Grands Montets ski area is located in Argentiere, a short bus or train ride from Chamonix centre. There's also a large car park here, making it easily accessible.
The Grands Montets ski area is known for its steeper runs and more challenging pistes, however, there is a great beginner ski area here too. Les Chosalets nursery slope is located at the bottom of the ski area, not far from the lift pass office which you can read more about below.
Best beginner areas
Les Chosalets nursery ski area (1252m) is at the lower end of Argentiere just up from the turning for the Grands Montets car park. Served by two drag lifts (one very short and slow, one much longer and slightly faster), this is a nice area to learn for skiers or snowboarders. The two slopes are very different; one is very short and flat with its own drag lift. The adjacent slope is much longer and wider, also with its own drag lift and just as gentle lower down. It gets steeper nearer the top making it a good slope for progressing on.
You can also access Les Chosalets from the snowshoe and cross-country ski trails that loop around the valley floor. To get there on foot from the Chosalets bus stop, walk uphill on the narrow lane through the houses to get to the slope. It’s surrounded by trees and has a small snack hut at the bottom of the lifts. You can also access it from the snowshoe and cross-country ski trails that loop around the valley floor. To get there on foot from the Chosalets bus stop, walk uphill on the narrow lane through the houses to get to the slope. It’s surrounded by trees and has a small snack hut at the bottom of the lifts.
If you are feeling more confident and would like to head up higher at Grand Montets then we recommend you take the Plan Joran gondola up followed by the Tabé chairlift. You will then have access to two blue pistes that take you down to the Retour pendant and Tabe chairlifts. These blue pistes are the most gentle runs to be found in the Grand Montets area, although they can be steeper in parts, so you must make sure you are ready before heading up here. The Marmottons blue piste is the third and last of the blues in this ski area, taking you across to Lognan mid station where you can pick up the 2 seater chairlift of the same name to take you back to the top of the piste again or to do another lap of the two blues near the forest.
The home run at Grands Montets is a red piste - the Pierre à Ric. It's quite a long piste and can be icy and bumpy in parts, so we recommend that if you're a beginner you should take the cable car or the Plan Joran gondola back down at the end of the day.
Beginner ski lessons
If you're learning to ski for the first time, Chamonix has plenty of choice of ski schools who teach children's ski lessons and adult's ski lessons. Children's lessons are determined by their age and ability, whilst adult lessons are determined by ability and interests.
Beginner ski passes
If you're joining a ski school as a complete beginner, you will probably start off in the nursery areas where you can buy a beginner ski pass for a minimum of 4 hours or 1 day at a time. There are different prices for each of Chamonix's beginner ski areas which you can find via the link below.
If you're a skier looking to progress after having already learnt the basics, you can buy a ski pass for the mid to high mountain ski areas from as little as 4 hours. You should consider buying a 'Chamonix Le Pass' ski pass rather than the 'Mont Blanc Unlimited Pass.' The Chamonix Le Pass pass is valid for Brevent-Flegere, Grands Montets (but not the summit lift), Le Tour-Vallorcine, Vormaine, Chosalets, Savoy and Planards.
Beginner ski hire
Pre-booking your ski hire in advance allows the hire shop to prepare for your arrival and smooths the process. A key thing you should consider when booking your equipment is how close your accommodation is to the ski hire shop, or to the foot of the pistes for when lessons have finished. Even if there are several equipment options to choose from, we recommend you go for the most basic. Beginner skis are short, flexible skis that are easy to turn or, if you're snowboarding, you'll have a shorter stiffer snowboard that's easier to control and generally cheaper too. You won't need to know about the technical aspects of any of the equipment as ski hire shops will advise you to get the best model for your ability and size once you've booked.
What should I wear when skiing or snowboarding?
Buying all the gear before you go can be daunting if you’ve never set foot in a ski resort before. The key items to bring with you, along with the obvious ski jacket, ski trousers and sunglasses, are as follows:
- Layers - thermal tops and leggings, fleeces, hoodies, hats and a good pair of ski gloves and a helmet. Weather on the mountain can change pretty quickly, and you are much better off wearing layers of thinner items as opposed to a big, bulky jumper.
- Socks - a variety of socks ranging in thickness, it may sound weird but in our experience hire boots can be quite painful with the wrong socks.
- Sun cream - even when it’s cloudy the sun here can (and will) still get you, and don't forget the underneath of your chin as the sun reflects off the snow too. Don't forget a lip salve with an SPF.
- Piste map - make sure to always have one in your pocket while you're out on the mountain. You can pick up paper copies from the lift pass or tourist office once you've arrived in resort.