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Resort Reviews

France - Chamonix Reviews

1 Reviews
" Domaine de Balme-Le Tour and Vallorcine. Go from zero to hero in one area! " France - Chamonix 4 Review date: 19/11/2016 Date of trip: March - 2016 Chamonix has a reputation for extreme skiing and m...
Accomodation 3 Town 2 Local facilities 3 (i.e. Restaurants, hire shops) Slope conditions 4 Lift system 4 Skiing / boarding experience 4 Apres ski 1
Chamonix has a reputation for extreme skiing and mountaineering, and rightly so. But what if you are not looking for first descents and you don't take any ropes or carabiners for a day's skiing.

The Domaine de Balme is right at the top of the Chamonix Valley, accessed from either Le Tour or Vallorcine, offers a mix of rolling meadows all the way up to good terrain for freestyle and freeride. On a sunny day you can't beat it, the whole area is bathed in sun all day, with beautiful views of the Chamonix Valley.

At the bottom in Le Tour there is a good beginners area, La Vormaine. Three drag lifts with access to two greens and one blue run. When you're ready you can take the Charamillon telecabine up from the top of the village. You then have access to a big ski area.

Blue's and Red's on the Le Tour side and you can then progress again by skiing across on the Liaison de Balme. There are more challenging reds and off-piste runs through the trees. You can ski down to Vallorcine down the Forêt Verte, and come back up on the gondola.

There is an area for speed-riding: a combination of freestyle skiing and paragliding. Le Tour also has a freestyle park, with a good mix of jumps of varying difficulties.

If you want a more leisurely day there are three places to eat and drink.

So if you're not quite ready for Les Grands Montets or the Vallee Blanche, want to explore more of the valley or just want a good day's skiing for the family. The Domaine de Balme really has something for any skier or boarder.
1 Reviews
" Love this valley - so many options and ski / boarding areas " France - Chamonix 4 Review date: 12/01/2015 Date of trip: January - 2015 Went back to Chamonix for NYE 2015 plus a week of ...
Accomodation 4 Town 5 Local facilities 5 (i.e. Restaurants, hire shops) Slope conditions 3 Lift system 3 Skiing / boarding experience 3 Apres ski 3
Went back to Chamonix for NYE 2015 plus a week of boarding. Somehow Winter has moved on by a few weeks, no fault of the area of course! We had a cold snap, with little to no fresh snow, so being outside late at night required some serious warm clothing - think celebrating New Year's eve outside!
The pistes were as good as they could make them with the little snow there was, hats-off to the groomers. La Houche, which is generally easy, was an ice rink, simply horrible for snowboarding. Brevent & Flegere were a little better, although the higher reds on the way to Flegere were completely mogul'd out.
The winning areas were Balme (easy slopes) and Grande Montets. Good quality dry and grippy.
On the not-so-cool side was notably the lack of artificial snow - I think this valley is so used to have a lot of great snow, that they assume snow canons are never required. Well, things are changing.
Also, comparing to some of the areas such as Verbier and St Anton, even Steinplatte (in Austria), there seems to be far greater re-investment of revenue into modern lifts. The three-seater at Grand Montets is a horror from the '80's.
Oh, and the bus systems is a bit of a French riddle, that few people can explain to you ;-)

Last but not least, when you buy the unlimited pass, you can get up to the top of Grande Montets - its black, but worth it if you are ok on black slopes. The cable car that takes you to the top has a long queue - 45min easily, but you can book in advance for free. I just don't know where you can book.
Second part of this unlimited pass is that you can go to Verbier in neighbouring Switzerland can get a free day pass. There is a bus (EU23 return) that leaves every Thursday morning at 8AM, and returns from Verbier at 16:30. You book and pay for this at the Tourism Office in central Chamonix. Catch: the bus only goes if they can fill 30 seats (or more). They will call you the night before if there are not enough bookings. Verbier is well worth the effort.
You can also get a day-pass for the much-closer Italian Courmayeur, however, I've not ben there so cannot comment.
1 Reviews
" Solo Skier Trip with Cold Fusion " France - Chamonix 4 Review date: 07/10/2014 Date of trip: February - 2013 I've reached that point in my life where all my fr...
Accomodation 5 Town 4 Local facilities 5 (i.e. Restaurants, hire shops) Slope conditions 5 Lift system 2 Skiing / boarding experience 5 Apres ski 5
I've reached that point in my life where all my friends that I would normally ski with are having babies and for some reason, putting them before a skiing holiday. Whilst I can't understand their behaviour, it still means that I don't have any buddies available to share accommodation and a week's skiing. However, a wonderful company call Cold Fusion caters to solo skiers and has a chalet of 26 people: that's enough people for a mix of skills and interests that makes it easy to quickly discover a like minded group to spend time with and attack the slopes.