If you’re a skier then there’s no doubt that Chamonix in the French Alps is on your bucket list, but have you ever considered it for a weekend break? Well if you haven’t, then maybe you should because its combination of glorious skiing set around a stylish, cosmopolitan French Alpine town at the foot of Mont Blanc makes it the perfect short break option.
Unless you’re new to the slopes, you’ll probably already know that the skiing in Chamonix is legendary. Whether you’re looking for the ultimate off-piste thrill ride, high altitude glacier skiing or simply some good piste skiing combined with stylish mountainside restaurants and bars, Chamonix has it all.
And if that wasn’t enough to secure its place as a great weekend skiing destination then how about the town of Chamonix itself? Not only does it have a pretty pedestrianised centre full of Belle Époque architecture, gourmet restaurants, stylish boutiques and trendy bars, it’s also a cool party capital where hip boarders and extreme skiers from across Europe meet and mingle into the small hours.
On the Slopes
To get the best of Chamonix in just a couple of days my advice would be to hire a guide for one or both of your days skiing. A guide will ask you what kind of skiing you’re interested in and then, whether its high-octane off-piste or gentle intermediate, they will find you the best runs with the least people on them (oh yes, and you can skip the ski lift queues too).
With nearly 70 percent of its runs being red or black, Chamonix is predominantly a resort for intermediate or good skiers. (Beginners should go elsewhere and work their way up to this resort when they’ve got a bit more experience.)
That being said, there are some lovely long blues for less-experienced skiers to enjoy and the benefit of only being here for a few days will be that you won’t have to do the same runs over and over again.
Of course a weekend ski break is about more than just skiing – you’ll want to fit in some great French meals during your stay so here’s my selection of the very best eating Chamonix has to offer.
Make your weekend break truly memorable with a visit to the Michelin-starred Le Bistro in Chamonix. Serving sophisticated French food with a local Alpine twist, the menu includes delicacies including snail rissoles with polenta, and wild boar tenderloin marinated in whisky.
For a romantic meal with a difference ask for a table at L’Atmosphere overlooking the river. You will find yourselves dining on an enclosed balcony which literally hangs over the river itself, offering a completely unique view of the town. The French menu is elegantly prepared and the atmosphere (as the name suggests) is cosy and romantic.
This elegant, fine-dining restaurant in the Mont Blanc Hotel in Chamonix offers local cuisine given the haute cuisine treatment – think foie gras, fera fish from local lakes and regional cheeses. Le Matafan mixes contemporary style with traditional ingredients to create a stunning fine dining experience.
Indulge and Pamper
Whether you choose to hurl yourself into the extreme skiing scene in Chamonix or not, you can still take advantage while you’re here of the huge number of spas on offer to ease aching skier’s muscles. Every form of spa treatment at every price level imaginable is on offer in the resort, so save some time during your weekend break for a truly indulgent spa experience.
Some of my favourite Chamonix spas include:
Hotel Mont Blanc Spa
Based in the five-star Hotel Mont Blanc, this spa has stunning views from its indoor pool out over the mountains and, for those feeling brave enough, an outdoor heated pool too. Other indulgent delights include face and body treatments by French luxury skincare brand Clarins, some of which are specially designed for aching skiing muscles.
Snow Angel Massage
For those who don’t want to miss out on a moment’s skiing or just love spending time in the mountains, try a massage with a difference from Snow Angel Massage. These travelling masseurs base their massage tent at high altitude locations for a genuine Alpine massage experience. From foot and head massages to a full body option this is a unique way to combine fresh mountain air and physical wellbeing. Check their website for daily locations.
For the ultimate Alpine spa experience visit the L’Heliopic Spa with its own ice grotto, ice bath, tepidarium and a swimming pool with its own log fire. Based at the four-star L’Heliopic Hotel with stunning mountain views, this is the perfect place to recharge your batteries after a day on the slopes and before you head out to hit the town.
How to Get to Chamonix
The quickest way to get to Chamonix for your weekend break is to fly to Geneva Airport and book a Shuttle Direct airport transfer to take you directly to the resort. Geneva is served by budget airlines Monarch and easyJet, as well as British Airways and Swiss. Choose between a group transfer by Shuttle Direct or a private vehicle, and remember to inform the company when booking about any skiing equipment you might be bringing with you.
Where to Stay
Le Faucigny – Save time and money with a stay at the central three-star Le Faucigny. Set in the heart of the old part of Chamonix, just 100 yards from the ski shuttle service, you’ll be close to town and the slopes. The hotel has free WiFi throughout and its own spa for you to unwind in at the end of the day.
Hotel L’Helioptic Sweet and Spa – Go on, indulge yourself with a stay at the Hotel L’Helioptic Sweet and Spa. After a day on the slopes, which begins as you step out of the door and on to the L’Aiguille du Midi cable car, you can enjoy the spa with its own ice grotto, hanging chairs and indoor pool with fireplace. And if that wasn’t enough, the WiFi connection throughout the hotel is excellent.
Boutique Hotel Le Morgane – For quintessential contemporary French style look no further than the four-star Boutique Hotel Le Morgane with its beautiful views of Mont Blanc and easy access to the L’Aiguille cable car. This hotel is situated right in the heart of Chamonix and there’s also an onsite spa and indoor pool as well as an elegant fine dining restaurant.
About Shuttle Direct
Shuttle Direct has been offering skiers a quick and convenient way of reaching their resort accommodation since 2002. Book online and you can choose between a budget group transfer or private vehicle to take you to your resort. Let the company know what ski equipment you’ll be carrying and whatever form of transport you book will be sure to have space to fit you and your skis for a comfortable trip up the mountain.