If you asked me what my favorite place I’ve ever visited in France was, I couldn’t give you an answer! From magical cities like Paris to the dreamy lavender fields of Provence, there are so many wonderful places I’ve stepped foot in over the past few years. If I had to pick a top five however, Chamonix would be on that list! This enchanting little ski town is where I had my first solo trip back when I was an English teaching assistant in the east of France. I’ve already written a 3 part travelogue about the experience, but today I wanted to share a guide about the best things to do in Chamonix.
1. Go Skiing
This one seems like a no-brainer, but if you are a skier, you must put skiing in the French Alps on your bucket list! There’s a reason skiing is number one on my list of the best things to do in Chamonix. Even if you aren’t an experienced skier, there are trails and ski stations for skiers of all levels. Even if you have never skied before, why not take some ski lessons? Or if skiing isn’t your jam, you can always go snowshoeing to enjoy those scenic mountain views. And if you visit during the off-season, you can go hiking instead.
If you’re an intermediate skier like me, you might like these two ski stations I tested out:
If you like wide open trails with sunny views, this might be the ski station for you! On my first day of skiing in Chamonix, I went here and was in awe of the towering mountains all around me. I was also challenged by some of the blue trails which are supposed to be easy, but felt more intermediate to me as an American who only skis about once a year. If you want a more in depth breakdown of the trails I skied on la Flégère, check out this post: Chamonix Day 1 and Skiing in the Alps.
On my second and third days skiing, I ventured out to les Houches ski area. I definitely preferred this one as it had a mix of easy and difficult trails, as well as wide open trails and narrower ones in between the trees. If you want to read more about my adventures skiing in les Houches, click here. One of my favorite parts about skiing in France are the little chalet bars and restaurants on the slopes where you can stop and have a hot coffee, cocoa, or tea, or even have a full meal! Okay, we have restaurants in ski stations in the US too, but there is something a bit more charming about the ones in France!
2. L’Aiguille du Midi
If there is one thing you must do in Chamonix besides skiing, it’s visiting l’Aiguille du Midi! This 12,605 ft peak is home to a lookout point accessible by cable car. From here you can admire Western Europe’s highest mountain: Mont Blanc. The ride up to the peak is stunning, but could be frightening if you are scared of heights.
Once you are up at the peak, the views and the altitude will quite literally take your breath away! In addition to the viewing point, there is also a little museum with facts about Mont Blanc, and even a little restaurant if you get hungry.
This is also a popular spot for expert skiers to go hors-piste down the mountain. I was able to visit this peak with my Chamonix pass I got through the hostel where I was staying. Would you take the thrilling gondola ride up here for the view?
3. La Mer de Glace
Also included with my ski pass was the option of visiting la Mer de Glace, a glacier called “the sea of ice.” I’m really lucky to have seen this natural wonder when I did because each year it melts a little bit due to climate change. To access the glacier you can take le train de Montenvers, a cute little red train with picturesque views.
At the site of the glacier, you can also check out an ice cave which has different ice sculptures each year. You can read a more detailed version of my sightseeing experience here.
4. Après Ski Fondue
Finally, after a long day of sightseeing or skiing, you’re probably going to work up an appetite! A classic savoyard meal that you don’t want to miss (unless you’re vegan or lactose-intolerant) is fondue! This melty mixture of mountain cheeses combined with crunchy pieces of baguette is the perfect winter food. I had some the first night at my hostel and met some new friends during our shared meal. If you aren’t staying in a hostel, there are also many restaurants that serve this traditional dish. I found this guide on where to find the best fondue in Chamonix. Or, if you prefer scraping your melted cheese on to potatoes, you can also opt for raclette, another melted cheese dish popular in the region and in Switzerland.
Thanks for reading and let me know what you would be most excited to do in Chamonix!
À la prochaine,
P.S. You can save this guide to the best things to do in Chamonix on Pinterest for when you plan your own trip!