Chamonix is a famous resort in French Alps at the foot of Mont Blanc (White Mountain).
Chamonix is connected to the valley by a highway and a small railway line. It is also connected to Italy by road via the tunnel under the Mont-Blanc.
In the winter there are TGV lines that go directly to St. Gervais-les-Bains, 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 from there.
The Chamonix valley can be considered everything between Sallanches and the Swiss border, or the towns of: Servoz, Les Houches, Chamonix, Argentiere, and Vallorcine.
- Mer de Glace (Ice Sea), the biggest glacier in continental Europe, accessible by the Montenvers rack railway.
- Aiguille du Midi cable car, one of the highest of the world. Take warm clothes. The temperature is alway cold even in mid summer.
- Brevent cable car, on the other side of the valley, the best scenery on the Mont-Blanc.
- Compagnie des Guides (mountain guides), 190 place de l'Église, 74400 Chamonix Mont Blanc, tel. 04 50 53 00 88
- Vallée blanche (White Valley), glacier skiing. Need a full day from the Aiguille du Midi cable car. Reserved for well trained skiers.
- the Brevent and la Flegere are the easiest ski areas to get to from the center of town. You can walk to the ski lift at le Brevent, or take a shuttle from a number of different drop of points. Skiing for all levels, but mostly mid- to extreme ski.
- Les Houches is the best family resort, and often has the best low-altitude conditions. It is the only ski area with slopes below the treeline, so it is a good place to go when there is a lot of fog.
- Le Tour is at the far end of the valley, towards Martigny. It has many easier slopes for beginners, but also some out-of-bounds skiing if you are willing to hike up with your skis. It is also a good place to go if you don't like being cold, because most slopes are in the sun (although it can still be very windy).
Take the telepherique to the top of a nearby peak. Hike down, it's easy!
Or try hikes between two telepheriques, for example:
- between the Brevent and la Flegere
- between the mer de glace and the plan de l'aguille
It's France. The food is all good. 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!)
- Pierrade or Pierre chaude - a hot piece of slate on which you cook your own slices of meat at the table
- Raclette - like fondue, this is a multi-person event that involves more melted cheese, potatos and cold cuts.
- Croute savoyarde - a toasted piece of bread soaked in white wine and then baked with melted cheese and possibly mushrooms or tomatos
- Tartiflette - potatos and bacon smothered with melted roblochon cheese
Chamonix and its surroundings are stuffed with hotels, lodges and campings, ranging from basic and cheap to very luxe and expensive.