Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, more popularly known as Chamonix, is an icy paradise located in southeastern France, particularly in Rhône-Alpes’ Haite-Savoie Department. Its oldest claim to fame is its being the venue for the Winter Games of the Olympics in 1924. At present, Chamonix is home to less than 10,000 people, making it the 856th commune in France in terms of population. Its 245-square-kilometer area, on the other hand, makes it the fourth biggest commune in the whole of the French mainland.
Chamonix is the perfect place for anyone looking for some Alpine action. Tourists who come to France to ski, board or mountain-climb typically converge in Chamonix, which is touted as France’s mountaineering hub and center for extreme sports. Think the ski chase in the James Bond movie, The World is Not Enough and you will have an idea on the type of skiing adventure that is in store for you at Chamonix.
Aside from the action, Chamonix is also a place that fills the senses. The breathtaking scenery is filled with snow-capped peaks and glaciers, and a view of the majestic Mont Blanc (White Mountain, in translated English), the highest peak in Western Europe. The best way to drink in the Chamonix view is via a cable car. Or you can also try riding the mountain train that takes you an ice cave that they bore through a glacier. Another way to get around is to take the tram around town.
The highlight of Chamonix, France, is the base of the Haute Route—which is every skiers dream vacation. The Haute Route goes through the core of the Alps, beginning in Mont Blanc, before heading east to the glaciers of Italy and Switzerland, all the way to Zermatt.
If you want to experience the challenge that is Haute Route, the best time to go there is between middle of March and middle of May. You can go to Chamonix from Geneva, which is the airport nearest the commune. When you get off the plane, you can take the bus to Chamonix, which takes one and a half hours. There is a convenient hotel in Chamonix right across the train station, called Hotel Gustavia, where you can stay before negotiating the Alps. Along the Haute Route, however, you can board dorm-style in one of the huts up in the mountains.
You have the option of going alone with your group or with a hired guide. We recommend managing your risks by hiring a guide, especially if you are unsure about how to navigate and get past whiteouts or mountain faces that require rappelling. Besides, it is always a pleasure to hear the local stories about the place from a local guide.