With the pearly white peaks of the Mont Blanc massif as its sensational backdrop, being an icon comes naturally to Chamonix. First ‘discovered’ by Brits William Windham and Richard Pococke in 1741, this is the Mecca of mountaineering, its birthplace, its flag-bearer. It is also a wintertime playground of epic proportions that entices Olympic champions and hard-core skiers to its pistes, and party-mad boarders to its boot-stompin’ bars.
Even if you and your karabiner aren’t quite ready to scale ‘the big one’ just yet and your technique doesn’t quite match that of 007 in his stunt-riddled ski chase in The World Is Not Enough, there is no resisting the gravitational pull of those mountains. Whether slaloming La Vallée Blanche like a pro or almost colliding with perpendicular cliffs on the vertigo-inducing Aiguille du Midi cable car, there’s a whole lot of adrenalin and, yes, a dash of Bond in every trip to Chamonix.