The legendary home of Alpinism
Situated in the Haute Savoie region in the French Alps, Chamonix Mont Blanc is every mountain sport lovers’ gourmet resort. A legend in the ski and snowboard world, the Chamonix valley is synonymous with steep, long and challenging runs, fantastic off-piste powder and mountain scenery that takes your breath away. Not just an Alpine thrill seeker’s guilty pleasure, it also caters for all abilities with pisted trails for all standards. A lively year-round town with a mixture of locals and international visitors, this historical ski and climbing town is friendly, cosmopolitan and stylish with a huge array of hotels, shops, restaurants and bars ranging from the exotic to the traditional.
Property in Chamonix, Les Praz de Chamonix, Argentière and Les Houches
With a permanent population of 14,000, in a valley that is nearly 20km long, Chamonix’s property market is one of the most diverse in the French Alps. The region has long been popular with British and Scandinavian buyers and the perennially strong Swiss Franc draws Geneva-based buyers. From small apartments in Chamonix-Sud, to luxurious apartments in the centre, to lavish ski chalets close to the golf course in Les Praz, to renovated farmhouses in a natural setting - there is something for everyone. The price range is equally diverse, from €6,000/m² for a small apartment requiring renovation up to over €15,000 for a spacious chalet, there is a price point for most buyers. At its peak, the population can swell to well over 100,000 - the strong dual-season rental market is attractive for property owners. Massive multi-year investment in infrastructure from the Compagnie du Mont Blanc including the Montenvers site and Plan Praz, and previously under-priced compared to other top tier mountain resorts, are the main factors behind 3-5 years of consecutive 5-10% increases in property prices.
A notable theme currently is emerging in Chamonix: the acute shortage of housing for locals is leading the town hall to impose a Sursis à Statuer (suspension of Proceedings) that new apartment developments must include 50% of the project for social housing, up from 25% previously. Also, the maximum floorspace for any new chalet is being capped at 200m2 (or the existing floorspace +200m2 in the case of renovations) - ceteris paribus the value of existing larger chalets may increase. While we suspect these proposals may be watered down a little, the immediate impact will be a reduction of future development activity. Since Chamonix attracts so many visitors throughout the year, it may be unique in this context.
A guide to Chamonix
Chamonix is a truly unique ski resort. Nestled beneath the highest mountains in the Alps, yet just one hour from Geneva, it offers some of the toughest, wildest and most exhilarating skiing anywhere in the world. It hosted the first Winter Olympics in 1924 and has re-emerged as the capital of all-mountain skiing and snowboarding, especially for experts.
Chamonix’s most famous attraction is the spectacular Aiguille du Midi cable-car ride that whisks you up to over 3800m beneath the gaze of Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps. Almost as mesmerising is the Montenvers mountain railway which allows you to visit the famous Mer de Glace glacier.
Chamonix ski area
Chamonix’s ski area is split into several distinct sectors, two of which are directly accessed from the town itself, the rest being a short drive further up and down the valley from the Le Tour at the head of the valley, to Les Houches at the other end, passing by Les Grands Montets and Brévent-Flégère. These areas provide such a variety of ski areas, as any guide to Chamonix will tell you, there really is something for everyone.
Chamonix’s smaller villages, such as Les Houches, Argentière and Vallorcine, offer access to the same top-quality slopes but a quieter place to stay. The extensive Mont Blanc Unlimited Pass covers more slopes than the other option, Le Pass, including resorts such as Courmayeur through the Mont Blanc tunnel in Italy and Verbier in Switzerland.
Proximity to Geneva makes Chamonix a great choice for weekend ski breaks.
Also, check out our blog - The Uniqueness of Skiing : Downhill race pistes you can ski..
Après-ski in Chamonix
You will never fail to be amazed by the après ski atmosphere in resort. Many venues will have a real party atmosphere with live music or DJs to accompany your drinking and eating from as early as the middle of the afternoon. Top of the list of Best Après Ski Bars in Chamonix has to be Chambre Neuf. Elevation 1904 is the meeting point for Chamonix’s locals and guides alike. An APi favourite is MBC, the local micro-brewery with a warm atmosphere, a great range of beers to try and superb burgers.
Not forgetting, Chamonix now has its own Folie Douce, right in the town. It is a hotel and popular venue with DJs, dancers and musicians performing at the Après-Ski Party from 4pm to 8pm. For later on, the hotel’s Le Janssen Cocktail Club bar keeps the party going until 1am.
If staying in Argentière, the village next to the Grand Montets ski area, The Office has music, sport on TV, pitchers, pizzas and plenty of powder chat.
Eating out in Chamonix
The quality and variety of the gastronomic offer in Chamonix is almost as vast as its ski area.
The local cuisine is Savoyard, and although usually more associated with winter, there are two dishes – Raclette and Tartiflette – that are the most famous and enjoyed by all year round. A couple of favourites for restaurants in Chamonix are: Munchie, L’Impossible, Bizes, and La Crèmerie du Glacier for Savoyard specialities. Top quality cuisine is offered by Albert 1er, with 2 Michelin stars, and Le Bistrot.
Summer in Chamonix
Chamonix is a popular summer destination attracting more visitors per day than in winter. The mountains surrounding Chamonix make a great base for many summer activities – from mountaineering, hiking, road cycling and mountain biking to paragliding, via ferrata, climbing, white water rafting and so much more.
At the excellent golf course of Chamonix, you can play in the summer surrounded by the fantastic views. The 18-hole course in Les Praz was created in 1934.
Many of Chamonix’s ski lifts also open in the summer to give easy and affordable access to the high mountains.
Some of the best hiking in the world is on the doorstep with lots of marked trails where you will find it hard to avoid spectacular mountain views and the year-round, white-capped Mont Blanc is breath-taking. Of course, there are some demanding Alpine routes to be found, even in the summer months in challenging terrain, but equally, there are some more relaxed routes that require nothing more than a day pack and a good pair of boots.
For more details on Mountain Biking in Chamonix, check out our blog: Where to go Mountain Biking in the Alps
Other Destinations in the French Alps:
Alpe d'Huez Courchevel Courchevel La Tania Courchevel Le Praz Courchevel Moriond Courchevel Village La Toussuire Les Deux Alpes Les Gets Les Menuires Megève Méribel Méribel Les Allues Méribel Village Méribel-Mottaret Morzine Paradiski Pays du Mont Blanc Pralognan-la-Vanoise Sainte-Foy-Tarentaise St. Martin de Belleville Tignes Val d'Isère Val Thorens