Comparing with other French sport centers the village of Chamonix is located at a relatively low altitude above sea level (1035 m). But it did not prevent Charmonix from becoming the most famous of Alpine resorts, since it is located at the foot of Mont Blanc, the greatest European mountain (4807 m), and 90% of its trails are laid at the altitude over 2000 m. Having settled in these places in XII century, black monks could hardly imagine the prominent future waiting for this modest mountain village.
In 1924 Chamonix hosted the first Winter Olympic Games. The annual number of tourists here is approximately equal to that at the Niagara Falls and Fujiyama volcano. Here the longest cable way stretches to the highest altitude in the world. Skiing opportunities here are unique by their diversity.
The Chamonix Valley extends to 15 km. On the slopes of Balme pass (2204 m) near Le Tour village the trails are mostly easy.
Above the next village of Argentiere Aiguille Verte mountain (4121 m) is easily seen. Its slopes at the elevation of 2300 - 3100 m are perfect for experienced skiers. One of the best trails leads from Grand Montes over the edge of the Argentiere glacier (8000 m, elevation change 2070 m). The most difficult one is Trail des Pylones (4100 m, elevation change 1260 m). There are many downhill opportunities in Grands Montets area aside of marked trails, as well as between Croix de Lognan (1965 m) and Bochard (2800 m). These places are connected by numerous lifts.
The village of Chamonix lies between two mountains – Aiguille du Midi (3842 m) and Le Brevent (2525 m). The slopes of Le Brevent Mountain are steep at their bottom and top parts, but easy in the middle (the length of the downhill 9400 m, elevation change 1460 m). There are no prepared trails on Aiguille du Midi, but the virgin slope of the White Valley is famous round the world (Valee Blanche, 20 km, of which 14 km over the glacier). It is opened for skiing from February to May provided appropriate weather conditions. The lift leads to the top station from where the view of Italian Alps opens, and then skiers have to overcome 300 m by foot over the abyss, that is, of course, for courageous only. The slope seems to be rather gentle, but it has a lot of dangers: one shall be able to bypass broken ice and snow drifts. The most difficult section is that with ice blocks at the lower edge of the glacier. So it is considered that skiing in the White Valley is possible only in instructor-guided groups and having special equipment and food, because the weather here may change in several minutes.
There is one more village in the valley - Les Houches. There are also many prepared trails here. The most difficult are Bellevue (2500 m, elevation change 820 m) and Trail internationale (2000 m, elevation change 960 m), the most beautiful one is Col de Voza (3300 m, elevation change 650 m). Le Tourchet trail (400 m) is lightened on Thursdays from 20.00 to 22.00.
The upper lift stations in Mont Blanc area are located at high altitude, that’s why those who love ski tours usually start their way to the glaciers or to Pas de Chevre from here and not from the valley. The network of lifts connects Chamonix with Courmayeur on the Italian side of Mont Blanc and Le Chatelard on the Swiss side of Balme pass. The opportunities for tours over the neighboring valleys are so great and diverse that to get exhaustive information one shall use tourist office services.
Apres-ski opportunities are also diverse: from casino and bridge-club to library and Alpine museum. O’Lympide sport center offers its halls and swimming pools for various sports.