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Your guide to Chamonix
All About Chamonix
Known as the birthplace of modern mountaineering, Chamonix is an enchanting town in the Alps in the southeast of France, close to the Swiss border. It is located in a lush green valley, between the mountain peaks of Aiguille du Midi and Aiguilles Rouges, and sits at the foot of Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in western Europe at 4,810 metres. Its enviable setting has attracted skiers to the area for many years and it hosted the first Winter Olympic Games in 1924.
The town itself is filled with traditional buildings with the Catholic Church of Saint Michel at its heart, set against a dramatic backdrop of snow-capped peaks, with evergreen trees climbing up the slopes from the valley floor. A romantic covered wooden bridge, with flower decorations and a dome on top, crosses the River Arve as it winds its way through Chamonix.
Despite being best known for its winter sports, the exhilarating alpine landscape surrounding the town becomes a haven for those who enjoy a variety of outdoor activities during the warmer months, including hiking, mountain biking, climbing, and paragliding.
The best time to stay in a holiday rental in Chamonix
Chamonix is primarily a destination for winter sports, so most visitors come to the area for the winter season between November and May, with the best conditions for skiing and snowboarding from the end of January to the end of March. Be aware that the Aiguille du Midi cable car normally shuts for annual maintenance work from the middle of November until the middle of December.
The summer season in Chamonix is between June and September, which is when visitors come to experience other outdoor activities in the region. This includes white water sports such as kayaking and canoeing. The water is normally at its most powerful in May and June as the snow melts on the mountains. The summer months are also a time for hiking, mountain biking, and climbing in the region. Major events during the year include a marathon in June, and the Village de Noel Christmas Market in December.
Top things to do in Chamonix
Mer de Glace Glacier
The historic Montenvers train takes you on a 20-minute journey to Mer de Glace, which is seven kilometres long and up to 200 metres deep, making it the biggest glacier in France. Carved tunnels in the glacier allow you to walk under the ice, which is filled with fascinating caves and ice sculptures. You can also try out walking on top of the glacier itself.
Aiguille du Midi views
A 30-minute cable car journey takes you from the town of Chamonix to the top of Aiguille du Midi. At a height of 3,842 metres, a variety of terraces offer different views including Mont Blanc and Chamonix itself far below on the valley floor. Step into the Void is a glass box jutting out from the uppermost terrace that has a glass floor to give you a unique experience of the views, with nothing below you for 1,000 metres below.
Discover the colourful treasures that lie beneath the surface of the rocks in the Mont Blanc mountain range. The Crystal Museum boasts 1,400 exhibits that showcase the history of quartz harvesting in the region, including pink and red fluorites from the region. It also takes you on a journey of minerals from five different continents.