It's really easy to get to Chamonix because it's located just 103km from Geneva International airport. But flying isn't your only option, you can always drive and there are trains and coaches that come here too.
Whilst there's more than one route option to consider, there's no ignoring the environmental cost of a ski holiday. The means by which you travel to your holiday contributes around 50-70% of its carbon footprint, and with global warming and melting glaciers making the headlines daily, when figuring out what's 'best' for you, you may wish to also consider what's best for the environment.
Let us help you figure it out with our complete guide for getting to Chamonix.
Plane: Flying to the Alps generates nearly seven times as much carbon than travelling by train
Train: France's electrified rail network has one of the world's lowest carbon footprints
Driving: Travelling by car with four to five people can make a significant difference in CO2 output in comparison to flying
Best ways to get to Chamonix
Chamonix is located in southeast France, in the department of Haute-Savoie, part of the Rhône-Alpes region. Nestled deep in an Alpine valley, Chamonix sits at the foot of Western Europe's highest mountain, Mont-Blanc (4,810m), boasting some of the most spectacular views in the world from its pistes.
What’s the best way to get to Chamonix?
Whilst there's no denying the convenience of flying, we would encourage you to at least consider the alternatives. We're not going to give you just one route to Chamonix, and below you'll find what we think are the main pros and cons:
|How to get to Chamonix|
|Flight & Transfer||Fastest||Environmental cost|
|Coach / Bus||Price||Time consuming
Less comfort (if overnight)
Fast – You can't beat flying for pure speed. Geneva airport offers the greatest selection of airlines, most frequent flight times and lowest prices, while airport transfers are the fastest way to reach the ski area – you’ll be at your accommodation’s doorstep in 1h30.
Carbon footprint – To be honest, we should all feel bad about flying these days. There are numerous ways to off-set your carbon, and increasingly transfer companies are putting on larger vehicles and hybrid/electric transfer vehicles are becoming a common sight on Alpine roads.
Chamonix has a train station where local trains stop. From here, you can make connections to Paris, Geneva and London among other European cities.
Eco-friendly – Carbon footprint can be reduced by as much as 90% when travelling by train.
Comfortable – Trains have generous legroom, allowing you to relax and enjoy the ever-changing scenery, and even take a stroll along the aisles or visit the onboard café.
Speed – Takes longer than flying.
The extensive network of European motorways makes it easy to come to Chamonix by car.
Convenience – No luggage restrictions, you can bring what you want from home, ideal when self-catering, plus you'll have a car in resort and can easily visit neighbouring ski areas.
Time-consuming – It can take quite a long time to reach the Alps and depending on where you're coming from you may wish to split your journey into more than one day.
Pollution – As an area that suffers from high levels of air pollution, you should consider the impact of your car's emissions on the environment.
Challenging conditions – Your vehicle will need to be equipped to drive on snow and/or in inclement weather. From 1st November until 31st March, it is mandatory to have snow chains in the boot of your car or winter tyres fitted.
Parking – Getting a parking space in resort or at the foot of the slopes can be difficult during peak seasons.
Coach / Long-distance bus
Probably the least popular option, it is possible to get to [resort] on a coach or long-distance bus.
Price – Usually the cheapest alternative.
Environment – Coaches are more environmentally friendly than flying, releasing seven times less CO2 per person.
Sociable – Buses can be quite sociable, so you may make new friends before you set foot on the slopes.
Less comfortable – Buses aren't the most comfortable places to sleep, so you'll likely be quite tired when you reach the pistes.
Time-consuming – Depending on which city you are travelling from, it can take up to 20 hours to reach [resort].
Flying to Chamonix
Flying is undoubtedly the more convenient way to travel to Chamonix – it’s faster, easier and sometimes cheaper than other means of transport. However, there's no denying the environmental cost is huge.
Which airports are near Chamonix?
Geneva is the nearest airport to Chamonix. It offers frequent flights to and from many European destinations, including cities all around the UK, as well as capital cities from across the world. Flight times to Geneva airport from most cities in Europe are under two hours, with London just 1h40 away and Paris even closer at 1h10. Bear in mind that some flight options will only be available during the high season with frequency increasing during the peak holiday periods.
At a glance, these are the main travel hubs for Chamonix. Times and distances are approximate and can be affected by snow, bad weather or peak holiday times:
|Nearest Airports to Chamonix | Times & Distances|
Getting from the airport to Chamonix
There are several ways to make the trip from Geneva airport to resort, including airport transfers, regular buses and even trains.
How do you get from Geneva airport to Chamonix?
The fastest route to Chamonix is to book an airport transfer. The Geneva to Chamonix transfer time is around 1h15, but will be longer on snowy days and during peak weeks, such as Christmas, New Year, school holidays and Easter. Learn more on our Transfers Guide page.
Trains to Chamonix
Travelling to Chamonix by train isn't necessarily the simplest or fastest option, but it is proven to be considerably more eco-friendly than flying. Whilst your train journey will inevitably include changing trains, it will allow you to carry more luggage without additional charges, avoids long waiting times in airports, and certainly for a trip from London to Chamonix it doesn't take much longer when you take into account transfer times.
How do you get to Chamonix by train?
There is a train station right in the centre of Chamonix. Only one train line stops here, the Mont Blanc Express, a local narrow-gauge railway train service that runs the whole length of the Chamonix Valley and connects it with the rest of France and Switzerland. We've compiled a very comprehensive guide with all you need to know to get to Chamonix by train.
Driving to Chamonix
Bringing your own vehicle with you to Chamonix is a good choice if you want to have more flexibility once you’re here, even if you don't really need a car in winter to get around resort thanks to the free shuttle buses.
How do you get from the UK to Chamonix by car?
It's not a short trip from the UK to Chamonix but it can be done in a day, depending on where you leave from. Most people driving from Britain to France will need to cross the English Channel from Dover to Calais, which is the nearest French town. The Calais to Chamonix driving time is around eight hours for a distance of just under 840km. The most direct route is via the French motorways A26, A5, A31, A39 and A40.
You can cross to France from Folkestone to Calais by Eurotunnel in 35 minutes, or take a Channel ferry from Dover to Calais in around 90 minutes. We recommend you book tickets in advance. There are also ferries from Portsmouth and Poole to Caen, Cherbourg and St. Malo, in the north of France, while from Hull you can travel by ferry to Zeebrugge in Belgium and then make your way down to Chamonix.
The motorway takes you all the way into Chamonix. Snow clearers operate every day in winter, and the main roads are kept well clear. For the winter season (from 1st November until 31st March), it is mandatory to have snow chains in the boot of your car or winter tyres fitted, and local police carry out regular spot checks. The road on the way up to Argentière and Le Tour is winding in places and can be snow covered, and the Col de Montets on the way to Vallorcine and Martigny is sometimes closed due to heavy snowfall. But on those days you can always take the bus and leave the stress of driving to someone else.
Coaches & long-distance buses to Chamonix
Getting to Chamonix by coach takes considerably longer than flying. However, it’s also usually cheaper, making it a good option when travelling on a low budget. There are a number of international coach companies that travel between the largest cities in Europe and Lyon, Grenoble and Geneva, from where a bus or transfer will take you to Chamonix. These include FlixBus, Eurolines, BlaBlaBus and RegioJet.
Are there any regular coach services from the UK to Chamonix?
Yes. There are regular coach services from London Victoria Coach Station to Chamonix in the winter, stopping at Folkestone and operated by Snow Express. The London Victoria to Chamonix coach travel time is around 18 hours. These coaches run every week, leaving on Friday evening and returning on Saturday evening, travelling through the night to allow you to spend more time on the slopes.
Bringing your skis, snowboard or bike to Chamonix
Airlines, trains and transfer companies are well versed in catering for customers who travel with their own sports equipment. Each company will have its own individual policy terms and conditions depending on the type of gear you are transporting so it’s well worth checking the details in advance. Here's a snapshot of the different transport options and a guide to their restrictions:
Most airlines charge a fee for taking skis, snowboards, bikes, golf clubs, parachutes and mountaineering equipment on board, so check before you book. However, a few airlines, such as Swiss, will fly the first set of skis or snowboard for free. Also, make sure you pack your gear well and ensure it falls within the packaging guidelines specified by the carrier.
On Eurostar trains you can take one pair of skis or one snowboard onboard for free with you, in addition to your standard two-bag luggage allowance. Skis are also allowed for free on TGV trains. Bikes can be transported on French trains, either in special luggage carriages or in passenger carriages when stored in a bike-specific carrying case, although fees may apply so check before you book.
Transfer buses are usually well equipped to transport sports equipment, but it’s always important to let them know exactly what you’re bringing so that they can ensure they have sufficient capacity. Sports equipment may be subject to a surcharge, please ask when booking.