This tip is for those who visit Chamonix in the summer, because the place I am recommending has no space for tables indoors, so during the winter it operates only as a take-away.
If you walk in the centre of Chamonix in a fine weather you will notice that there are really many restaurants and cafes with outdoors tables. You will notice also that the prices are not very friendly to those on a tight budget, and if you don’t want to splurge on a meal there is a better alternative than buying food at a supermarket to picnic on a bench: the Belouga. It sells a good variety of big, nutritious sandwiches, cold or hot, including vegetarian ones, and has a choice of 15 home-made sauces and dressings. Even just passing by and seeing them on display has a mouth-watering effect. It sells also sweets, ice-creams and drinks.
In the warm season the Belouga has a streetside space with tables and stools (as you can see in my picture) so you can buy your sandwiches and drinks and consume them comfortably without having to pay for service.
It is open from 10 am to midnight (up to 1 am or even 2 pm in the week-ends and in the high-season).
Grand Central has reopened at a new location as of last winter season, in a bigger space. The menu is extended and there is finally a large indoor seating area. Bagels are available (flown from New York) as always, as well as healthy juices, and now salads and other healthy meal options are available. Nothing fried. Good coffee and a wide selection of teas, and in the evening the bar is open. Run by two Swedish sisters Lotte and Lisa, and now staffed by an array of gorgeous Swedish women it is a great place to go for people watching as well! Outdoor patio is open for the summer. They are now in a great location near the main squares downtown, right next to the war memorial square where the Saturday market is held.
Favorite Dish: Bagels - many options to choose from from traditional lox and cream chees (well St Moret, but it tastes the same) to the 'Elvis' with banana and peanut butter. This is the only place I know of in this whole region to get a bagel (Geneva is next nearest place) so come here if you need a nosh. Also love the chai tea latte.
Not exactly a restaurant, more of a counter where sandwhiches are available!! But I got this baguette with cheese in it, i think it was emmethal and it was sooooo delicious! I regretted not taking any back with me, it was that good!! The specific place I went to was opposite the train station, and conveniently I do not remember the name...
Favorite Dish: Ummm, cheese.
Mostly the restaurants in town center are more expensive than the budget of the average seasonaire or snowboarder visiting Cham on a school holiday break.
To save more money for lift passes, the following are some places that serve decent and filling food for reasonable prices. I will not include here any giant conglomerate chain restaurants which rape rain forests to grow more cows for mass consumption and has teams of scientists paid to engineer their food's odors and tastes in order to keep you addicted....
Favorite Dish: Belouga
-- these 4 are all sandwich shops on Rue du Docteur Paccard which is in the town center. Midnight and Poco Loco stay open very late.
Belouga is the closest to the only traffic light in town and near some snowboard/mountain bike shops at the 'far' end of the street. Midnight and Poco Loco are closer to town center and basically within a few doors of each other. Mojos is across from the big fountain in the town square (across from the post office).
Which is best ?- It's a personal matter really - try all and find the one you like best. All serve a variety of cold or hot sandwiches, have vegetarian options and serve to go. Mojo's is the healthy option (no fried foods). Poco Loco has a small indoor seating area. This is 'faster' food but not 'fast' -- ie hot food is cooked when you order - they are served within a short wait.
You should be able to eat for around €5-7 with drink and frites (fries) and the sandwiches are very big and filling at all 4.
Other options for saving money are to buy a baguette at one of the many bakeries in town, and shop for some cheese or ham to fill it and pick up a piece of fruit or bag of chips. Several mini grocery stores are found all over the center of Chamonix - Casino and Super U are the 2 chains.
Local bakeries offer small quiches with various fillings, or small sandwiches at lunch time. They usually can heat up them up on request. I have never heard of a bad bakery in Chamonix, though of course everyone has their favorites by the end of the season.
There are many to choose from in town center (Rue Dr Paccard), near the tourist office and near the big roundabout to Argentiere.
In Argentiere there are 2 bakeries and a grocery store all off the main street in town (the grocery store is behind the line of restaurants/bars which include Le Stone Bar).
Gouthe is a wonderful small cafe run by a friendly French couple, with home-baked pasteries and delicious hot chocolate, coffee, smoothies and a big variety of teas. Also a very good hot white wine in winter (vin chaud), which is unique and delicious.
Lunch specials are also available in the summer 'high season' otherwise, strictly for tea time and dessert breaks.
Favorite Dish: Chocolate Mille Feuille, any fruit tart (esp. wild blueberry), hot chocolate (creamy and verrrry chocolatey)
Sorry for that tip. But the restaurants in Chamonix are way too expensive for budget travelers, that the only place we went out to eat was McDonald´s. The Hamburger is only 75 Cents and that is a really good deal in a very expensive village.
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