CHamonix – mT Blanc – Mountaineering Capital
To help our guests with travel logistics, we have combined all necessary travel information and other useful resources on one page, to ensure a great start to your hiking adventure vacation.
The least amount of time spent on searching for travel connections and dining locations, the better.
The secret to a relaxed, rewarding adventure is knowing the best resources to keep you on the move.
Many of our guests who come to the Alps for an Alpine Interface trip either arrive a few days prior to the trip, or extend their stay after the hike. And often, we get the same questions regarding where to eat, where to buy trekking shoes and rucksacks, what else there is to do in town, etc.
Below are links and information – a quick summary of favourite hotels, restaurants, sport shops, and, most importantly, how to get to your meeting point for our hiking trips.
The following list is a quick summary of our favorite hotels, restaurants, sport shops, and Internet portals that will help you make your time in the Alps as enjoyable as possible. We will update this page regularly, and welcome any comments or information you might have regarding our links.
HOW TO GET TO CHAMONIX
The nearest airport is Geneva International Airport (GVA). It takes approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes from the airport to Chamonix. There are several companies that offer shuttle services to and from the airport. Calculate between 25 – 40 Euros‚ one-way per person for a shared shuttle. The easiest method is to book a transfer ahead of time online.
There are many airlines that will fly to Geneva, or Zurich, the closest airports to Chamonix. Geneva is about 1h 15min from Chamonix, and Zurich is approx. 3 hours of driving to get to the Chamonix valley.
Several airlines offer cheap flights to Geneva from many bigger European destinations, once you made your way to Europe.
Chamonix can be reached by train easiest through Switzerland, which has an excellent public transport system, interconnecting trains in main hubs and down in the valley with buses that reach the smallest little mountain town. (The buses are also transporting the mail). Switzerland also offers attractive passes for international travellers, including train trips from and to respective airports.
France also has a great train system, with the fast bullet trains (TGV) connecting the main hubs within the country and the French National Railway System, SNCF providing local services.
GETTING AROUND WITHIN THE CHAMONIX VALLEY
Getting around by train and bus is very easy. If you have a carte d’hôte (guest card), a secondary residence card or a ‘gens du pays’ card, the train service is free of charge within the Valley of Chamonix (Servoz to Vallorcine). The carte d’hôte should be given to you by your hotel, auberge, apartment owner, or campsite owner. Get the train schedule at any train station or tourist office, or on the Internet.
The buses also run on a regular basis, however, they only run from Servoz to Argentière and Le Tour. There is no bus service to Vallorcine.
During the summer months, there is a bus from Chamonix to the Col des Montets, several times daily. Please ask at the Tourist Office for more details.
SHOPPING IN CHAMONIX
One of our favourite outdoor gear shops is Snell Sports. They have a plethora of outdoor gear and a huge variety of top industry brands. The sales staff are incredibly knowledgeable and for the most part outdoor enthusiasts. They offer everything from a GPS to rain cover and everything in between. They also have a massive selection of nearly every brand worth having when it comes to climbing and hiking boots, approach shoes and high altitude gear. Rarely will one store have so much variety and don’t forget to ask them for a VAT rebate form allowing you to claim a certain amount of tax back on your purchase when leaving the country.
Millet, a European leader in outdoor gear also has a shop not too far from Snell’s store. They sell everything from GoreTex jackets to shoes and make excellent rucksacks. They also sponsor many of the top climbers in the valley and further afield.
Patagonia, the world leader in environmentally sustainable clothing and gear opened its first European shop in Chamonix in 1987 to reflect how important Chamonix and the Alps were to Yvon Chouinard, the founder of the most iconic brand in the world. It was actually the first outdoor brand to open in Chamonix and continues to be one of the favourites for tourists and locals alike. Again, located not too far from both Millet and Snell’s, Patagonia is where the action is at when you are looking for quality gear and clothing. As Chouinard said of the store, “I wanted to create a hangout, staffed with international hard-core skiers and climbers.”
In Argentière, try Namaste Sports on the main road, run by Robin, a ‘local’ Swede, who has been in the valley forever. He runs a great shop with bike rentals in the summer, and a larger variety of gear for hikers and climbers.
Restaurants in Chamonix
The Maison Carrier is located opposite of ENSA (The national mountaineering school) and the main roundabout into Chamonix from Geneva, is a step down from the Albert 1er, Michelin stars and all, yet retains all of the charm and quality of one of the high-end eateries without all of the hype and fanfare found in more traditional French restaurants which are more concerned with protocol rather than what’s in the plate.
The building itself is worth the visit with old timbers, antique furniture and one of the last curing chimneys of the valley where, if you look up, you will see hams curing and smoked sausages, well, smoking. Serges, the Maitre d’ is really the one who runs the show.
His French accent is just the right mix of Jacques Cousteau and Jean Reno while still allowing you to understand what’s on the menu and which wines will go well with the meal.
I could basically just have the dessert platter, which is a 2-tiered round table with roughly 30 different items to choose from.
Simply decadent but well worth it! They call it “ Vré de toutes les tartes de la Grand-Mère, which translates to ‘All of Grannie’s Goodies’!
Menus range from the ‘plat du jour’ (daily special) for € 19 to more elaborate feasts coming in at about € 40.
Serges is far from pushy when it comes to the wine list and will certainly suggest an excellent bottle for under € 25. The local Savoie wines are excellent, fruity and light and go well with most of the dishes on offer. Bon appetit!
If you like fusion food, you will certainly enjoy this Swedish-run gem in the heart of Chamonix night-life, the Rue des Moulins, located just against the River Arve, parallel to the main pedestrian area of Chamonix.
Heavily into Sushi and Thai dishes with a twist, this is the perfect gig if you have just spent 10 days hiking the Alps eating cheese,
hard bread and iceberg lettuce.
Some of my favourites are their spicy beef salad, lobster tom yum and Tempura baby shrimp.
They also offer daily specials. In summer, you can squeeze around the few tables they have directly in front of the restaurant but bring a jacket,
even on a warm summer’s night as the River Arve is rushing nearby bringing icy cold water from the many glaciers surrounding Chamonix.
Remember to reserve, they are always busy! Despite no smoking bans in restaurants, terraces are not off limits to those who want a cigarette between courses so keep that in mind
if you choose to eat outside. Not cheap, so be prepared to spend close to €50 per person for food and drinks.
Located in the ‘pedestrian zone’ / main street across the Lafuma store and near Snell’s Sporting goods,
this high-end pastry and chocolate shop is one of the best in Chamonix for fast service,
excellent food and a sunny terrace in the morning.
Not cheap, but who’s saving when on holiday?
Their macaroons are also delicious and they can package almost anything to take away.
This is a great place to read the paper, have a coffee and people watch as the café is located on the main pedestrian street of Chamonix.
If you need your fix of the Herald Tribune or another English-language paper, you can find it across the street
at the Maison de la Presse,near the Grand Hotel des Alpes, along with a huge selection of maps,
guide books and computer supplies downstairs.