In December 2018 we visited Chamonix for the first time and what a wonderful place it was.
We flew with Easyjet from Gatwick into Geneva and then hired a car as I found this the cheapest and easiest way to get from the airport from Chamonix. The flight was quick under 2 hours but unfortunately our flight was delayed due to French air traffic control strike and the plane needing to be deiced. This meant our flight was late landing and we incurred a €50 charge for the staff member at Sixt to be there out of hours.
The car journey was straight forward and it took just over an hour to get from the airport at Geneva to our hotel in Chamonix. There were several tolls along the way which we pay for by our card we use for traveling, the total from memory came to just under €15.
I booked for us to stay at Heliopic Hotel & Spa and I have to say it was an excellent hotel. We arrived around 1am and the reception staff offered a speedy check in so that we could get to our room promptly. When we entered our room it was large and spacious, bunk beds for the children and a queen size bed for my husband and I. We had a large balcony facing the Aiguille du Midi cable car station – it was a little cold to sit there for any length of time unless you wrapped up! There was a reasonably size bathroom with one of my favorite beauty brands Nuxe as the complementary hotel toiletries. The maid made up our room every day and was wonderfully helpful whenever we needed something, many times she acted before we even had to ask.
After a brief sleep, we were all excited to explore we went to explore what Chamonix had to offer. I can tell you that there is a massive amount that Chamonix has to do, see and try. As we went a few days before the start of their winter season and left two days after the start we were limited to how much we could do, however we had no trouble filling our days.
There was a great selection of food available with Poco Loco, Le Fournil Chamoniard, Irish Coffee and Little Boxes being our favorites. We had breakfast at the hotel and it was great, with a large selection of continental and cooked breakfast including fresh pancakes was served in the hotel restaurant. The hotel also offered free bottled water, cartons of juice, sweets and popcorn at the reception area – I believe there was coffee too but we never used this.
We had wanted to visit the Aiguille du Midi but it was still closed for maintenance whilst we were there. Instead we decided to visit the Brévent cable car and take in the views from the mountain top. Now you may not think it but my youngest son and I are afraid of heights but we found this okay (over 8000ft), I always have encouraged myself to make sure that I take all precautions and we will be find and guess what we were!
Whilst I know that many people visit Chamonix for skiing and snowboarding there is still lots of other things to do here too, admittedly I would say that we would not go mid skiing season as it would not be worth it for us at the moment. My husband can ski, I have only ever skied on a dry slope and my children have never skied. We would like to learn but due to an accident a couple of years ago on a sled my son’s are a little apprehensive; after visiting Chamonix he is more interested in learning again (this is what we had hoped).
The buses and train in the valley are free for people staying in hotels in Chamonix – make sure you collect your Carte d’Hôte (Guest Card). We used the train to explore and visit the other villages in the valley. But we didn’t use the bus, therefore our car stayed in the hotel parking garage the whole time we were in Chamonix, as we did not need it.
In the evenings after busy days exploring the valley, we chilled at the lovely hotel spa and then headed back to our room where we borrowed the hotel games to play; with one game of Disney Monopoly lasting 4 hours into the early hours of the morning.
This is a brief account of our trip, I should have written it up before Christmas! We had an amazing time in Chamonix and cannot wait to return, with some snowboarding/skiing next time or maybe some hiking if we visit in the summer. You can find all the links in my Chamonix Pinterest board.