Chamonix doesn’t spring to mind as a ‘family friendly’ resort. Black runs, steep terrain & die hard mountaineers bien sûr, but skiing with kids?
I admit, after spending 6 winter seasons in my twenties hooning around Chamonix’s slopes, the idea of bringing my kids back here to do a winter season daunted me. I wondered if the slopes would simply be too steep for them in this sheer V shaped valley and repeatedly questioned whether we wouldn’t be better choosing a more family friendly resort such as Morzine or Meribel.
I needn’t have worried. Chamonix actually has loads of child friendly pistes and has, in fact, got a lot more family friendly in recent years with a concerted effort on pistes and areas specially designated for families (such as the Mont Blanc Legend area on Flégère & the Ski Camp zone at Les Houches.)
The first thing you need to know about Chamonix is that it’s not your standard ski resort. It’s a town with five skiable mountains nearby.
If you’re here in Chamonix already and want to know where to go with the kids or whether you’re still planning your ski holiday, read on to find the friendliest mountains in the Chamonix valley to ski with kids.
Which ones are family friendly?
There are plenty of beginner areas in Chamonix but in this post I’m going to write about our favourite areas to ski with our girls – mostly blue runs. Dedicated beginner slopes, I’ll cover in a future post.
1. Brévent – Flégère (1,050 – 2,525m)
The perfect ski area to satisfy wildly differing ski levels, Brévent-Flégère is a large ski area of 56 kilometres of piste, covering the two mountains of Brévent and La Flégère. Boasting fabulous off piste terrain, experienced skiers/snowboarders in the family can get their fix whilst the kids, grandparents or beginners can chill out on the lower slopes. Easily accessible from Chamonix, Brévent-Flégère is often sun drenched due to it’s southerly aspect, and commands stunning views towards Mont Blanc.
The two mountains are linked via the liaison cable car, which, spanning the two peaks, enables you to cover the two mountains without coming down and back up again. However, with young children, we find it’s a lot for little legs to ski both mountains in one day so we tend to take the lift up and stay local to either one or the other.
La Flégère, accessed from the village of Le Praz (5 minutes up the valley from Chamonix town), is a favourite of ours. Plus this year they’ve put in a brand new 10 person gondola which sees frustrating waiting times a thing of the past.
With unbeatable off piste terrain, ski obsessed members of the family can easily score some epic runs at La Flégère up the Index, La Floria or down the exceptional Lachenal bowl.
Beginners and kids seeking gentle greens and blues can stay happily on the lower pistes with another member of the family. The Libellule green piste has the kids obstacle course on, and gives access to the Mont Blanc Legend snow playground, both of which will keep the kids happy for hours. The Evettes is a blue run through the trees (one of my favourites) which also connects to the you to the liaison cable car which glides over to connect you to Brevént.
Read our detailed guide on skiing Flégère with the family here – Family Skiing in Chamonix – Mont Blanc Legend Kids Zone.
LA FLÉGÈRE – GOOD TO KNOW
NEW GONDALA LIFT/ South Facing / Kids Course & Kids Playgound / Epic Off-piste / Gentle Greens & Blues / Link to Brevént mountain / Incredible Views of Mont Blanc / Large Free Car Park
Lift sometimes closed due to wind (wind funnels from Mer de Glace) but this should be much less now with the new gondola lift
Brevént top cable car – panoramic views for non-skiers
Another huge draw of Brevént is the second cable car ride zipping up to it’s 2525m peak. This is only a short walk from the first cable car that comes up from the valley floor and is easily accessible for winter pedestrians and disabled visitors.
It’s also the best place in the valley for non-skiing relatives to come and take in the fabulous views AND watch the grandkids (or whomever!) ski on the slopes. The high cable car takes you up to a panoramic terrace which has a restaurant. This is also the starting point of the famous black run, Charles Bozon.
PROS: Access to 2525m Peak for Non-skiers / South Facing
Epic Mont Blanc Views / Beginner Area at High Altitude
Queues RARE due to fast gondola
2. La Poya (1,453 – 2,270m)
LA POYA – GOOD TO KNOW
3. La Balme – Le Tour – Vallorcine (1,265 – 2,270m)
LA VORMAINE – LE TOUR’S BEGINNER AREA
The main slope has two drag lifts, one to the top and the other offloading half way up. The front piste is spacious and almost uniformly level dropping gently down at an even descent.
There’s also a 1km blue from the top that winds around past a wooded area.
La Vormaine is probably the number one spot for learning to snowboard and brilliant for kids on skis before they progress to blues above the tree line on the main mountains. Plus it’s cheap and it’s got a good little buvette there although no inside seating.
La Vormaine lift prices 2020
4 hours 16.00 13.60
1 day 19.00 16.20
under 5’s free
LE TOUR – GOOD TO KNOW
PROS: Mellow family friendly area / High Speed Access from Vallorcine
Good for Snowboarders with natural off-piste terrain
(wind lips, hips and rollers)
CONS: Back chair ‘Le Balme’ FREEZING COLD when wind
No mobile signal at the back chair so making this a meeting point
LES HOUCHES – GOOD TO KNOW
PRO: Gentle pistes through forest / Perfect for families
Good bad weather day choice / charming French restaurants
CONS: Experienced skiers of family groups might find Les Houches
LIFT PRICES 2020
Brevént-Flégère, Les Grands Montets, Le Tour and Vallorcine are all covered under the Chamonix Le Pass which is slightly cheaper than the Mont Blanc Unlimited Pass. This is the best option if you do not want to include any sightseeing after your ski day.
Rates per half day and day are below. For weekly passes look at the 2020 current prices here.
ADULT CHILD (5-14) FAMILY
4 hours 48.50 41.50 N/A
1 day 55.00 46.80 170.60*
* the family pass includes 2 adults & 2 children, plus up to another 3 children free
The Mont Blanc Unlimited Pass is more expensive but allows you to ski all the mountains in the Chamonix Valley (except La Poya), and gives free access onto the Aiguille du Midi & Montenvers train (which are very expensive so makes it very worthwhile if you want to do some sightseeing in the afternoon). It also includes neighbouring ski resorts Verbier, St Gervais, Courmayeur and Megève.
This is the pass to buy for the day if you and your family want to ski for a few hours in the morning and then do one of the epic sightseeing tourist attractions in the afternoon as it works out MUCH more cheaper. They do not offer a 4 hour unlimited pass.
ADULT CHILD FAMILY
4 hours N/A N/A N/A
1 day 67.00 57.00 207.80 *
Les Houches in included in the Mont Blanc Unlimited pass or you can just pay to ski Les Houches separately
ADULT CHILD FAMILY
4 hours 40.50 34.40 N/A
1 day 45.00 38.30 139.60 *
LA POYA is a private ski resort (Chamonix Valley ski pass holders can get a free ticket at the desk)
ADULT CHILD FAMILY
1/2 day 14.00 11.00 N/A
1 day 17.00 14.00 N/A
Where to hire skis in Chamonix?
We would recommend hiring skis, snowboards and any other winter kit from Namaste in Argentière. They have a super friendly team, have the latest equipment to hire (not super old skis!), they have lots of kids kit and even have a little aprés-ski bar in the shop. Good bunch.
Hi there. I’m trying to decide where to go this February to ski. It needs to be within 2 hours (preferably 1 hour) drive from an airport (likely Geneva). We are a mixed family of abilities – my husband wants a challenge and my littlest needs ski school (she’s 6 and doesn’t have the ski thing down). I’m torn where to go. We went to Seefeld in Austria last year and LOVED it. Looking for something similar but in the French Alps. Thoughts?
Hi Lori. The best options from Geneva on the French side (cheaper) is Morzine or Chamonix, although Morzine is quiet a mellow resort so it depends how much of a challenge your husband wants. Chamonix of course, has something for everyone – the hardcore black runs and epic off piste plus loads of beginner slopes for kids. Have you had a look at my Les Houches article which is a village at the end of the Chamonix valley? It’s very popular with families as the runs are lovely and mellow whilst the remaining 4 other mountains in the Valley are more challenging. Failing that Les Contamines is a lovely little resort, very mellow also, great for families but with less challenging stuff. Do let me know where you end up and what it was like. Have fun. Bon ski!
Hi Mags, great blog! Thanks!
April 2020 we are visiting ‘home’ The Netherlands from our New home New Zealand.
We will combine it with some European high lights! Starting with skiing in the Alps (what you miss the most on the other side of the world!)
Arriving in Geneva. 1 week. Boy of almost 4, a baby. Me and my husband advanced. And grandparents who need blues. (Great you mention those things in your blog!)
Chamonix ticks some boxes; close to the airport, high, snow in April.
But with grandparents and little kids it’s nice to have your room close (on) the piste , so you can even quickly go for an hour at 4 o’clock.
Would that be able in this area?
Other options are Les Menuires, but all been there to often
I’ve always stayed in Siviez in my youth – good option
Tignes, but not really apartments close to the slopes.
Chamonix is a long valley with many ski areas with for differing abilities. You can rent apartments at the bottom of Les Grand Montets ski mountain which would be ski in/ski out. This is for advanced skiers but has a kids ski school (panda club) right at the bottom (where your appartment would be) where your 4 yr old could easily ski. Le Tour is a village at the end of the valley which is more blues and reds but you can rent apartments in the old town which would be ski in. Les Houches is also a good family option which has all levels and you can ski down to the Prarion and Bellevue lifts well into the season. Many ski schools operate here so your 4 year old could ski here too. I hope this helps!