Families are warmly welcomed at Chalet La Foret, and Chamonix has something for everyone, from babies to teenagers. Here’s a quick overview of just some of the activities that are particularly good for families.
Plenty of the hikes in the valley are suitable for family outings – there’s something for all levels and ages. The chalet is in the perfect place for these walks, in the heart of a network of lovely wooded trails. The valley floor walks are fine with baby buggies, and for older children, the walks to the mountain restaurants, like Chalet Floria, down to the ice cave from Montenvers, or to the glacier at Les Bossons, are perfect – not too strenuous, with amazing views.
Another beautiful short walk is the half-hour to the Cascade du Berard at Le Buet, on the way to Vallorcine. From the lovely cafe, perched above a gorge, you can walk to a cave behind the waterfall. They have evening barbecues on Thursdays here in summer, with displays of “Tyrolienne” (high zip wires) over the gorge. Bring a torch to get back down.
Backpacks that will hold babies or small children can be hired from Snell Sports in Chamonix, and we have a trail guide books at the chalet which you are welcome to borrow.
Cable cars and railways
All these are great for children over two, though the Aiguille Du Midi is not advised for under-fives. Montenvers is especially suitable, with its fun ride up on the bright red trains and easy walks and nature trail at the top. More cable cars and railways.
Les Planards is a brilliant place for kids in the centre of Chamonix. It has a free play area for younger children (there’s something for any child that can toddle) and also motor racing, trampolining, water slides, a mechanical digger and more.
For children (in fact anyone) over 6, their Summer Luge is hugely popular – the longest in France, it winds through the forest for nearly 2 km. Younger children can go on with an adult.
The Adventure Playground has three levels – for children over three, sevens, and eleven. Under 18s must be accompanied by an adult -which gives you an excuse to have a go! Fifty activities to choose from and tremendous fun. They will show you the ropes (quite literally!) at the beginning and then leave you to it.
Accro-Park at Lac Gaillands is the biggest with over 70 activities, zip lines, bridges and swings
Arbre Aventure in Les Houches is another adventure playground which also has sections for younger children – Kid Adventure, the main section Arbre Aventure and Tyrolienne Adventure – a course of ziplines through the forest.
For younger children (under 11) the Paradis Des Praz is just a short walk from the chalet.
This little chalet has barbecue lunches most days in summer and a wonderful play area, free for customers. The river flows into a lovely shallow pool under the pine trees, and there are forts, bridges and ropes. Pony rides are also available for a small cost. There are plenty of easy walks and bicycle rides surrounding this beautiful spot.
The Parc de Merlet is a 20 hectare park where you can see mountain fauna like Marmots and Ibex in their natural habitat. It’s a lovely place for children to see the animals. Allow about two hours for the park – it also has a pleasant restaurant with beautiful views.
The enormous spiral water slide of the town swimming pool is a perennial favourite. There are five pools: a 25m indoor, 50m outdoor, an indoor and outdoor kids play pool with jacuzzis, water fountains, slides etc and a babies pool.
You can also swim in nearby Lac Passy – surrounded by mountains, this lake has a sandy beaches and places to barbecue. You can also windsurf here, as well as sailing a flotilla of miniature ferries around! Various boats are available for hire and there is a large enclosed play area with floating toys.
The Gaillands (map here) is the perfect place for families to climb – stunning views both from the climbs and around the lake, a pleasant cafe, and bolted routes ranging from 3a to 7b in grade (you can almost walk up a 3a route). Evolution 2 offer courses for children and families, and, most importantly, some great photo opportunities with Mont Blanc towering in the background! Here’s a good blog post, aimed at experienced climbers with kids but useful for anyone: Climbing with kids.
Beautiful and easy cycling routes are clearly signposted around the (mostly) level valley bottom, through the woods and by the river with sensational views. These are either tracks or very quiet back roads. There are also plenty of easy routes around Les Houches.
Bikes can be hired at plenty of places in Chamonix – the nearest is Echo Base by the Flegere lift. For more specialist bikes such as downhill, I recommend Zero G at the far end of town – they will also hire trailers for babies, fat bikes and electric bikes.
See our mountain biking section for the steeper stuff.
More family activities
This is just a start! With horse-riding, tennis (indoor and outdoor), squash, white-water rafting, canyoning, hydrospeeding, paintball, an ice rink, mountain railways, cable cars and more, there’s never a shortage of things to do. There’s also a bowling alley and cinema (English language films shown, extra showings if the weather is bad). Older children can even paraglide with Fly Chamonix!
Family friendly restaurants
Chamonix, like most of France, is a very child friendly place, and most restaurants wholeheartedly welcome children. Kids generally like Savoyarde food, with its emphasis on fun ways to eat melted cheese – fondue, raclette and tartiflette are usually big hits. The ‘gingerbread house’ decor of La Caleche in Chamonix is perfect for a big night out. The Cremerie de la Montagne is a fantastic choice in good weather – beautiful pavilions are lit in the evening, and the garden has room for kids to play whilst you relax, only 15 minutes walk from the chalet.
Five minutes further on, and particularly child-friendly is Le Robinson, in the woods between the chalet and Chamonix, with its huge garden and play area. Pizzas at Le Cremerie du Moulin, which is only 5 minutes from the chalet, are inexpensive and popular.
Chamonix town is at quite a low altitude by mountain standards, at around 1000m. However, it is not recommended to take under-twos above 2000m, and the Aigiulle du Midi (3842m) is not advised for under-fours. It’s a good idea to check with your doctor in case of any contraindications for your family, and also to acclimatise at valley level for a day or so before going to the higher elevations.