When to go?

La Forêt May 6th, 2007

A year in Chamonix is a round of proper seasons – fresh springs, warm summers, golden autumns and white winters. Like all mountains, Mont Blanc is a weathermaker, and conditions can change very quickly. Here’s a rundown of what to expect…

Alpenglow on Les Drus - 1
January brings snow, snow, lots of snow! It’s normally very cold – temperatures rarely get much above freezing, so the conditions are great for skiing and snowboarding. After New Year, the slopes are very quiet, and accomodation is often much cheaper at this time.

Clouds in the Chamonix valley from Flegere
February is a few degrees warmer and the snow is superb. It’s a busy time with school half terms, so make sure you book accommodation well in advance.

March brings steadily warmer weather and still great snow, with more sun and clear views

April – spring skiing, and Easter holidays bring everyone out to enjoy the sun and snow. This is often a very beautiful time in the valley, with early blossom starting to appear on the trees as spring begins, and still great conditions on the slopes, since most are above 2000m. Don’t forget the sunblock…



Spring blossom., originally uploaded by melwigg.

May is when the lifts finally close – look out for the Freeride Days closing party, usually early in the month. It can still be a good time to do high altitude off piste like the Vallee Blanche and ski touring such as the Haute Route to Zermatt. The lower hikes start to be accessible. Ski or board in the morning, then hike, climb, golf or mountain bike in the afternoons! The Aiguille du Midi remains open, and possibly Montenvers too for 2008 (not yet confirmed)

Chamonix - Alpine flowers
June is sunny and fresh, with flowers everywhere, it’s perfect hiking and climbing season, and the best time of year for watersports like rafting, hydrospeeding and canyoning. Around the middle of June, the lifts restart. A great month for mountain biking as it’s not too hot and all the trails are open (In July and August, some of them become pedestrian only)

Chamonix: Mont Blanc from Les Bossons
July brings beautiful sunny clear days. Walk through shady woods or take the cablecars and mountain railways for spectacular scenery.

The Terrace at Chalet Floria, Chamonix
August is the busiest time of year for Chamonix, and it’s usually hot and sunny, though there are sometimes dramatic summer storms too, which freshen everything. A wonderful time to take shady hikes to beautiful viewpoints.

September is a great time to visit – it’s usually still very sunny and a brilliant time for mountain biking and climbing.

Mont Blanc from Flegere
October is quiet and autumnal – there are still some beautiful days and wonderful light in the valley as the larches turn golden. The lifts generally open for weekends throughout October and November – this is likely to extend for 2008 but isn’t confirmed yet.

Chamonix Valley
November has a feeling of anticipation as winter begins to make itself felt – though even now you can get some beautiful autumn weather.

December brings winter – sometimes there can be thick snow all over the valley floor by earlyDecember, other years the snow level can be higher, but there’s normally snow in the town for Christmas.

I love this photo of the December sun – it’s a beautiful walk to take by the river.

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