What's New in Chamonix

Editorial

Budding freestylers will finally be able to try out those big moves with a soft landing

We’ve already seen the first snowfalls in the Chamonix valley and that always makes us think of the forthcoming winter season. The resort is gearing up for the 2011/2012 ski season and everywhere you look there are renovation works and improvements both in Chamonix town and up on the pistes.

Here’s our tour of what’s new for the 2011/2012 winter season in Chamonix town:

  1. Car parking – the era of free car parks in Chamonix is quickly coming to an end as works have been going on over Autumn to turn the large car parks near the ice rink into paying outdoor parking. In high season it’s almost impossible to park anywhere in Chamonix, so if you haven’t got a private spot with your accommodation, you might want to think about getting an airport transfer from Geneva , rather than hiring a car or driving out. Oh and petrol is the same price as it is in the UK now too!
  2. New clothing shops galore! It’s all change with the former Quiksilver shop now a WE Clothing store and Quicksilver is moving to where Ogier Sports was next to the Croix Blanche hotel. Ogier themselves are moving to the former ‘Salle des Jeux’ games arcade at the top of rue du Moulin. Phew! There is also a new boutique for Sun Valley on the avenue Michel Croz by the main train station that will showcase the upmarket mountain clothing brand.
  3. New home for all things shiny and precious - if you know Chamonix you’ll know that the little old-fashioned shop selling precious stones and crystals on the crossroads of avenue Mont Blanc and rue Joseph Vallot has been there forever. Retirement has meant the building has been sold to none other than the ‘Comptoir National de Geologie ’, which is a French body that does clever stuff like building drones and robotics, has mineral, crystal and gemology experts as well as cartographers. All clever stuff and will be fascinating to have a browse around.
  4. Fancy a cuppa? The little ski hire shop called Snowrama on avenue Michel Croz has closed down and is set to become a tea shop! Called La Gelateria, we’re assuming it’s going to be yummy Italian ice cream and tasty Italian coffee (so much better than that bitter French coffee!).
Secret spot Le Tour - Domaine de Balme ChamonixA complete renovation for the new Quiksilver shop in the heart of ChamonixA complete renovation for the new Quiksilver shop in the heart of ChamonixWorks underway at the new Geology HQ in ChamonixWorks underway at the new Geology HQ in Chamonix

As for what’s new on the slopes of the Chamonix valley, although there are no new ski lifts or any large investments, there are some interesting changes:

  1. Lift pass payments – for the first time ever the Chamonix lift company Compagnie du Mont Blanc is offering season or annual lift passes payable in three separate payments. It doesn’t cost you any more and you pay 50% on ordering, with 25% being taken in January and the last 25% in February. Of course, you will need credit or debit card that will remain valid until at least the beginning of February 2012 to be able to do this! You can read our recent article on Chamonix lift passes for the 2011/2012 winter season for the full run down on prices and options.
  2. New mountain restaurants. Chamonix has never had a reputation for excellent food in the mountain restaurants, so it’ll be interesting to see whether the new places opening for this first time this winter cut the mustard. There is the Adret in La Flegere as the main restaurant and the Tendance Foehn that will serve as the snack bar for drinks and quick bites to eat. Over in Balme ski area, the little wooden chalets under Les Autannes chair lift will finally be re-opening after several years of closure and on the piste next to the Posettes drag lift, L’Alpage restaurant (our favourite!) has had an extension to increase the number of tables and chairs they can accommodate.
  3. Big Air Bag – budding freestylers will be able to try out those big moves with a soft landing on the big air bag that will be installed at the bottom of the Stade piste in Brevent. Go flying through the air at 2000m above sea level!
  4. Boardercross – La Balme is to get a brand new boardercross on the front side of the mountain next to the Autannes chair lift using the natural half pipe that is just off the existing red piste.
  5. New high luminosity webcams – the lift company has invested in high tech cameras that will give you a superb view of the pistes with quality web cam images all over the Chamonix valley. New cameras will be at the bubble lift in Vallorcine, the Poste de Secours at the top of col Cornu in Brevent and the entrance to the ice grotto at Montenvers to name but a few. We will be bringing you all these new webcams on our site too!
  6. Aiguille du Midi gallery – millions of euros are going to be invested over the coming years to renovate the Aiguille du Midi site. The first project is a new glass gallery that will see you walking along glass panels that give you that ‘touching the void’ feeling! Not for the fainthearted. There are also plans for a new museum and to improve the site in general over the coming seasons.