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Geneva Trip: Snowboarding in Chamonix/Zermatt

Staying at hotel in Geneva with family last week of March on business trip. A few of us are snowboarders & want to take couple day trips to Chamonix but also stay couple days at Zermatt. Main questions I have are related and are in regards to renting snowboarding equip & travel options. For equip, we own decent snowboard equip here in US & could get to Geneva with no additional baggage fees, but should we rent so we don't have to lug equip? For travel, I saw helpful link on this site, but for my specific destinations (Geneva/Chamonix/Zermatt) & considering my equipment dilemma, should I rent car, or train/bus travel (it seems train trip from Chamonix to Geneva is long and not encouraged)?

Any other suggestions on this trip would also be appreciated. Thanks.

Posted by
3318 posts

If you rent a car, the drive from Geneva to Chamonix will take about 3 hours or so depending on conditions. Really windy roads that could be a little tough to drive in winter. To Zermatt it will be about the same distance but you have to park the car at Tasch and then take the train up to the town. The driving is much easier - straight highway most of the way except for the last 20 minutes or so. Once at the station in Zermatt you have to hail a little golfcartish vehicle to take you to where you're staying. Treat it just like you would treat a ski trip here - I would rent a car if you are bringing all your own gear. It wouldn't be much fun hauling all of it on and off trains or buses.
You might consider a different ski area that's easier to get to than Chamonix or Zermatt? The 4 Vallees are just a little past the east end of Lake Geneva. The ski resorts of Verbier, La Tzoumaz, Nendaz, Versonnaz, and Thyon are all linked together by an extensive system of gondolas and lifts. You can ski for days and never cover the same run twice. The views from the Mont Fort and Verbier runs are spectacular and it's almost entirely Europeans...haven't ever run into any Americans there! All our Dutch relatives go skiing in this area and we have spent time there as well - amazing skiing!
http://www.4vallees.ch/?lang=en
Just a thought!

Posted by
12040 posts

One consideration is that Europe has experienced an exceptionally mild winter. I suspect that unless we get an unexpected winter blast in the next two weeks or so, many ski resorts will probably be forced to shut down early this year. I've never been to Chamonix, so I don't know their set-up, but because Zermatt has a high altitude glacier that offers year-round skiing, you can pretty much guarantee it will remain open during your visit in March.

As the other poster mentioned, you can't drive into Zermatt anyway, so there wouldn't be much use in renting a car if you chose that destination.

I guess to carry or rent equipment boils down to wether or not you want to lug the extra bag. It's easy enough to rent at any winter resort.

Posted by
16072 posts

There are a couple of trains in the morning from Annemasse to Chamonix (2 hour ride), which is a couple of miles east of Geneva and reachable by public transportation from Geneva. There are also lots of buses from Geneva, especially from the airport. Zermatt is about 3 3/4 hour away with trains every hour.
These days, I rent when I go to the alps. Lugging the equipment gets a bit tiring, especially if I will be visiting other non-skiing destinations while I'm there. I would bring my boots as I know they fit and it is always the most time consuming part of the rental process. You can be in and out in 10 minutes and prices are pretty reasonable.
edit-- Here is the SAT bus timetable for Geneva-Chamonix. 50 euro round trip, pick up at Geneva bus station by the main train station. 1 1/2 hour trip.
http://www.sat-montblanc.com/img/os_document/71_fiche_horaire_geneve_chamonix_hiver.pdf