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!
The Chamonix Guest Card (carte'dhote) is valid in summer and winter (for the duration of your stay) and entitles you to free travel on the buses and trains between these resorts (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. The Guest Card also 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.
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.
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 6pm 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.
You can bowl in Chamonix in winter or summer at the bowling lanes in Cham Sud. A great places to go if you're in a family, a group or to while away rainy days.
You can't actually bunjee jump in Chamonix but there is a bridge down the valley in St Gervais where you can dive 65m into the abyss if you're brave enough!
Canoeing / Kayaking
Canoe rafts are an unsinkable, stable type of inflatable canoe that allow you, without too much technique to profit fully from the joys and fun of white water 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.
Kayaking is a fun watersport that can be enjoyed as a team or on your own. Unlike canoeing, paddlers face forward and have a double bladed paddle. It is a versatile sport that you can enjoy on rivers, lakes and the sea. You can take your inflatable or plastic kayak and make your way down the water. Using the double bladed paddle you can control the speed, direction and enjoy the experience and wonderful views in your own time. There are some watersports centres and adventure companies who can take you out for your kayaking experience.
A not-so-gentle but extremely refreshing summer activity is one way to describe canyoning! Plunge yourself into the mountain streams via a series of abseil descents, jumps and natural water slides – just make sure you choose a warm day!
You will make your way along rivers and rapids, using the river bed as a natural obstacle course. Not suitable for very young children, but anyone over the age of about 8 can take the (very cold) plunge and try canyoning. With the safety of a guide everyone can abseil down cascades, splash into pools and ride the river rapids. You can choose from short beginners’ routes or longer ones for the more adventurous. Different companies will have their own policies on age limits but usually, unless they are booked onto a children's activity course, anyone under the age of about 14 years old will have to be accompanied by an adult. A basic level of swimming ability is required for safety reasons. There are a number of adventure companies that offer guided descents down the local waterways.
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 main sports centre of each town host a kids club during the summer holidays, 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.
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.
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. 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 more.
Also see: Cycling in Chamonix
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.
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 were you can take lessons in their arena or do multiple day treks up the mountain.
Be in charge of your own sled and team of excitable husky dogs, driving them along forest paths. After a brief explanation of how to make your team stop and start, and strict instructions not to let go of the sled if it turns over, 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!
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.
A great activity for the whole family, if you want to give climbing a go in an indoor centre, then Chamonix has somewhere for you to go. Climbing equipment is normally provided, or you can bring your own and insurance is normally needed before you hit the climbing wall.
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.
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!
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, Chamonix has something for every level of experience.
Also see: Ski Area Overview 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, 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 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 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 and one of the most beautiful ones. You can access it via the Montenvers train and visit the ice cave once you're there.
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 6€ for adults and 4€ for children, and operates throughout the summer months only.
Tree-top / Forest adventures
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 - watch them cross bridges, slides, and beams like monkeys! Prices are €9 for individuals or €11 for groups of more than four. In good weather, opening times are from 09:30 with the last departure allowed at 18:00, although you can book in advance when the weather is less favourable. The circuit takes around 1h30 to complete although there is no time-limit. All necessary equipment is provided.
There are further adventure parks at Les Tines and Lac de Gaillands.
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 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.
The Mer de Glace 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 emtres. 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
If you haven't experienced white water rafting before then this is a definite 'must try' on your list of activities to do! There are a number of trained guides in resort who will let you experience some of the best white water rafting available in the Alps. From the middle of May until September, the mountain rivers flow furiously as they are fed from the melt waters running off the glaciers high above the town. There are various options available from a three hour adrenaline rush to a full days excursion - this activity is guaranteed not to disappoint.