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Beneath the imposing peak of Mont Blanc is Chamonix, an alpine town that bustles throughout the year. Chamonix came to international attention in 1924, when it hosted the first Olympic Winter Games, and the town has a classic alpine style. Wooden chalets line small roads and little squares, many of which are vehicle free, together with high-end sports shops, restaurants, bars, cafes and hotels. And, every turn brings a new, impressive mountain view.

I wanted to move here the first time I ever visited. I love it because it’s a quaint, outdoorsy town tucked in the middle of a thick forest but has a vibrant downtown with lots of shops, restaurants and cafes. And, of course, you can ski in the winter.

France specialist Aislyn

Things to see and do in Chamonix

Chamonix village

Thanks to the quality of its ski trails, the supporting alpine scenery and the cachet of its name, Chamonix has grown into one of the most popular ski resorts in France. Exclusive hotels and Michelin-starred restaurants have joined the cafes and bars, and there’s a clear Italian influence due to the proximity of the French-Italian border.

The town also has a handful of museums, including the Musée des Cristaux (Crystal Museum) with its collection of rocks, crystals and minerals and an exhibition on professional mountaineering, which features some inspiring photography.

Cable car to Aiguille du Midi

One of Chamonix’s most distinctive geographical features, the Aiguille du Midi (3,842 m; 12,600 ft) rises above the town in a series of rugged peaks. A cable car from Chamonix runs to the summit, from where you sense a genuine feeling of being on top of the world as you take in views over the jagged edges of the French, Swiss and Italian Alps. 

From the summit you can continue on toward the French-Italian border and an area of ice fields and glaciers via a further two cable cars. Bring warm clothes: even in summer the temperature at the summit can be as low as -10 C (14 F). If you’ve a head for heights, you can also ‘Step into the Void’, a glass cube overhanging a 1,000 m (3,280 ft) drop down the mountainside.

Mer de Glace glacier cave

Flowing down the northern side of Mont Blanc, France’s largest glacier can be accessed by a cog railway, which opened in 1909, followed by a cable-car ride. This 7 km (4 mile) river of ice moves about 90 m (295 ft) each year and is heavily scarred by the pressure this causes.

While you can’t walk on the glacier without an expert guide, you can venture over 400 steps down past the cable car to the eerie Grotte de Glace (Ice Cave). Here, you can step inside a tunnel in the glacier and see ice sculptures carved by local artists each year. As you walk down to the entrance, you’ll see signs along the way that mark the retreat of the glacier. You can also visit the Glaciorium, a museum examining the formation, movement and future of glaciers.

Hiking near Mont Blanc

Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps, and the surrounding peaks offer some of the most dramatic hiking trails in Europe. Although the mountain itself requires technical climbing skills and experience, the trails around it present keen walkers with accessible but challenging hikes.

You can trek along high alpine ridges overlooking steep valleys, through alpine meadows, and past glaciers and isolated lakes, with jagged peaks all around you. Almost all the trails are well marked, and many are reachable using ski lifts, which run throughout the summer.

Best time to visit Chamonix

Chamonix is a great year-round destination, which we find at its best from June to September, particularly for hiking in the mountains. Daytime temperatures sit comfortably above 20°C (68°F) in the high summer months of June, July and August.

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Map of Chamonix

Places & hotels on the map

    Places near Chamonix

    Accommodation choices for Chamonix

    We’ve selected a range of accommodation options for when you visit Chamonix. Our choices usually come recommended for their character, facilities and service or location. Our specialists always aim to suggest properties that match your preferences.

    • Hôtel l'Héliopic, Chamonix

      Hôtel l'Héliopic

      First Class

      Located in fashionable Chamonix, Hôtel l’Héliopic is a comfortable, modern property with chic interiors and spacious rooms. With a convenient location and large spa and pool, it offers a great mountain base.

    • Hameau Albert 1er, Chamonix

      Hameau Albert 1er

      Deluxe

      Centrally located in Chamonix, Hameau Albert 1er is an indulgent Alpine retreat that prides itself on its rich history, fine dining and comfortable rooms. Guests also benefit from a large pool and easy access to all the town’s attractions.

    Ideas for experiencing Chamonix

    Our specialists seek out authentic ways to get to know the places that could feature in your trip. These activities reflect some of the experiences they've most enjoyed while visiting Chamonix, and which use the best local guides.

    • Mountains and glacier tour with cable car ascent
      Cable car to the summit of Aiguille du Midi, Chamonix

      Mountains and glacier tour with cable car ascent

      Mountains and glacier tour with cable car ascent

      The alpine scenery of Chamonix is unveiled on this tour of the mountains and glaciers with a local guide. You’ll take in the views from the summit of the Aiguille du Midi and visit the ice cave in the Mer de Glace, France’s largest glacier.

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    • Hiking near Mont Blanc with picnic lunch
      Chamonix hiking trail, France

      Hiking near Mont Blanc with picnic lunch

      Hiking near Mont Blanc with picnic lunch

      Get out onto the trails and into the mountains around Chamonix on a full-day privately guided hike. You’ll ascend into the high meadows for panoramic views of Mont Blanc and the surrounding peaks, and return via another route passing a quiet mountain lake.

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