Because Chamonix is a genuine year-round town and not a purpose-built resort, there is much more on offer here than just skiing. If you want a day off the slopes or just want some variation from the ups and downs of mountain pastimes, then your days will be just as full as those of your skiing or snowboarding chums.
Explore the great outdoors
The lifts aren’t only for skiers – take a ride on the Aiguille du Midi cable car up to 3842m, and experience the hair-raising Pas Dans la Vide. Alternatively, keep your feet on terra firma with the train up to Montenvers and the stunning views over the Mer de Glace, where you can explore the ice tunnels carved deep into the glacier itself.
See the world from a different angle and feel the wind beneath your wings on a paragliding trip through the mountains with Fly Chamonix, or keep it simple and take a stroll through the forests on snowshoes stopping off for a warming mug of vin chaud along the way.
Sit back, relax and be pampered
Take a moment to unwind in one of the many spas to be found in Chamonix. There are several offers from the renowned Deep Nature Spa group, or you can splash out and visit The Bachal, based in the luxurious Hameau Albert Premier with its attached two Michelin star restaurant. Alternatively, take a trip into Italy and visit the historic and magnificent Terme di Pre St Didier.
Burn off some of that cheese
Besides skiing and mountaineering, Chamonix offers countless opportunities to get physical off the hill. There are covered tennis courts, squash courts, an indoor climbing wall, swimming pool, a skate rink, athletics track, and weights rooms. Most of the above can be found at the Richard Bozon Sports Centre, conveniently located in the centre of Chamonix.
Activities for the family
Head to the bowling alley where, if you get bored of rolling big balls down an alley, you can pop upstairs and putt little ones with a stick instead – otherwise known as golf (indoor and crazy in equal measure). Or see if the local ice hockey team the “Chamois de Chamonix” is playing. This fast moving game is great fun to watch, but do take a coat – it gets chilly!
Find out about Chamonix’s history
Chamonix is a mountain town steeped in popular culture and history. Not only were some of the very first Alpine mountaineering expeditions launched from here, but the town hosted the entire film crew for one of the worst James Bond films ever made – The World Is Not Enough. So head to the Musée Alpin to stock up on answers to any Chamonix pub quiz. Also interesting is the Espace Tairraz – Musée des Cristaux for the permanent Crystal exhibition and temporary exhibits.
Try your chances at the Casino
If you’ve still got money to burn, or you’re feeling lucky, head to the Casino de Chamonix and take your chances on the roulette wheel. The house also offers Blackjack and Poker. Then you can drown your sorrows / buy everyone a drink at the Café Royal afterwards (over 18s only).