© Tim Lloyd Photography
It's very cold and the days are short, but the skies are blue and the pistes are quiet.
After the Christmas holidays are over, January is the quietest part of the main winter season in Chamonix. This means you have the slopes to yourselves, rarely have to queue for a lift and can enjoy pistes in great condition. So wrap up warm and get outside to find new year adventures.
The quiet conditions on the mountain don’t translate to quiet nights in the town. There are fewer families and more adult visitors, meaning it can be easier to get a table at a restaurant, and the bars are buzzing with plenty of live music and party nights to keep you entertained whilst you warm your hands on a glass of vin chaud.
Read on for a look at what we like to do in resort throughout January.
What are the weather & snow conditions like in Chamonix in January?
There is regular snowfall - on average 13 days - and subzero temperatures keep it nice and fresh. In January the average daytime temperatures generally fall between a high of 4°C and a low of -4ºC, getting around five hours of sunshine. Definitely pack those thermals!
What's on in Chamonix in January?
Chamonix has been hosting winter sporting events since the very beginning, starting with the first winter Olympics way back in 1924. This tradition continues today, and every month during the winter season there are a number of world-class events happening here. Usually the Kandahar Men's Alpine Ski World Cup is held on the classic course in Les Houches, except when the Olympic Winter Games is on and the fixture on the race calendar isn't scheduled.
On 26th January, our antipodean friends celebrate their national day. Australia Day has become a day to celebrate for all nationalities and it’s now an institution across the Alps. You'll probably see large groups of seasonnaires BBQing on the slopes and then hitting the town afterwards.
With all those empty pistes, no lift queues and perfect conditions, we like to get out into the mountains on our skis and snowboards as much as possible.
If you visit the resort in January you can buy a lift pass and join one of the local ski schools' many ski or snowboard lessons taking place around the resort.
Things to Do
Alternative Winter Sports
It doesn't just have to be piste based adventures you take part in. Ski-touring and split-boarding have become extremely popular in recent years, and there's nothing that gets the heart pumping like gaining altitude under your own steam. When it's a 'white out' you'll find us changing tack entirely, pulling on some raquettes (snowshoes) and venturing forth into the wilderness on one of the many snowshoeing routes around the valley, all the while dreaming of tomorrow's bluebird powder day.
Families go first in the charming ski area of Les Houches. To keep everyone entertained after the lifts have closed, the town hosts some special nighttime events. You can ski in the floodlit beginner's piste of Le Tourchet every week and for those with a more adventurous soul, whizz down the pistes on a traditional paret sledge.
Bars & Clubs
At this time of the season we are looking forward to some live music sessions, whether from local bands or even one of the open mike nights and jam sessions that the local bars often hold. So, whether you fancy yourself an Adele, Bob Dylan or a Satriani, there's definitely somewhere you can 'entertain' the crowds.
Of course, that's if we've made it home from one of the many après-ski events taking place every evening across town.