Chamonix is a French village, not just a purpose-built resort, which makes the atmosphere somewhat less transient and the locals more welcoming. In fact, it's a great place to watch rural French Alpine life go by. The village has everything from pubs to clubs to restaurants serving all sorts of international cuisines, as well as a busy Saturday market. Most people choose to stay in Chamonix, as that's where most of the amenities and nightlife are based. The nearby towns of Montroc, Les Houches, and Le Tour are slightly less expensive, but riding in areas other than where you stay becomes a hassle. Argentière is where most of the seasoners hang out.
The area, which is something of a snowboard Mecca, comprises a series of resorts strung together along the Chamonix Valley. Le Brivent is the area+AA755 above the town of Chamonix, La Fligère is further down the valley toward Argentihre (where the famous Les Grands Montets rise above the village), and the Col de Balme rises up from the satellite town of Montroc. Between them, they offer some of the finest, purest, most heart-thumping off-piste terrain to be found in the Alps. The longest run is four km (2.48 mi) down the glacier from the famous Vallée Blanche and is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The most reliable snow areas are the north-facing runs above Argentihre and the Col de Balme area above Le Tour. Le Brivent, Les Houches, and La Flighre are south-facing and at a lower altitude, so they lose snow quickly when the weather warms up.
Telephone: 5053 2333
Fax: 5053 3615
By plane: The closest airport is Geneva, from where the transfer by bus or train takes about an hour.
By train: The station in the resort is on the St. Gervais—Le Fayet/Valorcine line. By car: Chamonix is 80 km (50 mi) from Geneva, along a fast easy road on which there is a toll of about 60 Francs (valid on all Swiss freeways for one year).
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication