Les Houches, Chamonix
The Chamonix valley is made up of several villages, Les Houches being one of the first villages at the bottom end of the valley (just 6km from the centre of Chamonix). This means on a CVT shared airport transfer from Geneva to Chamonix, if you have booked accommodation to stay in Les Houches you will be the first group to be dropped off at your hotel making the total journey for you approx. 1 hour. That’s great news if you are also travelling with kids eager to start their holiday.
On the subject of kids, for us this is what Les Houches does best – it’s a superb location if you are looking to book a family holiday whether it’s in the winter or summer. But it’s not just the locals who believe this – Les Houches was awarded the certification label « Famille Plus » which is a national certification in France for the exceptional services a resort provides for children and families.
Aside from the winter skiing and summer activities that are abundant for families here - the Tourist Office in Les Houches also runs a dedicated programme of events for kids in the peak season and many of the restaurants and hotels offer fun play areas too.
Skiing in Les Houches
There used to be a misconception about skiing in the Chamonix valley that it was too extreme for beginners and families, but with dedicated family ski areas in the valley like Les Houches that’s not the case.
The ski area of Les Houches extends from an altitude of 950m in the village itself, up to 1900m in the ski area above, with incredible views of the Mont-Blanc massif. Whilst Les Houches is known as the favourite ski area for families, there is actually plenty of skiing to be had for all abilities with 2 main ski lifts (Bellevue and Prarion) providing access to the ski area from the village itself. At the top of both of these lifts there are two gentle beginner slopes, as well as access to around 24 other ski slopes including the famous world cup black run – the Kandahar.
The great thing about this ski area is that groups of all abilities can be on the same ski area with a choice of ski runs and all meet up for lunch, and there is also a fantastic kids SKI CAMP play area, which is free to use and includes tepee tents, zip wires and fun tubing (a must for anyone with young kids). And as many of the slopes are tree lined it’s perfect for skiing in poor visibility, but that does mean it increases in popularity when other ski lifts in the Chamonix Valley are closed due to poor weather.
Our drivers top tips
- Whilst Les Houches is covered under the Mont Blanc Unlimited ski pass, it also has its own “Les Houches” ski pass for the area, so if you are planning to stay in Les Houches it may be a cheaper option for your group or family to just buy this pass.
- One of our favourite mountain restaurants at Les Houches is Les Vieilles Luges – a beautiful 250-year-old farm chalet serving traditional Savoyard food as they describe “cuisine which balances tradition with finesse”. The restaurant can be accessed during the day via the ski slopes and is sign posted just off the home run and from here you can take in the stunning panoramic views, but it’s during the evening that we love to visit after a snowshoe hike!
CVT in-resort transportation
If you would like to visit Les Vielles Luges you can book a CVT in-resort transfer to take you as far as possible by vehicle to the Telesiege de Maison Neuve where you set off up the blue run to the restaurant with your head torches and snowshoes on (rented from the sports shops in Les Houches). Don’t forget to book the restaurant in advance, and we advise you can take a guide with you too so ask the restaurant for advice and access.
If you want to get to the ski slopes for your lessons and prefer not to drive, wait for ski buses or you would like to have an evening out in the centre of Chamonix - you might be interested to know you can book our CVT in-resort transfers to take you to anywhere in the valley – a hassle-free service in our spacious, heated minibuses.
Les Houches in the summertime
This picturesque alpine village comes into full bloom in the summer as the snow melts and the ski areas turn into rolling meadows revealing the hiking trails lined with wild alpine flowers.
Les Houches is also home to some great attractions such as the Tramway du Mont Blanc which is the highest mountain railway in France and was first opened in 1907. Le Tramway du Mont Blanc runs from St Gervais Le Fayet (not to be confused with the town of Saint Gervais) up to the ski station of Le Houches and in the summer all the way to 2372m to the Mid d’Aigle at the base of the Bionnassay glacier. Popular with tourists due to the extensive views of Mont Blanc and the Mont Blanc massif, the line is also used my hikers and mountaineers alike and is the main starting point for the normal alpine route to climb Mont Blanc.
It recently celebrated it’s centennial, and the original first locomotive can still be seen in the station at Le Fayet. The railway is managed by three trains in red, blue, and green and affectionately named after the original owners children; Anne, Marie and Jeanne.
The tramway is a unique experience and is perfect for young families, and none skiers in the winter who want to get up into the mountains. The journey from one end (Le Fayet) to the other (Bellevue in winter and Nid d’Aigle in summer) takes about 1 hour and is well worth a visit.
Parc Merlet is another must visit –a beautiful nature reserve and animal park located up in the mountains with stunning views of the Chamonix valley below. It promises to be an adventure not to be missed offering you a unique opportunity to get up close to Ibex, Sika deer, llama and marmot to name but a few, all in their natural habitat. There are 2 trails to follow through the park, the easier route is also suitable for pushchairs, where kids and adults alike can go for a leisurely hike and discover the wildlife and take part in some fun educational activities along the way.
As Parc Merlet is located in the mountains at 1500m above the Chamonix valley, there is quite a steep winding road to drive up (or hike if you’re super fit) to the parking area. Depending on how close you can get to the main entrance, expect at least a 300m to 1000 m walk before the actual entrance to the park.
CVT in-resort taxi service
If you don’t have transport, it doesn’t mean you have to miss out on these fantastic attractions. If you’d like to visit Parc Merlet you can book our in-resort taxi service, we’ll drop you off as close as possible to the main entrance, especially if you are wanting to visit in July and August when the car park is busy.
You can also book the same reliable service to take you anywhere in the Chamonix valley just view our in-resort prices and contact us.