Chamonix has beautiful walks in winter – whether you ski or not, it’s wonderful to stretch your legs and stroll through the stunning landscape.
Safety note – this list is for suggestions and inspiration only. Take a proper map (we have them at the chalet or you can buy them easily in town), and always adapt your route and equipment to the conditions and your fitness. Have a look on the Chamonix site for locations – on this page, choose “snowshoeing trails” to see the starting points of the routes.
Make sure someone knows where you are going and when to expect you back, and be sure your phone is fully charged and kept warm. Most of the info in our Summer walking safety guide also applies – make sure you have warm layers and ‘chaînes à chaussures” – traction chains that slip onto your shoes for icy conditions. These are available at almost all sports shops.
Always contact the Office de Haute Montagne for current conditions – though the day may be sunny, there may have been significant snowfall previously. Or you can contact the refuge itself in the case of walks like Loriaz or the Chapeau. Many walks that are safe and popular in summer are extremely dangerous in winter so even if you are familiar with the valley please do check your plans carefully with the OHM. Tragic fatalities have occurred here. In very extreme weather even the valley floor walks can be dangerous.
Now…onto the fun part!
Valley floor walks
Marked and groomed walking trails criss-cross the valley floor. Many are clearly signed as they weave around the cross-country ski trails.
Turn left out of the chalet, walk 50metres down the lane and then join the trails. Follow the river upstream towards Les Bois, or cross the river bridge and bear right past the Arveyron hotel and under the tunnel to walk into Chamonix.
At the end of the wide flat space “Desert Blanc”, bear left to join the snowshoe track around Les Bois. Keep on the more level pedestrian track, rather than heading uphill on the snowshoe route.
You’ll come back down shortly to the beautiful village of Les Bois.
Other pathways will lead you over to the lovely Paradis des Praz on the other side of the valley, or the scenic golf course.
The walk into Chamonix is 2km on level, groomed trails. Stop in halfway for a coffee or Vin Chaud at Le Robinson to warm up if needed!
A more adventurous winter walk, this is signed from Le Lavancher. Park just past the upmarket and lovely Les Chalets De Phillippe hotel and it’s around 45 minutes walk. Uphill but not too strenuous. Snowshoes rarely needed – call the refuge to check. Poles and ‘chaînes a chaussures’ are normally useful though. Also it’s best to book for lunch as it can get busy! Wonderful food from the friendly host.
Head up behind the golf course on signed paths to Chalet Floria. It doesn’t open in winter but it’s always a justly popular walk with its steady gradient and beautiful viewpoint.
Drive up to the top of Les Houches, signed to the Ecole Physique, and park at the end of the road. A 15 minute walk takes you to a postcard-perfect hamlet of a dozen old chalets. A peaceful and beautiful spot where you can walk for an hour happily, with beautiful views.
A big day out with significant height gain (about 800m depending on where you start), Loriaz offers absolutely spectacular views over the Mont Blanc Massif. Park at the village of Le Couteray just before Vallorcine, it is signed from there. Or train to Le Buet and then walk to Le Couteray. An easy walk but a long one, and you may need snowshoes – in big years they have had 8m of snow accumulated here! Call to check the refuge is open if you are planning on eating there.
Want to go further? Try some snowshoeing!