July and August are the high-season months in Chamonix, when the weather is predictably warm. Summer temperatures are in the 60s and 70s, with late afternoon thundershowers. On July 13, Chamonix revs up for Bastille Day, with fireworks and a colorful street fair. August temperatures can push into the 80s, but the weather in the higher elevations is perfect for hiking.
High ski season is February through April, with a bustle of activity on the slopes and in the many bars and restaurants in town. March is Carnival time in Chamonix, with costume processions, special events, and lots of live outdoor music. For a glimpse into how well local life blends with the holiday crowd, grab a seat at Chambre Neuf—a club known for live music, Nordic blonds, specialty cocktails, and après-ski festivities that more often than not include dancing on tables. Running from July through September is the Festival de Film de Montagne, which attracts an international crowd.
May, June, September, and October comprise the shoulder season, with unpredictable weather and fewer crowds. The town is quiet as people return to school and work. September can be foggy and rainy, punctuated by brilliant autumn days. Lifts run through October, so it’s a good time to hike and visit huts without the summer crowds. The snow begins to melt by May, and the wildflowers in June are a panorama of color. In May comes the Festival des Sciences, de la Terre, et de ses Hommes—a fun and educational event for families.
November through January is considered the off-season, as the weather is generally cold and stormy. While December can be bone-chillingly cold, with the snow not yet set up for skiing, the holiday atmosphere can’t be beat. The vin chaud (hot mulled wine), fresh pastries, and traditional crafts at the Christmas markets put everyone in the holiday spirit. Snow starts to fall in January, with short days and cold weather. February brings the Kandahar World Cup, one of the world’s most exciting alpine ski races. Night temperatures frequently dip below zero, with daytime temps in the 30s.