Chamonix offers some truly excellent freeriding and great natural freestyle terrain. It's not great for beginners and can suffer if there's not much snow. It's rough round the edges - but therein lies its charm. If you can, wait until there's fresh snow then jump in your car.
Chamonix freeride / Photo: Chamonix tourism
Food choice is good here - theres the French norm of pizzas and melted cheese, but theres also a wide variety of pub food and cellar restaurants. In the main pedestrian area there is a great hole-in-the-wall fast food joint which always has a fast-moving queue outside. Try their Americana sandwich.
Accommodation is varied. You can get a bed in a bunk house for £10 or get yourself a nice hotel room. The tourist office are really helpful if you arrive needing a bed. Go to www.chamonix.net for a good range of accommodation. Theres lots of self-catering apartments, particularly in Chamonix sud. For an all-inclusive snowboard-centred chalet holiday and also training weeks, go to www.mcnab.co.uk. If youve got a car theres a great bunk house at the head of the valley near Le Tour, on the road towards Italy.
It can be a real party town with lots of bars having happy hours and cheep jugs of beer. The centre of town has a bar for most and a few late-night clubs like Dicks Tea Bar (set to reopen after a fire in 2005/6) and the Jeckyl and Hyde. Theres lots of English bars, some popular with the Swedes, theres even a Queen Vic and a good night can be had at the Cantina. The Office bar in Argentiere is good for a beer and has a tex-mex menu which is reasonably priced. There are also a few French bars which are a little cheaper. Le Praz has a couple of very local bars.