The town of Chamonix is situated at the foot of Mont Blanc—the highest mountain in Western Europe—and is part of a valley dotted with hamlets. It is a one-hour drive from Geneva, Switzerland, along the Autoroute Blanche. Italy is a 20-minute drive away through the Mont Blanc Tunnel.
WHEN TO GO
The Chamonix ski season runs from late November or early December until early May. February coincides with the French school holidays, so the slopes can be crowded. January and March usually provide some of the best skiing. The resort is also popular with hikers in summer. Some of the town's hotels and restaurants close in May and November.
HOW TO GET THERE
The nearest airport is Geneva International in Switzerland, which is a one-hour drive away along the Autoroute Blanche (www.gva.ch/en). The airport is a major European hub, with flights to and from France and Switzerland. Regular bus and collective taxi services operate to and from Chamonix. Check out ResortHoppa (44-121-200-3322; www.resorthoppa.com), Chamonix Transfer (33-662-055-738; www.chamonix-transfer.com), and Alpy Bus (44-150-921-3696; www.alpybus.com).
Buses (navettes, usually yellow and blue) make frequent runs from the town to the cable cars and various villages in the valley. The price of a lift ticket usually includes the fare. (Chamonix Bus; 33-4-50-53-0555; www.chamonix-bus.com.) Many hotels also have free shuttles running to the various ski areas.
Strategic planning is important, because Alpine weather can be dangerously capricious. Check weather forecasts, and hire a guide if taking the Vallée Blanche descent.
Chamonix Office of Tourism
85 Place du Triangle de l'Amitié
Tel: 33 4 50 53 00 24