Chamonix (Les Houches), France
Les Houches is situated 6km from Chamonix centre but its ski area is still covered by the regional Mont Blanc lift pass (which also includes resort of St Gervais). It is a pleasant village sitting in the shade of the Mont Blanc Massif comprising a pretty church and some charming, luxury chalets.
The ski area has the largest number of prepared runs in the Chamonix Valley and is almost entirely made up of wooded slopes which are hugely popular when the weather is bad and the threat of avalanches close the other high alpine areas. In good weather the slopes tend to be much quieter making Les Houches a great resort for a family ski holiday.
The high altitude ski area of the Grands Montets (Argentiere) is a short drive away from Les Houches and is covered if you buy the full area pass. The highest skiing on the Grands Montets is over 3,800 metres so there are no snow reliability issues there.
The village of Les Houches is quiet at night with a pleasant selection of bars and restaurants (although buses run in and out of Chamonix all evening). Les Houches is a relaxing, quiet resort but it’s good to know that the nightlife and shopping of Chamonix town are within easy reach.
Pros & Cons
- Good for beginners and intermediates with nice open and gentle blue runs at top of main lifts
- Great tree skiing on the back of the mountain towards St Gervais
- A good place to stay and then to drive and discover nearby resorts
- Good value for money mountain restuarants with great views of Mont Blanc
- Families looking to stay in the Chamonix Valley
- Village is spread out so getting to lifts can involve a car or bus journey
- Queues to get up the mountain can get bad on peak weeks
- Snow cover on lower slopes is not reliable but there is a fair amount of snowmaking
- Nightlife is quiet with just a few local bars and restaurants
The village of Les Houches is quiet but there are some pleasant restaurants. Marmotte offers traditional dishes and Savoie specialities and Basilic has traditional and seasonal dishes. There are a few hotels with restaurants you are able to dine in including Saint Antoine, Pele and Caprice. Or if you just fancy a take away pizza, make a visit to Piccolina.
In good weather Les Houches is a great area to go have a quiet lunch and enjoy the views from several lovely restaurants, which are often cheaper than those in the Chamonix Valley. Try Hors Piste, Cha, Chalette or Prarion.
There are some bars in Les Houches and a few new bars have been opened recently. It is also easy enough to experience the apres ski in chamonix and then get the resort bus back to Les Houches (or you could see if you chalet hosts can come and get you!).
There are four main areas for nightlife; Le Prarion, La Bellevue, Le Centre and St-Antoine, which are all along the main road running through Les Houches.