About Getting to Chamonix
If you're not taking a package holiday, where travel to your resort is already catered for, then you might want to consider how you're going to get to France and Chamonix.
What are the options to consider if you’re coming to Chamonix in either winter or summer? Should you fly or self-drive? How do you get from the airport to resort? What about bringing skis or bikes with you? What’s the quickest way to get here? Or the cheapest?
Best way to get here
If you are travelling from outside of France, then flying into Geneva is the quickest way to get to Chamonix. Geneva has a great choice of airlines offering good value on flights all year round. Once at the airport you can either hire a car or take an airport transfer to get to Chamonix.
You can also get the Eurostar or fast TGV trains to Paris or Lyon and then connect on regional trains onto Saint Gervais Les Bains, from where you can pick up the Mont Blanc Express Train into Chamonix.
In winter, there are four main airports you could fly into: Geneva, Chambery, Grenoble and Lyon; whilst in summer, flights only operate to Geneva and Lyon. The following drive times are only approximate and can be affected by snow, adverse weather or lots of traffic during peak holiday times:
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There are an increased number of international flights to the above airports during the winter months, operating from December to March/April. In summer, the same airlines fly out here but your choice of departure and arrival airports is reduced. Use our Flight Finder to search for the best flights for your trip.
Geneva Airport is extremely well connected from most UK and European cities, year round and as the closest airport to Chamonix is the obvious choice; realistically, it's the only airport we'd recommend for Chamonix. Flights to Geneva are much more competitively priced because of higher passenger volumes and you can pick up Swiss chocolate and fancy Swiss watches on your way through!
Due to the lack of transfer options, higher costs and longer travel times, we can't really recommend any other airports for Chamonix, despite what the map looks like! Once you’ve arrived, you'd have to get a private transfer to resort or hire a car, as this is easier and faster than taking lots of connections on public transport. Chambery Airport only opens for the winter season. Turin Airport has international scheduled flights at any time of the year; if car-hiring, factor in the cost of two Mont Blanc tunnel tolls at ~€43 each way too (last check in 2017). Lyon Airport has year round flights, although transfer times are a longer to Chamonix and therefore more expensive. Use these airports only if you have no other option...
Once you’ve arrived at the airport you’ll need a transfer to Chamonix, which you can do via private taxi or minibus, hire car, coach, train or public buses. Travel times vary for each airport, as do the respective transfer costs. Read more in our Transfers Guide.
If you’re bringing sports equipment with you, don’t forget to check how much extra the airline might charge you for carriage and give yourself extra time to get this additional equipment checked in. Often the excess baggage areas are separate from the main check in desks, so make sure you get there with plenty of time to potentially do two check-ins. You should be able to find out more information about prices and check in desks either on the airline website, on your tickets or email confirmation.
Transfers to Resort
Airport transfers or shuttle services are a convenient option for onward travel to your destination. Companies generally offer two types of service private and shared transfers.
Private transfers are exclusively for you - once you arrive at the airport they will take you directly to your accommodation. Some hotels offer a private airport pick-up service, so don't forget to enquire about this directly before you travel.
Shared transfers are usually more cost-effective, especially for individuals and couples, the trade-off being you may need to wait for other passengers and the possibility of being dropped-off at a more central location.
You should always book transfers in advance.
Also see: Transfer Options for Chamonix
Getting to Chamonix by train isn't necessarily your easiest or fastest option, but if you're looking to sit back and relax whilst someone else does the driving then this could be the way to go, just bear in mind you will have to change trains a few times before getting here.
Eurostar operate a year round service to Lyon, from where you can pick up connecting SNCF trains to St Gervais & then onto the iconic Mont Blanc Express train which will bring you up into the Chamonix Valley. Alternatively you can take the Eurostar to Annecy and either hire a car from there, book a transfer or take a bus for the final leg of the journey.
If you are coming from the UK by train, your journey and changes could look like this: London to Paris (Gare Nord) via Eurostar > Paris (Gare Lyon) to Bellegarde via TGV > Bellegarde to St Gervais via local train > St Gervais to Chamonix on the Mont Blanc Express train. This journey could take around 7-8 hours although can can also go via Lyon Part-Dieu which takes around 9.5 hours. For more information, take a look at out our National Trains guide.
Travelling by train can take longer than flying from certain places but is more eco-friendly and you can carry more luggage like skis and bike bags, without incurring additional charges.
Also see: National Trains to Chamonix
The closest major-hub bus station to Chamonix is the "Gare Routiere" in the centre of Geneva and there are regular regional bus lines from here, all year round. You can also pick up bus connections from Geneva airport.
It takes around 2 hours by bus to get to Chamonix from Geneva, as there are a number of stops on the way, regardless of which bus you take. Although it can be much more cost effective to travel this way, you'll find some buses only stop in Chamonix Sud at the bus terminus whilst others stop in Chamonix Centre so if you're not staying in either of these parts of the valley, you'll need to take another bus, train or taxi to get to your accommodation. Private transfers are also an option.
Since there are three ways in and out of the Chamonix Valley, you can also come on the bus from Martigny in Switzerland. This bus takes you over the Swiss-French border and takes around 1.5 hours. You could also take a bus from Courmayeur in Italy to Chamonix via the Mont Blanc Tunnel which takes around 45 minutes - 1 hour depending on tunnel traffic.
There are a number of international coach companies that get you to Geneva, Annecy and straight into Chamonix. If you arrive in Geneva or Annecy, take one of the local buses (see above) to get to resort.
International coaches are usually more comfortable than your average coach and many travel through the night, allowing you to spend more time on your actual holiday. Although the journey time is obviously longer, you don't have the usual airport hassle of checking in luggage and hanging around in the departures lounge waiting for your flight to board. It is also more eco-friendly and often a bit kinder on the pocket.
If you’re travelling from the UK, or perhaps from other European destinations to France by car, one of only a few options is to take the cross-channel ferry; another is the Eurotunnel train. You should book ferry tickets well in advance, especially if you’re thinking about travelling during peak holiday season.
Bringing your own vehicle with you to Chamonix is a good idea if you want to have a little more flexibility getting around once you’re here, especially since the Chamonix Valley is so long. Being able to drive yourself around the area is far more comfortable and convenient, allowing you to take day trips or visit other nearby resorts such as Morzine, Verbier, Courmayeur or Avoriaz.
If you're driving from Geneva to Chamonix, it's motorway pretty much all the way up into resort. Once you leave Chamonix centre and head towards Le Tour and Vallorcine the roads become a little more windy and harder to drive in the snow (you may need snow chains in places). If you're driving up from Martigny (Switzerland) bear in mind that the Col des Montets is often closed in winter due to too much snow so you may have to plan a different route. Snow clearers operate every day in winter, but conditions can be hard to drive in, especially if you're not used to it.
Also see: Driving to Chamonix
Travelling with equipment
Airlines, trains and transfer companies are all well-versed in catering for customers who travel with their own sports equipment (eg skis/snowboards or bikes/golf clubs in the summer), but it’s well worth checking the details in advance. Each company will have their own individual policy terms and conditions depending on the type of sporting equipment you are transporting. Here's a snapshot of the different transport options and a guide to their restrictions:
Some airlines charge for taking skis/snowboards, and some don’t, and this can also apply to bikes, golf clubs, parachutes, mountaineering equipment - so check before you book. Make sure you pack your gear well, as it’s not unusual for there to be a few bumps and bruises along the way, if you don’t! The same applies for your bike, whether that be a mountain bike, road bike or touring bike...pack it well and ensure it falls within the packaging guidelines specified by the carrier. For more information see our Cycling and Mountain Biking guides.
Airport transfer companies know that you’re going skiing, so they are able to cater for skis and snowboards coming too. However, it’s always important to let them know exactly what you’re bringing, so that they can ensure having sufficient capacity for skis/snowboards/bikes/clubs etc. An 8-seater minibus is much more cramped if all 8 of you turn up with skis without having forewarned the driver!
Travelling by train can involve several changes, depending on your route, and almost certainly lugging your gear up and down a few sets of stairs or escalators. Eurostar allows skis/snowboards as 1 of your 2 permitted pieces of larger luggage, however golf clubs, bikes and other sporting equipment incur an additional charge of around £30 for their registered luggage service.