Chamonix is located in France close to the borders of Italy and Switzerland. Chamonix is located almost in the shadow of Western Europe’s tallest mountain, – Mount Blanc. This mountain towers 15,780 feet. This picturesque mountain town is situated in the far eastern southern part of France. It sits in the middle of a narrow valley surrounded on both sides by the towering peaks of the Alps.
Chamonix is located at about only 3400 feet but it has the feel of being much higher because of the large mountains, glaciers, and snow that surround it. The Chamonix valley stretches about 20 miles. The valley is a deep “U” shaped and was carved out by glaciers during the Quaternary Era. At some point over 3000 feet of ice covered present day Chamonix. Currently the town has about 10,000 permanent residents. There are a number of affordable Chamonix holidays you can choose from.
Most of the town is located on both banks of the Arve River. Of course there are quite a few more people then this in town, especially in the summer tourist season and in the winter skiing season. This town has long been a haven for the tourist and outdoors enthusiast. There are many outdoor activities to enjoy. Chamonix is a magnet for paragliders and hangliders. In the summer time you can see a brilliant display of multi-colored paragliders swirling and climbing high in the sky, caught in the wonderful thermals. Summer time is an excellent time for glacier climbing and walking. There are several hundred excellent hiking trails at many different elevations; some climb all the way from the valley floor to about 9000 feet. These hiking trails are by far some of the most spectacular in the Alps!! The views of Mount Blanc, Europe’s highest mountain, are incredible. These views become even better during the “Golden Hour”, in the early mornings and late evenings. At times the mountains near Chamonix reminded me of my trips to the Himalayas and the Canadian Rockies. This part of the Alps almost seemed to be a cross between those two huge mountain ranges. Winter actives, such as snow skiing, abound. More on all of these actives will be discussed in greater detail later in the article.
People have been coming to Chamonix to enjoy summer time activities ever since the late 18th century. Winter activities have been enjoyed by people at Chamonix ever since the early 1900’s. In fact the first winter Olympics were held at Chamonix in 1924. The 12 mile Vallee Blanche run is known worldwide in skiing circles as being one of Europe’s best and longest ski run.
During the summer you can expect some cloudy days and some rain, and even some cool temperatures. If you plan to spend only a day or two in Chamonix you may be sorely disappointed because of the weather. However, chances are if you stay for at least several days the clouds will part and will reveal the incredible mountain scenery. I arrived in Chamonix in the middle of the summer time, to an overcast sky, cold temperatures, and a mild drizzle. The weather made me wonder why people had been flocking to Chamonix. I could not see any of the high peaks as they were covered in a thick layer of clouds and fog. However, by the next morning the sun shone through brilliantly and all the mountains and glaciers were revealed.