Chamonix and the surrounding mountains are simply the most complete destination in the world both in winter and summer. Incredible view and high mountain scenery aside this extraordinary corner of the Alps provides world a world class high mountain environment upon which almost any traditional and contemporary alpine recreation is possible. Activities in the “Mont Blanc Natural Resort” are organised by world class providers with generations of experience.
The expertise and range of skills offered by UIAGM and IFMGA qualified professional mountain guides independently and under the famous Chamonix “Compagnie de Guides” is peerless. The organization was founded in 1821 and the oldest and largest organisation of its kind in the world.
Guide training over many years encompasses many high mountain disciplines all pointed at giving clients adventures on and around the mountains but also that are as safe as possible given the inherent risks. These include on and off-piste skiing, snow shoeing, ski touring, ice climbing and winter mountaineering in the colder months as well as mountaineering, alpine trekking, rock climbing and team building activities.
Aside from the guides Chamonix delivers endless possibilities for fun in the great outdoors as well as culturally. To fit the entire program into a short stay itinerary in the valley would be challenging to say the least. In the writer’s humble opinion Chamonix has such a diverse and specialized range of things to do that even long-term residents never bore of living there. For holidaymakers, excursioners and sight seeing visitors building a rich and varied itinerary is straightforward, knowing what not to do is harder whether you are sporty or whether you prefer more of a sightseeing holiday.
For those seeking to test themselves in more extreme way to families seeking complete entertainment for adults and children alike, there is simply everything you could wish for.
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Aside from the mountain and air-based activities there are also all the local amenities that have been built and augmented massively over the last 10-15 years.
Within walking distance of Chamonix village there built in a contemporary style is the Centre Sportif Richard Bozon (214, avenue de la plage, 74400 Chamonix, +33 (0) 4 50 53 23 70) which has a 25m pool, water jets, 120m water slide, jacuzzi, sauna and hammam and is open 12:00hrs-19:30hrs weekdays and 14:00hrs-19:30hrs at weekends. There is a water garden for kids of 3 months to 3 years old (accompanied by 1 or 2 adults), swimming lessons for kids of 5 years or more and water aerobics class too.
The center also boasts indoor and outdoor (open in winter) ice-skating rinks that host carving lessons and regional club matches at a high level. There is also a gym with coached cross training classes and a good set of training machines and weights if you want to maintain your gym fitness while on vacation.
The center also has an indoor bouldering wall. You won’t need a harness just your climbing shoes and you can be practicing alongside some of the valley’s best climbers and mountaineers.
There also some of the most scenic tennis courts in the world. Aside from two indoor courts there are another 30 hard and clay courts all with incredible views of the mountains around. There is a charming café at the courts where you can have a simple meal served in entirely picturesque surroundings with a bubbling stream passing through the grounds.
In the heart of Chamonix is the Alpine Museum or Musée d’Alpin, (89, avenue Michel Croz
74400 Chamonix-Mont-Blanc. Tel: 04 50 55 29 46) with a permanent of cultural exhibition allowing you to discover the historical and artistic heritage of the Mont Blanc region. The history of the valley and the beginnings of mountaineering, conquest of Mont Blanc and the great scientific adventures at 4,000m elevation are all displayed. The creation of winter sports and of summer, the transformations of the valley alongside tourist development are also on show with an artistic display dedicated to the famous Mer de Glace. Founded at the end of the 19th century, the Museum preserves and enhances more than 11,000 exhibits from the 18th and 19th centuries. The museum is located in the former luxury hotel "Chamonix Palace" which opened in May 1914 and is an emblematic building of the Belle Epoque.
For a virtual tour of the exhibition click here
Chamonix’s rich cultural heritage is not just displayed at the Alpine Museum there is also the Espace Tairraz, Montagnard Museum, Lieutenant’s and Alpine Houses as well as the Heritage House to enjoy in a Chamonix culture fest.
At the Espace Tairraz, ancient practice meets mountaineering and its development has evolved considerably thanks to new techniques, training methods, philosophy and equipment. This fun and educational space allows visitors to almost enter the skin of the mountaineer with an exciting interactive series of exhibits which show the routes and challenges of climbing in an accessible way.
Currently there is a celebration of 40 years of commitment around the world by the High Mountain Military Group, GMHM, from the history of its creation in 1976 to the missions that are incumbent upon it today. In its forty years of existence, the Group has distinguished itself on all the mountains of the world with testimony of more than 30 films and 80 000 photographs.
Next door is the crystal museum which has many thousands of crystals from the alps and round the world.