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It was an easy 2-hour drive – highway all the way once outside Lausanne to Geneva and then into France (A1 then A40 aka Autoroute Blanche). We returned via Martigny, going down the mountain on the other side of the Chamonix valley, effectively circling Lac Leman once.

Chamonix is located near the entrance of the Mont Blanc tunnel, one of the major trans-Alps highways which link central and southern Europe.

Historically, it has been a major tourist destination and held the first Winter Olympics in 1924.

I really liked the size of the town – it has a pedestrianized town center – bigger enough that you cannot see everything down one street but small enough that allow you to cover it on foot in an afternoon. We went at the end of the summer vacations so the place is a little less crowded.

These must be the people who climbed Mont Blanc and others who turned Chamonix from a market town to an international destination of ski and mountaineering – founders of the mountain guides.


This place must be quite expensive or even glamorous during the ski season – judging by the presence of a Chanel and a casino.

There were plenty of other clothing stores –  all major brands of outdoor wear from Montcler to Patagonia, Aigle to Billabong have their own stores here.  But I saw fewer ski stores than I expected.  They were at the tail end of their summer “destockage” so there were not much bargain left on the rails.

Aigle had used a series of period graphic poster to promote their wares.

The weather was not cooperative on the first few days.  Hence, these pictures of shops. More on Chamonix to come in the next few posts.

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