every Wednesday or Thursday, depending on the season, by the Bois du Bouchet (or at the Sports Centre if it's raining).
Sit back and admire the Mont Blanc massif from even higher up. Daily panoramic helicopter flights are available (weather permitting) with a number of local flight companies. Relax and enjoy the stunning views as you fly over the snow-capped mountain tops, glaciers and alpine forests of the highest mountains in western Europe.
How much does it cost to explore Chamonix by helicopter? Helicopter tours in Chamonix start at around €100 per person for a 10-minute flight.
Hot air ballooning
Hot air ballooning is a truly unique and fun experience. You can experience views and scenery like never before. The views are stunning and, as you glide over the forests, you may see deer and other animals normally hidden from view. Hot air balloons depart from Praz sur Arly, just outside the Chamonix Valley, and fly over the most famous summits in the Alps including the Mont Blanc massif and mountain ranges like the Aravis, Beaufortains, Fizs, Bauges and the Swiss and Italian Alps.
If you’ve never tried paragliding before then Chamonix is a great place to learn how to fly. Known as “parapenting” in France, there are a great number of clubs and organisations in the area whose sole purpose is to give you the experience of flying. From the heights of Brevent and other mountain tops in the valley, you can glide down to the town on a tandem paraglider controlled by an instructor who manoeuvres the parachute while the passenger enjoys the ride and fantastic views. There are two main landing places in Chamonix in the summer: behind the sports centre by the Bois de Bouchet and at the Savoy beginner area near the Planpraz lift. You'll find some companies offering paragliding there. Top tip: Wait until the spring and then go on a sunny, warm day when the thermals will keep you airborne for longer.
How much does a tandem paragliding flight cost in Chamonix? Anyone can take part in a tandem paragliding flight, even if you've never paraglided before. You'll be attached to an instructor who'll take care of the wing, so you just need to relax and enjoy the views. Tandem flights start at around €90.
If you want to experience the beauty of the mountains and the thrill of falling through the mountain sky then you can do just that in Chamonix. Various activity companies will teach you all the basics you need to know about skydiving in a quick session and take you up in a helicopter and take the leap with you. Admire the Aiguille du Midi, the Drus and the Mont Blanc from the sky and then jump 500m above the Chamonix valley.
Chamonix golf course
At the excellent golf course in Chamonix you can playall summer surrounded by the fantastic views of the Mont Blanc and the massif of the Aiguilles Rouges. The 18-hole golf course in Les Praz was first created in 1934, although the last 9 holes were not built until 1982.
The Chamonix Valley has a multitude of trails that can be explored on horseback; you can cover more ground than on foot, get an elevated view of the scenery and hopefully get a closer peek at the wildlife! There are a number of adventure companies who can take you out for your horse riding experience. Alternatively, the Paradis des Praz play area has a 'mini-ranch' where children can go on short accompanied treks through the woods on small ponies. There is also a riding school in Les Houches where you can take lessons in their arena or do multiple day treks up the mountain.
How much does it cost to go horse riding in Chamonix? Horse riding prices in Chamonix start at around €25 for the shortest horse rides and around €10 for pony rides.
Catch the latest films and releases on your holiday at the Cinema Vox in Chamonix, located right in the heart of town opposite the Post Office. They sometimes open their doors early on a bad weather day, otherwise, you'll find most screenings in the evenings. Look out for VOSTF for English speaking films.
Downhill skiing & snowboarding
Lift-assisted downhill skiing and snowboarding are the most popular activities in Chamonix. So much so that we could write several guides dedicated to them... and, in fact, we have! Take a look at our Ski Areas, Pistes and Parks Guide where you'll not only find a lot of information on the Chamonix ski area but also links to many other articles: Ski Lifts Guide, Best Pistes Guide, Snowparks Guide, Beginner Ski Areas Guide, Advanced Ski Areas Guide, Off-Piste Ski Areas Guide, Ski Itineraries Guide and even a guide on the best places to go skiing when the weather is bad.
However, lift-assisted downhill skiing and snowboarding aren't the only things you can do in Chamonix while having a pair of skis or a board strapped to your feet.
Chamonix has almost 60 km of pisted cross-country ski trails that criss-cross the valley from Les Houches all the way to Vallorcine. Tracks are maintained for both classic and skating styles, usually side by side. You can buy a pass to access them before setting out from the lodges at the beginning of the trails. Bear in mind that they are patrolled and it is likely that your pass will be checked en route. The pistes are generally open from 09:00 to 17:00 each day (snow cover permitting) and are maintained each evening. A number of adventure companies also offer cross-country skiing guiding, tours and lessons too. Find your way around with the cross country skiing maps.
How much does it cost to go cross-country skiing in Chamonix? You can hire the comfortable boots and lightweight skis and poles fairly inexpensively from most sports shops in Chamonix, with cross-country rental prices starting at around €15 per day. You may also want to book a group or private lesson to learn the basics, in which case prices start at around €180 for a six-day group lesson.
Ski touring & split-boarding
Chamonix is very popular for ski touring and split-boarding, whether it's going up the pistes that most people normally ski down, or tackling more of a backcountry route. A number of ski schools, private instructors and companies can show you around or, if you've got all the necessary equipment, you can head out in your own group. Some of the most popular routes cross the Aiguilles Rouges National Park, accessible via the Flegere lifts, or head up the Col du Tour Noir over the Argentiere Glacier, or Mont Buet. From Chamonix, expert skiers can also undertake the famous Haute Route between Chamonix and Zermatt or cross the border to the Aosta Valley.
How much does it cost to go ski touring or split boarding in Chamonix? It depends. Ski touring prices in Chamonix range between €60 per day if you’re only renting the gear and around €400 if you’re also getting a guide for the day to help you explore the backcountry. Of course, if you already have the equipment and the local knowledge, ski touring in Chamonix is free!
In January and February, the Tourchet beginner area in Les Houches opens for night skiing every Thursday from 20:30 to 22:00. Vin chaud and hot chocolate are offered.
Enjoying the thrill of being on the pistes need not escape you if you're less mobile or have special physical needs. ESF Chamonix has a number of specially qualified Handiski instructors who can teach people with a range of disabilities to ski using adapted equipment including UniSki, DualSki, GMS, Armchair Skiing and Ski-kart. They also offer specific classes for people who are blind or partially sighted. ESF Les Houches are proud of their 15 years of experience in teaching Handiski and have a wide range of equipment that can be used free of charge. ESF Argentiere also offer handiski lessons and guiding in the Vallorcine, Le Tour and Grand Montets end of the valley. You are advised to book at least 15 days in advance and then to confirm one week before arrival, to ensure that the most appropriate equipment is available for your lesson.
There are a number of snowpark features in the Chamonix Valley that you can practise your skills on. Grands Montets, Brevent and Les Houches boast small jumps, kickers and boardercrosses. However, the main park area is located at Le Tour, called the Summit Park it has small, medium and large kickers and jumps for all levels and abilities.
The idea behind speed riding is to combine the sensations of skiing and paragliding into one activity, and then descend off-piste sections of the mountain using a mini-wing to enable you to access areas that you might not normally go. Learning and having fun with speed riding comes very fast as long as you are a competent skier; you need to be able to ski red pistes with confidence in any type of snow. In the Chamonix valley, the most popular speed-riding areas are located in Grands Montets, Brévent and Le Tour. Speak to one of the companies offering this activity who can show you the ropes (literally).
How much does it cost to try out speed riding in Chamonix? Beginner speed riding lessons usually start at around €100 for a half-day group lesson and they include the wing but not the ski hire – high-end ski hire for advanced skiers starts at around €30 per day in Chamonix. Speak to one of the companies offering this activity who can show you the ropes (literally).
Telemarking is a form of downhill skiing where you are only attached to the binding at the toe so, to turn, you have to lunge and bring your heel upwards. Talk to one of the ski schools or private instructors who can teach you how to telemark and take you out on excursions using this technique.
How much does it cost to go telemarking in Chamonix? It depends. Telemarking prices in Chamonix range between around €40 if you’re only buying a ski pass for a day, plus around €70 if you’re adding one-day gear rental, and around €90 if you’re also getting a private instructor for an hour to teach you the basics.
For a truly unique experience, clamp on your crampons and go hiking up the stunning Mer de Glace, Argentière or Le Tour glaciers. The Mer de Glace is one of the longest and deepest glaciers in the Alps, moving at a speed of 120 metres a year. To get onto the glacier, you'll have to clamber down long steel ladders which are scary enough in themselves but you'll quickly forget about that once you start admiring the breathtaking views and spectacular crevasses below (if you're quiet you can even hear the ice shifting). The breathtaking views and spectacular crevasses make this an incredible adventure. There are a number of glacial hikes, of varying difficulty, in this region of the Alps. Most mountain guiding companies and adventure companies will run organised excursions to the most accessible. To read more about glaciers and the environment please read our Glacier Meltdown article.
Chamonix's main ice rink is open in summer as well as winter. Come along and enjoy a skate or support Chamonix's local team, the Pionniers, when they play home matches. There are also three outdoor rinks in the valley, in Les Houches, Vallorcine and Argentiere, which are open as long as conditions permit.
How much does it cost to go ice skating in Chamonix? A single entry to the ice rink in Chamonix is around €4, with skate hire costing around the same.
Husky dog rides
Be in charge of your own sled and team of excitable husky dogs, driving them along forest paths in winter. After a brief explanation of how to make your team stop and start, you set off following the guide’s team. If this all sounds a bit much you can opt for a less physical outing where you sit in the sled and the guide does all the hard work! It's a very popular winter activity, so booking at least 48 hours in advance is a must. They run from early December to the end of April (snow-permitting).
How much do husky rides cost in Chamonix? Husky-dog ride prices in Chamonix start at around €100 for a half-day, with discounts for kids.
This is one winter activity that doesn't require a lot of expensive equipment, just grab your sledge and head for the nearest snow-covered hill! You can pick up a sledge at one of the many ski hire shops or sports shops in Chamonix. Good sledging areas include the Savoy piste, the area by the Bois du Bouchet walking trails, and behind the tourist office in Vallorcine. There is also a small snowpark play area for children at the top of the Prarion gondola in Les Houches called Ski Camp, found over by the Ecole chairlift. Here you'll find inner tubes to slide down the hill on (snow tubing), a toboggan run, zip wire, and other child-friendly activities. Another Snow Village has been set up at the bottom of the Trappe green piste in Flegere, specifically for families.
How much does it cost to go sledging in Chamonix? You can rent a sledge at one of the many local ski hire shops for as little as €5, while most of the sports shops in Chamonix will also have them for sale. Several activity companies also offer you the chance to sledge at night, down the ski slopes.
Don't forget that the Alpine Rollercoaster is open all winter at the Planards slope in the heart of Chamonix. The track is 1300m long with turns, spins, fun and thrills for all the family.
Raquette à neige as the French call it, or snowshoeing, in and around Chamonix is a perfect activity for bad weather conditions or for non-skiers. Either set out on your own or join a group led by a knowledgeable local guide and explore the hidden parts of the ski area. Snowshoes and ski poles are provided by most companies offering this as an experience, or you can hire snowshoes from most Sports Shops or Ski Hire Shops, grab a trail map from the Tourist Office and head off on your own adventure. There are marked trails all around the valley so you can explore the area around the golf course in Les Praz, the Bossons glacier, the Coupeau sector and the Chavants lake in Les Houches, the Granges hamlet in Vallorcine or the traditional neighbourhoods in Servoz.
How much does snowshoeing cost in Chamonix? If you don't know the local area well, we recommend you get a private guide or join a group on a snowshoe expedition – it may seem safer than skiing but you'll be exploring backcountry trails where the avalanche danger is high so it's better to go with someone who knows what they're doing. These outings start at around €30 for a half-day. Snowshoes and ski poles are provided by most companies offering this as an experience, but you can also hire them from most ski hire shops in Chamonix starting at around €10 per day.
If it is calm and relaxation you are after then head to a luxury day spa or book in for massage therapies and beauty treatments. Most luxury hotels in the Chamonix Valley have a spa and many of them are open to the public. You can keep warm and revive aching muscles in saunas, steam rooms and jacuzzis or take a refreshing dip in a swimming pool. Unwind, relax and indulge.
The tennis and squash club in Chamonix is situated just beyond the sports centre and has both indoor and outdoor courts. You can reach it by walking along the path that runs from beside the Hotel Alpina alongside the river. You can book group or private lessons and hire rackets if necessary, or just pay for an hour on a court.
There are also tennis courts in Les Houches, by the Chavants Lake, as well as in Servoz.
How much does it cost to play tennis in Chamonix? Tennis court rental prices in Chamonix start at around €12 per hour, with rackets available to hire for €4.
Play squash at the Richard Bozon Sports Centre in Chamonix using the courts at the nearby Chamonix tennis club (open daily from 09:30 to 17:30).
Argentière has a number of indoor courts situated on the left-hand side of the road just after the avalanche bridge as you are driving in from Chamonix. These are both open all day every day, but if you are playing indoors you need a 'light-token' which can be purchased during office hours (09:00-12:15 and 14:00-19:30 in Chamonix; 15:00-21:30 in Argentière).
Head to the woods at Bois du Bouchet with a team of friends and try your hand at paintball. This exciting activity offers fun for groups of all ages. In most cases, you're split into teams and a variety of scenarios and courses are offered at the beginning of all games, with each game lasting approximately two hours. The ultimate aim is to shoot your opponents with paint pellets and capture their flag before they get hold of yours. All equipment is supplied and all you need to do is be a good shot, and know how to duck for cover!
How much does paintball cost in Chamonix? Paintball prices in Chamonix start at around €30 per person.
Tree-top adventure parks are a safe but challenging suspended course through the trees, where you wear a harness and are clipped to a safety rope. A network of ropes, bridges, zip lines, balance beams and scramble nets will test your head for heights as you traverse the forest high above the valley floor.
Just across from the Montenvers train station you will find the Chamonix Leisure Park at Les Planards, an action-packed fun area that is a magnet for children and families in the summer and winter months. The lower part of the area is packed with activities for kids of all ages. Little ones can bounce on the safely enclosed trampolines, clamber on the adventure climbing frame or ride around the mini go-cart track.
At the Kid's Arbre Aventure in Les Houches, you can let your kids (from four to eight years old) enjoy climbing through the trees in a completely safe and enjoyable adventure. Your child’s harness and ropes are secured by an instructor at the outset to a permanently secured safety-line from start to finish. The circuit takes around 1 hour 30 minutes to complete although there is no time limit.
There are further adventure parks at Les Tines and Lac de Gaillands where you'll find a number of different courses of varying difficulty, including a course specifically for small children. One of the courses ends with a zip-wire over the lake. All necessary equipment is provided at all of the sites.
There is a mini luge-rollercoaster in Chamonix at the Parc de Loisirs near Montenvers train crossing. As well as the coaster, there are lots of other fun activities for the kids to enjoy and a snack bar and restaurant.
Walking & hiking
As the snow disappears after winter, the valley gradually reveals its 600 km (400 miles) of well-maintained, signposted hiking trails. Whether you prefer gentle walking along the valley floor or making a day of it, scaling some of the high altitude routes, Chamonix has something for you to enjoy. There's so much to choose from, that the only difficulty comes in picking a route to do! Walking here can be as easy or as technical as you want it to be. Below are some of our tried and tested suggestions for walks and hikes in the area. Check out our walking and hiking guide for more information.
With the growing popularity of trail running in the valley, Chamonix has recently declared itself THE Trail Valley. The terrain lends itself perfectly to trail running with the stunning scenery, hundreds of MTB free routes, some fairly significant height gains and a near year-round lift network to get you to new stomping grounds. The Maison Du Trail is a dedicated information site based at the Bois du Bouchet, where two local trail runners will be available to give advice on running in Chamonix. Open every day during the summer season from 09:00 to 19:00.
Chamonix is a winter walker's paradise, with lifts giving access to the higher ground and a network of groomed trails in the winter, it's very easy to discover the resort on foot. Don’t forget to check the weather forecast before you set out as conditions can change rapidly in the mountains. You do not need any particular equipment, just a pair of sturdy boots and layers of warm clothing that you can take off or put on as necessary. A pair of walking poles will come in handy for extra balance on icy patches and for checking snow depth before you go striding forth. Top tip: buy ‘grippers’ for your walking boots to prevent slipping which you can buy from most local Sport Shops.
White water rafting
There are a couple of companies in Chamonix that offer white water rafting. You can choose to raft on the low-grade river through the centre of Chamonix or try something a little more advanced and with higher rapids across the border in Italy. There, you raft on the Dora Baltea river where the rapids and the white water is pretty intense. However, you don't have to be experienced to enjoy rafting on smaller rivers, such as the one in Chamonix centre. Anyone that can swim and is over the age of seven or eight years old can take part. Check with the individual rafting companies for more information, trip duration and prices.
How much does it cost to go white water rafting in Chamonix? Prices start at around €40 per person for about two hours of white water rafting in Chamonix.
Canoe rafts are an unsinkable, stable type of inflatable canoe that allows you, without too much technique to profit fully from the joys and fun of whitewater river descent. and canoe-rafting.The descents are taken on by groups of four to five boats, accompanied by a fully qualified guide. You are equipped with neoprene suits and shoes, a safety jacket and a helmet. The course which you take is chosen according to the water levels and experience of the participants. Local Chamonix activity companies will take you down to Passy from where you will enjoy amazing views of the Mont Blanc while you go down the Arve river on a two-people canoe raft or an individual airboat.
Plunge yourself into the mountain streams via a series of abseil descents, jumps and natural water slides. You will make your way along rivers and rapids, using the riverbed as a natural obstacle course. Canyoning takes place a little way outside Chamonix in two locations - either Barberine near the Swiss border or in the opposite direction at Belle au Bois in Megeve. The activity companies will take you there via minibus or coach, with the activity available usually between May and September, weather permitting.
How much does it cost to go canyoning in Chamonix? Canyoning prices in Chamonix start at around €55 per person, including all the equipment.
Hydrospeeding is one of the newer 'extreme' water sports to hit the market, it's a fun and exhilarating way to get yourselves down a river! Using a large float, which bears resemblance to a bodyboard, be ready to cling on for dear life as you send yourself hurtling down the rapids! This activity is a little more demanding physically than rafting or canoe rafting, but allows you to discover the unique sensation of surfing down whitewater rivers. It is also accessible to all, no need to be a professional diver or swimmer, you just have to be smart at using the water movements, obstacles and waves. In Chamonix, anyone who's 12 years old and over can swim down the Arve river on a board.
How much does it cost to try out hydrospeeding in Chamonix? Beginner hydrospeeding courses in Chamonix start at around €45 - €50 per person.
There’s much more to Chamonix than skiing and snowboarding - there’s also a thriving arts scene with regular exhibitions, workshops, concerts and more.
This autumn has been one of the best I can remember in my many years in Chamonix - crisp bright days, sunny blue skies, spectacular colours… and it’s still warm enough (just) to swim in the lake!
The first day of November and it is still short sleeves weather - perfect for hiking and enjoying the wonderful autumn colours.
After a dog walk in the 20cm of fresh snow at the top of Brevent and bumping into a few mountain biking friends on the hike down on Saturday, I was excited to get out on my bike on Sunday morning and head up into the clouds.
There are many easily accessible hikes starting from right here in the Chamonix valley; one of our favourites is the steep but reasonably short hike up to Chalet de la Floria.
Chamonix is well known for it's hard core mountaineers, who think nothing of spending the night attached to a rock face as they attempt the summits that surround the valley. But for those of us who, for any number of reasons (kids, injury, self...
When the sun is out in Chamonix you're treated to some of the best views in Europe; glistening glaciers, majestic (and massive) mountain peaks dominating your line of sight in every direction.. it's a pretty special place to be.
Summer is now nudging into autumn, days are getting a bit shorter, temperatures are getting a bit cooler and the trails are getting a lot, lot quieter.
Ever since the leaves started to turn yellow, I've been looking forward to checking out what kind of mushrooms can be found in the valley. I started foraging mushrooms when I was a little girl, and I can safely identify a fair amount of species...
One of the nicest ways to spend a summer day in Chamonix is to pack a picnic and head out into the mountains.
Today we set out to do a ride that is practically on our doorstep but that I’ve never yet attempted - Montée de Plaine-Joux. A 15km climb from the nearby town of Passy up to a wide plateau that overlooks the valley.
Having had the Tour du Mont Blanc on my "to-do" list for many years, I jumped at the chance of doing one of the last sections this week as a day hike starting in Trient and finishing up at La Flegere.
If you’ve visited pretty much any ski resort in the Western or Southern Alps, chances are you’re already familiar with an omnipresent, rather bulbous peak which dominates almost every vista. A peak instantly recognisable to skiers the...
With a couple of grey days on the weather forecast we were wondering what to do with our day off, so we headed up to the Parc de Merlet in Les Houches.
No trip to Chamonix should be complete without a visit to the legendary "Mer de Glace", the longest and arguably the most impressive glacier in the Chamonix valley. It is also the largest glacier in France.
An introduction to White Water Rafting with EVO2 in Chamonix