Wide view of Vallorcine, showing gondola ski lift and valley


Chamonix Mont-Blanc, Haute-Savoie, French Alps

Just 2km from the Franco-Swiss border, at the upper end of the world-famous Chamonix Valley.

Efficient rail and shuttle-bus links to other local resorts including Chamonix (20km), from which the Tunnel du Mont-Blanc offers quick hops over to Courmayeur in Italy’s Aosta Valley.

Road access from the UK is straightforward via Geneva, with a non-autoroute option from Lyon via Chambéry Savoie Mont Blanc and Albertville.

Wide view down ski piste, with forest and mountains above Vallorcine

The Ski Area

The Chamonix Valley is big, and can be confusing to first-timers, so if that’s you then be sure to head over to the Ski Area description in our Chamonix Resort Review for a quick grounding in where the areas are and what they offer.

If you’re an intermediate skier based in Vallorcine then a quick haul on the 8-seater Télécabine de Vallorcine (the resort’s sole lift) will get you straight to the blue-graded Les Esserts (shown above). As you’ll see, it’s wide and sheltered by pine and larch forests, and connects with the base of a chairlift up to the 2250m Tête de Balme, from which you can choose between red- or blue-graded pistes over to the Les Autannes sector or down to Charamillon (1850m). From there a red-graded descent (or a gondola ride) with take you down to Le Tour (1462m).

Most of the skiing is above the tree-line, which means you have inspiring views down the valley. At the end of the day you need only ski the upper section of Les Esserts to join the gondola for a smooth ride back down to the village, or continue past the gondola to reach a long, red-graded piste which snakes its way down through woodland to a point just across the railway tracks from the gondola.

On the other hand, novice skiers will be taking a ski-school shuttle-bus to and from the safe, dedicated facilities at nearby La Poya. There’s more round at Le Tour, with direct access from the village.

Resort Information

Altitude : 1453m - 2270m
Vallorcine / Balme
Pistes Total:
29 km
Chart showing ski piste difficulty at Vallorcine, as percentages.
12 Blue
11 Red
Ski Resort Lifts : 8
4 Draglifts
2 Chairlifts
2 Gondolas
Chamonix Mont-Blanc
Pistes Total:
>170 km
Piste grading/difficulty for Chamonix Valley ski areas
11 Green
33 Blue
32 Red
13 Black
Ski Domain Lifts: 60
2 Magic Carpets
15 Draglifts
23 Chairlifts
8 Gondolas
8 Cable Cars
3 Funicular

Green Credentials...

  • The Chamonix Valley has been awarded the Flocon Vert label for its environmental actions.
  • Since February 2009, all the villages in the Chamonix-Mont-Blanc Valley have been engaged in a voluntary initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapting the area to climate change. The Climate and Energy Area Plan has a total of 184 actions and was set up in consultation with major stakeholders in the Valley.
  • Free public transport by bus and train throughout the Valley with a Carte d'Hôte pass.
  • Travel by fast TGV train to St Gervais les Bains - le Fayet then take the Mont Blanc Express which serves all the villages in the Chamonix Valley.


Wide view of village, showing ski apartments, river, gondola lifts and snow-covered valley

The Ski Village

If the name of Vallorcine doesn’t sound instantly familiar that’s because until relatively recently it was just a peaceful farming community at the upper end of the valley, close to the border with Switzerland. What changed everything was the construction in 2004 of a high-speed gondola lift (with a sizeable apartment-style accommodation development right beside it), which suddenly brought direct access from the valley to the pistes of the established family ski areas of Balme and Le Tour.

Things took off slowly at first, but as more skiers began to discover it (not least day-visitors who came via the rail link from Argentière, Chamonix and Les Houches) Vallorcine’s accommodation began to fill. A few seasons later this new-found popularity prompted the contruction of many more self-catering apartments and a stylish chalet-style bar/restaurant. What was always there, of course, was the cosy buffet of the Gare SNCF rail station. In winter it’s deservedly popular hangout for skiers, and in summer is equally welcoming to walkers, cyclists, etc.

As far as shopping is concerned, however, if you’re self- catering then you’ll find pretty well all you need in the self-service Super U in Argentière.

Staying There

Value for Money Accommodation Dining Out Nightlife Village Charm


Two skiers and snowboarder beside gondola ski lift above Vallorcine

Why go skiing in Vallorcine / Balme ?

For anyone looking for a natural, unpressured setting from which to ski the Chamonix Valley, then this should fit the bill, as long as they’re prepared to drive or (the better option) use the free shuttle buses and train.

It’s also a solid choice for families with novice skiers, who will be transported by the ski school to and from nearby La Poya – a safe, friendly beginner area.

Intermediates will love the wooded lower runs, although before long the views along the valley from above the tree-line will tempt them to explore a lot more terrain elsewhere.


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Alpinresorts.com Ski rental

Skiing There

Beginners / Families Intermediates Advanced / Expert Mountain Scenery


High altitude snowpark for beginners and advanced with freestyle area
1 Snowparks

Cross-Country Skiing

From Vallorcine or Le Buet, unspoilt pistes among forest and hamlets.
8km Cross-Country and Nordic Ski Trails


  • The Chamonix Tourist Office has a useful guide to adapted facilities including accommodation, access, activities and transport.
  • The ESF in Argentière have a qualified Tandem ski instructor who also offers a ski-taxi service to help anyone discover the Le Tour / Vallorcine area.
  • The most established area in the Chamonix valley is on the relatively quiet pistes at Les Houches where the ESF ski school have a number of instructors and a good range of equipment.

icon-smileyYes please...

  • Less-pressured, alternative base from which to ski the Chamonix Valley
  • Modern gondola lift brings access to the pistes above Balme and Le Tour
  • Efficient rail and shuttle-bus links between ski areas throughout the valley
  • The Carte Hôtes pass (available free from your local accommodation) which gives unlimited use of bus and rail services linking the ski villages.

icon-frowneyYes but...

  • Vallorcine can feel quite remote.
  • Chamonix has the boutiques, restaurants and nightlife.
  • Le Tour has the beginner facilities.
  • Mile-hungry skiers will get to know the transport system.

icon-winkingOur Tips

  • Free access to La Poya family ski area in Le Buet when you purchase a Chamonix Le Pass or Mont Blanc Umlimited ski pass (min. 3 days)
  • Remember to ask your accommodation provider for you Carte d'Hôtes to enjoy excellent free public transport to access ski areas throughout the Chamonix Valley.
  • Visit the Tourist Office to get information about events, guides, places to visit and transport timetables.
  • Buy the right Chamonix ski pass for you - there's a useful guide to all lift passes and what they include on Chamonet.com Buy online to avoid the queues.


Practical Information

Residence L'Ours Bleu


Convenient central location just metres away from the Vallorcine gondola lift. Superb for visitors arriving by train as the station is also nearby. The Ours Bleu chalet style buildings contain 70 spacious apartments sleeping up to 10 people. Facilities include a leisure area with an indoor heated swimming pool, Jacuzzi, sauna and steam room, WiFi and free outdoor and covered parking. For those who like fresh croissants in the morning, a daily bakery service is available.

Enquiries and bookings:
Peak Retreats
023 9283 9310 (UK)