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 (I just never had them on my radar before) 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.)
If you’re here in Chamonix or heading this way, read on to find the friendliest mountains in the valley to ski with kids.
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, which are blues for our 6 year old and reds for my 8 year old. Dedicated beginner slopes, I’ll cover in a future post.
The perfect ski area to satisfy wildly differing ski levels, Brevént-Flégère is a large ski area of 56 kilometres of piste, covering the two mountains of Brevént 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, Brevént-Flégère often sun drenched due to it’s southerly aspect, also commands stunning views towards Mont Blanc.The two mountains are linked via the Liaision 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.
in the village of Le Praz (5 minutes up the valley from Chamonix) is a favourite of ours. You’ll know this if you’ve read our recent post
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) and will take you past the liasion cable car which glides over to connect you to Brevént.
LA FLÉGÈRE – GOOD TO KNOW
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
Dated Telepherique / Lifts sometimes closed due to wind (wind funnels from Mer de Glace)
Queues to Get Down if Home Run Closed / Queues Common in Peak Season
Brevént also has numerous blue runs, some of them extremely long which are perfect for mini skiers, whilst experienced skiers have the Charles Bozon black run to tackle and the legendary Col du Cornu bowl.
Another 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 up and is easily accessible for winter pedestrians and disabled visitors. It’s the best place in the valley for non-skiing relatives to come and take in the fabulous views AND watch the grandkids (or whoever!) ski on the slopes. The high cable car takes you up to a panoramic terrace and is the starting point of the famous black run, Charles Bozon.
Beginner Area at High Altitude / Queues RARE – New Gondola
LA POYA – GOOD TO KNOW
PROS: Free to Chamonix Valley ski pass holders (Show your pass at ticket office for a free day pass.)
Le Tour is another firm family favourite in Chamonix Valley’s arsenal. At the end of the valley Le Tour spreads it’s welcoming gentle pistes open wide without a black run in sight. It’s the least intimidating mountain in the valley with plenty of blues and reds and a mecca for off-piste snowboarders powder hounds who love the natural hits.
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. It’s also got a good little buvette there although no inside seating.
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 very cold in wind
Les Houches is a large village down the valley from Chamonix. It’s an excellent family ski area at a much lower altitude with 55 kilometres of easy, gentle slopes, perfect for beginners & intermediates. It’s the only ski area in the valley below the tree line so it’s a good call on bad weather days. Most runs here are flanked by trees and so it’s incredibly beautiful with fresh snow.
Les Houches is accessed by two cable cars, Bellevue and Prarion. Take the Prarion lift to access the Ski Camp area.We didn’t ski this area half as much as we wanted to this season due to my ACL injury so early on in the season. But the times we have come up here, the girls loved the Ski Camp area and the undemanding, easy slopes, so I’m looking forward to getting to really know it next season.
LES HOUCHES – GOOD TO KNOW
PRO: Gentle pistes through forest / Perfect for families / Good bad weather day choice
CONS: Experienced skiers of family groups might find Les Houches unchallenging
Brevént-Flégère and Le Tour are covered under the Chamonix Ski pass which is slightly cheaper than the Mont Blanc Unlimited Pass and the best option if you do not want to include any sightseeing after your ski day.
ADULT CHILD FAMILY
4 hours 45 38.30 N/A
1 day 50.50 42.90 156.50 *
* 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 resorts (except La Poya), free access onto the Aiguille du Midi & Montenvers train. It also includes Verbier, St Gervais and Courmayeur. 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.
ADULT CHILD FAMILY
4 hours N/A N/A N/A
1 day 62 52.70 192.20 *
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 38.50 32.70 N/A
1 day 43 36.60 133.40 *
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 11.90 9.10 N/A
1 day 15.50 12.40 N/A