Trail running in Chamonix – UTMB and beyond

As with most sports, with running as well, Chamonix is often referred to as “the capital of trail running”.

With the UTMB (Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc) taking place in the month of August, the town buzzes with some of the best athletes in the world as well as people dreaming of putting these trails under their running shoes. Whether you are an experienced runner or just enjoy the sport and the atmosphere, Chamonix during the UTMB is the place to be for you. 

UTMB – a brief history of one of the most well known trail races in the world.

Start of the UTMB

The journey started in 2003. A tough race which brought together 720 runners, of which only 67 finished. By 2008, the race had gained so much notoriety that all the places got filled in the first 8 minutes from the registration opening. Surprising maybe but unsurprising for a race that takes the runner through 3 counties, around the Mont Blanc, on 171 km of technical alpine trails cumulating over 10.000m D+.

In the same year, Killian Jornet was the youngest person to win the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc, at only 20 years old. A legend was born there and then. 

After that, the admission to the race became more and more elitist and demanding. There is a minimum of 10 ITRA points which means you should have some experience running before even being able to try and get a spot for the UTMB. Once you have the necessary experience you register for the draw. Your place is not guaranteed, unless you are one of the fastest runners in the world. 

Running at the UTMB

Not anyone can participate in this race which qualifies as “a race of the extremes”, “the summit of all races” and “a mythical race”.

Whatever you want to call it, it is certainly a unique experience to be had, whether as a spectator or as a participant.

How to prepare a trail running vacation in the Chamonix valley

  • Make sure you have a comfortable accommodation with easy access to the trails.

The majority of our chalets have private saunas or jacuzzi to help you recover after a long day running in the mountains. 

Have a look at our chalets, gather a few friends or a family and start planning your trail routes. If you prefer to have an apartment then we have spacious and modern ones too for you to rest and enjoy your time off the trails.

  • Research running routes before arriving 

A good starting point to plan your runs around the Chamonix valley is “Vallee du Trail” website and application. 

Unlimited trails to explore with stunning views

If it is your first time in the area or you are a seasoned trail runner and you want to discover the trails with local experts, get in touch with the people from Run the Alps for expert advice and running guidance.

  • Reach out to local running communities 

In such a place it is inevitable that people with similar passions would gather together to share their experiences. Wild trail Chamonix is a free running community which organizes running groups 2 times a week, for short easy 1h runs, aimed at socializing and sharing the passion for the sport.

Other community runs are organized by local ambassadors or sports shops. Check out Chloe Lenthier’s regular run via Patagonia or the Never Stop Chamonix various running events via The North Face. 

Bonus: sometimes you get to test some of their new products or shoes.

  • Take the lifts 

The terrain can be steep around Chamonix and some of the best views involve a climb of at least 1000m. If you want to enjoy the views while sparing your legs of some of the uphill (don’t worry, you will still bag some hundreds of meters of elevation, even on traverses) get the lift up to Plan Praz, La Flégère or Plan de l’Aiguille and start your run high up at altitude. We can arrange lift passes for you prior to your arrival so you just need to put your shoes on, grab your pass and get running. 

  • Beyond the UTMB – Chamonix Mountain running festival

While the UTMB certainly attracts hundreds of participants, there are a number of other trail running events that we recommend. One of them is the Chamonix mountain running festival, which takes place just one week before the UTMB and is all about trail running: from technique, nutrition and injuries to how to prepare for a competition. All the clinics and events are held by top running athletes such as Chloë Lanthier, Fernanda Maciel and Tim Tollefson.

Runner on the high trails of Chamonix

Immerse yourself in the trail running world and up your game while having fun and learning new tricks. 

Discover the Aiguille du Midi – Dive into its history and get the best value offer for your visit

Steep, inaccessible, imposing. The Aiguilles (Needles) of Chamonix deserve their name. For centuries they have been watching down over the small village at their feet.

As mountaineering started to become a popular activity in the valley as more and more people took up climbing, ideas about making the Aiguilles more accessible started to form in the minds of a few visionary engineers.

Aiguille du Midi – perched between rocks

While not the first cable car to be built in the Alps – the first one was the train to the Mer de Glace – the Aiguille du Midi has become one of the most emblematic and impressive high alpine sites.

Being more than a mere lift, it became a symbol of Chamonix and has been expanded to include different sites and activities at 3800m of altitude. 

However, since the first attempts at a link between the valley floor and the Aiguilles, lies a long history of the construction of a lift, influenced by the many political and social events of the times.

A long history which started on the 2nd of June 1910 in the village of Pelerins. They had no idea that the journey would be so long and difficult, as the engineering and technology of the times were not able to tackle the challenges of the steep mountain terrain. 

The project was split into several parts. The first Winter Olympic Games in 1924 sped up the construction of the first part, La Para, which reached 1685m and was where the bobsleigh slope started. The abandoned ruins of this first stop are still standing lost in the woods above Les Pelerins and make an interesting place to stop on a hike.

Ruins of the Para station seen from above

The second part led to the Gare des Glaciers at 2414m which became, at the time, the highest cable car in the world. That big concrete construction is still visible from Chamonix, hanging on the moraine above the glacier. 

The continuation of the project ceased at the start of the second World War and the discussion was only rekindled a few years later, in 1950. After 40 years of trials, still far away from reaching the Aiguille du Midi a new project was created: building a new cable car from Chamonix itself with one intermediate station at Plan de l’Aiguille. This second project, with the more modern technology was finished in only a few years and it is the ancestor of what you now get to experience as the Aiguille du Midi journey.

Ruins of Gare des Glaciers

The Aiguille du Midi, a magical site to experience at least once in your lifetime.

Aiguille du Midi at sunset

High above Chamonix, at 3800m altitude, perched on steep rocks that are unreachable on foot, this visionary construction offers a variety of experiences. 

One is the breathtaking views of the entire Mont Blanc massif, all the way to Italy, all the way to the summit of Mont Blanc, down the valley, the Aiguilles Rouges and the Fiz. You get to observe alpinists climbing different routes, preparing in the corridors for a big adventure or coming back from the rocky mountains. 

There is a hypoxia room where you learn more about the effects of diminished oxygen on the human body. Try to identify any symptoms you might be feeling yourself, such as dizziness, lightness of head, head-aches or other.

The ‘step in the void’ is an impressive glass construction where you can safely walk beyond the rocky edge, with just a glass floor between you and the void underneath your feet. It is impressive how far the technology has come, from the first attempts of safely taking people higher up the mountain to now.

Exceptional view point

As you head back down, there is a gallery taking you through the history of the lift. It makes you appreciate the effort that has been put in building it in a way that you can have an incredible experience, even without being an alpinist.

At the bottom of Aiguille du Midi, take the journey of a chouca bird in the 4D cinema, and experience the mountains as if you were flying above them.

This attraction has plenty to offer and if you come to Chamonix it is a must do without a doubt. It’s history intertwines with the history of this mountain village and as you learn more about it, you understand more about life in the mountains. 

This year, special Covid-19 measures made for reduced capacity and reservation is compulsory. Make sure you have your cable car ticket well in advance to be able to reserve and avoid disappointment.

At Mountain Base, we can arrange for your cable car tickets to be delivered to your property, if you are staying with us. Fill in the online form and we will get in touch with the best price offer (20% less for a MultiPass if ordered at least 1 day before the desired validity start date).

Have you been to the Aiguille du Midi? Share your pictures with us via Instagram (tag @mountainbasechx)!

5 Easy hikes in Chamonix to enjoy with your family

It doesn’t matter if you are an experienced hiker who has miles under their boots or just a weekend stroller who simply enjoys being in nature, in the Chamonix valley you will find the right hike for your skill level and you will be blown away by the beauty of the scenery along the way.

It is hard to choose among the hundreds of kilometers of trails in the valley but we can tell you which are the easier ones that you can enjoy with your family or just on a rainy day. 

If you are coming with kids or you want to have a small hike and enjoy the forest and the nature, here are five easy walks that take less than 2 hours to go up. These lovely paths also lead to small mountain cafes where you can refuel with a drink and something to eat while you take in the views. 

high altitude lakes with view of Mont Blanc
Stroll along high altitude lakes

1. Cascade du Dard – it’s a classic

Standing right above the town but hidden in the woods and not visible until you actually reach it, it is an impressive waterfall. From the bridge, looking towards town, you will also see the entire Aiguille Rouges massif stretching on the other side of the valley. 

waterfall near Chamonix
Cascade du Dard

The windy path goes up rather gently through the woods and with the freshness of the waterfall it is a perfect choice for a sunny summer day. 

Right before the waterfall, a small café with a beautiful terrace will welcome you for a much deserved rest and energy refill.

2. Cascade du Berard

A little further from the center of Chamonix, in the small town of Le Buet, is where the trail going along the Berard river starts. This is a lovely valley, green and rolling, making its way along the river and into the mountains. Right at the start of it there is a nice waterfall and a café. Continue a few minutes along the path and there are plenty of spots for picnics and paddles, right next to the river.

Further up, the valley opens into a wide plateau surrounded by mountains and there you will find the Refuge Pierre à Berard mountain hut, nestled in the middle of the mountains with views back down the valley.

Bonus: the train ride there is scenic and it is an experience to be had in itself. With your booking with Mountain Base, you will get free train travel with your Carte d’Hote.

bench in the woods for break in the shade in Chamonix
A break in the woods with stunning views

3. Buvette Floria

When you only have a couple of hours and want to see the best viewpoint of Chamonix and the Mont Blanc massif, the hike up to La Floria should be your first choice. It is 20 minutes uphill from the Petit Balcon Sud, sneaking through the shade of the woods and giving glimpses of the view on the way. 

If you are lucky, you might cross paths with deers and squirrels. Once up, the view opens up in both directions and you can admire all the Chamonix Aiguilles as well as the snowy cap of Mont Blanc.  

Buvette Floria have a snack with stunning viws
Chalet Floria and the superb view

Flowers, a water fountain and tables where you can enjoy a local bite or a drink, are creating an oasis for rest and enjoyment. 


Bonus for an extra adventure: grab your torch and go up there for sunset. The mountains painted in pink and the flames of the Aiguilles will not disappoint.

4. Parc animalier de Merlet

A magical and instructive place where adults and kids can learn about animals and observe them roaming free in the park.

While the park can be reached by car, in summer the car park can get very busy. While the hike there is a bit longer than the rest on this list, it is definitely rewarding!

Animals at parc Merlet in Chamonix
Animals in open space

Several starting points of the trail are possible, but each takes you through the forest and through some typical mountain scenery before reaching the park. 

There are two trails taking you through the park. The easy one is suitable for pushchairs and takes about an hour. The second one is longer, taking up to two hours. However, you can wander at leisure in the park all day. You have the option to bring your own picnic to be eaten outside the park in the dedicated area or eat at the restaurant which is known to have the most beautiful terrace of the valley.

However you choose to experience the Merlet park, you will spend an incredible day out in nature!

5. Explore the Bois du Bouchet (orientation)

The Bois du Bouchet stretches along the Arve river side and it is one of the few “flat” areas to explore in the Chamonix valley. It is wonderful place for an easy stroll with kids.

If you want to make it more fun and adventurous, you can explore the orientation activity. With a detailed map and 20 checkpoints to find on the trail, test your navigation skills in a beautiful natural environment. 

meadow in the sunset
Admire the small things

Bonus: if you are with small children, you can have an easy stroll through the woods and spend a hot day at Paradis des Praz – kids can play safely in the river and in the play area while you take a refreshment on the terrace next to it. 

2021 Summer events in Chamonix

The world as we used to know it, changed. We missed our favorite festivals and events last year but as more people get vaccinated and things are more organized around Covid, festivals and events are re-starting. 

Chamonix, as the capital of sports, has a number of events related to trail running, alpinism and climbing. The town is thronged with high class athletes and becomes lively and buzzing during summer festivals. 

Check-out some of our favorite 2021 summer events in Chamonix!

1. The Arc’teryx alpine academy has a long tradition in Chamonix, 10 years to be more precise. This year, in addition to the ‘clinics’ offering a vast range of mountain and sports workshops aiming at teaching the attendees from basic to advanced techniques, there is also a digital program accessible everywhere in the World. 

If you cannot make it to Chamonix but you long to take part in this alpine event, get online on the 1st of July when movies, educational content, a panel discussion and much more will go live.

2. The Mont Blanc Marathon has been delayed to accommodate the deconfinement schedule in France and now it is due to run from the 1st to the 4th of July. 

Runner finishing at Mont Blanc Marathon in Chamonix
Finisher at Mont Blanc Marathon in Chamonix

It is the smaller brother of the UTMB which is one of the biggest Marathon events in Europe and in the world. 

However for any trail runner, a Mont Blanc Marathon is a dream to be part of or just to spectate. Rendez-vous in la Place du Mont Blanc the 1st of July from 09:00 to 20:00 for a trail camp: all trail stands and information.

3. Climbing World Cup 11 to 13th of July. An artificial climbing wall in front of the most beautiful mountain in Europe: Mont Blanc makes for one of the biggest climbing worldwide events. Alongside the high class climbers there are movie screenings, concerts and other entertainment activities not to be missed by the passers by.

Come and enjoy the lively atmosphere of a world class sports event in magnificent scenery.

4. Yoga Festival – 16-18th of July. Combine the benefits of yoga and meditation with the relaxing effects of the mountains for the unique experience of the highest and “the most beautiful yoga festival in Europe”. Leave your worries at home and come to discover a rich universe inside of you through the beauty of the outdoors and the yoga sessions.

4. Cosmojazz Festival – something different from the usual sports scene. A unique festival which combines music and nature in the most harmonious blend will make the Chamonix valley vibrate for 9 days, from the 24th to the 31st of July. During the day, concerts happen in various altitude sites, chosen for their beauty. The access to the festival is free, you just need to buy your lift pass, which we can facilitate for you if you contact us

Piano music in the middle of the mountains CosmoJazz Chamonix
CosmoJazz performance in nature

In the evening the festival continues in the heart of Chamonix, down in the valley. There is also a Cosmojazz village which will host bars, snacks and merchandising of the festival. 

It is an event suitable for all the family, from the youngest who will be mesmerized by the music and scenery to the elder who will appreciate this unique mix.

Book in due time one of our comfortable apartments or chalets to enjoy this event with family or friends.

10 Reasons to Love Chamonix in Autumn

Now October is here, with it’s crisper mornings and changing colours, here is a round-up of why autumn is one of our favourite seasons. 

1. Autumn Trees and Changing Colours

The trees at this time of year are breathtaking and could come straight from a postcard. The pictures speak for themselves…

2. Quieter trails for autumn hikes

The trails are at their quietest at the moment and it’s the perfect weather to get out for a crisp, and peaceful, autumn hike. We love filling a flask of tea and setting out on one of our favourite trails. There are so many to choose from (check out the hikes page on our website for more inspiration). The walk from Chamonix to Le Chapeau with a stop at either the refuge or at the viewpoint to enjoy the colours (and our tea!) a particular treat at this time of year.

3. Hot chocolate and pastry mornings 

Chillier mornings generally mean more baked goods, which is something we can totally get on board with. We love cosy mornings tucked away in one of Chamonix’s many boulangeries or coffee shops, with a pastry (or two!) and a steaming coffee or hot chocolate. Try Moody Coffee Roasters‘ hand-roasted coffees and excellent selection of sweet treats.

4. Fondue 

Not that we need one, but the dropping temperatures give us an excellent excuse to dig out the fondue pot and load up on one of our favourite Savoyarde specialities. Our favourite venues for fondue; either tucked away for a cosy evening at the traditional Bistrot du Sport or outside on the sunny lunchtime terrace at Le Boccalatte, both serving up excellent versions.

5. Seasonal produce at the Chamonix market 

The market is a year-round stalwart here in Chamonix, taking place every Saturday morning throughout the year come rain or shine. With autumn approaching, we love watching the seasonal produce change and it is the perfect spot for a Saturday stroll.

6. Spa days 

When the weather doesn’t play ball, there is nothing better than a day of relaxation at one of Chamonix’s many spas, and getting toasty under the bubbles. A firm favourite, for both the Mont Blanc views from the outside spa pools and the sheer range of treatment rooms is the QC Terme Chamonix

7. The dropping snow-line and visiting snowy attractions

While you’re unlikely to see any snow in town during the autumn period, the dropping snowline and temperatures always gets us excited for the winter season ahead. If you do want a snow-fix, the Aiguille du Midi lift and Montenvers train remain open throughout the interseason period, so you can get up to altitude and see the real thing.

8. Alternative activities 

There are many activities in the Chamonix Valley that often get overlooked the rest of the year, in favour of more outdoor pursuits, but give us some great options of different activities to do during the interseason. You can try throwing pottery at rūsc, the new creative arts studio in Chamonix Sud, make for the exit in Chamonix’s Escape Game, or try out the new bowling alley and games room in Plan B hotel, who even host board games afternoons, perfect for this time of year! 

9. Cosy nights in 

Many of our rental chalets have log-burning fireplaces, as well as outdoor jacuzzis and saunas, so what better than to host a retreat weekend for family and friends. It’s all about big hearty dinners and cosying up round the fireplace after a day of enjoying the fresh mountain air.

10.  Intimate nights out

With Chamonix being so much quieter at this time of year, it is such a nice time to go out and grab a drink or a bite to eat, without a mad rush for a table. We have a host of cosy restaurants and bars, both traditional and contemporary, to choose from. Also, with so many bars and restaurants having outdoor heated terraces, you’re never stuck for somewhere to go for an alfresco drink or dinner, even at this time of year.

If you are inspired by an autumnal break in Chamonix, check out our website for our fantastic selection of chalets and apartments and to book.

Photo Credits: OT Vallee de Chamonix/S.Abrial, Morgane Raylat, QC Terme

Top Things to do in Chamonix in Summer

As the ski areas close and the snow starts to melt away, Chamonix transforms into a bustling town full of visitors, who come here mostly to admire the views. But it’s not just the views that attract people here, after all Chamonix is known for being a hub for extreme sports & outdoor activities.

During the summer months there are so many things to do here. You can be as active or as relaxed as you like on a visit to Chamonix; take a trip on the cable car to the highest gourmet restaurant in town at the Aiguille du Midi, take a ride on one of two rack & pinion trains or simply enjoy people watching one of the many restaurants terraces in the valley. For the more adventurous of you, you could climb Mont Blanc, fly over glaciers in an unforgettable helicopter ride, go for a glacier hike on the longest glacier in France, try one of the via ferrata courses or you could spend days in the back-country on some of Chamonix’s iconic mountaineering routes staying at mountain refuges along the way.

Take a look through our list of the best things to do in Chamonix this summer, and if you haven’t booked your holiday yet, we’re sure there will be plenty to tempt you to do that right here… Timetables, prices and more information can be found via the links below.


Aiguille du Midi

Chamonix’s number 1 tourist attraction is the Aiguille du Midi, which you can visit on a two-stage cable car. You’ll be whisked up to 3842 metres above sea level, where you can get panoramic views of Mont Blanc from the terraces and look back on the Chamonix Valley, way down below. From here you can watch skiers and mountaineers descending the arete onto the infamous Valley Blanche or heading up to climb to the summit of Mont Blanc. At the mid-way change over for the cable cars, you can go parapenting (more on this below).

Step into the Void - Chamonix TO

Step into the Void

Also at the Aiguille du Midi is a thrilling experience “Step into the Void” where you can step into a glass box, suspended 1000 metres above a drop over the rock faces below. You can access this via the summit elevator at the very top of the Midi for some truly unforgettable views (if you’re brave enough!)

Telecabine-Panoramic-Mont-Blanc_OT-Vallee-de-Chamonix---Salome-ABRIAL

Panoramic Mont Blanc Gondola

Also at the Aiguille du Midi, you can take a trip across to Italy, soaring over the glaciers on the Panoramic gondola. It’s only open in summer and if you’re looking to do something a bit different, take the up and over experience – Start on the Aiguille du Midi Cable car, head across on the Panoramic gondola to the top of Helbronner on the Italian side and descend into Courmayeur on the Skyway Monte Bianco Cable car. Then pick up a bus in Courmayeur and head back into Chamonix via the Mont Blanc tunnel.


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Montenvers Train & Mer de Glace

Experience the best views of France’s longest glacier at the Montenvers – Mer de Glace site. Take the iconic rack and pinion train from Chamonix centre all the way to the top at 1913m, from where you can descend by cable car and around 400 steps to visit the ice cave within the glacier. There are a couple of restaurants, a mountain refuge and a gift shop up here as well as a glacier exhibit and  crystal gallery. From here you can access the Mer de Glace for ice climbing, mountaineering routes, glacier walks and a number of hiking routes (more on these below).


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Tramway du Mont Blanc

Chamonix has another famous rack and pinion train line, this time down in Les Houches, connecting the town of St Gervais with this part of the Chamonix Valley. The Tramway du Mont Blanc normally opens for summer in mid June, and plenty of mountaineers use it to access one of the start points for summit attempts on Mont Blanc. It’s more popular for non-mountaineering visitors to take a ride to enjoy the fantastic views, or to access some of the many walking routes in this area.


Climber Flegere

Climbing, Mountaineering, Bouldering & Via Ferrata

The Chamonix Valley offers climbers and alpinists of every level of skill and experience something to tackle, and it’s renowned as a place that offers some of the best climbing in the world. There are plenty of places to go bouldering, ice climbing, trad climbing and there are a couple of family friendly crags with sport climbing routes at Gaillands and down in Les Houches.  Les Houches also has an indoor climbing wall that you can access on rainy days or if you are just looking to practice indoors. There are in the region of 100 routes ranging up to 22 metres in height and from 4 to 8c in grade.

There are a couple of Via Ferrrata routes to try out too, one at Flégère and one down in Passy. You can hire harnesses and special carabiners at most sports shops in Chamonix and going with a guide is totally optional. The Climbing World Cup comes to Chamonix each summer too, with lead & speed climbing competitors battling it out to become champions – an event not to miss!


Mer-de-Glace_B.-Tsuda

Hiking / Mountain Walks

The Chamonix Valley is interlaced with lots of walking routes, from the valley floor up to higher altitude paths, taking you to stunning mountain lakes, the edge of glaciers, waterfalls and stunning ridge walks. Two of the most famous (and therefore most popular) long distance hiking itineraries to do here are the Tour du Mont Blanc, which circumnavigates Western Europe’s highest mountain, and the Haute Route, which links Chamonix to Zermatt in Switzerland. There are plenty of family friendly, less difficult walks to do too, for example taking you for a stroll along the Arve river or up to a small hillside cafe (Floria) near the valley floor.

Have a chat to one of the guide companies we work closely with to enquire about prices and availability for walking guides – Chamonix Experience / Evolution 2 Chamonix. Or simply pick up a map and trail information from the tourist office, or ask any of our team members for advice.


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Trail Running

Chamonix is a mecca for trail runners, who come here in their droves to experience high altitude trails and to compete in some of the toughest and longest races in the world. Each year the UTMB (which is actually made up of 5 different length races), The Marathon du Mont Blanc (consisting of 8 different races) and the Trail des Aiguille Rouges (2 races) bring runners here from every corner of the globe. Of course if you’re not at the level of running Ultra Marathons, you can still enjoy the many trails around the Chamonix valley at your own pace. A couple of our team are seasoned trail runners, so please ask us if you’ve got any questions.


bunjee

Bungee Jumping

If you’ve got a head for heights and want to see what it feels like to drop 90 metres into a tree-lined gorge, then head to nearby St Gervais where you can bungee jump off the viaduct. You can take the train, bus or drive to get there. (Please note if you’re taking the train you’ll have to pay the full fare from Chamonix to St Gervais, as your guest card only allows free travel to Servoz).


1335-VTT-Tour-98_Monica-Dalmasso

Mountain Biking

Chamonix has two dedicated bike parks, one in Les Houches and one at Le Tour, plus lots of natural trails and paths, taking you into neighbouring Switzerland or to other hamlets in the Chamonix Valley like Servoz & Vallorcine. If you’re tempted to try mountain biking for the first time or are looking for family friendly trails, there are plenty of options for those too. You can hire bikes from Legend CHX, Slash, Zero G & Intersport and MTB guides with Evolution 2 Chamonix. Ask us if you’ve got any questions about Mountain Biking in Chamonix.


skydive

Skydive

Jump out of a perfectly good helicopter over Mont Blanc at a height of around 5000 metres above sea level. Skydiving is definitely an experience you won’t forget in a hurry with the incredible mountains of the Mont Blanc massif filling your vision and you’ll get photos and/or a video to remind you of your experience.


CDM

Road Cycling

Hire a bike from one of the many hire shops in the Chamonix Valley and explore some of the classic routes around the area. If you’re bike touring through the area, we have some great apartments for you to stay in, some of which have their own garage where you can store your bikes securely overnight.


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Horse Riding

You can actually ride horses all year round in Chamonix (although it’s obviously a lot warmer in summer) with trekking experiences available from half days up to several days long. Discover hidden corners of the Chamonix valley with friends, family or colleagues. One of our team is an experienced horse rider, so if you have any questions, please ask us!


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Rafting, Canyoning & Watersports

The river Arve that runs through the centre of Chamonix offers all kinds of water-based activities, including rafting, hydro-speeding and canoe rafting. The rafting in Chamonix is on low -level rapids, so is family friendly and not very intimidating, but if you’re looking for more high-adrenaline rapids, you can nip through the Mont Blanc Tunnel into Italy, where the Dora Baltea river and grade 4 white water awaits. Canyoning is also really popular in summer, it’s a great way to explore parts of the Chamonix valley that you may not have been to before as well as a nice way to cool off from the heat of the summer sun.


Paragliging 2Paragliding / Parapenting

See the Chamonix valley from a totally different perspective, 1000 metres above the ground on a tandem paragliding flight. After a short running take off, the wing lifts you and your pilot from the ground and you fly across the valley to enjoy some truly spectacular views. There are various take off points around the valley and different prices may apply for each location. If you’re lucky you may be allowed to take the controls..


get VERTICAL - SALEWA

Glacier Walks

Summer is the time to hire a guide and head out onto one of Chamonix’s many glaciers. Explore the Mer de Glace, the Albert Premier glacier or the Valley Blanche up close and learn about glaciers in the Chamonix Valley from your guide. They can help you organise any additional equipment you might need too. Speak to our friends at Chamonix Experience or Evolution 2 for more information.


Helicopter flights

Helicopter Flights

Soar over Chamonix’s glaciers and see the impressive mountains of the Mont Blanc Massif from the comfort of a 6-seater helicopter. Flights of 4 different durations are available, each one taking slightly different routes around the mountains. It really is an unforgettable experience. You’ll find the CMBH helicopter base at the foot of the Grands Montets ski area where there’s also a lovely restaurant in the woods (La Cremerie du Glacier) to grab a bite to eat and a drink.


treetop zip wire

Treetop Adventure Courses

Chamonix has three different treetop adventure courses to choose from, each with routes of varying difficulty and heights; The Accro Park in Gaillands, The Magic Forest in Les Tines and the Forest of Mont Blanc in Les Houches (Coupeau). Equipment can be hired on site and there’s also a snack restaurant next to the Gaillands park.


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Gorges de la Diosaz

One of Chamonix’s many natural wonders, the Gorges de la Diosaz are a short train ride away in the pretty village of Servoz (you get free train travel to Servoz with your carte d’hote guest card). A wooden walkway takes you deep into a natural chasm in the earth, past plunging cascades and dripping rock formations. It’s suitable for young children but not advisable with a pram or pushchair, or for those who are less mobile as there are lots of steps.


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Tennis & Squash

There are plenty of places to play tennis around the Chamonix valley. At the central sports centre there are 2 covered tennis courts, 2 squash courts and 8 clay courts. In Les Houches there are 6 outdoor tennis courts and in Servoz there are two.

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Beach Volley Ball

Also at the main Chamonix tennis centre is a Beach Volley ball court which you can play on by the hour. Find current information & prices.


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Paradis des Praz

A woodland paradise, perfect for families with small children can be found behind the golf course in Les Praz. There’s a safe paddling lake with rope swings and stepping stones, pony rides, playground, kiosk serving snacks and drinks, signposted hikes.
It’s free entry, although you are encouraged to buy refreshments from the kiosk if you want to make use of the picnic tables and toilet facilities.


Ice Hockey 2Ice Hockey Matches & Ice Skating

Watch Chamonix’s local hockey team Les Pionniers compete in an evening hockey match at the ice rink in Chamonix centre (dates in red are played in Chamonix). Tickets can be bought on the door and it makes for an alternative and fun night of entertainment. Or head out onto the ice yourselves for a skate; you can hire skates on site for a small fee and little children can borrow the balance penguins for stability. Discounts are available with your carte d’hôte travel cards.


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Dr Zhivago Horse & Carriage Rides

Take a trip around the centre of Chamonix, or further into Les Praz on ‘Dr Zhivago’s’ horse drawn carriage. This charmingly decorated carriage has become a much loved attraction in the centre of Chamonix and offers a relaxing way to explore the local area. You’ll find him parked up outside Brasserie L’M and you pay him directly for a trip.


Spa St GervaisMassage, Spas & Wellbeing

Enjoy some pampering treatments, a restorative massage or a spa day at one of Chamonix’ many hotel spas like the Aiglons, the Heliopic or the Park Hotel Suisse. Nearby you can also enjoy thermal springs and thermal baths in St Gervais and across the border in Italy, at the Pre St Didier resort.


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Alpine Coaster

The Alpine coaster in Chamonix’s leisure park is great fun for all ages and can be found next to Planards beginner ski area. At over 1300 metres long, you can go as fast as you dare on the sleds as it’s up to you when to use the brakes. Go solo or share a sled with a friend.

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Children’s Leisure Park

On the same site as the alpine coaster is a leisure park designed with kids in mind. It has slides, trampolines, mini motorobikes, a water splash, a giant swing, a loop the loop, mini diggers, a carousel and lots of outdoor games to keep the children entertained. There’s a restaurant and bar on site too.


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Outdoor Swimming Pool & Leisure Centre

Chamonix has a 50 metre outdoor swimming pool plus a 25 metre indoor swimming pool, a separate children’s pool for children of 6 months to 3 years old, water slides and massage water jets. Join a water aerobics class, come for a swim or to use the gym inside the leisure centre. Or if you’re staying with us at Apartment Beausite you’ll have access to a roof top pool that’s just for residents, with direct views of Mont Blanc. A short drive down the valley will bring you to Lake Passy, where you can paddleboard, enjoy a BBQ on the beach, sunbathe & swim. There’s a special area roped off with lifeguards at one end but the rest is for open water swimming.


 

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Photography & Discovery Walks

Discover hidden areas in the Chamonix valley and learn about its history with photographer and guide Teresa Kaufman. Learn some top photography tips along the way as you take interesting photos of the locals, flora and fauna.


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St Bernard Breeding Kennels 

Learn about this iconic breed of mountain dogs at their breeding kennels in Servoz, not far from the centre of Chamonix. A typical visit last an hour and there’s a souvenir shop on site so you can take home your very own furry friend.


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Merlet Animal Park

Keeping on the theme of animals, up above Les Houches is the Merlet animal park that you can visit to see lots of local wildlife. They have marmottes, ibex deer, chamois, mouflon goats, llama, roe and fallow deer. It typically opens from the beginning of May to the end of September.


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Golf

Chamonix’s golf club lies in view of Mont Blanc in the village of Les Praz. It’s an 18 hole course, designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr and features numerous bunkers and water hazards. We have a number of fabulous chalets not far from the golf course; Chalet Capricorne, Chalet Betaix, Chalet Amelie or Chalet Olivier.


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Paintball & Laser Game

There are a couple of places where you can lay shoot-em-ups in the forest in the Chamonix valley, at Bois du Bouchet (minimum 12 years old to take part) and Les Tines (minimum 10 years old). Laser Game is similar but instead of firing paint pellets you shoot lasers with an infrared sight gun so you get less bruises…


 

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Casino

Chamonix has its own casino where you can enjoy a mixture of traditional table games as well as electronic roulette and around 70 slot machines. It’s open all year round and contains a bar and restaurant.


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Art Galleries

Chamonix has lots of art galleries and workshops, from traditional landscape painters and photographers, to retro decorations to more modern and pop-art style work, sculptures, postcards and prints. A few of the hotels and restaurants also feature art works that you can take home as a momento of your time here. There are also occasional art classes that take place throughout the year.


 

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Markets

In the centre of Chamonix at Place Mont Blanc, there’s a regular Saturday market that takes place year round, from 07:30 to 12:30. Markets also take place in Argentiere every Sunday and every Wednesday in Les Houches in the summer months and occasionally one pops up in Chamonix Sud too.


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Wine tasting / Cocktail tasting / Whisky tasting

Cha Cha Cha” has in the region of 800 wines plus a great election of whiskey, rums and other spirits which you can buy to take home, or try before you buy on one of their popular tasting evenings. Or just pop in to enjoy a glass of wine in a relaxed atmosphere.


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Shopping

Chamonix has a great selection of outdoor clothing and gear specialists, as well as high-end clothing retailers, shoe shops, supermarkets, souvenirs and homeware. We’re not going to list them all here, but take a stroll down Chamonix’s pedestrinaised shopping area and you’re sure to find something to tempt you into a purchase or two.


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Day Trips – to other parts of France / Italy / Switzerland – Take a day trip from Chamonix to explore some of the best of the surrounding area;

France Lake PassyAnnecy, Yvoire

Italy Courmayeur, Aosta

Switzerland Verticalp funicular & railway, Martigny, Montreux, Large Hadron Collider (CERN)


 

If this has convinced you that coming to visit Chamonix in summer is a good idea (and why wouldn’t it?) take a look at our great choice of chalets and apartments, which you can book directly online for week-long stays. For short breaks and longer duration holidays, please contact us for a quote

Mountain Base Locations, Chamonix

 


 

 

Photo Credits: Chamonix Tourist Office, Lonely Planet, Chamonix Parc Loisirs, Teresa Kaufman, Evolution 2, Chamonix Experience, CMBH, Chamonix Parc Loisirs, Pre St Didier Spa, Escalade Mont Blanc, Mont Blanc skydive, Verticalp, Paint Ball Cham, Hine Ink, Merlet Animal park, Bungee Mont Blanc Elastique, Cham Aventure, Les Pionnieurs.

Order your Ski passes for winter 2018-19!

Early bird passes, ski 1 day for free & other great ski deals…

Winter is coming and we’ve got some great deals for you on ski passes.
Prices for the 2018-19 season have been published & we’re now ready to start taking your orders.

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Enjoy massive savings on Mont Blanc Unlimited ski passes when you buy them through us before 30th November 2018. You must be skiing within selected dates for the discounts to apply > Early Bird details & pricesOrder your ski passes.


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Buy Mont Blanc Unlimited or Chamonix Le Pass ski passes from 6-9 days you can ski one day for free! e.g. for 6 day passes you pay the price for 5 days, for 7 days you pay for 6… > Ski 1 day for freeOrder your ski passes.


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First snow prices:

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There are also offers for skiing early (first snow) or late in the ski season (spring skiing), special deals for families with 2 children or more and discounts for veterans. Find all of the main season prices for 1-21 days here. Order your ski passes.

Spring Skiing prices:

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When do the Chamonix ski lifts open? If the snow arrives early we could see higher parts of the ski area opening on weekends in November or the first week in December. This year’s opening dates are yet to be released but when they are you’ll find them here.

Read more about the different types of ski pass available & what’s suitable for you, plus information on ski insurance, travel discounts and other activities included with the MBU pass.


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New for winter 2018-19! 

La Folie Douce is coming to Chamonix this winter. Enjoy a different taste of après ski at the foot of the Brévent ski area, opening in December 2018.

With any MBU pass from 3- 21 days, you get one entry to the brand new Chamonix QC Therme Spa which opened this summer.


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Why Chamonix?

Apart from the incredible ski terrain & impressive mountains, there’s plenty to do here during the winter months. Take a look at this video for some inspiration and don’t worry if there are members of your group who don’t ski.. we’ve got that covered too! Read up on our list of over 30 things for non skiers to do on a winter trip to Chamonix.

If you’ve got any questions about this year’s ski passes, please email us on info@mountain-base.com. If you know which passes you’d like to order please use this order form & we’ll get back to you to confirm the order as soon as we can.


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Last remaining Season Lets for Winter 2018-19 | Les dernières locations saisonnières pour l’hiver 2018-19

Winter is fast approaching and we only have a small number of season rentals left…

L’hiver approche à grands pas. Rechercher nos 3 dernières locations saisonnières…

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Chamois Blanc apartment is situated across the road from the Chamonix Sud bus terminus, making it the ideal place to get to all of Chamonix’s ski areas. It sleeps 2-3 people and is fully equipped with everything you’ll need for the season, including a washing machine, TV and a covered parking space. Chamois Blanc appartement en français.


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Petit Ours Mazot is the perfect home from home, sleeping 2 people and furnished to a really high standard, this snug little property is standalone which makes it pretty rare in the seasonal rental market in Chamonix. Its location is ideal, in a quiet residential neighbourhood not far from the hospital and just 5 minutes walk from the centre of Chamonix. Petit Ours Mazot en français.


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Aiguille apartment is in a great location overlooking the bottom of the Aiguille du Midi lift. It sleeps 2-3 people and is only a short walk to the nearest bus or train stop in Chamonix Sud. Appartement Aiguille en français.


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Christmas & New Year Chalet Offers |Bons Plans pour Noel et Nouvel An

Last remaining chalets for Christmas & New Year | Derniers chalets pour Noël et le nouvel an

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We have a number of superb chalets on special offer for the last few remaining dates for this Christmas and New Year. Head to our Special Offers page to see which properties are still available.


Nous avons un certain nombre de superbes chalets en promotion pour les dernières dates de Noël et du nouvel an. Retrouvez tous les détails sur notre page ‘ Bons Plans

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To book these offers please contact us directly, quoting MBSO18/19| Veuillez nous contacter avec la code promo : MBSO18/19

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Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc 2018

In just a few weeks time, Chamonix will be filled to the brim with ultra-runners and spectators for the biggest event of the year, the UTMB or Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc.

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For those of you not familiar with this event, it’s actually made up of not one, but seven trail running events of varying length and difficulty. Each race has a set number of participants that are allowed to enter, and for the big races, the runners will have had to score points from completing other qualifying races to allow them to enter.

This year’s UTMB takes place from 27th August – 2nd September 2018

The Mont Blanc Massif is the central point around which the races take place and its steep valleys and mountains are incredibly challenging, which is what brings the world’s best ultra runners back here year after year. Never mind taking a week to walk the Tour du Mont Blanc, these races circumnavigate Europe’s highest mountain in the fastest times humanly possible.

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The Races

UTMB®: The Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc – This is the big daddy of all the races which sees crowds of people lining the streets of Chamonix to see the runners set off. A lot of this race takes place overnight, spanning three countries, with the winner crossing the line in around 19 hours. The remainder have up to 46 hours to get their tired legs over the finish line, which is where the cheering fans really help to keep them going to the end.

171 km & 10,000 m of vertical gain – 2300 runners – Starts on Friday at 18:00 in Chamonix – 46:30 hours max Video


TDS®: Sur Les Traces des Ducs de Savoie – This race starts in Italy just on the other side of Mont Blanc and takes in the Beaufort, Tarentaise and Aosta valleys, which once upon a time formed the Savoie state (hence the name). Setting off from Courmayeur they head south and over the border into France before turning north towards Les Contamines and back to Chamonix. Expect to see the winners arrive back in Chamonix around 14.5 hours after setting off.

122 km & 7300 m of vertical gain – 1600 runners – Starts on Wednesday at 06:00 in Courmayeur – 33 hours max Video

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CCC®: Courmayeur Champex Chamonix – The CCC follows a lot of the same route as the UTMB race, but starts in Italy before crossing into Switzerland and back to Chamonix. Even though it’s 70km shorter than the UTMB, it’s still a huge challenge with a lot of vertical. The winner will cross the finish line in around 10 hours.

101 km & 6100 m of vertical gain – 1900 runners – Starts on Friday at 09:00 in Courmayeur – 26:30 hours max Video


OCCOrsières Champex Chamonix – Middle of the road in terms of length and vertical this race sets off from Orsières in Switzerland and passes through Trient before heading back into the Chamonix valley. The winner will take just 5 hours to cross the finish line in this ‘medium’ sized ultra race.

56 km & 3500 m of vertical gain – 1200 runners – Starts on Thursday at 08:15 in Orsières – 14:30 hours max Videoocc.jpg


MCC*New for 2018* Martigny-Combe Chamonix – This race is a new addition for 2018 and has been set up to allow volunteers on some of the other races the chance to take part in a race, then carry on to support their team/race later in the week. The winner is expected to take around 3 hours to finish.

40km & 2300 m of vertical gain – 1000 runners – Starts on Monday at 10:00 in Martigny-Combe – 10 hours max


PTL®: Petite Trotte à Léon This is a unique adventure race which stands apart from the other UTMB races in that it’s the biggest in length, there are no way-markers on the route and it can be run as a pair or three runners together. Teams navigate their way through some really challenging mountain paths and scrambles and it literally takes days to finish. In 2017 the winners completed the whopping 300km course in 117 hours, so they definitely earn a big cheer when they cross the finish line!

Approximately 300 km & 25000 m of vertical gain – A non-stop effort for 300 runners – Starts on Monday at 08:00 in Chamonix – 151:30 hours max Video


YCCYouth Chamonix Courmayeur – As the name suggests, this race is for budding young athletes aged from 16-22 to get a taster of big trail running competitions.

15km & 1200 m of vertical gain – 300 runners – Starts on Wednesday at 10:00 in Courmayeur – 4 hours max


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Where to watch?

If you want to see runners at the start line, the PTL and the UTMB are the only two races that start in Chamonix centre (you can find the other start points in the list above). The main hub of all the action is around the inflatable arch near the Mairie and tourist office in the centre of Chamonix, which acts as the start line for these two races and the finish line for all of them.

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After the runners have set off there are plenty of opportunities to see them on the mountain. Flégère, Le Tour, Les Houches or Vallorcine are good places to go to see them running past. Take a look at the 3D route videos to see where each of the races go to help choose your position to watch.

Probably the best place to enjoy the whole atmosphere of the event, is in the centre of Chamonix as the runners head back towards the finish line. Since the various races all culminate with the runners crossing the finish line under the inflatable arch, this is the most popular place for everyone to head to. Find a bar or restaurant along the final few hundred metres and you’re sure to be right in the middle of all the action. There will be runners crossing the line pretty much all week long, so you’ve plenty of time to come and cheer some of them on.

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UTMB 2019 Dates & registrations

Next year’s edition of the UTMB will take place from 26th August to 1st September 2019. Registration opens from 18th December 2018 and can only be done online via the UTMB website. This is where you’ll also find all the criteria for taking part and how much it costs to enter each race.

We’ve already got prices for chalets and apartments for next year live on our website, so you can book your accommodation for UTMB 2019 now! Get in touch with us via the usual channels, via the new live chat feature on our website, or send us an enquiry for any additional information.

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