Off the Slopes Activities in Chamonix
Although the majority of visitors to Chamonix come to ski, snowboard and climb its world famous peaks, there are also a great many who just come to enjoy the stunning scenery and all the other activities that the resort has to offer. As a large town with loads going on off the slopes, it’s the perfect resort for non-skiers or those who don’t want to ski first to last lifts every day.
The town centre is a shopping paradise with everything from designer fashion boutiques to stores for every outdoor sports label you can possibly imagine. It’s a joy to wander around the largely pedestrianised streets lined with beautiful traditional buildings, and surrounded by the majestic Mont Blanc massif.
Aiguille du Midi
It’s impossible not to spend much of your time in Chamonix looking up. Whether you’re marveling at sheer height of Mont Blanc, the vast array of jagged peaks or the massive glaciers that spill into the valley, you’ll never tire of the stunning scenery. One of the features that’s omnipresent on the skyline is the needle-shaped tower of the Aiguille du Midi and its precariously suspended cable cars that lift mountaineers, skiers, paragliders and sightseers to the top of the jaggeed peak. Unless you’re scared of heights, in which case it’s probably not advisable, a trip up the Aiguille du Midi cable car is a must. In just 20 minutes it whisks you up to the dizzying height of 3842 metres where you’ll come face to face with Mont Blanc. The Aiguille du Midi has a viewing platform where you can enjoy a 360 degree panorama of Mont Blanc and its neighbouring peaks as well as the famous Vallée Blanche glacier below. For an added thrill you can “Step into the Void” with it’s latest attraction, a glass box that gives you the impression of being suspended in thin air above the valley below. All in all, it’s a truly breathtaking experience that you’re certain to never forget.
Another unforgettable way to experience Chamonix’s stunning scenery is on a tandem paraglide flight. Fly Chamonix (+33 (0)6 10 28 20 77) are British and French certified specialists in tandem paragliding, and will take passengers of all ages on the flight of their lives.
Photo: David Ravanel
As well as being a mecca for skiers and snowboarders, Chamonix also attracts a great many climbers. Winter is ice climbing season and while it looks like a sport that should be left strictly to the experts, there are several sites around Chamonix where beginners can give it a try, and a great many mountain guides, including La Compagnie des Guides de Chamonix (+33 (0)4 50 53 00 88) who will show you the ropes.
If you want to limber up before hitting the frozen ice walls, head to one of Chamonix’s indoor climbing facilities. The Richard Bozon Sports Centre on Avenue de la Plage, has a decent sized bouldering wall, and just down the road in Les Houches is one of the largest indoor climbing walls in France, the Mont Blanc Escalade.
Swimming and Spas
For a more leisurely way to unwind off the slopes, head to the indoor swimming pool at Richard Bozon Sports Centre. Here you’ll find something for all the family with a 25 metre pool, separate kid’s pool with a waterfall, water jets and river rapids, 130 meter long covered water slide, solarium, hot tub, sauna and steam room.
Photo: Joëlle Bozon
Many of Chamonix’s hotels and residences also have their own pools and spas where you can relax without having to venture far from your room. If you want to be truly pampered, check out our selection of the best spas in Chamonix.
Chamonix’s Vox cinema is located right in the centre of town, just off the main square, Place Balmat. It has three screens equipped with digital 3D projectors and shows a good selection of the latest French and international films, many of which are screened in English.