I had imagined Chamonix differently. I thought the city center would be too crowded to walk freely, and parking a van would be a miracle. We weren't sure what to expect, but we were excited to find out.
Chamonix is a typical tourist resort, and a base for climbing, hiking, and exploring the surrounding mountains. It's a magnet for extreme sports enthusiasts, like kayakers, skiers, climbers, paragliders, and other adrenaline junkies. In fact, Mark Twight (an American climber) described Chamonix as "The death-sport capital of the world!"
But even if you're not into extreme sports, there's still plenty to do in Chamonix. You can go for a leisurely hike, take a gondola ride up to the top of a mountain, or just wander around the charming town center.
The views from Chamonix are simply breathtaking. You can see the summit of Mont Blanc practically from everywhere in the city. It's hard to believe that you're in the middle of Europe when you're surrounded by such towering peaks. In the city center, there are sports stores with mountain gear and clothing, restaurants, and other services. You can find everything you need to explore the mountains, or just relax and enjoy the views.
Chamonix, some highlights:
- The municipality of Chamonix-Mont-Blanc includes 16 villages.
- The mountains surrounding Chamonix block out the sun for a significant part of the day. In the middle of summer, the sun only shines for about 5-7 hours a day in Chamonix. This can be a surprise to some visitors, who are expecting more sunshine in the Alps
- The summit of Mont Blanc was conquered in 1786 by local crystal hunter Jacques Balmat and physician Dr. Michel-Gabriel Paccard, whose monument is located in the city center of Chamonix
- In 1924, Chamonix-Mont-Blanc hosted the first Winter Olympics. This event helped Chamonix gain a reputation as an international ski resort, and it began to attract more and more people
The famous Aiguille du Midi cableway
Chamonix is also famous for the Aiguille du Midi cable car, which is one of the highest and longest cable cars in the world. The top station is located at the summit of the Aiguille du Midi mountain (3,842 meters), which offers stunning views of the Mont Blanc massif. The cable car was built in 1955, and together with the Pointe Helbronner (3,462 meters), it forms a cable cars route that can be used to cross the French-Italian border.
I had the opportunity to ride the cable car up the Aiguille du Midi The carriages take about 30 people at a time. I recommend purchasing a ticket with a reservation, and it costs about 68€. I bought a ticket at the place in the early morning, and I had entry after 1 pm. The last carriage leaves the upper station before 6 pm during the summer season. It's worth keeping in mind. After reaching the upper station, you can feel slight dizziness due to the rapid change of pressures... and then after the descent also can be not fine ... And at the top... hmm, well... see for yourself… I felt like I was in heaven :)
Information for RV drivers
There is a large parking lot for campers in front of the entrance to the city. You can pay to stay overnight there. We stayed at Camping Cimes Chamonix, which is a lovely place with a panoramic view of Mont Blanc. We laid down in a hammock and enjoyed the beautiful view of the French Alps.
We had a great time in Chamonix. It was everything we had hoped for and more.
We would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for an exciting and unforgettable vacation!!