We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Planning ski/family vacation

Which Chamonix hotels are on sale?
dd/mm/yyyy dd/mm/yyyy
See hotels
Level Contributor
42 posts
20 reviews
Save Topic
Planning ski/family vacation

Just starting out planning a family vacation of two weeks for my family including my husband and twin 22 year old sons to take place in early January. We are a family of two advanced skiers and one snowboarder with me who is going along for this portion of the trip to be accomodating but will maybe go off solo or go cross-country sking. So I need advice about Chamonix as a optimal destination for a 4 day portion of our trip. We would like to combine this trip to possibly include Rome and London. My one son has his heart set on this one area but I would love some feedback about this being the best choice. I am a bit concerned about costs but also whether this is the best choice for our once in a lifetime (paying for my son's journey) as our family ski experience in Europe. I am somewhat overwhelmed planning this type of trips from Chicago so would love any and all advice about our choice about ski slope considerations, accomodations, feasibility of travel, car, food etc.

Biarritz, France
Destination Expert
for Biarritz, San Sebastian - Donostia, Basque Country
Level Contributor
4,594 posts
461 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Planning ski/family vacation

I have spent lots of time in other resorts around the Alps. Sometimes skiing or sometimes for business.

In my opinion nothing compares to Chamonix for the scenery, nightlife and off-piste skiing. It is quite expensive but not as expensive as Switzerland or many high-end French resorts such as Courchevel and Megeve.

Negative points about Chamonix are; the public transport around the valley (hire a car if you can) and not many beginner slopes.

reading
Destination Expert
for Chamonix
Level Contributor
2,063 posts
11 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Planning ski/family vacation

I agree with Biarritz's comments.

But Chamonix is the most spectacular place and it is a LOT less than comparable resorts.

London
Level Contributor
601 posts
31 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Planning ski/family vacation

For the trip you're planning, I don't think anywhere would suit so perfectly! Chamonix is a proper French mountain town and has loads of more relaxing options - google Chamonix for non skiers for suggestions.

One thing I would just mention is that advanced skiers and boarders from the US are often used to going "off trail" on a regular basis. Off piste/ backcountry in Chamonix is quite different, the terrain is glaciated and much wilder. Your group would really benefit, I think, from a day or two with a high mountain guide to get the best out of the place on your short trip, to do the Vallee Blanche or other routes according to conditions. This isn't cheap, but I think it would be really worth it for an advanced group.

London
Level Contributor
601 posts
31 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Planning ski/family vacation

For the trip you're planning, I don't think anywhere would suit so perfectly! Chamonix is a proper French mountain town and has loads of more relaxing options - google Chamonix for non skiers for suggestions.

One thing I would just mention is that advanced skiers and boarders from the US are often used to going "off trail" on a regular basis. Off piste/ backcountry in Chamonix is quite different, the terrain is glaciated and much wilder. Your group would really benefit, I think, from a day or two with a high mountain guide to get the best out of the place on your short trip, to do the Vallee Blanche or other routes according to conditions. This isn't cheap, but I think it would be really worth it for an advanced group. It is less expensive to join a group and just do the VB so that could be an option too.

Chamonix
8 posts
Save Reply
5. Re: Planning ski/family vacation

For non-skiing if you enjoy snow, you can also hire a hiking guide to take you snow shoeing on trails or husky sledding. There are several companies that do this and you can join snow shoeing group trips to meet other people (do not go on your own as avalanches are a big consideration). Icicile Mountaineering, Evolution 2 and a few other companies employ hiking guides (which are less expensive than high mountain guides). There is cross country skiing in Chamonix at town level, but if you want to really treat yourself to something interesting, arrange to go cross country skiing in the Val Ferret, which is through the Mont Blanc Tunnel above Courmayeur. The week long ski pass (depending on the level you buy) often includes a free day skiing in Courmayeur. You can all go through the tunnel together, they could go to that ski area, and you could take the bus up to the Val Ferret cross country skiing. It is a high hanging valley with a 21km long trail and has spectacular views and great restaurants. And then you get to add Italy to your tick list. There is also an amazing hot springs just outside Courmayeur called the Thermes du Pré St Didier, and it is affordable and wonderful as an after ski - if you are going in a busy time (Christmas, New Year or February) book Pré St Didier online on their website or you may find you cannot get in for après ski soaks. http://termedipre.it/

Both France and Italy have food, of course. And accommodations. The choice is huge and depends on your budget and if you want catered or self-catered.

By the way do either Rome or London as a 2nd option. The biggest mistake that Americans make is thinking that "Europe is small" and they plan to go to too many places in too few days, spend most of their time organizing travelling and being tired from travelling and hardly enjoying their holiday. Since you are going in winter, I suggest Rome over London purely for the cold aspect.

Chamonix
8 posts
Save Reply
6. Re: Planning ski/family vacation

Also my other suggestion to save yourselves time and frustration is that once you figure out where you are staying in Chamonix, find it on a Google map and then search on "Ski location chamonix" (location is the french word for rentals). Book all your ski rental gear online before you arrive at a shop near your accommodation (there are rental shops all over the valley and you can see what gear they have online and rent the type of skis you like) . It will save you waiting time. You can also rent avalanche beacons if they do not have them and want to go off piste. Same goes for lift passes - buy online first.

I assume you already know the Compagnie du Mont Blanc is the lift company http://www.compagniedumontblanc.fr/ ? Passes should be available to buy online sometime around November. You still have to pick them up when you arrive, but it is a different queue to wait in. Their website is by the way, known to be godawful at times - so save your receipts and bring the print outs with you just in case. The 2 main kinds of ski passes are one that does not include the higher lifts and does not include the resort called Les Houches and Courmayeur, and one that does. If they are indeed black run and off piste advanced type skiers, they will want the one that goes everywhere, normally called the "unlimited". For a 4 day pass I am not sure if Courmayeur is included - I would check the site. If no one has skied that season before coming out I suggest the first day at Le Tour or Les Houches which have more rolling hills to get your ski legs back before hitting the steeper slopes in the other areas. Grands Montets is the steepest area and the top lift there is on a glaciated area. The blue runs there are harder than red runs in most other French resorts.

As others noted, if you go off piste in Chamonix you may be on a glaciated areas. But no matter what, if you have no local knowledge of Chamonix a guide is strongly recommended for off piste skiing to avoid getting lost or falling in a crevasse or avalanched. People are killed in resort every year for not heeding this advice and the French attitude is that you are responsible for knowing your own level of knowledge of avalanches, navigation and skiing and you are responsible for taking the risks of skiing off piste. Nothing dangerous is marked once you are off piste and avalanche control is not done off piste unless the slope directly threatens a piste. Guides take I think a maximum of 6 in a group and charge the same rate for 1 person as for 6. Most of the companies in town will try to form groups with other people if you request it.

Edited: 22 September 2013, 01:07
7. Re: Planning ski/family vacation

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 23 September 2014, 05:16