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Chamonix

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Chamonix is a famous resort in the French Alps at the foot of Mont Blanc. Also it is credited with hosting the First Winter Olympic games in 1924.

Get in

Chamonix is connected to the valley by a highway and a small railway line. It is also connected to Courmayeur in Italy by road via the tunnel under the Mont-Blanc [1], and Martigny in Switzerland by road and rail.

In the winter there are TGV lines that go directly to St. Gervais-les-Bains (Le Fayet), where you can switch to a small local train to ride up into Chamonix. There is also a TGV that leaves directly from Charles-de-Gaulle airport to Lyon, and you can transfer to St. Gervais-les-Bains (Le Fayet) from there. Via St. Gervais, sleeper trains to Paris are also easily accessible.

The Chamonix valley can be considered everything between Servoz and the Swiss border, or the towns of: Servoz, Les Houches, Chamonix, Les Praz, Argentiere, and Vallorcine.

If you plan to fly to Geneva and hire a car, the route to Chamonix is relatively straight-forward, covering a distance of 88 km. Chamonix is located 80 km southeast of Geneva, Switzerland, and driving time is about one hour via the Autoroute Blanche (A40) motorway. Chamonix is 226 km from Lyon and 612 km from Paris.

Geneva is the most convenient and accessible airport for tourists traveling to Chamonix. Chamexpress.com [2] run a timetabled daily service to Chamonix from Geneva Airport every 45 minutes throughout the winter and summer seasons at 25€ per person.

See

If you consider taking the more than one cable car trips for sightseeing or skiing, you should seriously consider buying Mont-Blanc multipass [5]. You have passes for 1-10 days at very good prices. Also, the website provides very good information on possible activities and hikes from the cable car stops.

Do

Skiing

Mountaineering

Hiking

Take the telepherique to the top of a nearby peak. Hike down, it's easy! Or try hikes between two telepheriques, for example:

Get a fantastic view on both the Mont-Blanc/Aiguilles de Chamonix range, and the ribbon of the Fiz limestone range:

Several great glacier hikes exist. Even if you can't get right up to the glaciers and touch them, you can still get close enough to get some amazing views.

The first three could feasibly be done in one day if you are up early and have a car, but Bionnassay will require a half-day.

Buy

Eat

It's France. The food is all good, though it can be quite expensive in the touristy places. Open a can of Ravioli from the supermarket and eat it with your freshly purchased Swiss Army Knife. If you've been hiking all day, it'll be the best meal you've ever had.

Other regional specialties (Quand meme!)

If you find you've had a bit more cheese that you would really like, there's a very nice Japanese restaurant, Satsuki.

For trendy, 'nouveau French', try these restaurants:

Drink

Drinking in Chamonix is relatively expensive. Expect to pay around €6 in most places for a beer, though most places will sell pitchers for less. There are many happy hours during the late afternoon. The Microbrasserie de Chamonix (MBC) has different kinds of microbrews, in an American/Canadian ambiance (serves onion rings and hot wings, for example). Otherwise, most places serve standard pilsners, such as Heineken or 1664. Just ask for 'un demi pression' for tap beer, or a 'demi panache' for a mix of half beer, half Sprite, a refreshing alternative with less alcohol. A pint is called a "serieux" or for better value, order a "pitcher".

Sleep

Chamonix and its surroundings are stuffed with hotels, lodges and campings, ranging from basic and cheap to very luxe and expensive.


Stay safe

Climbing the Mont Blanc is popular among alpinists. The climb should however not be attempted by people lacking mountaing climbing experience and equipment, even using the easiest route (voie royale).

More generally, all high mountain hiking, climbing, and skiing, is potentially dangerous. Bad weather may turn an otherwise easy hike into a strenuous and possibly fatal journey ; weather in the mountains can change at short notice and you should always inquire about the latest forecast. Always carry a cell phone, should you need to call for rescue, though there is no guarantee it will work everywhere. Keep it turned off unless needed, so as not to drain its batteries needlessly.

After snowfalls, in some areas, avalanches can be expected — either natural or triggered in order to prevent further avalanching. Always inquire about avalanche hazards before embarking in hikes in the snow or off-track skiing. Even if you do not fear for yourself, please show consideration for the people who may be underneath you.

Altitude sickness may also be an issue. Using aerial lifts, one may get very fast to high altitude areas. For instance, when going up the Aiguille du Midi, you get lifted from around 1000m altitude (Chamonix) to 3840m in a very short time. You may experience shortness of breath and other symptoms.

Related Information



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A list of contributors is available at the original article on Wikitravel. Additional modifications may have been made by users at TRAVEL.COM [27].

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