Les Houches is a small traditional alpine village, just a few kilometres outside Chamonix. It is a ski resort in its own right, and offers a diverse range of skiing, including some of the best tree skiing in the area. It has its own cable car (the Bellevue), and the ski lifts at Le Prarion have recently been upgraded to a faster more comfortable system.
Skiing is often possible in Les Houches when the weather in Chamonix makes skiing difficult. It is Les Houches where the famous Kandahar Chamonix World Cup event is actually held.
If you are planning a trip to Chamonix do consider Les Houches, as it has different things to offer than Chamonix – it is a lot quieter yet you are still ideally placed in the valley to access other ski areas. Les Houches is also generally slightly cheaper than Chamonix, though there are still luxury chalets to be found in the area.
There are several hotels in Les Houches, with the Hotel Slalom probably offering the most luxurious hotel accommodation in the village, as well as a recently opened bar. Tracey is a wonderful host. Other hotels include the Hotel Auberge Beau Site.
Nightlife in Les Houches is obviously not the same as Chamonix, but fun can be had in Les Houches – thought it is probably better suited to families who do not want the hustle and bustle of Chamonix.
In the centre of Les Houches near the church is the excellent Le Delice, offering a great selection of international food, and a well stocked bar.
Just across the road from here there is a small hut selling excellent takeaway pizza. There are also several traditional french restaurants to be found in the village.
There are a selection of french bars throughout Les Houches, probably the most lively being the ‘Pull Up’ bar near the Bellevue cable car. The ‘Relax’ at the opposite end of town is worth a visit too. Mostly a french crowd, with friendly staff who are eager to please.
There’s also an indoor climbing wall in Les Houches, where you can hire gear if you need to.
Various skiing shops are dotted around the lengthy village, probably the most friendly staff are to be found at Cyprien Sports, a short walk above the Bellevue cable car.
Bus services between Chamonix and Les Houches are regular, with the journey taking twenty minutes or so. If you have a lift pass you can travel for free.
Les Houches has two decent sized supermarkets – the biggest being Super U at the Chamonix end of the village. Shopi can be found in the centre, and is slightly smaller than Super U, though well stocked.
Les Houches is excellently positioned for walking and mountaineering, with many walking trails and mountain bike (VTT) trails. In the summer you can take mountain bikes up the cable car in Les Houches and ride downhill all day. The Belle Vue cable car also gives you access to the Nid d’Aigle and further up, the Tête Rousse hut – one way to go up Mont Blanc. Mountain views around Les Houches are just as impressive as Chamonix, if not more so.