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.
Best places to stay in Chamonix
Skiing Europe's Haute Route
Take a guide, take an ice axe and take the exhilarating challenge of skiing the legendary Haute Route. This spectaular route winds its way through the heart of the Alps: it heads eastwards from the base of Mont Blanc, Western Europe's highest peak, and finishes in the unmistakeable shadow of the Matterhorn.
Chamonix destination guides
Snow business: 5 alternative winter sports and where to try them
Whether you’re a winter sport daredevil or only in it for the mulled wine, dust off your mittens for these alternative winter sports. Give standard skiing and snowboarding a wide berth with a few frosty favourites perfect for beginners, or test your snowy sport expertise by scaling ice or soaring up high.
Mont Blanc Classic
A classic self guided supported walk in the Alps through France, Switzerland and Italy
Chamonix and Mont Blanc
Cross the Switzerland-France border on this day trip from Geneva to Chamonix, one of the most famous villages in the French Alps. You'll drive through the mountains, ride the cable car to Aiguille du Midi for breathtaking views of Mont Blanc and the surrounding Alps (not available from November 4 to December 20), and ride the charming red train to Montenvers.
How not to tour Mont Blanc
The Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB), a 160km loop hike through Switzerland, Italy and France, is almost too good to be true.