If you’re an avid skier, chances are you’ve got a special relationship with Chamonix. With its cosy and luxurious ski chalets, endless white slopes and unbeatable nightlife, it’s no wonder people from all over the world gather here to enjoy some of the best skiing in Europe. It makes it easy to forget Chamonix has much more to offer than snowsports! But here at Oliver’s Travels, we’re keen to make sure you get the most out of every holiday. Therefore, we’ve spoken to our local Chamonix experts – Charlotte – to give you the inside track on the authentic Chamonix experience, which includes skiing and so much more!
Tell us a bit about yourself! What do you do, how long have you lived where you are and what makes you an expert in the region? Do you have any special connection there?
I’m a mum of two toddlers, an interior photographer, and I run a small independent chalet. I’ve lived in Chamonix for 11 years now, and I still love it!
Why should people travel to your region at least once in their life? What might they find surprising on their first visit?
They should come to enjoy Mont Blanc. It’s Europe’s tallest mountain, and thanks to that you’ve got exceptionally stunning scenery, a beautiful town, and loads to do! It’s worth at least one visit, but more often than not people come back again and again. You should especially drop in if you’re an outdoorsy kind of person – the possibilities are almost endless!
And what makes people come back time and time again?
The adventure, fantastic walks, skiing, climbing, mountain biking, a whole mix of people and simply breath-taking scenery. That’s more than enough to start off with!
Summarize the region for us in three words.
Dynamic, spectacular, extreme, the adventure capital of the world (sorry, not quite three words).
Have you had any famous visitors or well-known events (historical or otherwise) take place in the region?
Yes! The World Cup downhill skiing and the annual UTM (the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc), which is probably the world’s toughest ultramarathon. It’s over 100 miles long over mountainous terrain and isn’t for the faint-hearted!
Time for some travel inspiration – can you give us your recommendations on:
The first thing to do – you should drop your bags and…go up the Aiguille Du Midi’s breathtaking cable car to take in the Mont Blanc and the surrounding views. Make sure you take a camera!
Your favourite restaurant and/or bar, and why – is there something served there that visitors should really try? Munchie on the Rue Des Moulins offers delicious modern cuisines with a bit of an Asian twist, while La Cabane des Praz serves unforgettable French cuisine in a beautiful setting – it’s a classic log cabin building on the golf course.
An activity that really takes in the best the area has to offer? Skiing, climbing and walking all make the very best of the views!
Something free to do – perhaps that people can’t do anywhere else? Walking is a great way to take in the amazing scenery, especially if you’re still learning to ski and aren’t quite confident enough for the higher slopes.
The best activities and things to do for families? Lake Passy – even more beautiful surroundings, and it’s fun for the kids to swim and play on the beach.
Your best-kept secret of the region? That has to be the Cosmo Jazz Festival – amazing musicians play in different and stunning locations in the mountains throughout the week.
What would your perfect day in the area comprise of?
I’d start off with a lift across the glacier to Italy, then back down to the mid-station at Aiguille Du Midi. From there, a bracing walk across to Mer de Glace and a train back down for a lovely late lunch in town. For me, that was one of my best days here, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat!
What’s the one experience that really captures the essence of the region for you, and why?
Probably doing precisely what I said above! The views, the outdoors, the spectacle of the glacier… It’s a really stunning place with scenery you just don’t get in many parts of the world.
Actually, you could do worse than a bluebird powder day at the Grandes Montets in winter too – lunch in the sun with amazing views, a top to bottom ski all the way down and then some beers to celebrate a fantastic day!
Looking for something a little different when it comes to a mountain retreat? You’d be surprised how amazing a summer chalet in the Alps can be!