Skiing and snowboarding in Chamonix have always been our bucket list but we were pretty new to this winter sports. So the previous year, we had our snowboard lesson at Feldberg, Germany and during summer time, we travelled to Chamonix to check out the area.
Chamonix during summer has far more activities than what we can do in winter. During winter in Chamonix, it is probably snowboarding and skiing. Some adventurous one will try paragliding.
This time in February, we have our cousins from Singapore to accompany us for the trip. Their skill level in snowboarding is more gaolat than a newbie like me.
The initial research was pretty extensive as we need to find a 3 bedroom apartment, coordinate the transportation schedule and checking out car rentals. Like how to get from Paris to Chamonix, which ski rental to take in Chamonix, which ski pass to get in Chamonix and what slopes is suitable for us.
Our cousins arrived at Charles De Gaulle airport, got the rental car, picked us up at Sens and off we go to Chamonix!
The journey from Paris to Sens and Chamonix takes roughly around 6 hours with breaks and dinner in between.
Because we are unable to get our stay for the night, so we check into a hotel at Sallanches before checking in to our Airbnb stay the next day.
We had an awesome stay at this Hotel Ibis Sallanches budget hotel. This hotel is on the way from Paris to Chamonix. And as our Chamonix Airbnb stay is not available today, so we have to find a stay near to Chamonix. This is the first time we are staying at Ibis Budget Chain hotels. We were quite surprised by the standard they have.
Location: They are located near to the highway, and surrounding the area there is Mcdonalds and a petrol kiosk. Sufficient for a short stay.
Check in/out: Checking in is fast and easy, the reception staff just hand us a slip with the door pin code and off we are to the rooms.
Value: The room is simple yet equipped with modern facilities. The light switch is conveniently placed at the bedhead area, the toilet is clean and bright.
All these for just €57 a night! Where to find sia?
Because we had driven to Chamonix during the summer before so driving there another time is easy for us.
We were deciding between the limited options of Airbnb in Chamonix. So this eventually came to our final decision.
Tim was very prompt and detailed in his response, and during the check-in, he gave us a lot of information on Chamonix.
Location: The location of this Airbnb is superb. It is away from the busy streets but within short walking distance to the city centre. 5 mins walk to Les Planard Slope, 10 mins walk to the city centre of Michael Croz, 5-8 mins walk to Sanglard Ski Rental. 2 minutes drive from Carrefour Supermarket.
Check-In/Out: Anytime after 4 pm, but we can store our luggage at his garage. And Tim will try to welcome us to the apartment and gave us a detailed welcome to the apartment and Chamonix as well.
Communication: Prompt and responsive. Gave us a lot of information and his replies are very fast.
Value: It is close to S$100 per night per person, but the apartment has everything that you need for a family stay. 3 Bedrooms, big dining table, well-equipped kitchen. Clean and spacious living room and proper heating facilities.
Good For: Groups of 5 - 7 People. There is 2 bedrooms of double bed and another bedroom of a bunk bed for 2. If you have the 7th person, he can take the living room's sofa bed.
Cons: Don't exactly have a con for this, Quite a perfect Airbnb place to stay in Chamonix.
We were recommended Sanlard ski rental which is an only a 3 mins drive away. Although it is not the cheapest around here, the service and quality are top notches. Smiley service,
What are the difference and unique of Sanglard ?
It is the free glide service at €2 a day? Which does not matter to me, but our cousin who wants to ski and snowboard for the days we are on the slopes.
Wah, I tell the journey to get to this Omelette is jialat. Because this restaurant is located on the busy street of Chamonix, getting a vacant parking place is challenging. We managed to find a place to park, but it is covered with snow, and we got some difficulty parking there.
Finally, we got a decent lot, and while walking over, we slipped on black ice along an alley and bruised my elbow.
The journey to eat the omelette is so tedious; I think it is easier to just settle for Mcdonald’s lor.
Service: As we were there early, so there is not a crowd compared to the previous time we patronise the restaurant. So, they served us almost immediately.
Food: It is good, tasty omelette and very savoury. There is a lot choice to add into your omelette like ham, minced meat, cheese or mushrooms.
Value: So for €11-€13, you get a plate of omelette with salad and french fries. Quite decent value.
Glad that the omelette met our expectation, but with these dramas, almost 2-3 hours is taken away from our snowboarding.
We were advised by our Airbnb host to go to Brevent/Flegere for today , but the ski rental shop advises on going to Les Houches somehow. So we went Les Houches for our first day of snowboarding.
Getting up: From the carpark, you have to take a gondola up the first level of the slopes, and you can commence snowboarding. As I am only a beginner (this is my 2nd season), I can only form the S. This slope is rather challenging and complicated. There are quite a few flat runs initially, and the markings were also complicated.
There is once we took the wrong turn and went to a T Bar lift which only 1 of our cousin can make it up again. So they had to call the snowmobile down to pick us up one by one to a checkpoint where we are supposed to go the Blue Trail.
So Free Snowmobile Ride, why not right?
After a run down and numerous fall, we finally reach the bottom of the slope where the Gondola is. And I was encouraged to go for a 2nd run.
It is around 4 pm, and the area is getting foggy on the slopes. After numerous attempt to clear the flat run, we were eventually chased by the Ski staffs.
Me being the most beginner was advised by the ski staff to the snowmobile up to the ski station and take the Gondola down.
Quite worth it lah, I sat 2 round of snowmobile and 3 times Gondola.
Overall: Les Houches slope is not for beginners. Probably for experience snowboarders doing red runs. Definitely not for a beginner like me.
As we are staying very nice Carrefour, buying ingredients for dinner are so much convenient. We prepared for ourselves curry chicken for the evening! Wooo!
Brevent is a much friendlier slope than Les Houches.
Getting Up: From the bottom, you will need to take a Gondola up to the slopes where there is another chairlift bringing you higher. Still, Brevent is challenging for a beginner like me. There are some parts of a blue run which is good for practising your turns.
From Brevent, you can take a gondola to link to Flegere, where I find there are also pretty exciting slopes around.
Overall: Brevent / Flegere is suitable for Blue and Red runs. There are some black trails which I think will be very risky to bring me along. So I thank the cousins for not exploring this option.
Shiok ah, home cooked bak kut teh during winter is a super shiok thing. After the cold, it is always good to enjoy a bowl of hot brewing bak kut teh. Look at the happiness in Terence's eyes. He had 3 bowl of soup for dinner!
Today we are exploring another slope in Chamonix. It is a 15mins drive from the centre of Chamonix.
Similar to the previous slope, you need to take a gondola up to the slope where all the activities are.
From there, there is another chairlift that takes you up again.
Today we have superb weather, sunny and clear skies. You can see the surrounding mountains and so beautiful. What a great day to ski!
And the slopes are much more gentle than the previous slopes we went. Definitely a slope for the beginner like me.
It is wide, spacious and slopes are not so steep. Best place for me to learn my s turn.
But, my happiness was short-lived.
The cousins who went to the other side of the mountains came back and encouraged me to join them as the view is superb. The route was tough because it was narrow and flat ground.
I have difficulty on flat grounds somehow. But Terence steady, he was skiing and used his ski pole to tow me till some slopes I can go on my own.
The journey through the mountain and slope are beautiful but the fall I had kinda destroyed me, especially on flat grounds.
After a hectic day at the slopes, we decided to eat out and shop at the same time. I think the girls will need some shopping if not the wallet seems uncomfortable lah.
So after shopping, we wanted to head for our 2 shortlisted places for dinner. The Pizzeria Des Moulins was full and not accepting any more customers.
And the Ramen, was full as well.
That is why we ended up with Mcdonalds.
After considering the 3 slopes, we went for Balme again because of the vast and gentler slopes they have. And I requested for more practice session at the blue slopes while the champions go mountain hopping at the more challenging slopes.
The weather was foggier today but still better than the fog at Les Houches. And I did 9 runs with the slopes, with more confidence at the S turn at the slopes.
Overall, it was a very steep learning curve for me, for the first 3 days. And the cousins have to wait for me for some time, and they rotated waiting for me. Appreciate that. It is like a L plate following the sports car. Hope the next snowboard trip will get better.
We booked the place for dinner, and we only have a slot at 7 pm when we called at 12 pm on the same day.
So we washed up and head for our highly anticipated dinner.
Service: Was good, we were ushered to our seats. Although is a bit tight for the 5 of us, but still manageable. The menu is pretty clear, we got served less than 15 mins after ordering.
Food: Quite a lot selection of pizzas, we ordered 4 different pizzas for the 5 of us. I especially like the dough of the pizza, and the salmon and Tartufata pizza is something you should try.
Value: Pretty good value. Imagine €13 for a pizza. We couldn’t finish the pizza not because it is not nice, but it is too much for the 5 of us. Beer cost €4, and soft drinks at €3. Pretty decent.
Of course, we had a game to guess the bill. And the forfeit, to shout out, Chamonix Best Pizza.
So guess how much was the bill?
5 Drinks ( 1 Beer, 1 Wine and 3 soft drinks) and a dessert.
Of course, we have to have some more shopping and to walk around Chamonix right? Chamonix is pretty different from the most of France. The shops are open on Sunday, all day. And we all fans of Superdry. At that time, they had 50% off on their retail items.
So Mai Tu Liao !!
We had this ramen during summer, find it pretty expensive for a small portion. But still, it is good food during winter. We were lucky that the owner allow us in for lunch at 2.30pm where they are closing at 2.30pm.
Service: good, because they allow us in at their closing time. The area is pretty small, and you have to seat on the bar stools instead of dining chairs. Perhaps this way, customers will not hog the seats.
Food: Normal decent ramen, not the best we have eaten, the soup is a little bland, but we still gobbled all up.
Value: if you are craving for soupy food, you can try here. €13 for a bowl of ramen.
And so we drove back from Chamonix back to Sens. A total of 6.5 hours and paid close €50 of toll fees.
With our cousins here, of course, we have to bring them somewhere to shop. We were considering between Troyes and La Vallee and decided on La Vallee because it is nearer to the Airport.
This is our 2nd time to La Vallee Village at first we didn’t think much of that shopping village, but later on we realised they have a commercial centre beside La Vallee and Primark is there!
So you have a lot of shopping options at this place.
This could be our last winter in France while we preparing our relocation back to Singapore.
We will like to thank our cousins, Ling, August, Terence for making a trip to France and Sens. Accompanying us for the snowboard trip and of course their patience with me while I learn how to snowboard.
Next snowboard trip I foresee maybe in 2 years' time - Japan!
Don is a Kiasu Singaporean that blogs his journey while exploring Europe. A Singapore Travel Blog that provides travel guides and tips on how to travel free and easy in Europe.
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