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Innsbruck or Chamonix: A difficult decision

Innsbruck or Chamonix: A difficult decision

Old Feb 22nd, 2006, 04:29 PM
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Innsbruck or Chamonix: A difficult decision

Ok, I'm being facetious-- it's not all that tough to decide between these two fabulous Alpine ski areas! Anyone out there been to these either or both of these areas? Which would you recommend for a small group of college-age skiers/tourists? At least a couple of the group are pretty good skiers, none have been to either place. They are traveling from various points in Italy, being American students studying abroad. Travel logistics are about the same between the two places. Any suggestions? Either place better for apres ski? Either mountain much better than the other for skiers? Any hostels or inexpensive hotels to recommend? Thanks!
Old Feb 22nd, 2006, 05:47 PM
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I have never been to Chamonix and only time in Innsbruck was in the summer, many years ago. However, I did plan a large family trip to Innsbruck a few years ago (which never took place for several reasons), and I know that all skiing from Innsbruck involves taking a bus (or car, etc.). I assume (?) that Chamonix has lifts that are within walking distance.

We had reservations in a gasthof in Innsbruck that was highly recommended by the TA who specialized in ski trips; she said that many locals eat meals there. It was quite reasonable and was the equivalent of a 2 star, which should be great for college age folks. Now if I can just remember the name of it, I will post!
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Old Feb 22nd, 2006, 05:56 PM
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Ok, got the gray matter in gear: Gasthof Engl. Doesn't look as though it has its own website but lots of Google entries.

I think Chamonix would be more expensive than Innsbruck, but that is based on the price of the ski packages being less at Innsbruck than at Chamonix.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2006, 05:59 PM
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Chamonix. We were there for hiking last summer, and the terrain looked wonderful for skiing. There are lifts that go up righ tfrom town, and shuttles that run up and down the valley to other areas.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2006, 07:50 AM
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Grandmere and Enzian, thank you. I did some research and found these two summaries from SkiSnowboardEurope.com.

It describes Chamonix as more for experts, lines are long, shuttle buses are 'crowded and erratic', so it suggests a car or a bus is needed. Whereas it says Innsbruck's free shuttle system is 'quick and easy'. Judging from how much the same source wrote about each place, it sounds like Innsbruck itself has more offer and is the favorite. Each is a large complex of a number of ski areas. Here's the cut-and-paste copy:

Chamonix is the most famous ski town in France. (from http://skisnowboardeurope.com/chamonix/index.html)

It also breaks every normal European rule for a resort. None of the trails drops directly into town; instead, the ski areas are spread along a valley almost 10 miles long. Only two of the areas are interconnected. Some lift lines can be long, especially for the Grand Montet. Shuttlebuses are crowded and erratic but eventually come. The weather can change in a matter of hours from sunshine to a stormy whiteout. But what Chamonix does offer is perhaps the world’s best expert and advanced skiing on spectacular mountains rising more than 12,500 feet above the valley. And Chamonix it-self has a strong Alpine flair. You won’t find the space-age structures that set the tone for so many of France’s other resorts. The world’s best expert skiing and one of the world’s most picturesque settings, in the shadow of 15,767-foot Mont Blanc, creates an experience that is hard to beat.

Small-town coziness is the rule, with plenty of restaurants, narrow streets for shopping and good hotels. This atmosphere can make one forget about the logistics of getting on the trails. But remember, to fully enjoy Chamonix, you’ll need a car or a bus to get to its slopes which are spread out for miles along the valley floor. There is an er-ratic shuttlebus service from Chamonix center to the out-lying areas; some hotels provide bus service.

In Chamonix you can ski hard all day long, then sit at a café in a small square and sip a kir, wine or beer. The bars are crowded with an international group, and you are surrounded with other skiers who are here not for the ritz and the glitz, but for the challenge and the exhilaration of testing themselves against Europe’s most spectacular slopes.

Chamonix Tourist Information:

Tourist Office, Place du Triangle de l’Amitié, F-74400 Chamonix, France
Country code: 0033
Telephone: 450 53 00 24
Fax: 450 53 58 90
Email: [email protected]
Internet: www.chamonix.com

Innsbruck has twice hosted the Winter Olympic Games (1964 and 1976).

However, Innsbruck, capital of the Austrian Tyrol, is no quaint ski village. This city of more than 130,000 residents in the valley of the emerald-green Inn River has such a collection of cultural attractions that skiing is not the dominant factor. Innsbruck just happens to be surrounded by a group of resorts with excellent skiing and it has linked its ski package offerings with two of the most famous resorts in Austria—St. Anton and Kitzbühel. Other ski resorts nearby include Axamer Lizum, Igls, Seefeld, Tulfes and Stubai Valley.

Here is the Innsbruck town map in pdf format.

For centuries, Innsbruck has been a crossroads of civilizations. The bridge from which the city gets its name has linked the north and south of Europe since the time of the Romans, who regularly used the Brenner Pass. New rail links made Innsbruck a major junction on the east-west rail links between the Alps and central Europe. And the silver mines made this a rich and busy commercial center.

In the ancient days, this was the center of the Holy Roman Empire, which ruled over most of Europe, from Italy to the Pyrenees and to the English Channel. When you look at a city map it is easy to see where the old castle walls once stood. Colorfully restored buildings give the town center a cheerful yet medieval feel. Old inn and shop signs still hang, arcades still shelter travelers from the storms, traditional restaurants still serve patrons today as they did in Mozart’s day, and merchants (all be they modern) still line the cobblestone streets.

The Club Innsbruck Card covers everything from reductions on sightseeing and free lantern-lit hikes to free child-minding services in the ski kindergartens in Igls and Kühtai and reductions on lift passes. It is available free of charge when from your place of accommodation provided that you are staying in Innsbruck or one of the holiday villages.

If you stay in the city you have a longish ride to the lifts, but you can ski eight nearby areas, and can also strike out for a day to St. Anton or Kitzbühel. The free shuttlebus system has been perfected over the years and makes getting to the slopes quick and easy. Innsbruck is a great place to try out a lot of Austria’s skiing to get an idea of where to spend more time next season.

With a major university and lots of cultural history—castles, cathedrals, palaces and the like—Innsbruck has many sightseeing opportunities as well. It also has a great deal of beauty and charm, with the Inn River flowing through the city and good walking areas in the old city center, up and down the river banks and parks. There is a good tram and bus system up to Igls, to the Hungerburgbahn and to the winter hiking trails.
Those looking for the best restaurants and cafes will not be disappointed. Those looking for rollicking good all-night dancing and drinking can find it here. The city is also a good family environment, with lots of affordable restaurants and activities for kids like the zoo, gondolas and trains going up into the mountains.

Igls, (a part of Innsbruck) a small village on the south side of the Inn Valley, is only a 20-minute bus ride (or 30-minute tram ride) from the city. Commercialism hasn’t taken over. Attractive walking paths through meadows leading to nearby villages add to the relaxed charm and genuine sense of retreat. Not prohibitively expensive, it attracts a slightly older and sedate crowd. There are a few local nightspots, but this is more a place for a quiet dinner with drinks afterward than for a rocking party night of disco and barhopping.

Innsbruck Tourist Information: (from http://skisnowboardeurope.com/innsbruck/index.html)

Tourismusverband Innsbruck-Igls und Umgebung, A-6021 Innsbruck, Burggraben 3,

Country code: 0043
Telephone prefix: 0512
Telephone: 0512-59850
Fax: 0512-598507
Email: [email protected]
Internet: http://tiscover.com/innsbruck
or www.innsbruck-tourism.com

(We'll also look into the hotel you recommend at Innsbruck, Grandmere.)
Old Feb 24th, 2006, 11:16 AM
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Wow--you've done your homework, Maureen--nice work. I do have friends who have skied both. They send postcards of Chamonix because the secenery is so amazing. Near Innsbruck, they go to Seefeld, I believe. If there are any non-skiers among you, or you just want a day off from skiing, there are marked hiking paths---Winter Wanderwegs---that you can walk, sometimes from one Gaststube to the next for Glühwein or hot chocolate. The TI office in Innsbruck should have information on them. You'll have a wonderful time, both on the slopes and off. When I was a college student studying in Europe (I won't say how long ago) we went to Engelberg, in Switzerland. It was great. Now I go to the Alps for hiking, but stay here for skiing.
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