The Ultimate Action Sports Guide To Chamonix, France

View of Mont Blanc through the clouds on the Chamonix side

You have probably heard of Chamonix for it’s freeride terrain but there is more to discover around the Mont Blanc valley. 

Hungry for the outdoors? You’ve found the perfect place to feed on what’s the mountains have to offer.

The area welcomes more than 400,000 outdoor enthusiasts each summer, so we will make sure you get the best advises on how to enjoy Chamonix far away from the crowded activities. From river surfing to ski mountaineering be prepared to have a rad time.

Where to start in Chamonix and The Mont Blanc Valley

Stunning landscape shop of Chamonix and the mont blanc valley area

First of all, do not only stop at Chamonix itself. There is much more to see and do, from Courmayeur (on the other side of the Mont Blanc tunnel) to the small unknown town of Arenthon (along the A40 Highway before the Mont Blanc Valley) you will find many thrilling activities to do, far from the Chamonix crowed.

Of course enjoying the famous Vallée Blanche with a guide, paragliding from the top of the Aiguille du Midi or rafting down the river Arve are activities you will not want to miss in Chamonix. But there is more, and if you take the time to cruise around the area you will discover it’s epic attractions.

The Classics

Ski Mountaineering

ski mountaineering in Chamonix

Photo credit: Antoine Bouvier

The renown activity here is of course ski mountaineering. Right before summer you will still be able to enjoy La Vallée Blanche accessible from the top of Aiguille du midi. To be on the safe side be sure to get a guide with you as you are entering some of the most dangerous mountains in the world.

So be sure to pay attention to weather forecasts and snow conditions and to be well equipped with an Avalanche search device, probe and shovel. If you feel like discovering more of the mountains around you can go for the 6 days Chamonix-Zermatt a route opened in 1903 by Chamonix guides.

To organise a guide contact Compagnie des Guide who will sort you out with everything you need.

Paragliding

Paragliding in Chamonix

Photo credit: Martin Beaujouan

Another classic activity in the region is to enjoy the views from above. Either you are an experienced paraglider or just want to discover how flying feels, there is something for everyone.

For experienced gliders who have never flown here, be aware of the valley breeze and high mountain flight conditions can sometime make it dangerous to fly. Be careful as well as conditions change very quickly in this area.

There are multiple starting areas. Hard ones such as the Mont Blanc, the Aiguille du Midi, Les Grand Montets where you will need alpinisme experience. (Note that it is forbidden to fly at l’Aiguille du Midi from beginning of July to end of August in order to keep the air space for rescue teams).

You can also get to easier take off areas like  Planpraz, Les Houches, La Flégère, Plan de l’aiguille where a lift takes you and there is no glacier to conquer.

For those who want to discover paragliding check the school lists here.

Trekking / Hiking

trekking and hiking in Chamonix

The Chamonix Area is the perfect place to walk and enjoy amazing landscapes. Again the diversity of the place allows you to find hikes for every level.

There are so many itineraries to discover. Two I think that you cannot miss are:

One a 6 to 10 days trek around the Mont Blanc for which you will want to get a guide. This walk starts and finish in Chamonix and go through Courmayeur and Champex.

Secondly the “Lac Blanc” for a two hour hike. Located in the Aiguilles Rouges Natural reserve this hike will blow your mind. Starting from the Index Chair lift at the Brevet resort or mid resort at La Flégère, the hike ends up at 2352m with a beautiful view of the Lac Blanc facing a unique panorama of Mont Blanc.

Trail Running

trail running in Chamonix

Chamonix offers one of the best terrain in the world for trail running. You will find 18 marked tracks reserved for trail running from 1 to 8 hours. Check out every itinerary on Vallee Du Trail and start running.

Climbing

climbing in Chamonix

Photo credit: Geoffroy Graff

Another classic from Chamonix is climbing. Something you won’t be able to miss. From Via Ferrata to canyoning the possibilities are endless. Make sure to hook up with a local who can take you to the best spot.

Check out Geoffroy Graff Guide in the climbing session or find your guide in Le bureau des Guide in Chamonix.

White Water Rafting

white water rafting in Chamonix

In order to raft the Arve river in Chamonix you have the choices of many different schools.

If you decide to go rafting you will go through a 10km descent starting in les Praz for 1h15 of a Classe III river. Make sure you take a dip in the cool water of the Arve.

A school to check out is Session Raft. They have one office in Passy and one in Chamonix and have a mix of packages to enjoy the whitewater.

Secret Spots 

River surfing

One of the hidden secret of Chamonix that not many riders know about is river surfing. There is a small surfable wave at the bottom off the Mont Blanc Valley that is accessible and awesome fun.

To find it get out of Chamonix and all the way down in the valley. Take exit 21 and follow the Arve down all the way to a hardware store, take a small road to the left and you should see the wave 100m further on. To get to it you need to cross the river on a green bridge further down and walk your way up to the spot.

BMX at the Pump track

bmx pump track in Chamonix

There are many pump tracks around the valley but one you will enjoy for BMX is the in Combloux  village (before Megève). With the best panorama of Mont Blanc, this fun pump track is the best place to have an epic afternoon with friends.

Skate Bowl

skate park in Chamonix

If you want to get some skate action in between your thrilling mountain activities you have at least two good options.

Either you stay in Chamonix to enjoy their bowl located right next to the paragliders landing. Make sure to get a beer and a burger at Micro Brasserie De Chamonix BC right after.

Alternatively you can go down the A40, take exit 20, head for Sallanches Hospital and you will find one of the smoothest bowl to ride in the valley, again it has one of the best views of Mont Blanc.

Action

Downhill mountain biking

There are so many option to bike around Chamonix you will surely find your way around. But if you take the time to explore around you will find loads of fun trails.

Do not stay only in Chamonix, get to resorts at the beginning of the Valley like Megève or even on the other side Plaine Joux. Plaine Joux to Passy at the bottom of the valley  has a cool forest track with no-one around.

Don’t forgot Les Houches MTB DH trails (from the 10th of June to the 9th of September) which is a must!

Skydiving

skydiving in Chamonix

Photo credit: Seb Chambet

You can skydive at Megève or Chamonix. If you have your C certificate you can enjoy Heli and Plane jumps above the Mont Blanc valley for 80€. If you’d like to do a tandem jump it is possible too. Just check with the local schools to get you started from Megève check Parachutisme 74 or from Chamonix go to Mont Blanc Skydive.

Basejumping / Wingsuiting

Basejumping and Wingsuiting in Chamonix is reserved for the highly skilled wingsuiter. It has recently been banned for 6 months after an accident in October 2016.

The most famous exit point is from Breven where you can see wingsuiter and speed flyers jump pretty much everyday. If you want to enjoy some more accessible jumps in the Area, head down to Magland right at the start of the Arve Valley.

Above Magland you will be able to find an exit point starting from La Colonnaz. Make sure you find a local base jumper first in order to learn more about the exit and the conditions. Just hoover around the D1205 road just before Bellegarde during sunny summer mornings and you will surely meet local base jumpers.

Wakeboarding

wakeboarding in Chamonix

If you feel like getting outside of the Valley, just drive 30 minutes from Chamonix down the A40 highway and get out on exit 16 to head to the best cable park in the area, TNA Cable Park.

TNA Cable Park is perfect to chill in the sun have a cool lunch and enjoy an afternoon riding with the local crowd.

Events

If you plan to come visit this incredible area you will also enjoy world renown events and meet some of the best athletes on the planet. Here are a few spring summer event for you to choose from.

Mont Blanc Marathon: 22-25 June, 2017
Chamonix Yoga Festival: 30 June- 2 July, 2017
Climbing World Cup: 11-13 July, 2017
Ultra Trail Mont Blanc: 28 August – 3 September, 2017

Feature image of Mont Blanc. Photo credit: Cristian Bortes

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Yohann Kelkel

Yohann Kelkel is an action sports and traveler addict born in the French Alps and now living next to Chamonix Mont Blanc, a place where outdoors never stop calling for new adventures. Passionate snowboarder, skateboarder, surfer, wakeboarder, freeflyer, wingsuiter he always finds a new spot to enjoy outdoor challenges. Working for a snowboard brand and as a writer for the French magazine Snowsurf (Nivéales Editions) – http://www.snowsurf.com – he relentlessly searches for new experiences in Chamonix and throughout the world.

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