© Ellie Mahoney
- Beginner areas in Chamonix Town
- Beginner areas in Brévent & Flégère
- Beginner areas in Le Tour/Balme
- Beginner areas in Grands Montets
- Beginner areas in Les Houches
- Beginner areas in Vallorcine
- Beginner ski lessons
- Beginner ski passes
- Beginner ski hire
- What should I wear when skiing or snowboarding?
- More inspiration...
Beginner Ski Areas in Chamonix
Discover the top Chamonix beginners skiing
First time skiers and snowboarders, or beginners looking to improve their technique will find plenty of good areas to practise in Chamonix.
There are six different nursery ski areas in Chamonix, as well as six green pistes and 30 blues pistes for those who are looking to progress on the mountain. These pistes can be found in the different ski areas in the Chamonix Valley, which you can read more about below.
Beginner areas in Chamonix Town
Chamonix centre has two low altitude nursery ski areas which are easily accessible on foot or by bus, with bus stops right on the doorstep of each one. The Savoy slope offers complete beginners a magic carpet and two drag lifts, whilst the Planards slope has several drag lifts and a chairlift.
The Savoy nursery ski area has a very gentle gradient and the pistes are nice and wide, allowing you practise turns and build confidence before heading higher up the mountain. There are two drag lifts here that you'll need a ski pass for and a free magic carpet lift. There's a small café near the big drag lift for when you're ready to take a break too. If you're skiing in a group with mixed ability, the beginners can practise at Le Savoy, whilst the more accomplished skiers can head up on the Brévent gondola to the main ski area, meeting up easily later in the day as the home run from Brévent leads into the top of the Savoy ski area.
Les Planards is the bigger area of the two nursery areas in Chamonix centre, with short drag lifts (one short and one long) and a gentle gradient green piste to build your confidence on. When you're feeling confident on the green piste, you can progress to the longer drag lift, hopping off half way where you can start making turns on slightly steeper terrain. The next progression after this is to take the long drag all the way to the top. There's also a two-person chairlift accessing a steeper blue piste and a red run for those who are ready to progress. A restaurant with a large terrace offers the perfect place to take a break, or to join non-skiers in your group.
Beginner areas in Brévent & Flégère
Also accessible from the heart of Chamonix town, the Brévent cable car will give you access to the two green and eight blue pistes, and by taking the liaison cable car, two more green and three blue pistes in Flégère.
A mini-funicular the 'Funi 2000' allows beginner skiers and snowboarders easy access from the main gondola straight to the green pistes. Here you'll find the highest altitude green run in Chamonix called 'Verte 2000'. This piste is fairly short (275m) and is served by its own drag lift, making it easy to do lots of practise laps.
The other green piste is the 'Retour Plan Praz', which takes you back to the Plan Praz gondola to get back down to resort or onto the blue piste that links back to the bottom of the Parsa chair lift.
Blue pistes 'Vioz' and 'Blanchots' are also access by the Parsa chair and are great for those who are able to link turns and would like more of a challenge, as they offer longer runs and slightly steeper slopes to practise on. The Sources and the Charlanon chairlifts link to the remaining blue pistes in this area.
The Trappe chairlift at the top left of the Flégère cable car serves two gentle green pistes, the 'Trappe' and 'Libellules'. These pistes are a little longer than the ones at Brévent and being just at the top of the tree line, they have some pretty impressive views across the valley to the Aiguille du Midi and Mont Blanc. Libellules is also a fun-zone, with banked corners, arches to ski under and small snowpark features to play on.
If you feel you have progressed from skiing green pistes, you can try 'Chavanne' blue piste from the top of the Chavanne chair, or try the 'Retour Flégère' blue piste which will take you back to the Flégère cable car, where you can then take the lift down to get back to the valley floor. 'Evettes' blue piste takes you over to the liaison cable car with Brévent, or you can lap the Evettes chair and enjoy this wide, traversing piste.
Beginner areas in Le Tour/Balme
Le Tour/Balme ski area can be found at the far end of the Chamonix valley and is accessible by ski bus or by car. You can also take the train to Vallorcine from where you can get on the Vallorcine gondola, which links up to the ski area. The area offers plenty of variety for beginner skiers, from the nursery slopes of La Vormaine (1,500m) to the green and blue runs higher up the mountain, the natural rolling terrain is the perfect place to learn and perfect your skills.
La Vormaine (1,462m) is the largest nursery ski area in Chamonix, served by four drag lifts of varying length and a magic carpet lift. There are two green pistes and one blue piste here, as well a small snowpark and freestyle area. The nursery area is very wide and flat, allowing plenty of space to make progress and build confidence. You’ll find this area located just to the right of the main gondola and bus stop, to the side of the main home run back into the village.
Higher up the mountain this ski area has 11 more blue pistes (the highest concentration of blue pistes in the Chamonix valley) and the terrain is mostly gentle and not too steep, making it very popular with beginner skiers and snowboarders looking to progress. The majority of the blue pistes are accessed by four drag lifts (good for skiers but not so easy for beginner snowboarders) and two chairlifts. At the end of the day it’s easy to take the Charamillon gondola down the mountain, to avoid having to do the red home run piste back to the bus stop and car park.
Beginner areas in Grands Montets
At Les Grands Montets ski area you can progress quickly from the gentle nursery slopes of Les Chosalets (1,252m) to some of the most exciting steep skiing the valley has to offer. Luckily there are some blue and red runs to test your skills on before you hit the steep stuff.
Les Chosalets nursery ski area is at the lower end of Argentière 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.
This is not the place to come if you're a beginner. After a couple of weeks skiing or snowboarding under your belt, perhaps you could tackle the easier blues up here, but even those can be tricky and rather vertiginous in places. Plus everyone else around you is going for it, so the last thing you need is to be putting yourself in their way. Take our advice, there are areas in Chamonix much better suited to beginners and this is not one of them.
Beginner areas in Les Houches
A great family resort, the Les Houches ski area offers gentle undulating slopes for beginners. There are three nursery areas for beginners in Les Houches. One is in the village of Les Houches, and the other two are higher up in the main ski area.
With the Le Tourchet nursery slope in the centre of the town, you can be close to the bars, restaurants and public transport. If you fancy enjoying the views then 'Ecole', at the top of the Prarion gondola, allows beginners to enjoy gentle slopes at a higher altitude.
Le Tourchet nursery area is located not far from main church in the centre of Les Houches, about 1km up the road from the Bellevue cable car. You’ll find two drag lifts and two pistes here on which to practise. The shorter drag lift gives you access to the lower part of the piste whilst the longer one takes you to the top of the ski area and allows you to get more turns in, before getting back to the bottom. The slopes have a very gentle gradient and are nice and wide, allowing you to make confident, large turns.
Look out for night skiing on the Tourchet piste - on certain evenings during peak season the slopes are floodlit and there is music and hot drinks at the bottom.
There are two nursery slopes at the top of the mountain in the main Les Houches ski area. The 'Mont Blanc' area is at the top of the Bellevue cable car and the 'Ecole' is at the top of the Prarion gondola. The Mont Blanc piste is the slightly longer run of the two and both pistes are served by their own drag lift. Ecole also has a slow-moving chairlift which you can use to practise getting on and off. The gradient at Ecole is incredibly shallow, so you might want to progress onto one of the nearby blue pistes once you've mastered the basics.
Head down the back side of the mountain to the Melezes chairlift which takes you to a variety of wide blue pistes. These slopes tend to be slightly quieter than other areas in Chamonix valley, making them great for beginners to practise on. A word of caution - don't go any lower than the bottom of the Melezes lift as you'll end up on a red piste and the only way back up is an incredibly long and difficult drag lift. When ready to return home, you can ski blue pistes all the way back to the bottom of both the Prarion gondola and the Bellevue cable car.
Beginner areas in Vallorcine
The little ski area called La Poya (1120m), can be found in Le Buet close to Vallorcine at the top end of the Chamonix Valley. The nursery slopes give complete beginners a gentle introduction to the slopes of Vallorcine. Once you have mastered the basics you can use the Vallorcine gondola to access a variety of pistes further up the mountain.
It has a gently sloping ski area with two small drag lifts and a rope tow to enable beginner skiers and snowboarders to get to grips with the basics. There's also a children's play zone and a small café on site.
To get there, you can take the Mont Blanc Express train to Le Buet, which is free if you already have a carte d'hôte, a Chamonix Le Pass or full MBU ski pass. You can't get the bus to Le Buet, but you can drive and park close to the ski area.
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 four hours or one 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 four 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 Brévent-Flégère, 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.
Take a look at this year's Ski Pass Prices or, if you're not sure which pass to buy, read Ski Pass Options for more information. Find your way around with Piste Maps for Chamonix.