Chamonix Events | Fete des Guides

This weekend marks a special tradition in Chamonix – La Fête des Guides. This annual event honours the men and women who have made the mountains their life and their livelihood; the mountain guides who keep thousands of people safe every year, whether they’re climbing Mont Blanc in summer or skiing the Vallee Blanche in winter.

Rock climbing in Chamonix


Friday 12th August, Le Lavancher

The festivities begin today in the little village of Le Lavancher with a traditional bread baking session in the old wood oven. You can buy a freshly baked loaf from midday to 4:30pm, while the children take part in climbing demos and various entertainments. A special dinner will be held at 7pm, followed by music and dancing; tickets cost 15€ not including drinks.

Fetes des Guides in Chamonix


Saturday 13th August, Les Houches

Fun and games at Les Chavants near to the Prarion lift station in Les Houches from 2pm to 7pm. The lake and climbing wall will be the venue for various activities hosted by the Compagnie des Guides de Chamonix such as hiking, climbing, orientation, rope work, etc. At 6:30pm there will be a short speech by the mayor of Les Houches, followed by a sing-song with the mountain guide choir accompanied by alpine horns.

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Sunday 14th August, Argentiere

Argentiere hosts its own Fête des Guides today with entertainments and activities in the town from 9am to 12:30pm for children and adults. There will be a display of the beautiful crystals that have been found in the mountains and make sure you don’t miss the traditional ceremony at 5:30pm when all the guides turn out in their official uniforms. From 8pm there will be a party with live music, bar and snack stalls.

Fete des Guides in Chamonix


Sunday 14th August, Chamonix

The main celebrations take place on Sunday at Les Gaillands in Chamonix, starting at 5pm with activities such as climbing and slacklining to try your hand at. The PGHM will be doing a helicopter rescue demo at 5:30pm and you can learn all about the stars in the planetarium. Tombolas, live music, beer tents, snack stalls and plenty of entertainment make this a great afternoon for everyone of all ages. The grande finale is the sound and light show; a fascinating and usually quite surreal spectacle enacted by the guides themselves on the sheer stage of the climbing crag, followed by a firework display over the lake.

Fete des Guides in Chamonix


Monday 15th August, Chamonix

The official ceremony takes place this morning in the centre of Chamonix from 10am to 2pm. All the members of the Compagnie des Guides will gather in the Place du Triangle de l’amitié, dressed in their traditional uniforms for the blessing of their ropes and axes. New guides will be welcomed to the company and everyone will pay their respects to former guides, with a homage to those who have lost their lives in the mountains and a medal presentation for long-serving guides. The square will be lined with stalls, displays and refreshments.

Fete des Guides Chamonix


All profits from the Fete des Guides are donated to the Caisse de Secours, which supports guides who have been injured in the mountains and the families of deceased guides. Many of the events are free to enter, with the option to buy food and drinks. Entry to the festival at Les Gaillands on Sunday evening is 15€ per adult, and 5€ per child under the age of 12, entry is free for children under 5 years old. Please note that the programme may change according to the weather forecast.

Chamonix Bureau des Guides Mural


Chamonix Mountain Guides

The mountain guides of Chamonix enable us to explore the massive playground that is on our doorstep. Chamonix and the Mont Blanc massif is an amazing place to hike, climb, ski, run, ride and fly but the risks should never be underestimated. The beautiful wilderness of the mountains and particularly the glaciers are best discovered with a qualified mountain guide who will not only keep you safe but will also share their wealth of knowledge and experience with you. Contact us directly or visit our website if you would like to find out more about mountain guides in Chamonix.

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Summer of Adventure : Chamonix Summer Events & Activities

Chamonix is world-famous as a ski resort and winter sports paradise but did you know that’s it’s also an amazing place to visit in summer? Mountains, music and myriad opportunities for adventure await you in Chamonix this summer…

Climb Mont Blanc with a Chamonix mountain guide

Mountains
Mountaineers flock to Chamonix from all around the world to challenge themselves amongst the peaks and even summit Mont Blanc. It’s not just for elite alpinists though, there is plenty of opportunity for rock climbing of all types, you can learn new skills on an alpine course, or venture out onto the mythical glaciers of the Vallee Blanche and the Mer de Glace.

Climb Mont Blanc with a Chamonix mountain guide

Summer Events
The summer is jam-packed with events of all sorts including the Marathon du Mont Blanc, Climbing World Championships, Bastille Day, Cosmojazz, Ultratrail du Mont Blanc and more – you can find the main ones listed on our website, or keep an eye on our Facebook page for all the latest updates.
Find Chamonix accommodation for summer events

Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc in Chamonix
Photo credit : Michel Cottin

On Your Bike
From gnarly downhillers to lithe lycra-clad road bikers, it seems that everyone in Chamonix gets about on two wheels. If you’re one of the mud-covered full-body armour types then you’ll find heaps of single-track, steep descents and challenging cross-country trails to get your teeth into, find more information on Chamonix mountain biking here. If skinny tyres and padded pants are more your thing then Chamonix is definitely the place to be this summer, with no less than 3 stages of the Tour de France taking place within pedalling distance! Get in touch if you want to be part of the action and join us at the start/finish lines.
Find out more about Chamonix lift passes in summer

Chamonix triathlon, bike ride
Photo Credit : Evergreen Endurance

Music Festivals
The big music event of the summer is Fete de la Musique, a celebration that takes place every midsummer. Free concerts, live music and DJs get the whole town dancing in the streets from midday until sunrise the following morning. Throughout the summer you’ll find live music being played almost every day – hip jazz bands at the Maison des Artistes, chilled acoustic sets on the terraces of bars and cafés, DJs spinning tunes late into the night… And if you want big names you don’t have to travel far – this year sees Elton John, Muse, ZZ Top, Amy Macdonald, Jamie Cullum and many more playing in the surrounding area. Not forgetting, of course, the annual Cosmojazz festival right here in Chamonix that keeps on getting bigger and better every year.
Find Chamonix accommodation during the festivals

Cosmojazz Chamonix

Hiking & Trail Running
Run to the hills and immerse yourself in one of the most beautiful places on earth. The Chamonix valley is criss-crossed with miles and miles of hiking trails, from easy riverside meanders to high altitude ridges. You’ll discover alpine meadows, ancient glaciers, remote mountain refuges and hopefully spot lots of local wildlife such as marmots and bouquetin on your travels. Hiking with an IML guide makes the trip so much more rewarding as they have a wealth of knowledge about the local area, flora, fauna, etc and know the valley inside out. If you’re looking to improve your fitness or are training for a race, you can hit the trails with a qualified running coach and multiple ultra trail finisher to pick up lots of top tips and expert advice.
Find out more about Chamonix lift passes in summer

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La Vie en Rose
One of the best things about life in France is enjoying the simple pleasures of a warm croissant at a café first thing in the morning, trying out the lingo and sampling local cheese at the market, dipping your toes in a crystal clear lake on a hot day, spotting a timid chamois amongst the pine trees, sipping a cold rosé whilst watching the sunset turn the mountains pink… once you come, you’ll never want to leave!
Find Chamonix accommodation this summer

Chamonix in summer with flowers and Mont Blanc

Climb Mont Blanc – Discover the Alternative Route

Mont Blanc is the highest peak in the Alps, the biggest glacier in western Europe, and at the top of many people’s bucket list of “must do” experiences.

Climb Mont Blanc with a Chamonix mountain guide

Tramway du Mont Blanc in Les Houches, ChamonixThousands of people flock to Chamonix each summer to see this magnificent sight, hundreds are fortunate enough to reach the summit at 4809m. The classic Mont Blanc route starts with a ride up through the pastures of Les Houches on the Tramway du Mont Blanc, a night in the refuge, followed by a dawn ascent. It is an incredible experience, but often one that is shared with a lot of other people, especially during the busiest months of the summer season.

But… did you know about the other route? The path less trodden? The Italian Mont Blanc route is slightly longer and more technical, with more daily ascent and no lift assistance, making it a more authentic experience for “purist” mountaineers.

Val Veny in ItalyStarting from the beautiful valley of Val Veny, you spend a night at the Rifugio Gonella, a remote mountain hut at 3071m nestled beneath the Miage and Dome glaciers. The ascent to the summit of Mont Blanc is via the Piton des Italiens route; a long but spectacular climb amongst breathtaking scenery.

The solitude of this itinerary means that you have a greater chance of seeing alpine wildlife such as ibex and chamois, as well as enjoying the tranquility of the mountains. After a full day on your feet you will reach the summit and find yourself looking out over the peaks of France, Italy and Switzerland from the highest point in the Alps.

Climb Mont Blanc with a Chamonix mountain guide

Take a while to soak up the view and experience the emotions that come with such an achievement before beginning the descent via the Gouter refuge, back down to the classic route to Chamonix. The beauty of this trip is that you get to experience both sides of Mont Blanc!

Climb Mont Blanc with a Chamonix mountain guide

Training to climb Mont Blanc in ChamonixDue to the technical and physically challenging nature of the Italian route, this is best suited to experienced mountaineers with a love of authentic alpinism. However, you do not have to be an expert as our mountain guides will spend three days prior to the trip preparing you for the terrain amongst the crags and glaciers of the Chamonix valley; ensuring that you have all the necessary skills needed to use crampons, axes and ropes effectively.

If this sounds like your kind of adventure then visit our website or contact us directly for more information. Places are already booking up fast, so don’t delay!

Climb Mont Blanc, the highest peak in the Alps

 

Towering above Chamonix at a height of 4808m, Mont Blanc has been inspiring climbers from all around the world since Jacques Balmat and Michel Paccard made the first ascent in August 1786.

Climb Mont Blanc with a Chamonix mountain guide

The journey to the summit of western Europe’s highest peak starts right here in Chamonix, either from the top of the Aiguille du Midi cable car or by taking the Tramway du Mont Blanc from Saint-Gervais up to the Nid d’Aigle at Les Houches.

Climb Mont Blanc with a Chamonix mountain guide

Each route comes with its own challenges and potential hazards, as well as spectacular views and magnificent landscapes of alpine meadows, snowfields, glacial crevasses and towering jagged peaks.

Climb Mont Blanc with a Chamonix mountain guide

The season for climbing Mont Blanc begins around late May or early June and continues through to the end of September. Mountain huts will be booked up long before this though, as will mountain guides, so now is the time to start planning your trip.

Climb Mont Blanc with a Chamonix mountain guide

You don’t need any previous mountaineering experience to climb Mont Blanc – just a good level of fitness and the ability to learn new skills.

On our 6 day Mont Blanc course you will spend the first 3 days with a fully qualified mountain guide learning how to use ropes, crampons and ice axes to traverse different types of terrain. You’ll spend a night in a mountain refuge to help your body acclimatise to the altitude and learn safety techniques that will be invaluable when picking your way amongst the crevasses and seracs of the high mountains.

Climb Mont Blanc with a Chamonix mountain guide

You will spend the final 3 days climbing to the summit of Mont Blanc via the Gouter route, stopping over at a mountain refuge along the way and then descending back down to Chamonix having ticked off one of the achievements of a lifetime. During the 6 days you will not only have climbed Mont Blanc but will have explored some of the most majestic peaks in the French and Italian Alps.

Climb Mont Blanc with a Chamonix mountain guide

Seasoned mountaineers who have already claimed a few peaks and have experience of high altitude alpine terrain can summit via the more technical Trois Monts route, which takes you via the mountains of Mont-Blanc du Tacul and Mont Maudit along the way.

You’ll be accompanied every step of the way by a qualified and highly experienced mountain guide who will not only prioritise your safety but will teach you invaluable skills and share their passion for the mountains with you.

Climb Mont Blanc with a Chamonix mountain guide

Mountain refuges are already taking bookings for the summer and it won’t be long before the huts on the Mont Blanc routes are all full up. Likewise, mountain guides are in high demand with their availability becoming more limited as we get closer to spring.

Contact us now to embark on your adventure into a world of ice and snow at the very highest point in the Alps.

Climb Mont Blanc with a Chamonix mountain guide

Hiking the Alps : Two of the Best Alpine Trekking Tours

It might be snowing outside but we’re already planning our summer of adventure. Chamonix is one of the world’s best destinations for hiking, climbing and exploring the mountains – but it’s also one of the most popular, which makes planning ahead essential.

Hiking the Haute Route in the Alps past alpine lakes and snow capped mountains

Two of the world’s most famous hiking trails, the Tour du Mont Blanc and the Haute Route, set off from Chamonix and traverse stunning alpine trails across glaciers, through forests, and past alpine lakes. Alpine wildlife such as marmottes, bouquetin and chamois graze in the meadows while choucas, peregrine falcons and even golden eagles soar overhead. Part of the adventure is sleeping over in remote mountain refuges under incredible night skies where there is no light pollution to dim the millions of bright stars overhead.

Staying in a mountain refuge whilst hiking the Haute Route

The Haute Route is an iconic Alpine trek that goes from Chamonix to Zermatt, a distance of around 180km, first established in the mid nineteenth century by the English Alpine Club. There are two variations; the longer route takes around 12 days and features more challenging terrain, whereas the shorter route takes around 6 days and stays lower down on the trails. Both offer stunning scenery of snowcapped peaks and flower filled meadows that will leave you with incredible memories of a great trip.

Crossing glaciers and trekking on snow whilst hiking the Haute Route

The Tour du Mont Blanc is a spectacular multiday trek that winds its way around the foot of Mont Blanc going through France, Italy and Switzerland along the way. You’ll pass through rugged national parks, climb remote mountain passes, cool your toes in clear mountain lakes and taste delicious local dishes from three different countries along the way! Not an easy challenge, with around 6 to 8 hours of hiking per day, but a once-in-a-lifetime experience that is more than worth the effort.

Beautiful wild flowers in an alpine meadow, hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc

With the snow falling outside the window, it might seem too early to start dreaming of alpine summer adventures, but now is the time to book if you want that dream to come true! Contact us now for more information and availability.

Hiking in the Alps on the Tour du Mont Blanc trek

This week one of the Mountain Lifestyle team enjoyed a great day out with the ESF on their Mont Blanc Discovery day; off-piste skiing in the Italian resort of Courmayeur. This is what she made of her Italian adventure…

The Italian flag, off-piste skiing in Courmayeur Italy on the ESF Mont Blanc Discovery ski day

We met at 8.30 at the Maison des Guides in Chamonix and everyone who didn’t have their own was lent an avalanche transceiver for the day. We then set off through the Mont Blanc tunnel to Courmayeur, a short journey of about 30 minutes.

IMG_4107We were a bit of a mixed group so our guides used the first run to assess our ski/snowboard abilities and put us into appropriate groups, so that we could all keep up with each other.

My group was a mixture of skiers and snowboarders, all with a bit of off-piste experience under our belts. First of all we went to the top of the Crest D’Arp to go off-piste. It was a challenging morning of skiing steep terrain with a descent of about 1500m from Col D’Arp down to Dolonne, via a wide gorge and through the woods.

Our instructor, Raf, was fantastic – he had a very kind relaxed nature which made you feel at ease the whole way. He stopped on several occasions to give us information about the mountains that surrounded us and was happy to give tips and advice on handling the terrain.

ff-pistyeOnce we got back on the piste it was time to have lunch at Château Branlant. The food was delicious; we tucked into selection of charcuterie meats and cheeses to start with, followed by a main dish of risotto and ravioli, then a selections of desserts and coffees. They also catered for vegans with a lovely mushroom barley dish served with roasted vegetables. All with a few glasses of red wine, of course – viva Italia!

After lunch we split into different groups depending on what type of terrain you wanted to ski, then we all headed back in the direction of the car park – either down the pistes, or off-piste through Val Veny.

Everyone in the group commented on what a great day it was. It was so much fun to go off-piste with our lovely guides, have some delicious Italian food and meet a group of like-minded people.

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So, if this sounds like your kind of day out the Mont Blanc Discovery days offer an unbeatable opportunity to experience the first-rate skiing of the Mont Blanc region. You’ll enjoy the best off-piste routes in the Chamonix valley, the Aosta valley (Italy) and Valais (Switzerland) with a team of experienced mountain guides and ski instructors.

Every morning your instructor or guide will join you at your hotel or residence to drive you to the chosen site in a private minibus. Group sizes are kept to a small size of 4-8 people so that you benefit from the attention of the guide. You can book for one (87€), three (244€) or six (450€) days and explore a new area each day to enjoy the best of the available snow conditions. Your guides enjoy the day as much as you will and they’ll take you to their favourite places for lunch.

Forget the queues! Priority ski lift access and reserved cable cars means that you get to spend more time skiing and less time waiting in lines. Your guides enjoy the day as much as you will and they’ll take you to their favourite places for lunch.

Contact us now to book your Mont Blanc Discovery day

Our 3 Favourite Off-Piste Experiences for Skier & Snowboarders in Chamonix

It might have been a bit slow to start but with the arrival of a few massive dumps of snow recently, this winter is now looking pretty amazing!

So much snow fell last week that the pisteurs at Les Grands Montets were gob-smacked and have been hard at work ever since making the ski areas safe and avalanche-free for us to enjoy.

Pisteurs securing the ski area at Les Grands Montets in Chamonix

However, the late and sudden arrival of the snow unfortunately makes for fairly unsteady conditions up in the mountains. The avalanche risk has been consistently high and although there is huge temptation is to go ripping through the powder at every opportunity, mountain guides and pisteurs are advising everyone to be cautious and to ski or snowboard safely – especially if you are thinking of going off-piste.

Off-piste ski course with Chamonix Experience mountain guides

The Chamonix backcountry has so much to offer and there is fantastic off-piste terrain to discover. An ideal way to explore, and to learn essential safety skills, is by doing an off-piste course. Here are our top three…

All Mountain – one of our favourites, this 3 day course takes you all over the Grands Montets into bowls, gullies and powder fields where you’ll learn how to ride off-piste, make steep turns, attack moguls and handle bad conditions such as ice and hardpack. Your guide will seek out the best places for the conditions and teach you how to master the mountain like a boss. Split over 3 half days at 195€ per person, this is ideal preparation for doing the Vallée Blanche – your guide will let you know if you are ready to do it.
Book All Mountain Here

Off-Piste & Freeride – we’re not saying “don’t go off-piste”, it’s far too much fun to miss out on! You’ll have an even better time if you go with a pro and learn how to shred the pow and find the best stashes. Our freeride and off-piste courses go from half days to full weeks for everyone from complete beginners to experienced powder hounds. Starting from just 69€ they are definitely worth it, you’ll experience Chamonix in a whole new light.
Book Off-Piste & Freeride Here

Avalanche Awareness – learn invaluable skills and have a great off-piste experience. If you want to explore then you need to learn how to do it safely, especially with the snowpack being as unstable as it is this winter. This half-day course will take you into the mountains and teach you the basics of assessing the snow conditions, evaluating the avalanche risk, carrying out a search using a transceiver and what to do if the worst happens. At just 69€ per person it’s an investment that you’ll use every time you go off-piste. We also offer longer courses for those who want to learn more about avalanche, off-piste and glacier safety.
Book Avalanche Awareness Here

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Once you’ve mastered the techniques of off-piste skiing you’ll be ready to tackle the Vallée Blanche – Chamonix’s most famous off-piste run. Riding the lift up to the summit of the Aiguille du Midi at 3842m, stepping out through the ice tunnel onto the arete, skiing down amongst the seracs and crevasses of the Mont Blanc Massif – it is an unbeatable experience for any confident skier or snowboarder.

Ski the Vallee Blanche from the Aiguille du Midi in Chamonix

The Vallée Blanche is not technically a difficult route, it is often compared to being no harder than your average red piste, which is why it is so accessible even to those who don’t have huge off-piste experience. It is glacial terrain though, which is why it is essential to only ever ski the Vallee Blanche with a guide. Glaciers constantly shift and evolve, with crevasses opening up and changing shape with every different weather pattern. This is why none of our mountain guides would ever compromise your safety by taking you down if they thought that conditions were too bad or that you weren’t ready to tackle it.

We also have a ton of other options to offer such as private ski/snowboard guiding, off-piste lessons for everyone from beginners to experiences skiers/snowboarders, longer ski tours with overnight accommodation in mountain refuges, snowshoe treks and so on. Please visit our website or contact us for more details.

The Chamonix ski slopes are now in great condition and the next few days look like they’re going be as glorious as today’s webcam image from Flegere…

Chamonix webcam image of Flegere ski area

We get a lot of calls and emails asking us what the snow’s like – you can see for yourself with the daily video snow report, live webcams and local weather forecasts on our Chamonix Snow & Weather page.