Chamonix alperna
Europe,  France

Chamonix French Alps

Beautiful Chamonix

We went to Chamonix in the french alps in February 2020, just before the serious corona pandemic hit it’s peak in Europe. Thursday to Sunday, which gave us two full days of skiing in the alps.

Neither of us had ever been to the alps before so we were both very excited about this trip. We were told that Chamonix was a good place to go if you’ve never been to the alps before, because of the variety it provides. It has all kinds of skiing, for both beginners and advanced skiers, and I think we both agree that was the case.  

Quick facts: Chamonix is located at the foot of the highest peak of the french alps – Mont Blanc. The mountain borders Italy to the south and Switzerland to the east. Currency is euro and language is french. They do speak english in the city center but on various levels.

Trip highlights: First day of skiing, second morning café, scenery. 

Points: Local Beer 6,5/10 points, Cinnamon buns 7,7/10 points, Chamonix overall points: 6,5.

Chamonix alps

Traveling

We flew with SAS on the way there to Geneva and then Swiss air and Lufthansa on the way back. From Geneva we booked a transport to Chamonix that took about an hour and 20 minutes. We choose to book a private bus, which was about 57 euros for two people one way, so 1014 total. A bit more expensive than taking the coach bus, but worth getting there faster, specially since we were there for a long weekend. The bus took 13 people and was full both going there and coming back.

We booked Alpybus and it worked well, they texted and emailed us information and they were punctual picking us up on the way back. Drivers were friendly and the only thing to complain about was the legroom on the seats, since both of us are tall, neither one of us could get our legs in and had to sit diagonally all the way there.

Alpybus website Coach bus website

Flying with SAS is fairly smooth but the seats were a little uncomfortable for a two hour flight. Alex managed to score us the exit row seats which made the flight much more comfortable. 

Swiss air in Geneva was a disaster, because of a cancelled flight that had us standing in a line to get our hotel voucher for almost three hours (with two people working the booth), and there being chaos checking in our one bag the next morning. On the plus side, Swiss air gives you a little piece of chocolate when you fly with them, and the beers at the airport was a good size. Wine was not. 

Local transportation

To get around in Chamonix there is a train and busses. The busses are free if you buy a ski pass, which no one ever checked if we had, but very very very crowded. Being a city where most of the people are tourists wanting to go back and forth from the different ski resorts they have not figured out that there needs to be more than two busses an hour. Sadly this created chaos and much frustration. The busses were so packed that people were standing on top of each other and had to literally push on and off. Add skis, ski boots, poles, helmets and backpacks to that. 
 
Since we lived about 30 minutes walking from the centre we relied on the bus because the train didn’t go in our direction. The last bus left the centre at 8.21, so if you want dinner it’ll have to be on the early side, which we learned the hard way. 
 
When we asked for help to call a taxi the answer was “Well (sigh), I can try. Ther are not much taxis here”. How is that even possible? 
 
Anyway. Point being that local transportation works best if you don’t use it on peak hours, and prepare for an evening walk home. 

Termies
Geneva elevator
swiss air

Food & drinks

French food is not on our favourites list. Alex is not a big fan of cheese, and they pride themselves on fondue and Raclette.

Tess had a pasta dish that was only okay at a french restaurant called Josefine, and we both tried the pulled pork burger at Moo which was fantastic. Definitely worth a visit.

On day two we had learned our lesson from the first morning and got out early, having breakfast at a local french café in Praz, where the bakery next door brought fresh cinnamon buns and croissant. This was one of the highlights of the trip, starting our day calmly in a smal – very friendly – café enjoying fresh cinnamon buns and croissants. The café is called Le Petit Social and we highly recommend it. 

We tried one local beer, Brasserie du Mont Blanc. An IPA that tasted more like a mix of IPA and lager, but definitely worth a try. After that we stuck to Heineken which was the most common draft beer, and the after ski glasses it was served in were big.

Walking around Chamonix on our last day we stumbled onto a  chocolatier, which offered many tasty looking treats, and one that looked like the poop emoji.

The skiing

Chamonix has four different peaks that you can ski. You can buy a ski pass for all of them, three of them or just one. For logistical reasons we choose the area called Praz where you can ski two systems, Flegere and Brevent. For two days that was plenty of skiing.

Not much pisted slops in Flegere, but taking the gondola between the peeks to Brevent we found plenty more. Off-pist was good as long as the snow was soft in Brevent, and other than the usual fact the the slopes are longer in the alps, what was also great was that Alex could go offpiste while Tess could stay in the slopes. Same lift, same finish but two different levels of skiing. It meant we could ski together all day and both be happy with the skiing we got.

Our the first day, which was Friday, there was a lot of people on the mountain, but we never had to wait too long in lift lines. We were surprised though, at how many skiers had trouble with the lift, and in the slopes.

Day two was noticeably calmer and no lines to the lifts. Out of the two systems we skied, we both enjoyed Brevent more. It has a slightly higher peak, bigger variety of slopes and more diverse skiing. 

As a swede I (Tess) really enjoyed the first day, because it offered blue skies and sun all day. It did however make the snow a bit heavier in the slopes.

All of the different peaks offer lockers where you can put boots and stuff during the day, and ski boots and skis at night, which is very comfortable because you don’t have to carry all your gear back and forth.

French alps
Alex in french alps
Franska alperna
Tess in the french alps
Skiing down the alps

Exploring Chamonix

Thursday and Sunday we spent exploring Chamonix. We started at the tourism office to get a good understanding of how it all worked. It’s something we can recommend. They were very knowledgable and could give us information as well as tips on what to think about when choosing where to ski depending on weather, winds and other things. 

Chamonix is a small town with a nice centre you can stroll around in. Maybe walk to the green river, have a coffee at one of the meny cafés or just walk around trying to find the most extravagant mural. 

We rented a house through Airbnb that easily housed 8 people and had a local charm to it, with many little nicknacks and paintings on the ceilings.   

The best thing about it was – the view. 

Chamonix
Chamonix cabin
French alps cabin airbnb
locks in Chamonix
Tess and Alex

The Chamonix crew.
Photo by stranger walking by the after ski. 

Painting on the ceiling
linbana alperna
Building art Chamonix
Alp river in Chamonix
Chamonix centre

Plus and minus list

Plus

  1. Plenty of good skiing.
  2. Ski lockers.
  3. Beautiful scenery, good for photography.
  4. The local café Le Petit Social.

Minus

  1. Public transportation and taxis.
  2. The french (lets just agree that they’re really not into tourists, or people who don’t speak french). 
Franska alperna Chamonix
Mont blanc
peak mont blanc
French mountain
Sun in Chamonix
Alp tops
pisted slopes
Top of mont blanc
The alps Chamonix

The poster

We started a tradition of making a poster for every new place we visit together, to put up on our poster wall. This is the one for Chamonix. 

Poster Chamonix

Big thanks to Jen who organised this trip. Well done and thanks for including us. 

We hope you enjoy this post, please leave a comment of you have questions, want one of the photos or just want to send us some love. 

Take care!

Tess & Alex

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