Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France — Twinned with Colorado’s pristine alpine haven of Aspen and nestled in the foothills of the snow-packed Mont Blanc, Chamonix awaits brightly colored bomber-jacketed skiing enthusiasts, mountain climbers, trekkers and just about anyone with a lust for the wintery outdoors. It was the set for the first winter Olympics back in 1924 and has remained popular throughout the ages and, with a population of nearly 10,000, Chamonix is also the largest commune in mainland France, located south east of the country.
As mentioned, Chamonix is an instant hit with skiers and snowboarders and undoubtedly has cozy log cabins to accommodate all that are interested. However, for those of us with a more restrained attitude to gambolling down a mountainside in a flurry of powdery snow while dressed like a balisha beacon, there are other options available.
Take the Auguille Du Midi cable cars for example; a solid spire of rock which stands opposite Mont Blanc. The cars will take numerous passengers each from the centre of Chamonix on a two stage ride up into the mountainous landscape. 2,300 metres will see you arrive at the midway point at Plan de l’Aiguille, before the rest of the trip up the Les Pelerins glacier sees passengers arrive at the summit via the North Face. Once here, there are several terraces and wooden walkways to be explored offering spectacular views of the rocky world below and beyond. There’s even an elevator built into the rock which ascends to the highest terrace another 42 metres above. There are also places to eat at the top, including the aptly named gourmet restaurant, 3842, because that’s how many meters above the ground you’d be.
After such dizzying heights you may want to explore the rest of what Chamonix has to offer; you won’t be disappointed. Its leisure centre holds an array of activities for the whole family: a pool complete with waterslides, a bouldering wall, archery, bowling, a sauna and horse riding sessions. There’s also a casino and a cinema showing international movies as well as small-time French films (with subtitles). Bars are in abundance in Chamonix, as well as nightclubs so, once you’ve finished tearing up the slopes, you can break out your best on the dance floor in front of live bands at Le Choucas; rock, funk, soul and pop is their specialty as well as showing sporting events and extreme sports videos on a big screen!
Chamonix is all about living the extreme with its surrounding landscape just begging to be trekked, skied/snowboarded down or steeply traversed in a cable car. You won’t be struggling for entertainment or nightlife either with what’s on offer in the beautiful town center.