If you are just starting out in your snowsports career and have heard that Chamonix is only for the hardcore don’t believe it: you will find the Domaine de Balme area (also known by village names Le Tour & Vallorcine) is perfect for you.
The Domaine de Balme ski area is the gentlest of Chamonix’s snowy areas in the winter. It’s a mixed terrain that’s relatively rock free and where pistes tend to be wide cruisy blues or fairly easy intermediate reds (see the piste map). There are two access points to the ski area, from the villages of Le Tour and Vallorcine. Being right at the top of the valley means that it’s the furthest ski area from Chamonix town but it’s worth making the 20-minute journey up there either by car or the local free bus. You can also take a pleasant train ride to and from Vallorcine and the station is directly by the gondola. The train doesn’t go directly to Le Tour and instead has a stop at Montroc, about 1km from Le Tour itself which therefore requires a further bus ride to reach the main lift station area. From the top of the Domaine de Balme ski area there are some spectacular views across to the Emosson Dam and down to Switzerland.
For as much as it’s a great area for beginners, it also offers an expanse of off-piste skiing and can be a great place to learn how to ski or board in powder as you can stay relatively close to the piste, diving off when you feel confident enough to do so.