1 / GENERAL

Chamonix


Population : 9 400 inhabitants (residents)

Surface Area : 11,653 km2

Altitude :995m to 4810m (summit of Mont Blanc)

Population Density : 77 per km²

Name of Inhabitants : Chamoniards and Chamoniardes

Region : Rhône-Alpes

Map : Google Maps


2 / TRANSPORT

Chamonix is a very popular ski resort among the French and those abroad all throughout the year. They go there for tourism, but sometimes for professional obligations as well. Due to that, the resort is lively throughout the year. To be able to admire Mont Blanc, the culminating point of Europe, with 4,810.45 meters, you’ll have the choice of many means of transportation.


BY CAR

Going by car to leave for vacation is common since we normally don’t travel alone and this turns out to be cheaper. Chamonix is directly serviced by the White Highway (A40). On the other hand, you can get to the city by Route Nationale 205. Also known as the “white road”, it is a road that has become rather pleasant thanks to its surroundings. Route Nationale R506 connects Chamonix to Switzerland that is just 15km away. If you are coming from Italy, you must pass through the Mont-Blanc tunnel, which is often really full, because the number of vehicles that can go through at once is limited. Take your time because the wait is definitely worth it. It lets you into the Aosta Valley and Courmayeur
Don’t forget your chains and snow tires if you are going in winter.
Chamonix has 4000 parking spots available thanks to 3 covered parking garages and 5 enclosed lots. Parking is free for one hour. .


Taxi, Renting a Car

You can rent a car at Chamonix for getting around daily. If you choose a taxi, here are a few useful numbers:
Abac Taxi Gopee : 06.07.02.22.13
Taxi Garny : 06.12.35.30.72.
Cham Van : 06.32.24.03.94.


Aéroport de Genève

BY PLANE

Well-serviced by low-cost companies like Easy Jet as well as by larger ones, the Geneva airport is the closest to Chamonix (88 km away). It has daily connections to France, but also the Middle East, Asia, and United States.
Once at the airport, take a car from the Sat Company to your destination at Chamonix. You’ll find more information here. You can also rent a car at the airport. Pay attention to what you can take to France (it’s better not to pay any supplemental fees).


Gare de Chamonix

BY TRAIN

Like most touristic towns, Chamonix has its own train station available. It is serviced by Rhône-Alpes TER trains. So you can’t take a direct train (and therefore no direct TGV train) to Chamonix, but you’ll have to take a connecting train, for example, at the St-Gervais train station, that is 20 km away. The Chamonix train station is located right in the heart of the city, so you won’t have any trouble getting to your hotel.
To reserve your train ticket, go here.
Besides “ordinary” trains from the SNCF, there are other trains in the Massif from the Mont Blanc Express company. You can take a train to St-Gervais-les-Bains, Argentière or Martigny, for example. By request, the train can also stop at the train stations in Vaudagne, Taconnaz, Moussoux, Joux, Châtelard-Valais, Trétien, Médettaz, Fumeaux, or Viaduc Sainte-Marie. You can buy your ticket at the ticket counter or the train station’s TER terminal
During your trip, you can enjoy an original service: Bamgi, a touristic GPS guide that you can rent from the SNCF agency. Also, all throughout your train ride or while walking through the cities that are serviced by Mont Blanc Express, you’ll have interesting touristic information about the places with visual documents or audio commentaries.


Compagnie

BY BUS

The city of Chamonix has a network of public transportation that helps everyone get around. A free shuttle with 19 seats, Le Mulet, services different places downtown. 3 urban bus lines also give access to the surrounding cities and to other neighborhoods. You’ll find times and different lines here from the Chamonix Bus company. For more information, the company also offers trips to other Alpine, Swiss, or Italian cities during the summer.
To use the public transportation network, you’ll need to get a ViaCham card. This is a card with a smart microchip inside that allows you to also go to museums, ski slopes, and a few communal sports sites. To recuperate, you have the choice between the Chamonix city hall or the resort’s public buildings like the museums and libraries.
(City Hall, 101 rue du village d’Armentière)
On the other hand, you can, depending on your chosen housing, turn to them to request a guest card. This will give you free access to the valley’s buses and SNCF trains. To see if a shuttle will take you directly from your lodging to a ski slope, check with the place you are staying


Téléphériques de Chamonix

Mechanical Lift

High altitudes = cable cars, we all know that! You can take one of the highest in the world, the one on the Aiguille du Midi. There you’ll have an exceptional view from the cabin. Once you’ve arrived at the summit, whether you come in summer or winter, you will be able to admire the valley.
Many mechanical lifts service the different slopes. They are mostly managed by the Mont Blanc Company. They offer varying rates according to your needs.



3 / WHEN TO GO?

- Obviously , during the winter so you can enjoy the 47 mechanical lifts that work at moving 57,000 people per hour and give you access to the 182 km of snowy slopes. At this time of the year, you’ll also enjoy the resort’s liveliness. We remind you that it is dangerous to venture on the black slopes if you are less experienced. The La Chamoniarde group will inform you about the risks you might run into and solutions to keep yourself safe. If you are afraid of crowds, we don’t recommend to go out during French schools’ seasonal breaks.

- In spring, with a less important crowd, you’ll probably have the chance to ski without risking a collision with someone. If the weather is mild, you can do similar activities to those that you would do in summer.

- During the summer season, the mountain attracts sporty people looking for some fresh air. Here’s what’s available: mountaineering,simple or difficult hiking (like the Tour du Mont Blanc or the Vallée blanche), mountain biking, paragliding, alpine slides, etc. You can find brochures in the tourism office that show different organizations that can supervise you so that you can work out in complete safety. Avoid “going off on an adventure” without being accompanied by a professional. Accidents can happen due to avalanches or not knowing the terrain.



4 / INFORMATION AND USEFUL ADDRESSES

Tourism Office: http://www.chamonix.com/

Emergency number: 112

Fire: dial number 18

Ambulance (medical emergency): dial number 15

Police: dial number 17

Missing children: dial number 116



5 / BUDGET IN CHAMONIX

Accommodation :

The following prices are indicative, they refer to a one night stay in a standard double bedroom and may be subject to confirmation at the time of booking.

- Between 50€ and 100€, you’ll sleep in an apartment, cabin, bed & breakfast, or a hotel with 2, 3, or 4 stars.
- Between 100€ and 200€, vyou can choose between a charming bed & breakfast, a nice apartment, or a luxury hotel with 4 or 5 stars.

Indicative of how busy Chamonix is, the prices for double rooms rise according to the time of year you choose and the number of people. Since it is a popular ski resort, the highest prices are during the winter, not in the summer. It is also important to note that certain establishments offer free shuttles from the ski resorts. So this is worth taking into account when choosing your lodging if you come ski.

Take a look at our website to find a place to stay in Chamonix.



Restaurants :

The following prices are indicative, they refer to the price of one course or a menu for one.

- Under 5€
  • Order an ice cream (if you come in summer, of course) in the bakery Maison Richard with a multitude of flavors and a perfect texture. If you don’t want something frozen, their pastries and breads are delicious too.
    (Maison Richard, 10 rue Docteur Paccard)
  • Aux Petits Gourmands, a chocolatier so unequaled that you must give in to the gourmet treats. If you raise your budget a bit, you can go into the boutique’s tea salon to taste a good tea, ice cream, or pastry.
    (Aux Petits Gourmands, 168 rue Docteur Paccard)
  • The packing cooperative of Val d’Arly where we recommend staying reasonable so that the bill and your bellies don’t get too big. You can, in fact, go there to get some cheese that was produced just a few kilometers away by farmers that care for nature and want to make you happy.
    (Coopérative Fruitière Val d’Arly, 93 rue Whymper)
- Between 5€ and 15€
  • A good pizza at the restaurant Le Caveau.
    (Le Caveau, 13 rue Docteur Paccard)
  • Eat some cooked meats at a bar/restaurant. Le Bivouac serves you large dishes in a nice atmosphere. They also have an awesome balance between the quality and the prices.
    (Le Bivouac, 266 rue Docteur Paccard)
  • Papillon, THE healthy fast food place that you absolutely have to discover. Everything is fresh and high quality compared to American fast food chains. There you will eat daily specials, desserts, a refreshing soup, a full dish with noodles, etc.
    (Papillon, 416 rue Joseph Vallot)
- From 15€
  • L'Impossible is an organic restaurant that takes care of your health and replenishing nature. Meal prices can be between 29€ and 52€.
    (L’Impossible, 9 chemin du Cry (route des Pélerins)).
  • Le Munchie, a restaurant that uses French cooking in its own way with delicacy and creativity that are the cherry on top to this experience. Appetizers cost 14€ on average, main dishes are around 22€, and desserts are 10€.
    (Le Munchie, 87 rue Moulins)
  • Taste regional specialties in a traditional setting at the restaurant, la Calèche. On the menu there is fondue, potatoes (fried into beignets like the region likes them), some diots savoyards, and fresh vegetables to fill you up with energy before going down the slopes. Meals at 24 or 32€.
    (La Calèche, 18 rue Docteur Pacc)

For a drink :

  • A popular bar/restaurant, le Monkey. It throws themed parties (Mexican nights, for example) and has a happy hour from 4:15pm to 10pm. Expect to pay around 5€ for a drink.
    (Le Monkey, 81 Place Edmond Desailloud)
  • The most glamourous bar in Chamonix, les Caves, where you can have excellent cocktails, as well as wine, in a crazy atmosphere.
    (Les Caves, 80 rue des Moulins)


6 / UNMISSABLE VISITS!

You can take part in a guided tour of the city’s heritage, which is organized by the tourism office. But if you wish to do so independently, here is what we have kept for your visit:

What to see?

Mont Blanc
  • At many places in the city, as well as in the valley, you can see Mont Blanc and the Aiguille du Midi with a height of 3,842 meters.
  • The Sea of Ice. It’s the second largest glacier in the Alps that you can get to thanks to the Montenvers railroad from the Mont Blanc Company. Climb on board the rack train to reach this exceptional place that is found at 1,913m. During the 20-minute trip, you’ll discover a breathtaking landscape before being able to visit the ice cave, an almost magical place, and the crystal gallery, after having climbed over 400 steps. The trip is a bit costly, but you won’t be disappointed.
  • Eglise St-Michel . It is a religious building built at the beginning of the 18th century that has an architectural style that is typical of churches seen in the Alps. It is charming, so don’t hesitate to spend a few minutes there.
  • Musée Alpin This museum is located in an old luxury hotel built at the beginning of the 20th century. There you can discover texts and items that are witness to the past and the valley’s development. Free for anyone under 18, 5 euros for adults, or 4 euros at reduced price. (Musée Alpin, 89 avenue Richard Croz)
  • Musée des Cristaux , You can admire the smoky quartz and pink fluorites specific to the region, but also crystals coming from the distant mountains. There you’ll discover the almost incredible way that these little marvels take form. Free for anyone under 18, 5 euros for adults, and 4 euros at reduced price.(Musée des Cristaux, 615 allée du Recteur Payot)
  • The Châlet Alpenrose Welcome to a space dedicated to the memory of Marcel Willbault, a gifted painter from Savoie who enjoyed representing the region.(Châlet Alpenrose, 62 chemin du Cé)
  • The Mont Blanc artisanal market. It is located in front of the Hôtel de Ville on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 8am to 12pm and 2pm to 5pm; Saturdays from 6am to 2pm; and Sundays from 6am to 1pm in summer. There you can find cooked meats, cheese, vegetables, fruits, and manufactured products. In short, everything that is specific to the region!

Going for a walk and enjoying the sunshine ?

Lac Blanc
  • Lac Blanc, in the middle of the Aiguilles Rouges mountain chain, is a very beautiful place. The back part of the lake is snowy, no matter the time of year, at an altitude of 2,352 meters.
  • The Lac à l’Anglais has a unique atmosphere that you will probably enjoy: a fake cave, fake chapel, and an island.
  • Chamonix is organized around the flow of the Arve river. You can stroll along it to have a nice walk.




*This travel guide was published in November 2014, prices may then vary.