You're arrived in Chamonix after flying, driving, catching the train or transfer bus, but how do you find your way around whilst you're here? We've put together this handy guide on the best way to get around so you can get to all the key places, and help you find your bearings quickly.
The various resorts and villages which make up the Chamonix Valley are all linked by a number of different train lines running the length of the valley from Les Houches to Vallorcine, stopping at all the ski areas along the way. The buses are free to anyone bearing a lift pass, carte d'hote, gens du pays card or residence secondaire card - which covers pretty much everyone in the valley.
Chamonix buses run all year round, 7 days per week, with a reduced timetable operating during the quiet interseason periods of spring and autumn. They run from approximately 07:00 to 19:30 with the main lines operating every half hour.
The main bus terminal is in Chamonix Sud, in front of the bowling alley on Avenue de Courmayeur. Most buses also stop behind the tourist office on Allée Recteur Payot and opposite the Galerie Alpina on Avenue du Mont Blanc. All of the towns and villages between Les Houches and Vallorcine have at least one bus stop where you can connect to the rest of the valley. There is also a smaller shuttle bus called Le Mulet that offers a free hop-on-hop-off service within Chamonix town.
Night buses run from 20:30 to midnight, from Argentiere to Les Houches at around 2€ per journey. There are four per night and they can be pre-booked if you are planning a night out.
The Chamonix train service is also included in your carte d'hote, gens du pays card or residence secondaire card, for all stops from Servoz to Vallorcine. It is often a more comfortable way to travel than the bus and can be less crowded during the ski season.
Trains run once an hour in each direction and are quicker than the bus but the train stations are not always as conveniently located for the ski areas as the bus stops are. We recommend taking the train if you are going to Vallorcine, as the station and the ski lift are right next to each other, however, for all other ski areas we recommend taking the bus.
During the summer you can take your bikes on the train; there is a maximum limit of 5 bikes per train (which is often down to the conductor's discretion) and you must use the carriages marked with the bike symbol on the door.
For a nice day trip, you can take the train beyond the Chamonix valley to Martigny in Switzerland or to Saint-Gervais but you will have to pay the entirety of the fare as the free transport is only valid between Servoz and Vallorcine.
Taxis can usually be found outside the main train station in Chamonix but booking in advance is advisable as they are not plentiful and often go home once the last train has gone at about 20:00. It is also worth requesting a price in advance, as they can be expensive. If you are planning a night out in the valley and want to organise transport, some of the airport transfer companies offer a minibus service.
Chamonix town is compact with a number of pedestrianised streets, so walking around is easy. It is worth buying some ice-grippers for your boots if you're here in winter – these can be bought online or from most of the ski hire shops in town. Walking between the different villages of the valley is really only an option in summer and during daylight hours when you can take the scenic route and walk along one of the many hiking trails, as many of the connecting roads do not have pavements and are poorly lit. In winter this can be extra hazardous due to the snowdrifts at the sides of the roads that leave even less space for pedestrians and cars to pass each other safely.
The main Chamonix ski areas - Les Houches, Brevent, Flegere, Le Tour and Les Grandes Montets - are all separate and linked by the bus system. The only two that are connected are Brevent and Flegere, meaning that you can take the cable car up to Flegere from the village of Les Praz and ski across to take the gondola down from Brevent to Chamonix centre.
Evasion Mont Blanc resorts
The Evasion Mont Blanc ski area includes not only Chamonix but also Saint-Gervais, Megeve and Les Contamines - all of which are included on the Mont Blanc Unlimited ski pass. Saint-Gervais is the last stop on the Mont Blanc Express train line that runs the length of the valley and from the train station you can hop on the bus up to the Bettex gondola. From Saint-Gervais-Le-Fayet train station you can also catch a connecting bus to Les Contamines. There are also buses running 4 times a day from Chamonix to Saint-Gervais during the winter season, passing through Les Bossons and Les Houches along the way. The journey takes about an hour and takes you all the way to the Bettex gondola; you can also connect to the 84 bus to Les Contamines, which will take an extra 10-25 minutes depending on connections. There is no direct public transport to Megeve but the ski area is linked to Saint-Gervais, so once you've got that far you can just ski across. Also see our guide to Getting to the Evasion Mont Blanc resorts.
Courmayeur / Verbier
The Mont Blanc Unlimited ski pass also includes the ski resorts of Courmayeur in Italy and Verbier in Switzerland. Courmayeur is approximately a 40 minute drive through the Mont Blanc tunnel; SAT Bus run a daily service with the first bus leaving Chamonix at approximately 08:30 and the last bus returning from Courmayeur around 17:30. Verbier is a little further, taking between an hour and 90 minutes to reach by car; a bus service runs every Thursday, leaving Chamonix at 08:10 and returning from Le Chable lift station at 17:00. You can find the latest schedules for both services above.