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This historic ski resort in the shadow of the magnificent Mont Blanc has long been a snow sports hotspot, with the resort first welcoming skiers way back in the late 1800s. Its off-piste offering is pretty much unrivalled in Europe, plus its close proximity to Geneva (only an hour by road) makes it the ideal resort for both last minute ski weekends and longer alpine adventures.

When it comes to après ski, Chamonix doesn't disappoint with its huge range of restaurants and lively bars both on the pistes and in the attractive main town. You'll find this vast French ski resort is split up into four major ski areas - Grands Montets, Les Houches, Le Tour and Brévent-Flégère - which are criss-crossed with over 60 well-marked ski runs and plenty of back-country routes.

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Chamonix ski resort

When it comes to snow sports, it doesn't get much more historic than Chamonix. People have been flocking to the valley since the early 1800s to take in the mountain air and soak up spectacular vistas of the Mont Blanc Massif.

As well as being surrounded by picture-perfect alpine villages like Argentière and Vallorcine, the ski area's major town of Chamonix has oodles of charm. Its skiing heritage is impressive, from hosting the first ever Winter Olympics in 1924 through to currently being one of the top ski resorts on the planet.

Two of Chamonix's ski areas can be reached directly from the town, while others are a shuttle bus or train ride away. Those less interested in strapping on some skis will have lots to keep them occupied in the town itself. Chamonix's pedestrianised centre is lined with shops and bars, plus you can have a go at ice skating at the Olympic Patinoire de Chamonix or enjoy a fun toboggan ride at Domaine des Planards.

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Les Grands Montets

With some parts sitting 3300m above sea level, the Grands Montets area just above the village of Argentière affords awesome views and some of the best snow conditions in Chamonix. The lower slopes are ideal for beginners (including the Chosalets nursery), while catching a ski lift to the top of Grands Montets gives you access to numerous black runs and some tricky back-country routes.

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Les Houches

Located 6km down the road from the main town (accessed by free shuttle-bus), Les Houches is a popular pick for family skiing holidays thanks to its healthy mix of runs for all abilities. Little ones can be easily entertained with sledding and snow tubing at the Ski Camp area at the top of the Prarion gondola. Experienced skiers will want to check out the world cup Kandahar black run. What's more, there are opportunities for night skiing at the nearby Le Tourchet nursery.

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The Domaine de Balme ski area is accessed via Le Tour and Vallorcine and it's an absolute must for newbies and improvers. The majority of its runs are blues and greens, plus you'll spot some gentler off-piste sections which are ideal for first-timers. Have a few advanced skiers in the group? Try tackling trickier backcountry routes with a guide - just bring your passport as some cross over into neighbouring Switzerland...

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Bathed in sunshine due to its southerly position in the Chamonix Valley, Brévent-Flégère is one of the most visually stunning ski areas on Mont Blanc. Accessed via gondola or cable car from Chamonix town and Les Praz, it has a nice selection of slopes, from long, straight-forward routes for less experienced skiers through to windier runs more challenging pistes for the more advanced.

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Chamonix après

You'd expect a ski resort with such a rich heritage to have an ace après ski offering - and Chamonix definitely delivers. It's teeming with lively locations to get your drink on, enjoy a few mountain bites or indulge in some tipsy table dancing.

Hotspots in the town include the Langley Hotel Gustavia's Chambre Neuf, a Scandi-style bar that always has great live music and a rowdy crowd. You can't miss spending an evening at the Folie Douce, either. A hotel, restaurant and bar all rolled into one, it's nestled at the top of the Savoy green run and has an awesome weekly line up of live performers and international DJs.

Further up the mountain, Le Petit Social in Le Praz is a locally-loved bar with good happy hour deals. It also serves up tasty breakfast pastries if you're staying in the village.

Restaurants in Chamonix

Getting good grub is a priority when you're sweating it out on the pistes. Chamonix is, thankfully, blessed with some exceptional eateries where you can get your fill of local and global cuisine.

Seafood lovers will be in their element at Restaurant Le Cap-Horn that's right next to the river in Chamonix town. As a bonus, below it is where you'll find Les Caves; a classy wine bar ideal for a tipple after your main meal. For some French fare in a cosy chalet setting, Les Cabane Des Prez overlooking the Chamonix Golf Club is well-worth a visit.

More casual restaurants with a reputation for mouth-watering dishes include Le Robinson that's a 15 minute stroll north of Chamonix along Promenade des Cremeries - don't forget to ask about the plat du jour. Back in Chamonix town centre, hole-in-the-wall Cool Cats serves up some of the best hot dogs in the Alps.

Chamonix nightlife

If you love to let your hair down after a full day of cruising down glaciers, Chamonix is spoilt for choice by buzzing nightlife options.

Elevation Bar is a welcoming venue right in Chamonix's centre that has a sunny terrace and live music nights. Around the corner is where you'll discover Barberousse, a fun pirate-themed cocktail bar with an ace rum collection.

If you're keen to stay out partying well into the small hours, popular Amnesia Night Club in Chamonix Sud offers free entry and has two dance floors (make sure you've changed out of your ski gear before you head over, though). Similarly, tiny Le Tof consistently has a packed dance floor and hosts cheesy themed nights.

Mountain bites

Foodies will find myriad places to sate them in between the pistes. In Brévent-Flégère, Bergerie de Planpraz offers up seasonal gourmet dining and spectacular views right next to the Planpraz gondola.

Rustic yet friendly Refuge La Flégère next to the Flégère gondola has a selection of local delicacies on its lunch-only menu, plus it often hosts talented live musicians. If the group is aiming to ride the cable car up Aiguille du Midi, Le 3842 is a classy place to get food before you start skiing. It's small, though, so you'll probably need to book.

For something a little more high end, nab a table (or get us to reserve you one in advance) at Le Panoramic. It's found at the summit of Brévent and its outdoor terrace is a real suntrap with a truly jaw-dropping outlook over Mont Blanc.

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Ski Holidays in Chamonix

It's all well and good swotting up on the ski conditions in Chamonix - but where are you going to snooze when night falls? Luckily, this section of Mont Blanc boasts dozens of amazing accommodation options to suit every budget.

You'll have no trouble finding a decent hotel in Chamonix as it's the most popular type of accomodation there is. Choose from cheap and cheerful options comfortable enough for collapsing in after a long day on the pistes or go all-out with a five star resort featuring luxe facilities like health clubs and spas.

For larger groups who'd like to self-cater, there are some modern apartments available to rent. Chamonix chalets are limited, but you'll still find a handful of brilliant picks if you're after a classic Alpine experience.

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