Can you family ski the Chamonix valley?

15th April 2017, by Ben Moore

Skiing in Chamonix is suprisingly family friendly if you know where to go

Skiing in Chamonix is suprisingly family friendly if you know where to go

When I began skiing and long before children came along, my knowledge of skiing in Chamonix was largely based on the 1988 movie Blizzard of Aahh’s. Visions of Glen Plake with ridiculously long straight skis, dropping in down steep couloirs.

Of course Chamonix is still an extreme playground. The cafes and bars are full of hardcore skiers waiting for the next big dump of powder. But if you and your family want to share in the magic of Mont Blanc and spend a few days skiing the Chamonix valley, can you really do it? 

We’ve just spent three days in Chamonix for an Easter holiday stopover. So what did we find? 

Our eldest son Seb in Les Houches, a decade on from our last visit

Like many resorts in the Alps, Chamonix has not enjoyed the best of seasons for snow. But there has still been fun Easter skiing to be had. So don’t be put of considering it for an early April ski trip – Europe’s highest mountain looks sensational in bright sunshine and blue skies. 

We were staying with the British accommodation company Chamonix All Year. They’ve got 90 properties spread throughout the valley. Our base was the two-bedroom Ginabelle 14 apartment – which is located close to the train station and a short stroll to the shops and restaurants of central Chamonix. 

It is a very well equipped apartment with two bathrooms, very comfortable beds, spacious lounge area and free wifi. We loved the branded towels – a nice touch we’ve not come across often in self-catering apartments. 

To read Where to Ski and Snowboard’s review of Chamonix, click here

Unfortunately Les Houches, which is low, had the least snow, but we still went up to ski a couple of runs because it was were Seb, our eldest son, first skied a decade ago. Despite the lack of snow this Easter it is one of the best ski areas in the valley to go to with children. No high altitude to worry about and welcoming gradients for beginners to enjoy. 

While at the opposite end of the valley, Le Tour is one of our favourite spots to ski. Here we found some lovely runs and an amazing snow park for our 14- and 12-year-old sons to play around in. It is also a real sun trap in April – the nursery slopes down near the car park had succumbed to the high temperatures – so I’d suggest spending the morning in Le Tour before heading elsewhere when the slush sets in.

One of our favourite spots to ski as a family was Le Tour

If you have more advanced children, then Grand Montets in Argentiere is a must. There are more challenging runs and good snow cover. This is a better afternoon bet though as the steeper gradients can be hard-packed and icy for longer in the mornings. The skicross course will test the best young skiers’ ability. 

Le Tour and Grand Montets can both be skied on the less expensive Chamonix Le Pass lift pass – which is probably the best bet for a short stay with children. However you might want to consider the more expensive Mont Blanc Unlimited pass if want to get up close and personal with the famous peak. 

Having this pass gives you access to the cable car up to Aiguille du Midi at 3,842m. Buy a family return separately and it will cost you €186 for two adults and two children. 

The experience is well worth it. Being at Aiguille du Midi is literally breathtaking for all the family. Our two boys will never forget standing in the thin air looking one way to the summit of Mont Blanc and the other to the start of the Vallée Blanche (littered with tiny ant-like dots of skier descending the famous run). It sealed a rather special short stay in Chamonix for us.

Ben Moore is a skiing dad and co-founder of family skiing website

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