Written by special DLX correspondent, Tim Baker
For most people, the winter holidays mean the chance to hit the slopes and take a much-needed break from work and everyday worries. While there’s no doubt that the French Alps are a ski heaven that you can enjoy regardless of your budget, some ski resorts are particularly known for their spectacular slopes and luxurious amnesties.
Chamonix, a charming mountain village located in the Rhone-Alpes area in south-eastern France is one of those exclusive destinations where celebrities, royals, and business travelers are known to flock to. From actors such as Penelope Cruz or George Clooney to international celebrities like Kylie Minogue or Patrick Vieira, a former Inter-Milan midfielder, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll spot someone famous down the slopes or in one of Chamonix’s chic restaurants.
What is it about Chamonix that makes it such an incredible and luxurious alpine getaway?
Let’s find out.
Chamonix, the Skiing Capital of the World
Chamonix is regarded as the skiing capital of the world, attracting adrenaline seekers with its incomparable off-piste terrain. The rich and famous love to ski here as well since one of the things Chamonix is renowned for (besides the spectacular slopes) is the prime hotels, fine dining, luxurious amnesties, and the fascinating mountaineering history.
Located at the base of Mont Blanc, the stunning view of the Chamonix’s crystal clear glaciers and snow-capped mountains have been attracting visitors since the 1940s. But, in 1970, it became the main point of attractions in the French Alps and one of the ski resorts to see before you die, when a Genevois scientist offered a price for the first person ever to ascend the highest summit in Europe. The Mont Blanc was conquered in 1789 by Dr. Michel-Gabriel Paccard and Jacques Balmat and their success established the beautiful valley of Chamonix as the birthplace of modern mountaineering and one of the finest winter resorts in the world.
The last stone in Chamonix’s reputation as a world-class skiing resort was put in 1924 during the Winter Olympic Games. Since then, this small resort in the French Alps has been regarded as the center of sporting events and a Mecca for celebrities who want to enjoy all that Chamonix has to offer.
Chamonix is particularly known for its intense off-piste skiing, where vertical slopes descend between breathtaking alpine scenery. Every dedicated skier, including an impressive list of actors and royal heads, put Chamonix on their bucket list to see if they can measure up to the challenges offered by the spectacular terrain.
A Great Destination for Both Adrenaline Junkies and Beginners
Just because Chamonix has a reputation for being one of the most challenging terrains in the world, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t things to do for intermediate or even beginner riders as well. After all, not all celebrities are as experience as Rachel Weisz or Paris Hilton who are known to be regulars on the ski slopes. Just like us, most of them only want to enjoy a nice, relaxing ski weekend in a beautiful resort in the French Alps.
You don’t have to be an expert to enjoy the Vallee Blanche glacier slope. The area is serviced by modern lifts that can transport thousands of skiers per hours. Once you get to the top of Plan Praz, take a moment to enjoy the view. If the sky is clear, you will have a mesmerizing view of the Mont Blanc’s summit and the entire Chamonix Valley.
Chamonix’s smaller neighbor, Les Houches, offer the same top-quality slopes, but for beginners and intermediate skiers.
A Ski Resort with a Stellar Pedigree
The numbers give a clue to why so many A-lister love spending their ski holidays in Chamonix. The resort is located at 1,035 meters above sea level while the highest slope is situated at 3.842 meters. The range is extraordinary, and it allows for versatility.
The long slopes descending amidst tree lines offer great conditions in bad weather while the glacier pistes are high enough to make it possible for people to enjoy skiing in late April. No two days are the same in this dazzling ski area.
Fine Dining Venues Are Abundant
One of the things that make Chamonix such a preferred ski resort by the rich and famous is the mix of fine contemporary French gastronomy paired with gorgeous mountain views. You’ll find here a wide variety of gourmet restaurants offering modern or traditional Savoyard cuisine made from the finest local produce.
Its proximity to Geneva makes Chamonix the perfect destination for European business persons. They can hop on a plane from London in the morning, hit the slopes by noon, enjoy dinner in an exquisite restaurant with a magnificent view of Mont Blanc and be home in England by night time.
Vibrant Nightlife Scene
Chamonix might be a small French town or 10,000 permanent residents or so, but it’s definitely not a tranquil Alpine retreat. Here, excitement is not limited to the slopes but extends with a range of energetic apres-ski activities. There’s a wide array of energetic bars and nightclubs where A-listers come to chill after a day on the slopes.
If you’re looking for something different than fine dining or drinking with your friends, Chamonix has got you covered, as well. You can enjoy a game of winter paintball in a snow covered forest. Be careful, though. The liquid center tends to solidify in sub-zero temperatures and every hit you get stings so much that you’ll wonder if you haven’t accidentally stumbled on a real war front.
Chamonix might not be the peaceful Alpine retreat you would imagine A-listers to prefer, but its setting at the base of Mont Blanc and warm atmosphere make it a preferred destination for the rich and famous. Its old buildings give Chamonix a unique charm, and it offers delightful strolling with cafes, shop-galleries, fine restaurant, and chic hotels overhanging the river Arve.
Talking about the hotels, they are luxurious, to say the least. Most of them boast a stylish décor with exceptional standards of comfort and warmth. The style is usually characterized by a classic alpine ambiance with modern touches.
Being such a famed destination, you can expect to find a wellness center, both indoor and outdoor swimming pools, and excellent restaurants in each hotel.
From its legendary off-piste ski runs to the exquisite shops and restaurants, it’s easy to see why celebrities, royals, and business travelers love Chamonix so much.