Many people would not automatically think of Chamonix as a place to come shopping, however the resort boasts a diverse range of stores that are guaranteed to suit sporting lifestyles. As you would expect from an outdoor sports Mecca, there's a choice of sports stores & high fashion labels that offer a good range of clothing in all shapes and sizes for all tastes.
The Richard Bozon Chamonix Sports Centre has a gym (salle de musculation), with a selection of body building and cardio equipment. There is also a sports hall where you can join in fitness sessions such aerobics, dance, circuit training, step class, stretching and toning classes, etc. They also have children's sessions such as sports classes and ballet lessons.
There is also a bouldering wall, ice rink, sauna, steam room (hammam) and swimming pool. The indoor pool is 25m long and also features a seperate children's pool with bubble jets and a water slide. The outdoor pool is currently undergoing a major refurbishment and is scheduled to reopen in June 2009. In the meantime you can still make use of the large grassy area by the lake within the sport centre grounds, which is perfect for sun-bathing or running around (swimming not allowed in the lake).
Open Monday to Friday 12pm - 7.30pm and 2pm - 7.30pm at the weekend, entrance is €4.60 for adults and €3.50 for kids (guest card reductions available). Chaps of all ages have to wear Speedo style trunks which, rather disturbingly, can also be rented!
Tennis is a great way to enjoy the summer time weather and get your legs moving. A fun activity to do with family and friends you can hop on the court and have a friendly game or enjoy a tennis lesson to improve your technique.
The tennis and squash club in Chamonix is situated just beyond the sports centre and has both indoor and outdoor courts, you can reach it by walking along the path that runs from beside the hotel Alpina alongside the river. You can book group or private lessons and hire rackets if necessary, or just pay for an hour on a court, visit Chamonix Tennis Club for more details (in French).
Argentière has a number of indoor courts situated on the left hand side of the road just after the avalanche bridge as you are driving in from Chamonix. These are both open all day every day, but if you are playing indoors you need a 'light-token' which can be purchased during office hours (9am -12.15 and 2pm -7.30pm in Chamonix; 3pm - 9.30pm in Argentiere). Prices are around €15 for 1hr/1 court for tennis, and €9 for 45min/1 court (including lights) for squash.
Arcades and 10 Pin Bowling
The bowling alley can be found in Chamonix-Sud next to the bus station, it is easy to spot with it's illuminated rooftop skittle! Inside there are eight bowling lanes as well as pool and snooker tables, air hockey and a games arcade. It is licensed with a large bar area where you can also fill up on a few bar snacks such as nachos and fries.
There is another video/games arcade in Chamonix centre, on the Rue des Moulins (tucked behind Irish Coffee).
Cinema in Chamonix
Chamonix's own Cinema Vox is situated right in the centre of town, slightly tucked back on the Place Balmat (main square in the centre). There are 3 recently refurbished screens showing the latest French and International films, as well as a number of premieres and specialist mountain-sports films. Most English language films will be shown at least a few times throughout the week in their original version (V.O.), usually with French subtitles. Cinema listings are given in French and English on their website.
Chamonix has an excellent ice rink that is open every day except Mondays from 2pm until 5pm (6pm during school holidays). On a Wednesday night the rink is open late from 9-11pm, and don't forget the regular ice-hockey matches that take place throughout the season, generally on a Saturday evening. Skates can be hired for €3.50 and entrance costs €4.60 for adults and €3.50 for children (cheaper with guest card).
Le Podium is the licensed bar, restaurant and lounge area with huge windows overlooking the rink, so you can watch the game in comfort - Chamonix's local team are Les Chamois.
In Les Houches you can skate for FREE.. yes that's free skate hire and free access to the rink! It's an open air rink with floodlights and music, and a few nights per week they're open til 11pm. Check out the times and dates here.
In Argentiere the access to the outdoor rink is free, and you pay 3 euros for adult skate hire and 2 euros for childrens. It's open every day from 16:30 - 19:00 and on Tuesday & Fridays from 16:30 to 21:00. Find the location here.
Indoor Climbing Walls in Chamonix
The Chamonix valley is home to one of the largest indoor climbing walls in France. The Mont Blanc Escalade is located in Les Houches and is open all year, with 1250m sq. of climbing surfaces, and more than 100 routes to the roof, ranging from 16 to 21 metres in height. There is a beginners wall, a kid's wall, and even a cafeteria. All necessary equipment is available for hire. Complete beginners can make a first ascent of the indoor climbing wall with instruction from local guides from 35€ - book in advance. Open to adults and children 5 or over.
In Chamonix town, there is a good sized bouldering wall in the Sports Centre (Centre Sportif Richard Bozon). There is another climbing wall at the ENSA - you need to be a member of the local Club des Sports to gain access.