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We were spending a long long weekend here in Chamonix. After we checked in at the Hotel Le Morgane, we went out for a stroll. Just off the center of town, is the town church.  A wedding ceremony was to start half an hour later when we walked inside.  Unlike many churches I have been to in Europe, this one is cheerful with the chandeliers, fresh flowers and bright gold leaves. Partly because, I think, this church is not ancient.

Next to the church on one side is the tourism office.  Apparently, so many Japanese tourists visit Chamonix that they have a part-time French lady who speaks fluent Japanese to assist at the tourism office.

On the other side is an institution unique to this place.  It is the office of the Compagnie des Guides de Chamonix, founded in 1821, reputedly the oldest mountain guide organization in the world.  From the Maison de La Montagne, you can hire walking guide or mountain guide for 1 or more days (300 euro per day) who will help you equip, teach you climbing and survival at high altitude, go with you on hikes including up to Mount Blanc and rescue you if necessary.  The guides looked hyperfit and superequiped with walkie talkie, ropes, etc.

The town has many local specialities store, selling produce from the Haute -Savoie area.  Saucissons being one (some made from wild boar, and many with various types of nuts and mushrooms), cheeses another (Tomme, Reblochon and Beaufort), and herbal liquors another (Chartreuse, and various eau de vie).

At  Maison Richard et Côté Macarons – we had coffee and sampled some new flavors.  The macarons were so attractively displayed that several Japanese tour groups had to stop and go gaga over it.

Other shops in town …

The river, Arve, runs through the town – fast and furious.  It looked as if it was boiling at dusk, I wondered about how the mist was formed.  The flow rate noticeably changed from morning to evening. Sue thought the change was due to the sun melting the snow at high altitude which arrived in town towards the end of the day.

A small local train also runs through the town. It was free for all overnight visitors.  And also SNCF which connects Chamonix to the rest of the country. Officially, the Chamonix-Mont Blanc valley (Pays du Mont-Blanc) contains the villages of (from the west to east) Servoz, Les Houches, Chamonix-Mont Blanc, Argentiere, and Vallorcine.  These villages all lie at the bottom of the valley and each has a number of mountain train, téléphériques (aerial tramway), télécabines (cable car), télésièges (ski lift with seat) and téléskis (ski lift that pulls) that take visitors up the mountain on either sides. 


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