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Zermatt

You can sense the anticipation on the train from Täsch: couples gaze wistfully out of the window, kids fidget and stuff in Toblerone, folk rummage for their cameras. And then, as they arrive in Zermatt, all give little whoops of joy at the pop-up-book effect of the Matterhorn (4478m), the hypnotically beautiful, one-of-a-kind peak that rises like a shark's fin above town.

Since the mid-19th century, Zermatt has starred among Switzerland’s glitziest resorts. British climber Edward Whymper reached the Matterhorn's summit in 1865 and plucky souls have come here ever since to climb: Theodore Roosevelt climbed the Matterhorn in 1881 and a 20-year-old Winston Churchill scaled Monte Rosa (4634m) in 1894. Today skiers cruise along well-kept pistes, spellbound by the scenery, while style-conscious darlings flash designer threads in the town's swish lounge bars. But all are smitten with the Matterhorn, an unfathomable monolith you can’t quite stop looking at.

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