Chamonix Spring Skiing

Where to eat, ski and stay in Chamonix (27 Mar - 2 Apr 2016)
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Chamonix is the place where the first Winter Olympics were held in 1924, and also holds the reputation as one of the world’s leading ski resorts, known for some of it’s really challenging slopes and one of the best views of Mont Blanc. This explains why it’s pretty much on the bucket list of every hard core advance skier and snowboarder given its variety of mountain and some really tricky slopes. Erm well, as for the rest of us, can’t say that all of us are extreme advanced skiiers but we chose Chamonix as a venue for some early spring skiing over the Easter week, since its high altitude would guarantee us some decent weather.

After comparing the various Europe ski altitudes, Chamonix stands out with its resort height at 1,035m, and top lift at 3,842m. A tip for all, this is one venue that doesn’t have any ski in ski out for its accomodation, it requires cars or buses to get to any of the slopes, but the variety of slopes and terrains do make up for this slight inconvenience.

There’s not tons of mountain restaurants like Zermatt, but given the foodies that we are, more so than skiers, we worked our ski areas around where we would go every day for lunch, and we did the Les Houches , Le Tour, Brevent, Flerege and even went to the Italy side to the Courmayer ski area over 6 days.

Chamonix Les Houches

First day of skiing in Les Houches ski area.

So where were my favourite eats in Chamonix, here’s the list, you’ve been warned, don’t blame me if you see a muffin top after eating through this list! And you must make reservations for all these restaurants, they get pretty packed especially during the Europe holidays and festive seasons. Good thing is all the restaurants are open for both lunch and dinner, but just check if they are open during the low season like late summer and autumn.

La Caleche 18 Rue du Dr Paccard, 74400 Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France
Tel: +33 4 50 55 94 68

Our first day of skiing in Les Houches, a good ski area near the centre of town to warm up for anyone led us to La Caleche in the main town area, given its close proximity by car. A classic Savoyard restaurant serving loads of meats and cheeses, this restaurant itself is worth a visit not just for its food but its quaint farmhouse style interior showing lots of old artefacts, giving it a really charming ambience. I ate so much cheese that I think I hit my quota for the whole week. One thing about Savoyard cuisine is it’s hard to do it repeatedly every day for sure.

Ski day with Manu, Y’s instructor at the Le Tour blue runs.

La Cabane Des Praz 23 Route du Golf, 74400 Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France, Tel: +33 4 50 53 23 27

Close to the main town area in a village Le Praz, La Cabane is housed in an idyllic farm lodge style house and serves a nice mix of contemporary and traditional French dishes. We came here after some long blue runs at Le Tour. The interiors had a nice warm feeling to it, with cow hide rugs and moving polar bear stuff toys – brownie points for this for sure! The people dining here also seemed quite the apres ski posh crowd but yet didn’t have the feeling of pretentiousness. The food was pretty good but the only gripe I had was the rather sketchy service when we were there, am not sure if it was poorly staffed only because we were there towards the end of the ski season.

La Bergerie Mont Blanc, 74400 Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France, Tel: +33 4 50 53 05 42

Located in the Brevent/Flerege ski area at 2000 m, this restaurant has one of the best views of the entire valley of the Mont Blanc mountain range, which was pretty breathtaking. Most of us had the classic entrecote for our main and avoided the starters, given we were gonna do some more skiing in Brevent in the afternoon. It’s definitely the perfect apres ski stop for a lunch break!

Outside of mountain restaurant La Bergerie.

View of the valley from La Bergerie and viewing deck.

Cute bear hosts greeting us.

Classic entrecôte for my main.

La Maison Carrier 44 Route du Bouchet, 74400 Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France, Tel: +33 4 50 53 00 03

After some tough but enjoyable blue runs in the Les Houches area, we came to this rather enchanting restaurant La Maison Carrier, one of 2 restaurants in the Hameau de Albert Premier Hotel, also recommended in the Relais & Chateaux list. This is my favourite restaurant in Chamonix, for its heartwarming interiors reminiscent of a French grandmother’s farm home, unfussy down to earth traditional French food – their meat dishes like pork knuckle in juniper berry and homemade black pudding was just delicious. And don’t get me started on the amazing dessert buffet of fabulous tarts, cakes and meringues. I am salivating just talking about this here.

If I come back to Chamonix the next time, I will definitely return to this restaurant plus also try out the other restaurant in the hotel – Albert 1er, a 2 Michelin star, more fine dining but very excellent food I hear from one of our friends who managed to eat here during the week.

La Maison Carrier exterior and deciding what to order.

Casa Valerio 90 Rue du Lyret, 74400 Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France, Tel: +33 4 50 55 93 40

This is the insider’s tip to the best pizza in Chamonix, thanks to our driver Daclan who swears by this place along with many other Chamonix locals. Trust me, after eating French food for a few days of lunch, we just couldn’t wait to try this award-winning pizza restaurant. The pizzas are cooked in wood burning oven situated in the dining area of the restaurant. Although it’s not Naples style which is my preferred style for pizza, I have to admit the thin crust with so many varieties of topping with top notch ingredients was just fabulous and disappeared very fast in all our tummies. My favourite amongst the many has to be the Tartufo Pizza topped with sunny side egg and black truffle, and the bianca pizzas (white pizzas with mainly cheese and no tomato) were amazing! Located along Rue de Lyret, Cafe Valerio is conveniently located near the central square, you can walk off the carbs after lunch.

Exterior of Casa Valerio.

On our last day in Chamonix, we decided to head out to the Italy side – Courmayer, which links Chamonix (France) to Courmayeur (Italy) via the 11.6km Mont Blanc tunnel. I think this is the beauty of skiing in France. You are spoilt for choice, we could also have gone to Megeve or even Courchevel, but we heard from the rest of the group that the food was pretty good and so were the runs. Just remember to bring your passport with you if you are coming from France.

Exterior of Maison Vielle – a cute shepherd’s hut

Maison Vielle Col Checrouit, 11013 Courmayeur – AO, Tel: +39 (0)337 230 979

This quaint mountain hut located on the mountain slopes, has a great convivial atmosphere run by the friendly owner Giacomo Calosi and his team of staff who greets the regulars who dine here like friends. Known for their pizzas, pastas and homemade desserts, this is a great place to recharge during skiing. We obviously went a bit overkill on the different pastas, my favourite being the penne arrabiata, and don’t forget to try their homemade focaccia. The ultimate was definitely their tiramisu, which was so creamy and divine. Accessible near the top of the Maison Vieille chairlift.

View of the quaint town in Chamonix which is chock full of shops from supermarkets, gourmet stores to even a Chanel store.

So where did we sleep this time round? After a good experience with luxury chalet operator Alpine Guru for our Zermatt trip in 2014, I approached Anthony one of the operators of Alpine Guru on options for a 7 bedroom in Chamonix. We found Chalet Serena, a spacious ski chalet located in the enclave of Prairie des Fleurs. We were lucky that the price was pretty decent at 17400 euros for a full week, self-catered and inclusive of 2 x 7-seater cars with full time drivers daily and extra housekeeping added, so if you don’t need these extras, it can be even cheaper. What’s a super plus point is all the rooms have balconies that look out onto the Mont Blanc, and the house is equipped with a whole spa area – personal massage room where a masseuse can be arranged, steam room, sauna plus even a hot jacuzzi and a tiny heated swimming pool.

And to top it off, the chalet is overlooked by the famous Christ Roi statue, which is really comforting knowing God is keeping us safe while we are travelling. This colossal statue, 25m high, is implanted on a rocky spur, overlooking the panorama of the Mont Blanc.

Enjoying the view from my balcony and the iconic Christ Roi statue from outside our chalet. 

You can enjoy some of the pictures of the chalet interiors below.

You can also get Alpine Guru to arrange any other requests you have such as restaurant reservations, ski bookings. In some cases, they will refer you directly to the chalet manager to quicken the process. Our chalet manager – Kat was very helpful and patient especially with the crazy mess we created every night doing a major cookout, and our 2 drivers – Daclan and Dragos was really nice and helpful with fetching us around and getting our ski stuff everyday.

I am not sure if I be back to Chamonix so soon, but I hope to return again next time when Y has reached some advanced level in her skiing 🙂 As for me, I am happy just eating and enjoying the snow!

With Daclan (Left) and Dragos (Right), and just one of the typical mornings with Dragos going to the ski slopes. 

Gorgeous views of Mont Blanc from our chalet.

Access to Chamonix: Nearest is Geneva Airport, followed by 1 hour drive to Chamonix, or Zurich Airport, followed by 3 hour drive to Chamonix.

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