Le Tour and Vallorcine

Ideal for beginners and intermediates with wide reds and blues, open and sunny at the top of the valley.

The two areas together are known as La Balme. Le Tour has exhilarating rolling pistes of the front and the wide gullies here form natural halfpipes. Ride next to the Swiss border and down to Vallorcine for some great tree runs – another good spot when the visibility is down.

Mont Blanc seen from Le Tour
Mont Blanc seen from Le Tour

Vallorcine is generally much quieter than the other areas, so it’s a good place to head for on busy days. It is quite a drive so it’s best to check on the Chamonix site or app that it’s open, if the weather is at all chancy.

Returning to Vallorcine at the end of the day

When not to go: Le Tour can get very windy and cold, so it’s a good idea to check for strong winds before heading up. The wide, open pistes can be very disorientating in a white-out – I would generally keep Le Tour for sunny days. The Vallorcine side has tree runs which are a better option in thick snow.

Where to eat in Vallorcine:

There are two excellent options at the Vallorcine base – I’ve eaten often at both and highly recommend them. Booking is advised if not essential at busy times for either of these.

The unassuming looking station cafe – the Arrete Bougnete – is in fact a superb place to eat, with lots of unusual Savoyarde specialities like Sarrazin (Buckwheat) crepes, the marsala-baked cheese of Le Berthoud as well as an excellent tartiflette.

The Cafe Comptoir at the end of the Vallorcine home run is very nice indeed, friendly and delicious, with a sunny terrace for lunch. Lovely attention to detail here, in the building, the service and the food, and for me it slightly has the edge over the other. They also do Raclette sandwiches for lunch!

Vallorcine's Cafe Comptoir

Where to eat in Le Tour:

Le Tour has some good choices too.  Just above the base are the stone huts of Les Ecuries, which are lovely, especially on a sunny day when you can sit on the terrace. It’s friendly, and the food is very good here – they do the local potato ‘beignets’ as accompaniments. At the base, the Passon, the second bar below the lift, is the best choice – simple good food and friendly owners.

The mid-station is rather sterile, serving the usual lift company food, but can be a useful option if you just need a quick sandwich or drink in a hurry.

Not recommended: The Olympique, right beside the lift, has a lovely terrace but dull food and lousy service, so I wouldn’t recommend it for anything other than a quick apres drink (and not really even for that, unless it’s a particularly beautiful day on the terrace.)
Although the Refuge at the Col De Balme is an amazing location, the lady who runs it is legendarily bad-tempered, so I wouldn’t recommend it for more than a quick drink

Le Tour View

Access to Le Tour:
By car: 15 minutes from the chalet. Plenty of free parking
By bus: Regular bus services from the road near the chalet (check the times) or from the Flegere lift (more frequent)
By train: Not recommended as Le Tour is a very, very steep walk from Montroc station
Access to Vallorcine:
By car: 20 minutes from the chalet. Plenty of free parking
By bus: Regular bus services from the road near the chalet (check the times) or from the Flegere lift (more frequent)
By train: Regular train services from Les Praz, this is the best way to get there. Take a timetable with you for the return journey.