The Chamonix valley sits at the foot of Mont Blanc in the heart of the French Alps, displaying glaciers and breathtaking views of the snow capped mountains all around. Chamonix valley is ranked one of the top skiing and boarding resorts in the world and while Chamonix is famous for skiing in the winter, you may be surprised to hear that the summer time is just as popular – walking, hiking, rock climbing, paragliding, water rafting, mountain bike trails, even an 18 hole golf course! Not to mention major sports events such as the Mont Blanc Marathon and the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc.
Situated at 45°55′8″N, 6°51′55″E, Chamonix is only an hour’s drive from Geneva, and the Chamonix valley runs from northeast to southwest, with Mont Blanc (4,810m) towering over the south, and Le Brevent (2,525m) on the north.
The valley is made up of a number of villages including Le Tour (1,462m) at the head of the valley, through Argentiere (1,252m), Les Praz (1,060m), Chamonix (1,035m), Les Bossons (1,012m) to Les Houches (796m). Via the Col de Montets (1,461m) it is possible to connect to Martigny in Switzerland. Chamonix is also only an hour and a half’s drive from the Swiss ski resort of Verbier, 30 minutes through the Mont Blanc tunnel to Courmayeur, Italy which is great to visit in summer or winter, and 40 minutes from the sophisticated French ski resort of Megève.
Chamonix is a cosmopolitan town full of life and incredible scenery. For those of you wanting to experience this, we recommend you take Europe’s highest cable car to view Mont Blanc, the Aiguille du Midi reaching 3,842m. Passengers can take this cable car from the station in Chamonix centre, acclimatise to the high altitude in the restaurant or walk around the viewing platforms to see the glaciers and take in the panoramic views of the valley below and the peaks of the Mont Blanc massif from the rooftop of Europe. In winter, this is the starting point for the famous Vallée Blanche ski run, while in summer you can hike the glaciers with a guide.
Another must-see is the Montenvers cog train which departs from behind the main train station in Chamonix to the station at Montenvers (1,913m) and view La Mer de Glace glacier (Sea of Ice) from the viewing platforms. From here you can go down to the glacier and also visit the Ice Grotto. There is a cafe, restaurant, crystal caves and the Glaciorium to visit too.
Aside from mountain activities there are hundreds of shops ranging from sports shops to funky clothes outlets and of course the odd fur coat or two, countless restaurants, bars, clubs and a casino. The sports centre with indoor and outdoor pools, diving area, slides and a solarium provides fun for the whole family. There are also climbing walls, tennis and squash courts and an ice rink where you can also watch ice hockey matches and support the local team, Les Chamois.
If you want to see the latest films the local cinema shows films with English subtitles, and on a bad weather day the Alpine Museum which is located in the centre of Chamonix is also worth a visit. Local market day in Chamonix is Saturday morning – selling a wide range of local produce.
The events calendar is always bursting with activity too, keep an eye on our events blog for details of what’s coming up.
There’s plenty to entertain the children, with family parks and the luge and a wealth of activities for summer and winter, from skiing to husky rides and from water rafting to tree parks. And we’ve put together a special guide for child-minding and what to bear in mind for your family holiday in Chamonix.
You’ll be surprised at the size of this alpine town and the amount it has to offer you! With a huge range of on- and off-mountain activities there is something for everyone throughout the year – making Chamonix the perfect holiday destination for any season! There will always be something new to discover which is why so many people return year after year. Also see a History of Chamonix and Interesting Facts.
Book your Chamonix accommodation with us and make the most of your stay in Chamonix by visiting our Chamonix Resort Shop now. You can book all the essential extras to make your holiday perfect in winter or summer, from ski passes and hire to airport transfers.