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How do I get to Chamonix?

Flying: Flying is the most convenient way to travel to Chamonix – it’s faster, easier and sometimes cheaper than any other means of transport. Geneva (Switzerland) is the nearest airport to Chamonix. It offers frequent flights to and from many European destinations, including cities all around the UK, as well as capitals in America (US and Canada). Flight times to Geneva airport from most cities in Europe are under two hours, with London just one hour 40 minutes away and Paris even closer, at one hour 10 minutes. Geneva Airport is only 60 miles away from Chamonix.

If you are flying into Geneva Airport, you have a few options to get to your final destination, including airport transfers, regular buses and even trains. Airport transfers are the fastest way to reach the ski area, it only takes about one hour and 30 minutes to be at your accommodation’s doorstep.

Driving: The extensive network of European motorways makes it easy to get to Chamonix by car. If you are driving in the Alps, you’ll want to be ready and equipped to drive on the snow or in inclement weather conditions. For winter, from November 1st until March 31st, it is mandatory to have snow chains in the boot of your car or winter tires fitted.

By Train: Chamonix has a a station right in the center of town. From here, you can make connections to Paris, Geneva and London among other European cities. Only one line stops at Chamonix, the Mont Blanc Express, a local narrow-gauge railway train service that runs the whole length of the Chamonix Valley.

By Bus: It’s possible to get to Chamonix on a coach or long-distance bus, although this is not a popular option. Coach Bus is usually the cheapest alternative, however, it is also considerably longer than flying. There are a number of international coach companies that travel between the largest cities in Europe and Lyon, Grenoble and Geneva, from where a bus or transfer will take you to Chamonix. These include FlixBus, Eurolines, BlaBlaBus and RegioJet.

Is Chamonix a walking city?

Yes, Chamonix town is compact with a number of pedestrianized streets, so walking around is easy. It is worth buying some ice-grippers for your boots if you're here in winter. In the summer months, walking between the different villages of the valley is a great option during daylight hours when you can take the scenic route and walk along one of the many hiking trails, as many of the connecting roads do not have pavements and are poorly lit.

What are the local transportation options available in Chamonix?

Getting around Chamonix is not quite as easy as you may think, most “Ski Resorts” don’t really need any public transport, you simply click into your skis and off you go. Not so in Chamonix, unfortunately there are not many “ski-in, ski-out” chalets or hotels in the valley so you will need to consider how you are going to get to the ski station of choice. For more information, check out Getting Around in Chamonix.

Can I pay/tip in US dollars?

The currency used in France is the euro, US dollars are not accepted. You can get euros in different banks opened from Monday to Saturday and automatic cash points opened 24 hours a day.

We recommend that you exchange a small amount of cash prior to your trip, enough for a cab ride or basic spending on arrival. It is also useful to remind your bank and credit card company that you will be travelling to make sure your cards will work while in France. We recommend you record all your credit card numbers, as well as the phone numbers to call if your cards are lost or stolen.

Under the euro system, there are seven notes: 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500 euros. Notes are the same for all countries. There are eight coins: 1 and 2 euros, plus 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents.

Chamonix, like elsewhere in France, a service charge is usually included in the bill. If you are particularly pleased with the service, you may certainly leave a few extra euros on the table. But this additional tip is neither expected nor necessary.

For more information about tipping visit: Tipping in France

What is the weather like? When is the best time to go?

Chamonix’s winter season can last from the end of December to the beginning of May, but once the snow melts there’s still plenty of outdoor pursuits to choose from, from hiking and mountain biking to whitewater rafting and horseback riding. The weather here can be extreme and conditions can change quickly and unexpectedly. During the winter is the best time to visit. The winter season can last from the end of December to the beginning of May. This is when you can enjoy the 47 mechanical lifts that work at moving 57,000 people per hour and give you access to the 132-miles of snowy slopes. At this time of the year, you’ll also enjoy the resort’s liveliness.

The spring is mild with much less crowds.Once the snow melts there's still plenty of outdoor pursuits to choose from, which are similar activities to those that you would do in summer.

During the summer season, the mountain attracts sporty people looking for some fresh air and outdoor activities. This is the perfect time for hiking, mountain biking, paragliding, alpine slides, horseback riding, etc. We suggest avoiding “going off on an adventure” without being accompanied by a professional. Accidents can happen due to avalanches or not knowing the terrain.

I don`t speak French. Will many people speak English?

French is the official language spoken in Chamonix. Although it is always courteous to learn some basic phrases in the local language while travelling, English is widely spoken in Chamonix and you'll have no problem getting around without French.We suggest you get a good English-French guidebook or app and familiarize yourself with common phrases such as hello, goodbye, excuse me and numbers 1-10.

What is the food like?

Chamonix boasts some of the finest cuisine in the world. Alongside the fabulous traditional fondue is a selection of the most delicate, delicious desserts you can imagine. These are best enjoyed in one of the many restaurants in the town or in the wooden chalets hidden away on the mountainsides. Look for several that hold Michelin stars, including Albert 1er (two stars) and Le Serac. Cuisine from bordering Switzerland and Italy can be found everywhere, and there are plenty of opportunities to drink good wine. The popular MBC bar brews its own beer, while late-night clubs serve some extraordinary cocktails.

What is the culture like in Chamonix?

The charm of Chamonix is in its picture-perfect Alpine cabins, the European après-ski culture, and the area’s elegant cuisine. But this relaxing image of the good life is coupled with the equally strong extreme sports culture. In winter, the hunt is on for the highest drops, most daring powder lines, and longest routes possible. In summer, the atmosphere is less frantic, and long, traditional French lunches are taken with glass after glass of wine. Every day, though, groups of lean, Lycra-clad climbers arrive with only one thing in mind - tackling the extreme mountain challenges.

Aside from the world-class extreme sports scene, which is the main draw for most visitors, Chamonix has some subtler attractions worth getting off-slope to see. The town itself invites aimless wandering. In the summer, small cafes and tea shops set up sidewalk tables, while in winter the glow from the glistening shop windows and overhanging street lights illuminate the snow. Diverse live music and late-night clubs ensure that the party-loving set stay satisfied, while events such as the free Cosmo Jazz Festival in July and various evening ski competitions make for a great atmosphere. The fine selection of luxury spas may not be the main draw for the town, but you’ll welcome them when your muscles and aching limbs beg for intervention.

What are the best areas for shopping?

The pedestrianized town center offers a myriad of shopping with shops and boutiques every step of the way. Here you'll find everything from holiday souvenirs to the latest high tech skis and climbing gear. Shopping in Chamonix is a very pleasant way to pass a few hours. Wandering around the town you'll see all the best-known international brand names that all have a presence in the town.

Don’t miss the market on Saturday mornings (place du Mont Blanc) for a really local shopping in Chamonix experience!

What should I do if I need medical assistance or need to go to the hospital?

Emergency dial 112

Chamonix has very modern healthcare facilities, including a hospital with helicopter ambulance capabilities. The Chamonix emergency room is only open during the day when there is a lot of tourist activity in the winter and summer seasons (from 8am to 8pm). Outside of these periods and at night, you will be directed to the emergency service in Sallanches.