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Mountain related articles from WINTER-SPORTS.COM

Contamines Montjoie: Nature's own ski resort


Mere steps away from Chamonix, overlooked by the Domes de Miage and, a little further away, by the Mont-Blanc, the Contamines Montjoie resort offers all the advantages of a "mountain village" resort while also offering superior quality skiing.
A superior quality skiing domain
The skiing domain, wooded and panoramic is quite charming...Covering two mountainsides (Contamines and Hauteluce), it boasts a view on the Mont-Blanc on one side, and on the Beaufortin on the other side. The skiing domain is highly appreciated for the wide variety of its ski slopes, exposures, the runs' conformation and the quality of their upkeep. The top of the domain is at an altitude of 2487m (8159 ft), while the resort has an altitude of 1100 metres (3600 ft) - a very respectable maximum elevation! The width of the runs, as well as the presence of a Snow park below the Aiguille Croche, make this resort good riding grounds for snowboarders.

Sizeable advantage: the resort has a ticketing system which is compatible with all the resorts that are part of the "Evasion Mont-Blanc" domain : St Nicolas de Véroce, St Gervais, Megève, Combloux, Les Houches...
The off-piste skiing domain : an ode to freedom
The Contamines resort boasts an excellent free riding domain on both mountainsides : Contamines and Hauteluce, especially between the pistes. These pistes are indeed fairly far apart, with beautiful slopes, lined with shrubs and softwoods and are ideal for snowboarding. What's more, the Mont-Blanc is nearby and off-pistes outings on glaciers are organised by the Bureau des Guides (Vallee Blanche, Envers du Plan, etc).
Just like everywhere else, even if the free riding domain looks easy, don't put your safety in jeopardy.. The domain remains dangerous, even if you stay close to the skiing domain... Watch out for the off-piste skiing under the ski lift... It is recommended you go over the domain with a guide who will show you the safest runs based on the weather conditions...Read our our advice on off-piste skiing

Off-piste runs/free riding


Signal/Bûche croisée
-Excellent security,
-Easy itinerary with a gentle slope

To descend, cross down in a straight line from the Signal to the the top of the Bûche Croisée ski-lift. This itinerary is very safe (in normal snowfall conditions).

Descent to Hauteluce, starting from below the Aiguille de Roselette (see picture above):
-Medium safety (skiing with a guide or at least asking for his advice is strongly recommended),
-Fairly unknown itinerary, easy with gentle to medium slopes and a superb panorama (see picture above).

At the end of the Bûche Croisée ski-lift, cross to the other side of the mountain and traverse to your left for around 100 meters under the Aiguille de Roselette before turning your skis or board downhill to Hauteluce. Warning, the itinerary is relatively flat at the end, which might pose a problem to snowboarders (take batons with you...). This itinerary is safe, except for the first part, under the Aiguille de Roselette which is avalanche prone in some snowfall conditions.

To avoid
The Aiguille Croche/Verelay and the Combe off-piste runs (even if they may seem appealing) that follow the Nant Rouge ski lift are marked as risky areas, despite their proximity to the pistes. Don't do these without a guide....
An ubiquitous nature
The natural setting is one of the Contamines resort's perks. The resort is right next to the Contamines natural park, a sanctuary for many animal and vegetable species. You might see a pair of royal eagles (a very rare species) circling the valley, their nest is close by... The valley is covered by forests : made up of pines and birches, these forests are very popular hiking locations, summer and winter alike. Incidentally, the Mont-Blanc tour (in the summer) departs from Notre Dame de la Gorge.

Snow shoeing is also a great way to discover the surrounding nature during the winter season. If the mountain community interests you, take part in a "raquettes et milieu naturel" (snow-shoeing and natural environment) outing, organised by the Bureau des Guides and lead by a medium mountain specialist (ask for Nelly...). You'll have fun all the while discovering the area's fauna and flora. That's how we like our mountains...
A conserved cultural heritage
The Contamines-Montjoie resort displays all the charm of a Haute Savoie village. Its inhabitants have managed to preserve the village's mountain culture, which is progressively disappearing elsewhere. It is the only resort - that we know of - where you can still see in the summer a breeder (who also happened to be our high mountain guide for this article!) go get his hay in high mountain pastures with a horse led sleigh (the poor beast..).

The resort is well known for its Baroque churches, which are really astonishing... especially Notre Dame de la Gorge's church, delicately nested in a green setting in the valley (see picture).
A good place to relax
Are you tired of those snobbish and overcrowded high mountain chalets that reek of French fries and sunscreen? Try the Colombe Chalet then.. Its simplicity, its authenticity and good mood will charm you. After a long session skiing or snowboarding in the powder, there's nothing like a thick slice of bread, a nice big piece of paté, a chanterelle mushroom salad, a chocolate omelet and a glass of white wine. The chalet is on the Hauteluce side, to the left of the slopes as you go down.
Our advice
The resort is especially a perfect destination for those who enjoy ski touring, off-piste skiing, and snow-shoe hiking. Those who are big fans of parties and clubbing will probably want to go elsewhere as nightlife is fairly limited in the resort and the atmosphere is rather homely.

Caution : the skiing domain is a bit far from the resort. If you don't want to take your car or the shuttle to reach the skiing area, opt for lodging close to the Montjoie cable cars or even La Gorge's.

Make sure you don't miss the last ski lift if you're skiing on the other side : there are no buses or shuttles between Contamines and Hauteluce. Your only option will be to take a cab...which will be quite costly (it's a 70km drive...).
For more information
The tourist office's phone number : 00 33 4 50 47 01 58
Their e-mail address : info@lescontamines.com
The Contamines Montjoie resort guide
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