Avoid Pierre & Vacance in Chamonix
We were a big group and had a couple of apartments in the Orion complex of Pierre & Vacance. The apartments for four people were very, very small, dirty and nasty. In our apartment were some cockroaches and in the apartment of our friends was a smell that they moved to another apartment on the first day. There was mold in some apartments as well.
Unique Suggestions: The front desk staff seams to be used to complaints and they are very friendly. You can move to another apartment if you want to. You should take that chance.
Try to get an apartment above the third floor if you want to leave some stuff (skis or boards) on your balcony (see dangers).
Steep restaurant prices and so-so food/service
There are several restaurants in the town center that definitely price-gouge (especially when changing to the Euro) and short-change you on service or food quality (or both) - they are just there to turn a fast Euro from your tourist wallet.
I would say the new Atelier Cafe (this location used to be the wonderful and sadly missed Cafe Lune, which was sold to the new Atelier owners) is one of the worst offenders - charging 3 Euros for a pathetic cup of coffee and 10 Euros for an omelette. This location used to be one of the best 'in' spots in town for a friendly local hangout with great service and prices, and now is one of the worst. Sigh.
Also Cafe La Pointiere is known for overpriced food and also for often unfriendly or uncaring service. Avoid it, though it has lots of outdoor seating!
Unique Suggestions: The only good things about these particular places is that they happen to have spots with great sun for their outdoor terraces.
Unfortunately, this guarantees that they will stay in business and not have to work hard to do it, because everyone loves to sit in the sun, people watch and look at the mountains!
Fun Alternatives: If you want to sit in the sun and 'people watch' in town center, Le Bar Tavel is just across from Le National (next to La Pointiere too), and the part of it's terrace closest to the street gets good sun. They have much better food and friendly attentive service.
Also L'M (literally "The M" - named after Aiguille L'M which you can see from the wooden tiered restaurant terrace) has better food and service for it's high prices, and really cool outdoor torches are lit up at night and in ski season, has outdoor stand-up tables and an outdoor bar serving 'vin chaud' (hot mulled red wine) and other drinks for the 'apres ski' crowd - especially good if you want to avoid those smokey indoor bars. It is located near the clock tower.
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