Chamonix

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The Alpine Capital of Europe. Chamonix to me just cant be beaten. A great town to visit at anytime of the year. Whether its Summer,Autumn,Winter or Spring i always get a great feeling when driving from Geneva to Chamonix. Once past Sallanches towards the flyover at the end of the Auto-route and onto Les Houches i get the same feeling as when i first saw the valley. It still amazes and inspires me,the impressive peaks from Mont Blanc,MB du Tacul and the Aiguille Du Midi and Aiguille Du Plan, then the impressive Les Drus and the Aiguille Verte towards the Grand Montets and on the other side of the valley from Brevant and the Massif Des Aiguilles Rouges stretching all the way up the valley towards Vallorcine.Mountain scenery at its best.
The Chamonix valley is around 23 km long going all the way from the Col de Voza up to the Col de Balme above Le Tour. There are so many things to see and do in the valley from climbing, skiing and snowboarding to Parapente and gentle Alpine walking.Visit the Mer de Glace on the Montenvers railway which departs Chamonix and climbs steadily through the forest and up towards the famous glacier from where the views are simply stunning as you look across the ice and at the magnificent peaks.La Verte,Les Drus,Grandes Jorases and the Dent du Geant stand there in all their glory.
Another must visit place is the Aiguille Du Midi. This spectacular cable car trip links Chamonix to the 3842 Metre peak by a two section car. The first section is from the town up to Plan de L'Aiguille at 2309 Metres then the second section takes you over some stunning scenery to the North Peak at 3802 Metres. There is a panoramic terrace here with great views of the peaks and down to the valley below. You can then take the elevator up to the highest point where there are great views of Mont Blanc. It looks so close that you feel you could reach out and touch it.
The Aiguille Du Midi is also the starting point of one of the worlds most famous off-piste trails. There are many versions of this route which takes you back down to Chamonix or as far as Montenvers if snow cover is not complete to the valley floor. The VB is something every Skier or Snowboarder should do at least once in their lifetime.
On clear and sunny days some of the best views of the Mont Blanc Massif can be seen from going up to Brevant or Flegere on the other side of the valley. L'Index at 2385 Metres is one of the best vantage points.
Chamonix is a town with a mix of old traditional buildings and new modern ones. There is a huge selection of accomodation for all tastes and budgets from camp sites to luxury hotels and chalets. Summer is the valleys high season so for wintersports trips it is usually easy to find a nice place to stay at a decent price. The town itself has a varied and vibrant nightlife with a large choice of bars and restaurants. There is also a wide range of shops including plenty of wintersport and climbing shops all the way through to designer boutiques. Something for everyone.
Although i love being in and staying in Chamonix i am always at my happiest staying up the valley at Argentiere. This traditional old Savoie village has a good selection of accomodation and bars and its from here that the best skiing/boarding can be had from the Grand Montets.There are regular buses up and down the valley all day and you can get a late (nuit) bus back up from Chamonix at around 11.30pm. You can also get the train which runs through the valley and stops at various villages and hamlets on the way.
Above Argentiere is Le Tour which is a great place to ski/board when it is snowing or visibility is not too good. The area has some decent off piste from the Col de Balme all the way down to Vallorcine from where a new gondola takes you back up. Up until last season you had to get the train back round to Montroc.
In Spring and Summer there are a number of easy walks from Argentiere down to Chamonix.Go to the tourist office for a map which details them on it.

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