Travels & Stay
The easiest way to get to Chamonix is either by car or plane.
By car – The fastest way to enter Chamonix from Switzerland from the north is by Vevey – Montreux – Martigny – Col du Forclaz and Col du Montets.
Coming up from the south, you will drive through Italy, the Aosta Valley, and the Mont Blanc tunnel to Chamonix. Alternatively, you drive up through France and enter the Chamonix valley by the Autoroute Blanche.
During the winter, you must watch the weather conditions when passing over the Col du Forclaz and Col du Montets. These two passes can be difficult to pass in a snowstorm and can even be closed sometimes if the avalanche risk is too high. In such cases, you can normally pass through a tunnel at certain times connecting Vallorcince with the rest of the Chamonix Valley. During winter, you should always bring snow chains. It is a good idea to drive by Geneva, avoiding these high passes in case of bad weather!
Check the Inforoute website for an overview of the road conditions in the Haute Savoie – Inforoute 74 website
With plane – The closest airport is Geneva, and many international flights land daily. There are a lot of transfer bus companies that will drive you from the airport to Chamonix.
Other airports include Basel, Milan, and Lyon. If flying to these airports, you must hire a car to continue your journey to Chamonix.
From Geneva Airport to Chamonix
You can take a bus transfer or hire a car from the airport.
Shared transfers are the cheapest, but unfortunately not always available, and you might end up waiting a while for other passengers. Booking a private transfer is quite expensive but will give you the best flexibility in terms of timing.
If you arrive on a late flight, be careful about booking a transfer bus with fixed departures. If your plane is late, the last transfer bus might be gone, and you risk getting stuck at the airport.
If your final destination is Argentiere or Vallorcine (further up the Chamonix Valley), booking your transfer bus all the way to your final destination is advised. Some buses only go to Les Houches and Chamonix. The last train going further up to Argentiere and Vallorcine departs the Chamonix train station at the latest around 19h. After this hour you would need to get a taxi, which could be expensive.
Many prefer to hire a car at the airport. This is possibly the best option as you will have the best flexibility. If you are 3 or more, the cost is not much more than taking a transfer bus.
As everyone has different needs for accommodation in the valley, we rarely include this in the course prices, and mostly only if we are going on a trip away from Chamonix, where a hotel would be part of an itinerary.
Please take a look at our accommodation page, where we have listed our recommendations.
When possible, we suggest booking directly with the hotel or service provider. Not only will you have direct contact with the establishment, but you can also check if they can be flexible on the nights you’ve booked. This could be interesting if we need to climb a summit to another day if the weather isn’t good enough.
Booking for the full stay will give you this flexibility, but this can be expensive in a hotel. In the peak season, you can’t expect hotels to be very flexible in terms of changing days.
The local buses and trains are great to get around in the valley. The hotel or other accommodation host should provide you with a “Carte d’Hote.” This carte gives you free access to the local bus and trains.
Having your own car or renting one in the airport gives you the best flexibility to explore the valley. You will find free or paid parking around all the departure points, whether a cable car station or a place to start a hike or ski tour.
On a course or privately guided tour, you can often drive to the course venue with the guide. You should compensate the guide for expenses (Fuel, parking, tunnel fees, etc. For larger groups, we can either hire a taxi or use the client’s cars to fit everyone in.
Weather & Conditions
In the Alps, we can have prolonged periods of high pressure with few clouds in the sky and warmer temperatures. On average, we are in a climate zone that benefits from enough precipitation to ensure good skiing during the winter and enough stable weather to make the summer months good for climbing.
Occasionally severe storms and extreme conditions make access to the mountains difficult. This can pose immediate problems for any specific objective. Still, as the Mont Blanc massive creates a division between weather fronts, we can often skip to another side of the mountain and enjoy better weather and conditions.
The summer is the best time for traditional alpine climbing and climbing 4000m summits.
Each summer month has a particularity; some mountains and alpine routes are better earlier than later. Routes that demand good snow and ice conditions are typically good in May and June (Tour Ronde NF, Migot & Forbes Ridge). If lots of snow falls high during the spring, some routes will take longer to settle. This is particularly true for routes presenting difficult and exposed ridge traversing. Only the very high mixed routes are good throughout July (Kuffner). Rock routes are good most of the summer, with the higher objectives mainly on rock from around mid-July (Matterhorn, Eiger, etc.).
During the summer season, we often have afternoon thunderstorms. This happens when the warm air rises and meets the cold atmosphere, producing clouds, precipitation, and, sometimes, a variable degree of severe lightning storms. These will typically clear during the evening and the night as the temperatures drop. The following morning is often clear with fresh, crisp air. As the isotherm 0 is much higher in summer than in winter, only the upper mountain receives snow when we have precipitation.
Climbing in the early morning and getting down the mountain before the early afternoon is a rule of thumb for safe climbing to avoid afternoon thunderstorms and ensure firm and safe passage on glaciers and snow climbs.
Yes, you can drink good tap water in Chamonix. No problem!