Chamonix is a town steeped in history, with year-round activities both in the valley and high in the alpine as well as some fantastic places to stay and eat. Whether you’re a hardcore gravity-focused adrenaline junkie or someone who prefers to keep their feet firmly planted on terra firma, there’s something here for you to love.
Chamonix sits right at the foot of Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in western Europe (Elbrus is the highest mountain in Europe). For this reason, it was first made famous during the golden age of alpinism (all the way back in the 1700s) where wealthy Europeans would visit the once small farming village to hire local guides in an effort to be the first to climb nearby Mont Blanc. Whilst this legacy has stayed true to the core of Chamonix, the town has also evolved into one of the most exciting mountain towns out there.
How To Get There
The beauty of Chamonix for those of us travelling from pretty much anywhere in Europe is that the town is nestled in the heart of the European Alps, with some fantastic train, plane and car access from almost all sides of the valley. Given that you’re coming to marvel at the stunning natural scenery that surrounds it, we’d urge you to do your bit to protect these environments and look to travel to the town via the more environmentally friendly methods of transport – le train.
This way of travelling not only keeps your environmental conscience clean, but it is also a fantastic way to free yourself from the stress of airport security and long driving hours. You’ll be able to take in much of the beautiful scenery as the train winds its way up to St Gervais, before changing to reach Chamonix centre.
Although, if you are looking to come for a literal flying visit, then you’ll be glad to know that Chamonix is a short (hour max) transfer from Geneva airport, both during the summer and winter months, with competition keeping prices cheap and transfers frequent – winner.
Things To Do In Chamonix
If you’re a frequent visitor to this action-packed website, then there’s no real reason as to why you shouldn’t plan a visit to Chamonix some time in your life; the place is a real mecca for adventure sports. One of the largest reasons for this reverence is due to the accessibility it offers to the high alpine environment.
It’s hard to say whether Chamonix is better for winter or summer sports – it’s a real treat for anyone who’s into raising their heart rate in stunning surroundings (pretty much everyone, no?); climbing, skiing, snowboarding, hiking, trail-running and mountain biking. It’s got the lot.
Not only do you have accessibility to high alpine granite accessible from the Aiguille du Midi (more on this puppy later), but you’re also surrounded by many other five star climbing locations spanning the length of the valley; you’ve got friction climbing down on the Mer du Glace, compact Gneiss over in Brevent and even easy single pitch down at Gaillands.
From this wealth of quality climbing, you can expect a high concentration of mountain guides to be populating the town. Climbers and mountaineers new to the area would do themselves a favour in hiring a mountain guide who knows the region better than your grandad knows his way down to the local. If a mountain guide is a little out of your price range, then you can also grab yourself some of the extremely detailed Chamonix rock, ice or alpine climbing guidebooks for the local beta.
“Imagine skiing from central London to Croydon all whilst descending the height of three Burj Khalifas”
Given this close proximity to high alpine mountaineering, you’ll soon learn that the skiing and snowboarding in the valley is quite obviously well catered towards backcountry aficionados. Some might say it’s the best place in the world for it. Must-do descents in the region have to be the stunning 20 km Vallee Blanche that winds its way down for 2700 vertical metres the Mer du Glace. Imagine skiing from central London to Croydon all whilst descending the height of three Burj Khalifas and you’ve got yourself the scale of the Vallee Blanche.
Even if you’re not an out-and-out gravity sports junkie, you’ll still be able to get yourself up to the top of the Aiguille du Midi téléphérique – a cable car with the highest vertical ascent in the world – taking you from 1035 metres in Chamonix centre to the 3842 metre summit of the Aiguille du Midi. It’s up on this wild stance where you’ll be spoilt with a 360 degree panorama of the Mont Blanc massif and peer down the icy slopes and rock faces that drop away below.