An historic ski and climbing town on the picturesque side of Mont Blanc, by the entrance to the Mont Blanc tunnel. Chamonix offers the world's greatest lift-served vertical drop. Away from the slopes it is very lively all year round with numerous bars and restaurants.
One of the few serious contenders for the title of "World's Most Famous Ski Resort", Chamonix Mont Blanc (as the resort prefers to be known) has the world's biggest lift-served skiable vertical drop of 2807 metres ( 9209 feet ), one of the world's longest runs through the Vallée Blanche at 22 km ( 13.7 miles ) and staged the World's first Winter Olympics in 1924. Beyond these spectacular statistics is Chamonix's relatively undisputed status as the world's tough mountain sports capital, the subject of endless ski magazine reports each season from editors wishing to prove they descended between the glacial crevasses and lived to tell the tale!
For lesser mortals there are plenty of on-piste kilometres to soak up, all dominated by the spectacular scenery of Mont Blanc, Western Europe's highest peak (and Europe's second highest after Mt Elbrus in Russia, although some dispute whether Elbrus is in Europe).
Chamonix's history has been traced to Bronze Age times and its current status was confirmed in a report as far back as 1751 when the locals were described as "the most uncompromising men in Europe". Ten years before that Englishmen William Windham and Richard Pococke had been on the first recorded tourist trip, reaching the Mer de Glace.
The first skis in the valley were spotted in 1893 and by 1907 one of the world first cable cars, 'Les Glaciers' was in operation (since removed). Six more were to follow between 1927 and 1963. The Mont Blanc Tunnel opened a few years later ensuring first rate access infrastructure in to the future. Chamonix Mont Blanc itself is a lively town with its own character, not just one created every winter season and reinvented every summer. That character reflects the attitude of its residents and of most visitors - a true love of the mountains.