Chamonix is a bustling little hub in the centre of the valley that has everything you need within walking distance; you'll find shops, bars, restaurants and cafés dotted all around the pedestrianised heart of the resort. Lakes, forests and hiking trails surround the area making it easy to find tranquillity just a few minutes from the lively town centre. One of France's oldest ski resorts, Chamonix has plenty of character and traditional charm.
Chamonix's restaurants offer something for everyone, from Michelin starred gourmet cuisine to takeaway burgers. The central square is lined with fondue restaurants and pizzerias serving a good range of local and international dishes, as well as a couple of fast food shops. The bars and hotels on Avenue Michel Croz offer a good choice of tasty and well-priced food, whereas the Rue de Moulins is an excellent choice for a special night out. Venture in the opposite direction and you'll find more choices around the Aiguille du Midi/Chamonix Sud area, ranging from hearty pub grub to high class dining.
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No visit to Chamonix is complete without a trip up the famous Aiguille du Midi on the world's highest vertical ascent cable car. From its summit at 3842m you can enjoy spectacular 360 views of France, Italy and Switzerland whilst watching roped-up mountaineers embark on expeditions. Another must-do is a visit to the Mer de Glace glacier on the Montenvers train along a rack-and-pinion track that winds up the side of the mountain. Once there you can visit crystal caves and enter the glacier to see sculptures carved into the ice. Both attractions are open year-round, check our opening/closing page for details.
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Things to Do nearby
Chamonix is all about outdoor activities and there is plenty to keep you busy on your holiday. Throughout the year you can visit the ice caves and the 'Mer de Glace' from the Montenvers train station. Take the Aiguille du Midi cable car up to 3842 metres for spectacular views of Mont Blanc and the start of the famous off-piste run the Vallee Blanche. It is quite common to see paragliders exploring the valley from above and this is something you can do in tandem. During the winter there are 4 main ski areas (Brevent & Flegere, Les Planards, La Tour & Vallorcine and Grands Montets). If you have a Mont Blanc Unlimited lift pass you'll also have access to the Les Houches ski area. In the summer some of the ski lifts open for downhill mountain biking and there are numerous climbing routes, hiking routes and refuges to discover. If you prefer to be indoors, Chamonix also has a cinema with films in English, a bowling alley and a sports centre.
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The nearest golf course to Chamonix centre is the Golf Club de Chamonix, an 18 hole course in Chamonix Les Praz, near to the Flegere lift station. It has a driving range, club house and pro-shop where you can stock up on all the essentials. They hold regular competitions throughout the summer, the course is closed in winter.
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Chamonix has two lift stations that are directly accessible from the town centre - Brevent and Aiguille du Midi. The Brevent lift station is located behind the tourist office just a few minutes walk up a short hill, or you can catch a bus. The high-speed gondola takes you up to the main ski area at Plan Praz (2000m), where you can connect to a large cable car that goes all the way to the top at 2525m - the only route down from here is a black run but it's worth going up for the stunning views, you can get the cable car back down again if you're not confident enough to tackle the piste. Brevent is linked by another cable car to the nearby Flegere ski area, both are included on the same lift pass making it a great option for a full day on the slopes. Aiguille du Midi is one of the most popular tourist attractions in France and if you venture up, you'll see why. The cable is split into two sections and you change cars halfway at Plan de l'Aiguille, a popular hiking destination in the summer. The top of the second section sits at 3842m and is engulfed in snow all year round. Numerous viewing platforms look out on to breathtaking views of the surrounding peaks, you can see France, Switzerland and Italy in one turn of the head. The Aiguille du Midi is also the start of the Vallée Blanche, one of the world's most famous off-piste runs. The ever-changing nature of glacial terrain makes it dangerous to attempt without local knowledge though, so be sure to book a qualified mountain guide before setting off.
Also see: Ski Areas in Chamonix, France
Avenue Michel Croz is at the heart of the winter apres-ski scene, with live music and DJs playing at a variety of bars. If you prefer a more civilised drink that doesn't involve dancing on the tables, then head to the Rue des Moulins for chic wine bars and excellent restaurants. Chamonix Sud also has a cluster of bars that attract the younger crowd and seasonal workers. Chamonix has three nightclubs, one on the Rue des Moulins and another two in Chamonix Sud.
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