A Traveller's Guide to Chamonix, France
Enjoy the snow, scenery and fondue in Chamonix
Situated on the summit of the 4810 meter-high Mont Blanc in south-eastern France on the border with Italy, Chamonix is one of the most popular destinations in the world for skiers and other mountain-sport enthusiasts. Chamonix shares the Mont Blanc summit with the Italian commune of Courmayeur, which is accessible via the tunnel under the mountain. The town itself is serviced by the Route Nationale 205. It is also linked to Martigny in Switzerland by Route Departementale 1506.
Getting to and around Chamonix
To reach Chamonix by air, take a flight to Geneva Cointrin International in Switzerland, which is only 88km from the town. There are regular airport shuttles and bus services connecting Geneva Airport to Chamonix.
TGV high speed rail services run directly to St Gervais les Bains from where you can transfer onto a local train to take you the rest of the way to Chamonix. There is also a direct TGV service running from Charles de Gaulle airport to Lyon, where you can switch to St Gervais Les Bains.
One of the main modes of transport in Chamonix itself is the cable cars, which are used by residents and visitors alike. The highest cable car system in the world runs the 5km stretch from the town to the summit of Aiguille du Midi, finishing at an altitude of 3810m. The Brevent cable car is on the other side of the valley and provides stunning views of Mont Blanc. There are several other cable car services located across the Mont Blanc valley including Le Tour cable car and Bellevue cable car.
Another way to take in the stunning scenery of Chamonix is on the Montenvers Railway which provides access to the Mer de Glace, one on the biggest glaciers in continental Europe. The little red train runs a 5.1km stretch from the town to Hotel de Montenvers. Spectacular views can also be seen by riding the Mont Blanc Tramway, which is particular popular with mountaineers and hikers because it allows them to jump off onto the many tails around the valley. The tram runs from Saint Gervais les Bains Le Fayet station to Nid d'Aigle station at the Boinnassay Glacier.
Things to see and do in Chamonix
To find out more about the town's history, drop into the Musee Alpin, located in the 19th century Chamonix Place hotel, which was one of the three palace hotels built for the first-ever Winter Olympics which were held in Chamonix during 1924.
There are runs for skiers and snowboarders to suit all levels ranging from the extreme Grand Montets to the tamer Brevent and la Flegere, as well as family resorts like Les Houches. There are also plethora hiking trails requiring various levels of skill and stamina.
At the end of the day sightseeing or taking to the slopes, don't forget to take the time to treat yourself to some of the regional delicacies like fondue, pierrade, raclette, croute savoyarde and tartiflette.