Why Chamonix has been drawing travellers since the 18th century
Chamonix - it's always on someone's holiday hit list. But what is it about this alpine valley that keeps drawing people back year after year after year? What exactly do people do in the town of Chamonix?
Well interest in Chamonix began all the way back in 1741, when two Englishmen (Windham and Pococke) discovered the 'Chamouny' valley. They were met by mountain farmers and a rural population. But they were so excited by the valley and its glaciers that they published articles and stories of their time there. As a result others travelled there to find out more. In 1770 a lady called Madame Coutterand decided to open the first official guest house. The summit of Mont Blanc was first reached in 1786. The first luxury hotel was built in 1816. The first big winter season was in 1906-07, and in 1924, Chamonix hosted the first ever Winter Olympic Games. The rest as they say, is well and truly history.
The draw of Chamonix throughout the ages has remained the same. It continues to be considered the skiing and alpine capital of the world. As a destination it has a reputation for the extreme whether that be extreme mountain exploration; extreme winter sports or extremely breath taking natural beauty, Chamonix's assets are hard to quantify:
The Mont Blanc draws in hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. At 4808 meters it is the highest mountain in Western Europe. The Aiguille du Midi cable car travels up from the Chamonix valley to 3842 meters offering tourists some spectacular views of it. As does the Montenvers train, that climbs up to the Mer de Glace glacier.
The Winter Snow:
In terms of winter activities hold on to your hats. Not only does this area comprise some of the most challenging skiing in the world, it also offers heli-skiing, paragliding, ski touring, snowboarding, snow shoeing, ice climbing. There are snow parks with air bags, boarder crosses and snow canons a plenty to ensure fresh and constant snow. Whatever you crave you can get your fix here and you can do it at the most challenging level.
The Shopping District:
Chamonix has a thriving shopping district, from big name brands, sports retailers, luxury goods to traditional Haute Savoie traders. There are outdoor markets on Saturdays brimming with local arts and crafts and local food markets. If you need a shopping fix after your snow fix then Chamonix can deliver.
Whether your idea of the arts is local cinema, a museum or a gallery, Chamonix offers all three. There are many artists now in permanent residence in the area. Local restaurants have set aside areas to exhibit their work. There are film festivals, music festivals and of course, Christmas festivals. Chamonix is one of the most cosmopolitan ski destinations in the world. And we haven't even spoken about the summer yet .
The reason people flock to Chamonix in their thousands and the reason so many people choose to make it their home is because it can delver everything in one place. A village community, an extreme sports venue, devastating natural beauty, summer treks, arts programmes, music, peace, hustle, then no bustle. The world is your oyster. In Chamonix you can choose to live exactly as you please.