About Family Activities in Chamonix
Whatever you choose to do on your family holiday you are sure to find a huge range of activities across the Chamonix area. From relaxing to full on adrenaline there is something for everyone, every ability and every age in Chamonix. Check out the selection of things to do below for some holiday inspiration!
Children's activities take place throughout the whole of the Chamonix Valley. However, Les Houches is well-known for being especially family-friendly and, in fact, the town has been awarded the "Famille Plus" label which recognises places that offer special attention to children.
The Chamonix Guest Card ('carte d'hote') is valid throughout the year (for the duration of your stay) and entitles you to various discounts throughout the valley, such as reductions at all the sports and cultural facilities including the swimming pool, ice rink, museums and covered parking. If you do not receive one when you check into your accommodation, you can buy one from any of the tourist offices in the valley at a cost of €10 per person per week.
It also entitles you to free travel on the buses and trains between the valley's resorts from Vallorcine to Servoz (with the exception of the Chamo’nuit night bus). If you wish to take the train all the way through to Martigny in Switzerland or down to Le Fayet and St Gervais, you just need to pay the difference from Vallorcine or Servoz.
Practice your Robin of Sherwood skills in a tranquil alpine setting. Beginners can learn from scratch and those with more experience can put their skills to the test with a variety of courses. The Coupeau area of Les Houches has a trail running through it equipped with archery courses of varying difficulty. Access is free to anyone registered with the FFTA.
Every Tuesday evening from 18:00 in winter, a group lead by artist Sylwia Pwydych gets together for a life drawing session. All abilities are welcome and the group is very international, so don’t worry if your French isn’t up to scratch! Living Chamonix also run art classes for children and adults in Argentiere in winter.
In the centre of Chamonix, right by the Richard Bozon Sports Centre and the ice skating rink, there are multifunctional sports courts where you can play basketball outdoors. Les Houches also offers a couple of basketball courts near the beginner ski area of Le Tourchet, by the outdoor ice rink.
Beach volleyball in the heart of the French Alps may sound strange but in Chamonix you can hop on the sand and play a game of volleyball with your friends or family. Located in the Tennis Club, the beach volleyball court is open in the summer.
You can bowl in Chamonix in winter or summer at the bowling lanes in Cham Sud. A great place to go if you're in a family, a group or to while away rainy days, it also offers pool tables, table tennis, table football, arcade games and even a small indoor mini-golf course.
Just down the road from Chamonix, in nearby St Gervais, there is a very large bridge which you can bungee off. No experience is necessary, just a good head for heights and a lot of bravery! Children must be 13 years old and at least 40 kilos to jump; anyone under 18 years old needs written authorization from their parents.
Canoeing / Kayaking
Canoe rafts are an unsinkable, stable type of inflatable canoe that allows you, without too much technique to profit fully from the joys and fun of whitewater river descent. The descents are taken on by groups of 4 to 5 boats, accompanied by a fully qualified guide. You are equipped with neoprene suits and shoes, a safety jacket and a helmet. The course which you take is chosen according to the water levels and experience of the participants. Local Chamonix activity companies will take you down to Passy from where you will enjoy amazing views of the Mont Blanc while you go down the Arve river on a 2-people canoe raft or an individual airboat.
Plunge yourself into the mountain streams via a series of abseil descents, jumps and natural water slides. You will make your way along rivers and rapids, using the riverbed as a natural obstacle course. Canyoning takes place a little way outside Chamonix in two locations - either Barberine near the Swiss border or in the opposite direction at Belle au Bois in Megeve. The activity companies will take you there via minibus or coach, with the activity available usually between May and September, weather permitting.
Depending on the age of your child there are a number of childcare options available in Chamonix. Babysitting companies available in the area and are easily arranged. For children over three, the ski schools offer full or half day programmes of tuition and childcare, and lunch can also be provided for an extra charge.
During the summer, the tourist offices centre of each town host a kids club during, normally from 1st July to 30th August, with activities such as swimming, climbing, tennis, basketball, ice-skating, etc. and organised hikes & picnics. These activities are available for children four years and over.
In Chamonix Sud, there's a children's soft play area and café called La Petite Folie which is open 7 days per week and is available for birthday party bookings.
Catch the latest films and releases in Chamonix on your winter or summer holiday. Some cinemas open their doors early on a bad weather day, otherwise you'll find most screenings in the evenings. Look out for VOST for English speaking films at Cinema Vox in the centre of Chamonix or at the cinema in Les Houches.
Enjoy a number of cycling trails and routes in Chamonix and what better way to explore Chamonix than on a bike when you can enjoy the beautiful scenery. There are some really nice and flat cycling routes that take you around the bottom of the valley, perfect for the whole family. Have a look at our cycling guide for more information and explore the cycling routes that are in the area. If you are in Chamonix without your biking gear there are a number of cycle hire shops in who rent and sell bikes, gear and accessories.
Also see: Cycling in Chamonix
If you fancy a spot of fishing whilst in Chamonix then there are a few local and nearby lakes where you can catch some fish and enjoy the Alpine scenery.
Within a 20 minute drive from Chamonix, you can reach 2 groups of lakes, both of which you can fish in certain areas. Lac Passy is a popular picnic and sunbathing spot with a children’s play area, so you may not find the tranquillity you are looking for by the main lake. If you carry on though there are smaller, less frequented lakes where fishing is also permitted. Enquire at the main lake for details on where best to go for a quiet spot of fishing. Lac des Ilettes is a quieter group of 3 lakes where fishing is permitted.
Closer to Chamonix is Lac des Chavants in Les Houches; apparently a good spot for catching some tasty trout, which you pay for by the kilo. You can also hire rods and purchase bait. Permits are available from the Saint Antoine Tabac or from the Les Houches Tourist Office. Closer still is Lac Gaillands, by the large climbing wall on the road out of Chamonix just before you reach Les Bossons. Fly fishing only is permitted and permits can be bought from the small chalet serving snacks and drinks.
Remember that, before fishing any area, you must ensure that you have the correct permits and are aware of the local regulations.
In front of the Richard Bozon Sports Centre in Chamonix, there is a large multisports court where you can play football. The indoor court can also be used for indoor football.
There are over 2.5 million people doing geocaching around the world and some of them (perhaps surprisingly) are right here in Chamonix! It’s a relatively new craze that started taking the world by storm in May 2000 after a computer geek decided that GPS could be “really exciting”. He hid some treasure at his home in Portland, America, for people to find, broadcast the GPS coordinates and said, “Come and get it”. His only rule: “Take some stuff, leave some stuff”. And that’s exactly what Geocaching is…you go in search of treasure by using the GPS system on your mobile device – once you’ve found it, you write your name in a logbook and replace the treasure you decide to take. It’s pretty simple really and means, as a family, you can be adventurers together. You won’t usually find anything quite as precious as gold, silver and diamonds but nevertheless it’s quite exciting!
Horse-drawn sleigh rides
A horse-drawn carriage ride around the streets of Chamonix with Dr Zhivago is a popular thing to do in Chamonix in both winter & summer. Head to the small square near Irish Coffee in the centre of Chamonix to jump on board. Trips of varying durations and locations are available, just look on the information board in the cabin for details.
The Chamonix Valley has a multitude of trails that can be explored on horseback; you can cover more ground than on foot, get an elevated view of the scenery and hopefully get a closer peek at the wildlife. There are a number of adventure companies who can take you out for your horse riding experience. Alternatively, the Paradis des Praz play area has a 'mini-ranch' where children can go on short accompanied treks through the woods on small ponies. There is also a riding school in Les Houches where you can take lessons in their arena or do multiple day treks up the mountain.
Hot air ballooning is a truly unique and fun experience. You can experience views and scenery like never before. The views are stunning and, as you glide over the forests, you may see deer and other animals normally hidden from view. Hot air balloons depart from Praz sur Arly, just outside the Chamonix Valley, and fly over the most famous summits in the Alps including the Mont Blanc massif and mountain ranges like the Aravis, Beaufortains, Fizs, Bauges and the Swiss and Italian Alps. Children must be at least 1.30m high (around 8 years old).
Be in charge of your own sled and team of excitable husky dogs, driving them along forest paths in winter. After a brief explanation of how to make your team stop and start, you set off following the guide’s team. If this all sounds a bit much you can opt for a less physical outing where you sit in the sled and the guide does all the hard work! It's a very popular winter activity, so booking at least 48 hours in advance is a must. They run from early December to the end of April (snow-permitting).
Ice-skating / Hockey
Chamonix's main ice rink is open in summer as well as winter. Come along and enjoy a skate or support Chamonix's local team Les Chamois when they play home matches. There are three outdoor rinks in the Chamonix Valley, in Les Houches, Vallorcine and Argentiere, which are open as long as conditions permit.
The Chamonix valley is home to one of the largest indoor climbing walls in France. Mont Blanc Escalade is located in Les Houches and is open all year, with more than 100 routes to the roof, ranging from 16 to 21 metres in height. All necessary equipment is available for hire. 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, but you need to be a member of the local Club des Sports to gain access.
Chamonix offers some of the best terrain for mountain biking in Europe. There are hundreds of kilometres of fast, smooth and rocky trails available all under the backdrop of Mont Blanc. If you’re not a fan of the uphill, then you can always take the stress out of it all by taking any of the main lifts up and enjoying the descent. Mountain biking in Chamonix has something for all riders, from beginners right up to the more technically advanced. Note that, in French, mountain biking is called VTT (Vélo Tout-Terrain!)
Also see: Mountain Biking in Chamonix
Nature Reserves & Parks
Chamonix is surrounded by stunning mountain scenery, being at the foot of western Europe's highest mountain, the Mont Balnc with its 4810m. There are also protected areas around the valley which are perfect for hikes and to see the local flora and fauna in its natural habitat.
The most famous one is the Aiguille Rouge Nature Reserve, a bio-diverse area of around 16,000 hectares with spectacular views of the Col des Montets. On site there is an information centre where you can find out about the animals and plants of the area and buy a drink or snack.
The Parc de Merlet in Les Houches is a great place to spot some local animals in their natural environment. A nature reserve, rather than a zoo, the park is perched on a large plateau high above Les Houches.
Also see: Nature Parks in Chamonix
Head to the woods at Bois du Bouchet with a team of friends and try your hand at paintball. All equipment is supplied and all you need to do is be a good shot, and know how to duck for cover!
Discover the unusual and secret itineraries behind the scenes. Taste and photograph the unique neighbourhoods and hamlets of the Chamonix valley. Meet with chefs, artists, craftsmen, and guides… Admire and taste their creations. An activity for people with a passion for photography. Photo walks take place in Chamonix, Servoz, Les Houches, Le Coupeau, Vallorcine, Montroc... and many other places that you may have yet to discover!
There is playground by Place du Mont Blanc, by the Alpina centre, suitable for toddlers and children, and a small one further up the river towards the sports centre which is best suited for toddlers.
Just across from the Montenvers train station you will find the Chamonix Leisure Park at Les Planards – an action packed fun area that is a magnet for children and families in the summer and winter months. There are two playgrounds here, one for kids up to three years old, and one for 3-12 year olds. Little ones can bounce on the safely enclosed trampolines (4-12 years), clamber on the adventure climbing frame or ride round the mini go-cart track. The most exciting thing here is the luge. Open in both summer and winter, you are strapped into a sled and towed up to the top before enjoying a thrilling ride down the 1300m track - suitable for those three years old and over.
Up in Les Praz, there is a playground behind the Hotel Lanchers. A more exciting option during the summer months is the Paradis des Praz, which you will find up by the golf course. This is a natural outdoor play area in the woods, with swings, a slide, a zip wire, and a stream with a bridge. There is a cafe, a bathroom, and pony rides are offered during the holidays. It is a bit of a walk from the car park, so bring bicycles or buggies. There is a similar outdoor play area in Argentiere at the end of Chemin de la Moraine, but without facilities.
In Les Houches, there is a playground by Lac Chavants. You will also find a cafe, rock climbing, a tree-top adventure, and a trail that takes you around the lake, perfect for practicing the little ones cycling.
Skiing & snowboarding
The main draw for people coming to Chamonix in winter is of course the skiing and snowboarding. With 5 different parts of the valley to ski in and 6 nursery or beginner areas, Chamonix has something for every level of experience.
Also see: Ski Areas in Chamonix
Sledging / Tobogganing
This is one winter activity that doesn't require a lot of expensive equipment, just grab your sledge and head for the nearest snow-covered hill! You can pick up a sledge at one of the many ski hire shops or sports shops in Chamonix. There is a small snowpark play area for children at the top of the Prarion gondola in Les Houches. Head over to the Ecole chair lift where you'll find inner tubes to slide down the hill on, a toboggan run, zip wire, and other child friendly activities. It's free but you do need a lift pass to get up there.
Raquette à Neige or Snow-shoeing in and around Chamonix is a perfect activity for bad weather conditions or for non-skiers. Don't forget to wear comfortable and waterproof boots. Either set out on your own, or join a group led by a knowledgeable local guide and explore the hidden parts of the ski area. Snowshoes and ski poles are provided by most companies offering this as an experience, or you can hire snowshoes from most Sports Shops or Ski Hire Shops, grab a trail map from the Tourist Office and head off on your own adventure. Be sure to check the weather forecast before you go.
There is a mini luge-rollercoaster in Chamonix at the Parc de Loisirs near Montenvers train crossing. As well as the coaster there are lots of other fun activities for the kids to enjoy and a snack bar and restaurant.
There are a number of swimming facilities in the Chamonix valley, from hotel pools, to the sports centre, to the outdoor lakes there are plenty of places you can take a dip. The indoor pool at the Richard Bozon Sports Centre is 25m long and also features a separate children's pool with bubble jets and a water slide. The outdoor pool is 50m long and surrounded by sunbathing terraces and a children's splash pool. There is also a large grassy area by the lake within the sport centre grounds, which has a snack bar and is perfect for sun-bathing or letting the children run around (swimming not allowed in the lake). Bear in mind that chaps of all ages have to wear Speedo style trunks which, rather disturbingly, can be rented at the ticket desk!
Another popular swimming spot is Lac du Passy, just 15-20 minutes drive from Chamonix. Popular with locals and tourists alike, the natural lake has a children's play area, snack bar and toilet/changing facilities. Access to the lake is free but there is a charge for using the car park before 6pm.
There are also a few hotels in town that allow non-residents to use their swimming pools for a small fee the Hotel Excelsior, in Tines, has a nice outdoor pool with sunbathing area and grassy play area. All you have to do to use the pool all day is book a table on the terrace for lunch (the lunches are very nice too!). You can use the swimming pool & the whole spa area the the Hotel Aiglons by booking the lunch & spa package.
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.
There are also tennis courts in Les Houches, by the Chavants Lake, as well as in Servoz.
Tours & excursions
The Aiguille du Midi is Chamonix's number one attraction, as it's the highest you'll be able to get without being a mountaineer and offers spectacular views of Mont Blanc and the glaciers surrounding it.
The Mer de Glace is undoubtedly one of the most popular visitor attractions in the Chamonix Valley, and rightly so. It is one of the largest glaciers in the valley. You can access it via the Montenvers train and visit the ice cave once you're there. Find more excursions and sights to see in Chamonix and the surrounding area.
Other points of interest at Montenvers are the Crystal Gallery, the Museum of Alpine Fauna, various nature trails and the famous Hotel du Montenvers. Built in 1880, the hotel is an integral part of Chamonix’ history. It was well renovated in 2003 but still retains its rustic charms and authenticity. The restaurant serves a variety of traditional dishes either indoors or on its impressive terrace and it also has a 33 bed dormitory that is still a popular stop off for hikers and mountaineers today. Leading on from there are a number of beautiful walks and hikes: Forbes Signal – for truly spectacular views of the Mer de Glace (approx: 1hr up and 30 mins back down – 300m total ascent), Grand Balcon Nord – leading from Montenvers across to the Plan d’Aiguille (approx: 2h30 – 3hrs) or the descent back to Chamonix through larch and pine forests, via the original Mule Trail (approx. 1h45).
One way to find your way around town in the summer is to hop aboard the miniature tourist train that trundles daily through Chamonix from early May to mid-October. From 10:00 to 19:00 it makes its way past the sights of Chamonix with a multi-lingual commentary telling you about the history and culture of the area. It leaves every 30 minutes from outside the Post Office, the Montenvers Train Station and the Aiguille du Midi lift station. It costs around 6€ for adults and 4€ for children, and operates throughout the summer months only.
In Servoz, the Gorges de la Diosaz are a series of natural waterfalls that gush down through a deep gorge. By following a man-made footpath you can walk along the side of the gorge, learning about the geology and the remarkable history of the gorges as you go. To walk all the way along and back takes around an hour and a half at a gentle pace. This walk is suitable for children of all ages, but the path is not suitable for pushchairs and although there are safety barriers you are advised to keep hold of small children by the hand. The gorges are open from June through until September, the most impressive time to visit is after heavy rainfall when they are at full flow. Although outdoors the walkway is sheltered by trees and overhanging rock, so this a great activity for wet weather days. Children under 5 go free and there are reduced rates for children under 16, seniors and groups of ten or more people. Servoz can be accessed by train from Chamonix, the Gorges are just a 5 minute walk from Servoz train station.
Tree-top / Forest adventures
Tree top adventure parks are a safe but challenging suspended course through the trees, where you wear a harness and are clipped in to a safety rope. A network of ropes, bridges, zip lines, balance beams and scramble nets will test your head for heights as you traverse the forest high above the valley floor.
Just across from the Montenvers train station you will find the Chamonix Leisure Park at Les Planards – an action packed fun area that is a magnet for children and families in the summer and winter months. The lower part of the area is packed with activities for kids of all ages. Little ones can bounce on the safely enclosed trampolines, clamber on the adventure climbing frame or ride round the mini go-cart track. The Adventure Park is a safe but challenging adventure course through the trees. A network of ropes, bridges, zip lines, balance beams and scramble nets will test your head for heights as you traverse the forest high above the valley floor.
At the Kid's Arbre Aventure in Les Houches you can let your kids (from 4-8 years old) enjoy climbing through the trees in a completely safe and enjoyable adventure. Your child’s harness and ropes are secured by an instructor at the outset to a permanent secured safety-line from start to finish. The circuit takes around 1 hour 30 minutes to complete although there is no time-limit.
There are further adventure parks at Les Tines and Lac de Gaillands where you'll find a number of different courses of varying difficulty, including a course specifically for small children. One of the courses ends with a zip-wire over the lake. All necessary equipment is provided at all of the sites.
Via Ferrata climbing offers an element of security that still allows beginners to enjoy the achievement of having scaled a mountain! This form of climbing was invented by Italian soldiers in the Dolomites who used it to enable them to scale vertiginous faces easily and quickly. These days it is a popular sport that makes the thrill of mountain climbing more accessible to children, beginners and those who want a bit more security when they climb. Following marked routes through the mountains you are helped along by metal steps, bridges and ladders whilst being roped up for extra safety. Suitable for adults and children over the age of 8; guides can be arranged on request.
At Flegere there is a via ferrata course called the Via Ferrata des Evettes, which can be found from the top of the Index chairlift. There are two different routes which can either be done separately or joined together for a full day out.
There is also a via ferrata route at the Mer de Glace, which is easily accessible from Chamonix town centre. Take the Montenvers train and, from the station, descend the ladders down on to the Mer de Glace following the signs marked ‘Le Refuge’. Cross the glacier heading for the white square painted on the opposite rock face, from here you will find a well-marked Via Ferrata route that consists of around 30 ladders and, if climbed to the end, finishes at the Refuge de Couvercle. One way should take around 4-5 hours, there is a shorter return route through Les Egralets that takes a further 3 hours.
Further afield, there is also a Via Ferrata route above Passy. The route sits under the Aiguille de Varan on a cliff face and climbs up 180 metres over a length of 400 metres. Access to the spot from car park takes 20 minutes and then the average time to complete the Via Ferrata takes 1 hour 30.
Walking & Hiking
As the snow disappears after winter, the valley gradually reveals its 600kms (400 miles) of well-maintained, signposted hiking trails. Whether you prefer gentle walking along the valley floor or making a day of it, scaling some of the high altitude routes, Chamonix has something for you to enjoy.
There's so much to choose from that the only difficulty comes in picking a route to do! Fortunately, the Chamonix Valley possess one of the most complete, well sign-posted and well maintained network of mountain footpaths in the Haute Savoie region. Walking here can be as easy or as technical as you want it to be. Below are some of our tried and tested suggestions for walks and hikes in the area. Check out our walking and hiking guide for more information.
Also see: Walking Routes in Chamonix
There are a couple of companies in Chamonix that offer white water rafting and canoe-rafting (a hybrid of a canoe and inflatable raft). You can choose to raft on the low-grade river through the centre of Chamonix or try something a little more advanced and with higher rapids across the border in Italy. There, you raft on the Dora Baltea river where the rapids and the white water is pretty intense.
However, you don't have to be experienced to enjoy rafting on smaller rivers such as the one in Chamonix centre; anyone that can swim and is over the age of 7 or 8 years old can take part. Check with the individual rafting companies for more information, trip duration and prices.