What to buy:
I am not fond of cheese, but my mother is, so when I spend holidays in the Alps I usually bring her cheese instead of souvenirs. This way I had to learn a thing or two about local products.
CHEVROTIN – This cheese is hand-made from goat milk, with a method that dates back to the 17th century. A chevrotin weighs from 250 to 350 grams and although it has a distinctive taste it is not smelly.
TOMME DE SAVOIE – The peculiarity of this cheese is that it’s made with skimmed milk, so it has a lower percentage of fat than most cheeses. However this is not due to modern-day obsession with low-fat foods. For centuries the families in the Savoie region have made butter from the milk fat, and then used the skimmed milk to make the small “tomme”.
REBLOCHON – This cheese is made from raw full milk with a technique that has remained the same since the 13th century. Its texture is soft and it melts easily, so it is suitable for a fondue. It is also an essential ingredient of the "tartiflette".
All these cheeses are certified by an AOP or an IGP. These certifications guarantee that products are made locally, according to the established methods, and using local raw materials.
chamonix must have the highest amount of outdoor shops compared to the number of inhabitants.
every second shop in that town seems to be an outdoor shop and because of the competition, some very good prices can be found if you shop around.
What to buy: hiking boots, outdoor clothes and everything else related to the great outdoors.
What to buy:
For everyone who loves hiking, this guide with practical map is highly recommended.
All trails in and around Chamonix are mentioned, with degree of difficulty in Summer and Winter, length of the hike (in time) and info about how to get there.
The guide is available in differnt languages.
What to pay: 12,50 euro
Compared to other supermarkets in France, this one is very small, but they have everything you need. There is a small parking behind the store.
Closed on Sunday afternoon!
What to buy: Fresh vegetables, meat, cheese, side dishes, wine, groceries + few other items such as clothes, toys, flowers...
What to pay: Compared to the other, even smaller drugstores in the center, from the brand "Petit Casino", Super U is the cheapest and has the largest supply.
We used to get our baguettes in a stall, close to our residence. However, in 2009, the owner changed and turned the usual baguettes into spongy twigs.
This was a blessing in a disguise, while in our search for another bakery, we found the best bread ever. A bit sourdough, just as is tasted when I was a child. And with a very, very crunchy crust!
We left Chamonix with a scraped palate, but happy that we rediscovered the taste of real bread.
PS: the name "Au Pain d'Antan" means "In the bread of the early days".
If you are staying in Chamonix for more than a few days, and are for example in a self-catered chalet situation you may find that local grocery stores are pricey. Of the 2 chains in town, the Super U (Marche U) generally has better prices. Casino has more vegetarian/organic options. For a short stay, these will be fine and convenient.
But if you have a car, drive down the valley to the town of Sallanches (get off the autoroute on the Sallanches exit once you are down the big hill) you can find an Intermarche (first) and further down, a Carrefour. These hyper markets have cheaper prices.
Across the street from Carrefour is a Satoriz shop. This has healthfoods (all veg sold here are organic) and foods for people who are lactose or wheat-intolerant. Carrefour also has a small selection of organic foods.
What to buy: Groceries, wine, odds and ends (these are hyper markets). Lots of vegetarian options at Satoriz.
What to pay: Intermarche and Carrefour both have competitive prices and are much cheaper than Cham stores.
Intermarche is closer to Chamonix and is before Sallanches. Carrefour and Satoriz are past the town center. Satoriz is more expensive (organic) but is cheaper for than the Carrefour is for much of it's organic produce.
There are several good sports stores in Chamonix - Snell Sports is quite well-known and has a website too. Coquoz, Sangelard, Alpine Land are all good as well. All stores tend to compete in prices and several are owned by the same company (different names). When you find something you want to buy, look at it's price in a few shops and get it for the best price. If one shop is out of what you are looking for, ask at the other stores. Snell is known to have employees who are very well-informed about what they are selling and have many employees who have been with them for several years and have a lot of mountain experience.
What to buy: If you are from North America you will find good deals on skis, snow boards, crampons, ice axes, climbing ropes, hiking boots and outdoor shoes - especially European made brands. But not mountain bikes! They seem to be more expensive here than in the States or Canada. (Canadians may have a hard time beating MEC prices on anything though!!)
Price things you are interested in buying in your area before coming out to be sure you are getting a deal. The strength of the Euro has made some things no longer great deals for North Americans, but for some reason mountaineering boots and ski boots still seem to be much cheaper here than in North America. Also if you are here early or late season look for sales on last year's models of whatever gear has just gone 'out' of season (ie, skis/boards in late spring, rock climbing gear in fall etc.).
What to pay: Obviously this kind of gear can be pricey and will add to your weight allowance when flying back - be sure to consider that or your 'deal' could cost you a fortune to take back or ship back! Don't forget to get receipts to get back the tax if you are non-EU citizen.
Everything you will need can be found at this supermarket. The bread is the first to go!
Alcohol is cheap as well. The buffalo vodkha in the below photo was only 13 euro, in Perth it retails above 50.00!
A alpine souvenir shop with three levels of all sorts of stuff from dolls, toys, homeware, clothing to cuckoo clocks!
What to buy: A cow bell!
What to pay: Chamonix has a lot of souvenir shops in town and i found this one to be the cheapest.
Before leaving for Chamonix I had a look on the internet at prices for rentals and buying ski clothes and equipment. I found the prices for ski hire varied and could not figure out the reasons as to why some places charge more for the same thing?
As I anticipated that I would be on the bunny slopes for most of the time I decided to go with the cheaper ski hire Technique Extreme is the cheapest ski store in Chamonix. It has two levels of everything you need - clothing, gloves, hats, hiking, snowboard and ski equipment.
Ski and snowboard hire is located on the 2nd level. I hired ski’s and my partner hired a snowboard. Fairly reasonable pricing and the ski’s were cheaper to hire for seven days instead of five days.
Located a few minutes’ walk from the town centre and very easy to find. The shop is open until 7.30pm which means you can ski the same day that you return the ski’s.
What to buy: I bought ski pants, gloves, thermal socks and a beanie all for $100.00 Australian dollars. The jacket that I had bought in Malaysia was waterproof so I decided to use that instead of buying a new one.
There are a few smaller grocery stores in town. Contrary to the Super U supermarket, they are open on Sunday afternoon.
Good brands and a large choise of wine.
What to pay: More than average.
Cheese, sausage, roasted chicken, meats and regional products - this store is worth a look. A chance to try the local produce.
This shop was underneath our apartment in the city centre of Chamonix. Selling all types of incredible styles of art - water colour, oil, large, small, contemporary, old school - a beautiful variety.