Situated at the base of the tallest mountain in the Alps, Mont Blanc, Chamonix is a picture-perfect getaway for all types of travelers.
Defined by Mont Blanc’s looming peak, Chamonix is enveloped in stunning scenery. It happened to snow while I was there in April, and though it was cold, I have to admit the town reminded me of a winter wonderland. The streets of Chamonix are lined with charming boutiques and inviting restaurants, as well as practical stores like The North Face and Decathalon for the town’s outdoorsy visitors. Central Chamonix is quite small and very walkable, making it easy to navigate, especially for foreigners.
Like many towns situated throughout the Alps, Chamonix attracts adventurous thrill-seekers from around the world. During the cold ski season, snowboarding, ice climbing, and of course, skiing, are some of the town’s most popular activities. Warmer seasons tend to welcome hikers and mountain bikers on several scenic trails. If you keep your eyes on the sky, you’re bound to see paragliders soaring from peaks surrounding the center of town, accessible by a collection of cable cars. Even if you aren’t paragliding or skiing through the mountains, these cable cars offer incredible views of the surrounding Alps.
Chamonix is also the perfect place to experience French cuisine. During my visit, I tried several classic pastries like baguettes, croissants, and pain au chocolat. I also visited a pop-up market and splurged on some locally-produced cheese, wine, and jam. Finally, I had to have a taste of the town’s fondue, which is a must-try while in the Alps. Though fondue is considered to be a Swiss creation, towns in the French Alps are known to put local spins on the classic dish that can vary depending on the restaurant you visit.
Finally, Chamonix is home to a vibrant nightlife scene, especially during the height of the ski season. A hidden, pirate-themed rum bar called Barracuda is just a step off of the main road, and is the perfect place to close down a day full of sightseeing and adventuring. Yet, for travelers seeking a more tranquil night out, Maison des Artistes is a jazz bar that serves classic drinks in a comfortable atmosphere. For a lot more suggestions, the easy to navigate tourism board site is a great resource. Admittedly, Chamonix seems to thrive during the ski season, so be sure to keep that in mind if you’re planning a trip.
The biggest hurdle to seeing this beautiful town is transportation. I rented a car out of Milan’s Malpensa Airport, but there are other options as well. It’s easy enough to find buses from Milan, Paris, and Geneva. There is also a train called the Mont-Blanc Express that takes you from Switzerland through the Alps on a beautiful and scenic route. However you choose to get there, this beautiful town is a gem that isn’t to be missed.