Chamonix has a few atmospheric places in which to sit down, crack open a bottle, and have a yatter at lunchtime. In the Grands Montets sector, La Cremerie du Glacier (+33 450 54 07 52), in the woods beside the Pic a Ric piste, is one of the only restaurants not owned by the lift company. It is renowned for its croute fromage. Also recommended is the Chalet-Refuge de Lognan (+33 688 56 03 54) – in an atmospheric spot overlooking the Argentiere glacier. You need to be reasonably skilled to ski there (the exit from the refuge is off-piste), but all the same it’s packed in peak weeks of winter. Book ahead! In the same sector, Plan Joran (+33 450 53 05 42) offers ‘regional specialities served in a casserole’ and has a good sun terrace. Cafe Rider (+33 450 54 10 21) is a sleek modern self-service.
If you’re skiing the Vallee Blanche, drop in first at Le 3842 (+33 450 55 82 23), which is one of the highest restaurants in Europe. It is reached from the Aiguille du Midi cable-car and specialises in grilled meats.
At Brevent, La Bergerie de Planpraz (+33 450 53 05 42) is recommended for its grills and salads. At Flegere there’s La Chavanne (+33 450 53 06 13), and the waiter-service restaurant l’Adret (+33 450 55 34 88). On the cross-country track in Chamonix you’ll find Le Robinson (+33 450 53 45 87), which has a great atmosphere and serves typical mountain cuisine.
Everything from McDonalds to blow-the-budget gastrodomes
Got something to celebrate? Then book a table at the restaurant gastronomique of the Albert 1er hotel – it has two Michelin stars. The hotel’s other restaurant, the more rustic Maison Carrier is also excellent, though not quite so high-falutin’, and serves Savoyard cuisine. L’Auberge du Bois Prin is also warmly recommended, along with Hotel Eden in Les Praz. Le Rosebud is in Hotel Jeu de Paume in the hamlet of Le Lavancher. The restaurant has become known as one of the best in the Chamonix Valley, with its chef mixing herbs and spices to create an original style of his own.
In the centre of town, Atmosphere is right on the river and has a daily market menu strong on fish and seasonal produce. Nearby, at the Brasserie Le National (+33 450 53 02 23), the steaks in particular are recommended. l’Impossible is inside an 18th-century farmhouse and is decorated with chandeliers. Pizzeria Casa Valerio (+33 450 55 93 40) is the valley’s favourite Italian, and features a much-loved wood-burning oven. The owner, Valerio Comazetto, used to compete in the world pizza championships in Parma. Meanwhile, La Caleche (+33 450 55 94 68) specializes in traditional Savoyard dishes, and Satsuki (+33 450 53 21 99) has sushi.
From sushi to fish and chips
Le Cap-Horn is a new restaurant and jazz bar complex in rue des Moulins, the oldest street in Chamonix. In keeping with its surroundings, Cap-Horn is in a beautifully-renovated old building with a different experience on each of the three storeys. On the ground floor is a jazz bar called Les Caves du Pele with wine, tapas and oysters from 11pm to 2am nightly. On the first floor is Cap-Blanc, which is Japanese. The top floor is Le Cap-Horn, a traditional restaurant with seafood, fish and local specialties – and a large sun terrace.
In Argentiere, the restaurant scene is more laid-back, as befits its serious-skiing image. The Rusticana (+33 450 55 88 28), aka the Rusty, is a popular spot, and offers beer-battered fish and chips, wild boar sausages, and a celebrated 10oz steak.