Chamonix



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Suitability
Chamonix
Sophisticated and expensive, Chamonix attracts a high proportion of well-heeled visitors from USA, Japan and Europe. Plenty to keep intermediate and advanced skiers happy; not best suited to beginners.

Chamonix has a huge network of lifts but quite spread out, being on opposite sides of town. Principal lifts are the Brevent gondolas and the Aiguille du Midi cable car, which offers cross-border excursions into Courmayeur (Italy) or the 12-ml descent down the Vallee Blanche Glacier (not for the squeamish).

Some outlying villages, including Argentiere, have their own lifts. Nursery drag-lifts can be found at Le Savoy, below the Brevent peak, and at Les Planards, adjacent to the toboggan run. A number of small ski-schools exist, but the biggest is the Ecole de Ski Français (ESF); it can be found in the town centre, but instructors usually come to hotels daily to arrange classes. All have English-language instruction.

Accommodation here consists of a broad choice of hotels and equal number of rented apartments and chalets. Hotel quality and prices range widely but are well above average ( the rates often considerably higher than elsewhere in France).

Shoppers are greeted with the usual array of designer boutiques, sportswear, supermarkets and sundry souvenir retailers, mostly confined to the pedestrianised zone in the resort centre. Many other radiating roads are also closed to heavy traffic until late afternoon. Saturday morning market offering examples of local delicacies.

Entertainment and activities in the winter include a full range of winter-sports including the famous artificial luge (toboggan run); indoor sports centre; indoor and outdoor ice-rinks; sleigh rides. In summer, hiking, mountain biking, lake swimming and golf are all close by and popular.

By night the options are as simple or sophisticated as you wish with a host of bars, bistros and discos; casino for those feeling lucky; and a cinema. Local excursions consist of a half day trips to: Aiguille du Midi cable car (12,605 ft) to view Mont Blanc, eat at restaurant and visit ice tunnel; Montenvers railway to Mer de Glace (ice exhibitions and departure points for walking trails). Full day options include Martigny (art exhibitions); pretty lakeside town of Annecy; Geneva for shopping.