Chamonix is without doubt, one of the most awe inspiring places on this planet. Located just a quick drive from Geneva Airport, it can be reached with ease, wherever you live.
Driving into the valley, after leaving Switzerland, you climb up and up ever windy and exciting roads, some of which are built hundreds of feet above the valley floor, making it feel like you are almost floating up the valley.
Jagged and huge mountains enter the vista, and the scale of it all begins to dawn on you. Big time. You enter a twinkling winter wonderland like no other. This is the heart of the Alps – and you’ll see why. Nowhere else in Europe offers such visual delights of this calibre.
Chamonix isn’t just some skiing resort. This is a French town in its own right, and always has been. It’s only in recent years that it has been virtually taken over by Brits and other European mountain lovers.
This place is unique. The area contains some of the most extreme skiing and climbing to be found in the world. It is the home of danger, avalanches, the extreme, as well as unreal outstanding natural beauty.
Accommodation here tends to involve stunning chalet retreats with views that would give most people a heart attack – holidays here are never forgotten. As well as the sexy chalets, there’s a lot of hotel accommodation available throughout the valley, to suit all budgets, and in the summer, you can camp.
The town itself is a pretty, small French affair with all the usual amenities that you would expect anywhere else. Amazing cheese shops can be found, as well as great chocolate and many good French things – and all in the shadow of Mont Blanc – the highest mountain in Western Europe.
Other highlights include the world’s longest single span cable car – the Aiguille du Midi. This little ride takes you to the top of one of the most magnificent peaks in the valley – if you go to Chamonix you must do this. Views from this gem of a place are again way out of this world. The best of Italy, France and Switzerland spews out beneath you in an exquisite alpine panorama that makes you happy to be alive.
In the winter, there are children’s ski schools who will take your kids off your hands for a reasonable fee every day. Depending how much you want them thrust into the mountains. You may not be expecting it, but your child could be a natural mountain ninja. Yep. They’ll make you look shoddy on the piste, and you won’t be able to do anything about it. If this does happen for God’s sake cut them some slack.
And when you are in Chamonix you are also perfectly positioned to reach other areas magical of Europe very quickly. Italy is a 30 minute journey through the Mont Blanc Tunnel, Geneva is but an hour and you can be in the French Riviera in two shakes of a lambs tail.
Sophie lives in France and loves Chamonix. More writing at http://www.chamonix.eu.com