In order to give you a taste of what to expect skiing in Chamonix, this series will explore the Chamonix Valley’s main ski areas. Sometimes referred to as resorts (although we prefer not to as they’re all towns and villages), a ski area is a focal point for mountaineers to ascend and take on the Mountains in front of them.
Chamonix is blessed with 5 ski areas, starting at the very bottom at Les Houches and rising to the top with today’s focus, Le Tour. Below we’ll explore what you’ll find at Le Tour, exactly where it is and throw in some local tips for making the most of your time there.
Getting to Le Tour
As we’ve mentioned before, Le Tour is at the top of the valley. It sits at 1450m altitude, lending itself to plenty of snow throughout the season. Depending on where you’re staying, the best arrangements for travel are either to drive or hop on the excellent (and frequent) buses that operate across the valley.
Any travel via bus is covered by your ski pass, so don’t worry about digging any change out with your ski equipment to lug about. Le Tour is approximately 20 minutes from the centre of Chamonix town, and less than 10 minutes from the popular village of Argentiere.
If you do decide to take a car, there’s ample parking close to the lift. It gets trickier to park as the day goes on, so make sure you’re there before lunchtime to play it safe. Le Tour is the perfect place to start early and go all day, so that’s even more of a reason to arrive nice and early!
Skiing & Boarding at Le Tour
Le Tour is home to the Balme ski lift, with small cable cars that sit no more than 6 at a time. Before we talk about going up though, it’s worth mentioning that there is an excellent beginners area here - known as the Vormaine area. It’s got a variety of drag lifts and nice wide slopes - perfect for those first few runs. Surrounding this area there’s multiple cafes and restaurants, making it an ideal spot to take (and knacker) the children.
At the top of the balme lift you’ll find another excellent cafe, as well the main chair lift to the top of the Domaine du Balme. From there, there are plenty of options to explore: lovely red and blue runs that mirror each other, some truly awesome off piste as well as connecting runs that take you over to the vallorcine side of the area. This variety means you can spend hours here without doing the same run twice - we get the feeling that some of them are worth repeating though!
In total there’s 19 pistes, with a single black run and the rest made up of reds and blues. This makes Le Tour a great option for intermediate skiers, as well as for big groups who want to split up.
There’s arguably some of the best off-piste here, with a highlight being an awesome run down through the trees to the foot of vallorcine. With the option to either go back up or even hop on the train back into Chamonix town, definitely keep this one in mind.
We’ve shared some useful information about hitting the slopes above, but there’s more insider information about the area worth sharing.
Le Passon near the car park is a wonderful restaurant, and great place to rendezvous after a big morning for a good lunch. The place is quite cosy so for bigger groups it’s always worth booking ahead of time. If you’re looking for some serious refuelling, make sure to try the local tartiflette - a delicious mix of lardons, local cheese and potatoes.
As you arrive on the slopes at the top of the ski lift there’s a great meeting spot in the form of a cafe on your right. It’s rear outside area provides some great views of the mountain ranges and below. Perfect for a meeting point before taking the red back down to the car park!
All in all we think Le Tour is one of the best places to offer all season - with variety, great food & drink options as well as some awesome off-piste there’s something for everyone. If you’re thinking about joining us in the Chamonix this winter, make sure Le Tour is in your plans!