Chamonix pistes – A guide to the best family friendly slopes in Chamonix

by Mags Nixon
chamonix pistes for families

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 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.)

The first thing you need to know about Chamonix is that it’s not your standard ski resort. It’s a town with five skiable mountains nearby.

If you’re here in Chamonix already and want to know where to go with the kids or whether you’re still planning your ski holiday, read on to find the friendliest mountains in the Chamonix valley to ski with kids.

 

Chamonix pistes

Which ones are family friendly?

 

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 – mostly blue runs. Dedicated beginner slopes, I’ll cover in a future post. 

Chamonix pistes - which ones are family friendly?

Family skiing in Chamonix? Are you mental? Actually no, there’s so much to do with kids on Chamonix’s pistes

 

1.  Brévent – Flégère (1,050 – 2,525m)

The perfect ski area to satisfy wildly differing ski levels, Brévent-Flégère is a large ski area of 56 kilometres of piste, covering the two mountains of Brévent 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, Brévent-Flégère is often sun drenched due to it’s southerly aspect, and commands stunning views towards Mont Blanc. 

The two mountains are linked via the liaison 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.

 

La Flégère

La Flégère, accessed from the village of Le Praz (5 minutes up the valley from Chamonix town), is a favourite of ours. Plus this year they’ve put in a brand new 10 person gondola which sees frustrating waiting times a thing of the past.

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.

Family skiing in Chamonix

The green Libellule piste is our favourite run on La Flégère 

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) which also connects to the you to the liaison cable car which glides over to connect you to Brevént.

Read our detailed guide on skiing Flégère with the family here – Family Skiing in Chamonix – Mont Blanc Legend Kids Zone.

 

 

LA FLÉGÈRE – GOOD TO KNOW

 

PROS:   

NEW GONDALA LIFT/ 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

 

CONS:   

Lift sometimes closed due to wind (wind funnels from Mer de Glace) but this should be much less now with the new gondola lift

 

 

 

Le Brévent

Brevént is accessible from Chamonix town centre, although there’s a super steep hill to walk up to get there! Do not attempt to walk the hill from town to the ski lift – it’s a killer, even without kids.
Take the free bus or drive and park in the paying car park. The bus is no 14 which goes from Cham Sud around town, stopping at Brevent and Les Planards beginner slope as well. See the 2020 winter timetable here.
Family skiing in the Alps

6 year old Bo loves the long Les Vioz blue piste at Brevént down to the high speed 6 man chair. Brevént has spectacular views over to Mont Blanc and the Aiguille du Midi, seen here in the background.

A new Funi 2000 lift on arrival at the ski station has transformed this mountain to finally include beginners. Brevént really is now a reality for family skiing of all levels of ability and allows beginners to appreciate a fantastic high altitude mountain experience, rather than being stuck in the depths of the valley on other beginner slopes. The views will blow your mind!

 

The funicular lift connects novices to a dedicated beginners area on the Planpraz plateau full of gentle, easy greens accessed by the 2000 poma lift.  It’s a little bit of a walk to the beginners area from the top of the Funi 2000 but the poma is a good speed for learners and there’s a liftie helping skiers on.

 

Best family slopes in Chamonix

Bo taking the 2000 poma on the dedicated beginners area at Brevént

Brevént also has numerous blue runs, some of them extremely long (Blanchots and Vioz) which are perfect for mini skiers.
Experienced skiers can challenge themselves on the Charles Bozon black run and the legendary Col du Cornu bowl.

 

Brevént top cable car – panoramic views for non-skiers

Another huge 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 that comes up from the valley floor and is easily accessible for winter pedestrians and disabled visitors.

It’s also the best place in the valley for non-skiing relatives to come and take in the fabulous views AND watch the grandkids (or whomever!) ski on the slopes. The high cable car takes you up to a panoramic terrace which has a restaurant. This is also the starting point of the famous black run, Charles Bozon.

Picture

 

BREVÉNT – GOOD TO KNOW

 

PROS:      Access to 2525m Peak for Non-skiers / South Facing 

                 Epic Mont Blanc Views / Beginner Area at High Altitude

                 Queues RARE due to fast gondola

 

CONS:        Paying Car Park / Steep Hill
                       
                      

 

2.  La Poya (1,453 – 2,270m)

Perfect for families who are happy to pootle or a good place for a first day warm up, La Poya in Le Buet, near Vallorcine is a super tame ski area. Complete with a teeny beginner slope for tiny skiers, this is the ideal place to bring your kids for their first ever ski, plus it’s kind on your wallet!

 

Only a 15 minute drive from Argentière, this little resort has plenty of free parking outside Le Buet train station.

 

The main area has two drag lifts that access 1 black run, 2 reds and 2 blues.

 

If you think that’s limited compared to the rest of Chamonix, you’re spot on, but compare it with the lift ticket prices and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. A day pass costs a mere €17 and a child €14. A 6 day pass costs an adult €85 and a child €70.

 

Skiing at Le Buet near Chamonix

Just outside the Chamonix Valley lies the tiny ski resort of La Poya. Limited with only 2 drag lifts & 5 pistes but perfect for gentle family skiing at an affordable price

 

A super cool airstream buvette serves hot food and drinks with an array of rad seating in a funky geodome, or chill inside brightly painted gondolas, complete with sheepskin seats.

 

And if you don’t like the look (or the waft) of the one portacabin loo on-site, have lunch at one of our favourite spots just opposite, The Moon Tine (you can snowtube for free here!).

 

TIP

Be aware that La Poya can get quite cold as it doesn’t get much sunshine in Winter.

 

Organise yourselves to hit here from 10.30am to 2.30pm to enjoy the sunshine. Children will get cold very quickly once the sun disappears!

Picture


 

LA POYA – GOOD TO KNOW

 

PROS:        Free to Chamonix Valley ski pass holders
                                (Show your pass at ticket office for a free day pass.)
        Affordable family skiing   /  Fab buvette with quirky painted ski gondola
                          Can access directly by train to Le Buet station
                          (trains are better to use peak season as buses are often too full to pick you up).

 

CONS:     Limited sunshine in Winter  / Road (Col du Montets) can be closed in heavy snow

 

 

 

3. La Balme – Le Tour – Vallorcine (1,265 – 2,270m)

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.

 

Skiing in Chamonix with kids

The front side of Le Tour has 3 blues and is a great place to introduce powder to kids

The front side offers blues and reds with a cat-track around to the backside which has a lovely long blue with rollers through the trees down to the 6 man Balme chairlift.
Le Tour Chamonix with kids

Bo on the front side of Le Tour on the blue Arve piste

From the Balme chairlift there’s a delightful home run (Fôret Verte) through deep forest (one of best of the few tree runs in Chamonix) to Vallorcine.
Vallorcine skiing

Bo hooning down the Fôret Verte home run piste from the back side of Le Tour down to Vallorcine with her bezzie mate

The Fôret Verte run is a mixture between blues & reds and is brilliant in bad weather.
Be sure to have a chocolat chaud down in Le Café Comptoir at the end of the piste to warm up. Le Café Comptoir also serves excellent French food for lunch. It’s not particularly kid friendly but if the kids are in ski school for the day, reserve a table here for some high end French nosh (see our recent post 4 Epic Restaurants ….. to read more about Le Café Comptoir).

 

LA VORMAINE – LE TOUR’S BEGINNER AREA

La Vormaine is our favourite beginners area. The smallest drag lift is free – perfect for complete novices with cones and cartoon character padded obstacles to navigate around.

 

skiing at Le Tour Chamonix with kids

Bo making those turns at the free drag lift at La Vormaine, the beginner slope at Le Tour

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. Plus it’s cheap and it’s got a good little buvette there although no inside seating.

 

La Vormaine lift prices 2020

                  ADULT           CHILD            
4 hours      16.00              13.60             
1 day          19.00              16.20            

under 5’s free


 

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’ FREEZING COLD when wind

                      No mobile signal at the back chair so making this a meeting point

                      with friends

 

 

 

4. Les Houches (950m – 1900m)

 

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. Read our Les Houches ski guide here.

 

Les Houches is 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.

 

Ski Les Touches

Minnie skiing the back side of Les Houches (officially the St Gervais side) at the end of the season

Les Houches has a brilliant kids snow playground area called Ski Camp.
Complete with snowtubing and luging tracks, it also has zipwires, curling, swings and numerous snow tents dotted around.
A fab place to hang out with the kids and have lunch.

 

Ski Les Houches with the family

The Ski Camp area at Les Houches is awesome for families. Take a break from skiing and have a blast here with the kids on the sledging hill, snowtubing, zipwires & loads more!

=
Les Houches is accessed by two cable cars, Bellevue and Prarion. Take the Prarion lift to access the Ski Camp area.

 

My girls love the undemanding, easy slopes, and especially the ski camp area. 

 

LES HOUCHES – GOOD TO KNOW

 

PRO:      Gentle pistes through forest /  Perfect for families

Good bad weather day choice / charming French restaurants

 

CONS:       Experienced skiers of family groups might find Les Houches

                    unchallenging

 

 

 

LIFT PRICES 2020

 

Chamonix Le Pass

Brevént-Flégère, Les Grands Montets, Le Tour and Vallorcine are all covered under the Chamonix Le Pass which is slightly cheaper than the Mont Blanc Unlimited Pass. This is the best option if you do not want to include any sightseeing after your ski day.

Rates per half day and day are below. For weekly passes look at the 2020 current prices here.

 

                  ADULT           CHILD (5-14)            FAMILY
4 hours       48.50              41.50                         N/A
1 day           55.00              46.80                       170.60*

* the family pass includes 2 adults & 2 children, plus up to another 3 children free

 

Mont Blanc Unlimited Pass

The Mont Blanc Unlimited Pass is more expensive but allows you to ski all the mountains in the Chamonix Valley (except La Poya), and gives free access onto the Aiguille du Midi & Montenvers train (which are very expensive so makes it very worthwhile if you want to do some sightseeing in the afternoon). It also includes neighbouring ski resorts Verbier, St Gervais, Courmayeur and Megève.

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. They do not offer a 4 hour unlimited pass.

 

                  ADULT           CHILD            FAMILY
4 hours        N/A                N/A                 N/A
1 day           67.00             57.00             207.80 *

 

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      40.50              34.40               N/A
1 day          45.00              38.30             139.60 *

 

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       14.00              11.00                N/A
1 day          17.00              14.00                N/A

 

Where to hire skis in Chamonix?

We would recommend hiring skis, snowboards and any other winter kit from Namaste in Argentière. They have a super friendly team, have the latest equipment to hire (not super old skis!), they have lots of kids kit and even have a little aprés-ski bar in the shop. Good bunch.

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4 comments

Lori 9th January 2019 - 2:25 pm

Hi there. I’m trying to decide where to go this February to ski. It needs to be within 2 hours (preferably 1 hour) drive from an airport (likely Geneva). We are a mixed family of abilities – my husband wants a challenge and my littlest needs ski school (she’s 6 and doesn’t have the ski thing down). I’m torn where to go. We went to Seefeld in Austria last year and LOVED it. Looking for something similar but in the French Alps. Thoughts?

Reply
Mags Nixon 21st January 2019 - 8:16 am

Hi Lori. The best options from Geneva on the French side (cheaper) is Morzine or Chamonix, although Morzine is quiet a mellow resort so it depends how much of a challenge your husband wants. Chamonix of course, has something for everyone – the hardcore black runs and epic off piste plus loads of beginner slopes for kids. Have you had a look at my Les Houches article which is a village at the end of the Chamonix valley? It’s very popular with families as the runs are lovely and mellow whilst the remaining 4 other mountains in the Valley are more challenging. Failing that Les Contamines is a lovely little resort, very mellow also, great for families but with less challenging stuff. Do let me know where you end up and what it was like. Have fun. Bon ski!

Reply
Marieke 17th July 2019 - 10:38 am

Hi Mags, great blog! Thanks!
April 2020 we are visiting ‘home’ The Netherlands from our New home New Zealand.
We will combine it with some European high lights! Starting with skiing in the Alps (what you miss the most on the other side of the world!)
Arriving in Geneva. 1 week. Boy of almost 4, a baby. Me and my husband advanced. And grandparents who need blues. (Great you mention those things in your blog!)

Chamonix ticks some boxes; close to the airport, high, snow in April.
But with grandparents and little kids it’s nice to have your room close (on) the piste , so you can even quickly go for an hour at 4 o’clock.
Would that be able in this area?

Other options are Les Menuires, but all been there to often
I’ve always stayed in Siviez in my youth – good option
Tignes, but not really apartments close to the slopes.

Reply
Mags Nixon 20th July 2019 - 5:21 pm

Hi Marieke
Chamonix is a long valley with many ski areas with for differing abilities. You can rent apartments at the bottom of Les Grand Montets ski mountain which would be ski in/ski out. This is for advanced skiers but has a kids ski school (panda club) right at the bottom (where your appartment would be) where your 4 yr old could easily ski. Le Tour is a village at the end of the valley which is more blues and reds but you can rent apartments in the old town which would be ski in. Les Houches is also a good family option which has all levels and you can ski down to the Prarion and Bellevue lifts well into the season. Many ski schools operate here so your 4 year old could ski here too. I hope this helps!

Reply

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