Chamonix is a lively place in the skiing season, but it remains lively also in summer. There are late opening restaurants, night bars, discoteques.
There is also a casino, where games start at 21.00 (French Roulette, English Roulette, Black Jack, Sud Poker), but the restaurant opens from 17.00 to midnight.
For a healthier way of spending the evening there is a bowling, open from 17.00 to 02.00. Its address is Avenue de Courmayeur.
UPDATE 2009 - A MAJOR FIRE IN 2006 DESTROYED 2 HISTORIC BUILDINGS ON THE RUE DU MOULIN CONTAINING THE CYBAR, DICKS T-BAR AND BAR DU MOULIN AND ARE NOT YET REBUILT. UNCLEAR IF THEY WILL EVER BE REBUILT AS BARS. REBUILDING OF SOME DESTROYED SECTIONS HAS BEGUN.
Coincidentally they were all owned by the same company and were all for sale at the time of the fire. Hmmmmm.
The entire street of the Rue du Moulin is a host to a number of bars and restaurants. Many are run by ex-pats from the UK (hence the nickname) and some Swedes who have english as their main 2nd language.
There are many bars to check out if you are looking to party in a loud (often smokey) nightclub (many with live DJs on weekends). Crowds are very young - especially in winter season.
The main players are:
Bar'd Up - rustic bar/lounge with TV screens, tables, couches & some outdoor seating. Getting very run down and seedy looking lately. Aussie owned. Come to Oz.
Soul Food - new in 2007/08 - tiny bar in the shape of a hallway in the old location of Le Salon. Very good DJs, hip 20-30 something in-crowd. Rammed full for a good reason.
Mixed - a small 'funky chic' bar done up in modern city style furnishings (white square couches, 'retro' 60s style lights etc.) which depending on the night attracts a cooler or more wannabe kind of crowd depending upon the DJ.
For more of a lounge or intimate atmosphere try these restaurants after dining hours as they also have small bars:
Munchies - they are awesome, Swedish owned with great wines. The small bar area also serves food and the food is out of this world. More of an adult crowd. Not for club kids, and too expensive for seasonaires on a budget.
Le Privelege (I personally hate this place - they do not allow dogs, are snooty and they advertise for 'girls' to work there and are quite sexist. Some people like it. ).
Cy Bar & Bar du Moulin - FIRE closed .
The Expedition - CLOSED 2006 due to lawsuit
The Queen Vic - FIRE - closed
Dick's T Bar - FIRE - closed
Check out posters in the windows of business on the street to find who is coming to DJ.
Bar'd Up occasionally features live music as well.
Finding the street:
The Rue du Moulin is a pedestrian street along the Arve river. From the center of town find the standing clock tower. From here locate Irish Coffee cafe. The entrance to one end of the street is there.
For the other end of the street, it is close to the main roundabout heading into town (the one going to Argentiere). From the Gallery Alpina/Alpina Hotel, look across the street for the stairs going down to the Arve and the Rue du Moulin (EDF France electric building is on the corner, and the Pompiers - fire department - is across the river from the entrance).
Bars, restaurants & cafes are up and down the entire street on both sides.
Dress Code: Varies - a hipster style is always cool.
Many of these are 'hang out' spots for UK seasonaires working for ski tour companies, as well as english-speaking visitors and locals (and French anglophiles, of which there are a few!) so the style is always au current. If you are a female, the tighter or fewer clothes the better. For guys, showing you are a hot skier/climber by letting the muscles out a bit tends to help attract the chicks in the tighter/fewer clothes.....
The street is quiet in the mornings, and wakes up towards lunch time, and really gets going at dinner time until bar closing which is around 1:30am for most bars (though on weekends and some nights it does go on much later).
Chambre 9 (Chambre Neuf - pronounched 'chambruh nerf' is a friendly apres ski spot popular with seasonaires and locals. The bar is comfy and the people are friendly. It's a good place to hang and talk with buddies after skiing. Special nights will have guest DJs or live musicians playing.
The bar is part of the Hotel Gustavia, and is Swedish owned so you will find lots of scandis hanging out here. Also attached to a restaurant, with decent food if you are in the mood for a change from cheese fondue and potatoes. The bar has a 2am license, so the action can go on late.
They put updates for any live music gigs (esp during ski season) on their website.
Dress Code: Snowboarder and Telemark chic
Brothers Neil and Andy (from the UK) own Le Derapage. The bar's style has changed in the past few years to become more of a mixed English and French crowd, and now employs some of the bartenders who lost employment due to the Rue du Moulin bars by the fires in 2006. They have introduced a steady stream of local live bands into the bar now - check the board outside the bar for the week's details. Their placard is usually standing on the pavement in the main town square near Mojo's sandwich shop, listing the bands or other events featured that week.
Dress Code: None at all.
Owned by a Brit who speaks great French and has lived and partied in Chamonix for over 8 years, Le Delice is a welcome addition to the 'down valley' town of Les Houches. They do not have a true bar license, so offer tapas with alcoholic drinks in order to get around local laws while waiting for a proper late night liquor license.
They also do great hot breakfasts and have good offerings on for lunch and dinner. Special parties from time to time in high season. Very friendly and good service.
Dress Code: Casual
The Clubhouse opened in 2005 with much fanfare. They do not seem to get too busy but somehow are getting by year after year. It appeals to city based adults who want to come out to the mountains but stay in touch with their metro roots.
They are a private club but anyone can come in and buy drinks when they are not crowded (which is most nights). They are a sister bar to Milk & Honey in London and New York.
They do have an outstanding selection of scotches and wines, and if you have the money to burn this is the place to at least get what you are paying for. The bartender knows his stuff.
Unless they are having a special party or guest DJ the scene is laid back with large sofas and a nice warm fire. Free coffee and tea and often some snacks during apres ski time. Breakfast and dinner are also served here.
The Clubhouse also has a Bunkhouse, and the rooms come with 'adult toys' if you catch my drift. this is Chamonix for those who want to do it James Bond style . . .
Dress Code: Casual apres ski wear to Ralph Lauren style smart.
Just 1km outside of Chamonix center towards the Les Gaillands crag area (direction Les Houches), the bar at Le Hotel Vert has become popular for the young 20-something crowd. On off nights out of season the scene is relaxed with pool tables and TVs to watch rugby or football. In high season or on special events nights, the place is packed when a good DJ is playing.
Be careful walking on the road after dark between Chamonix and Le Vert - it is not well lit and has no pavement for pedestrians, so it is difficult for cars to see you.
Dress Code: Hipster casual, youth.
The Chamonix Sud area (known locally as Cham Sud) has become a large party spot since the fires burned down many of the bars in the Rue du Moulin.
Munster Bar is a wood-clad Irish bar, featuring all your favorite Irish ales.
The Monkey Bar is full of tourists and crowded
South Bar has a distinctive northern Europe crowd - popular among many Swedes and other scandis
Le Tof is open late and is reputed to be the only gay bar in Chamonix, though the crowd is very mixed especially later in the night.
Another nightclub called Le Garage is not far when you get desperate and just must stay out drinking until you are sick enough to vomit (it is on the road leading to the Aiguille du Midi). They have classy events like lingerie shows. It is mainly for drunk kids looking to pick up other drunk kids very late at night. Dancing on offer. Disco power ... whee.
Dress Code: Ski bum or climbing bum casual, show muscles or flat bellies for extra points.
If you are new to Chamonix and feel a bit overwhelmed by the large amount of bars and clubs, pick up a free copy of Le Petit Canard (the little duck). This nightlife guide gives you info on bars, parties and other events in the valley so you can choose the place that suits your taste best. And if you see one of their photographers with a rubber duck, don't forget to get your picture taken!!
South bar is a great place for some afterski in Chamonix. South bar has a live band during après ski and loads of Scandinavians (mainly swedish people). There are Guest DJ′s every night and they often have different themes for their parties. When I visited South Bar last time, they hade five guys dressed like Elvis walking around whilst the place was filled with students from Insted drinking their welcome drink (Insted has french lessons in Chamonix). Good atmosphere and a lot of fun.
South Bar is also the main sponsor and organizer of the annual ice hockey game between France and Sweden. An charity event for the benefit of hockey kids without cash.
16.00-02.00 Every day of the week!
Dress Code: Dress like a ski-bum and you will for sure fit the rest of the crowd!
Choucas is a smaller club that is casual, and open late. There are tables and couches, no big dance floor. Good for meeting people. It has a mixed French and English crowd (unusual for Chamonix!) and plays videos on a big screen. Good for late night after ski partying, without the big dance club feel.
From the outside looks kind of like a chalet - wood clad with painted trim.
Dress Code: casual
The Cafe la Terrasse is a nice place to go between 7 and 9 p.m. You have a perfect view to the Mont Blanc and the people are very nice.
A band is playing a couple of nights each week, which might be the reason for the high prices (0,25 Heiniken: 3,5 Euros).
Dress Code: Casual