For the benefit of those whose familarity with Mont Blanc resides only with the German luxury writing tools brand, Mont Blanc is the highest peak among the Alps in Western Europe. Lying in the range of Graian Alps between the Aosta Valley of Italy and Haute Savoy,France the mountain is 4810m high and wears a perennial snow cap at its summit. The best towns to see the Mont Blanc without trekking through the mountains are Chamonix, France and Courmayeur, Italy – both countries share the summit of the White Mountain.
Flanked by the massive peaks of Aiguilles Rouge, Chamonix is a small town that bustles with activities. With enough restaurants and shops to woo holiday makers, Chamonix town was a perfect place to begin and end our hike. The biggest draw for most visitors to Chamonix has to be the Aiguille du Midi Cable car ride. Touted as the highest cable car ride in Europe, a 20 mins ride takes one to the high Alps of 3800m – You board the car in the sunny valleys of Chamonix and emerge in the Snowy peaks of the Aiguilles du Midi with a view of Mont Blanc. Unfortunately, the 2 days I was in Chamonix, the weather conditions were too windy and the cable car service was closed.
There are plenty of great restaurants, gelato joints and pastry shops to reward those who has slogged their way up and down the Alps.
There is also a wide range of accommodation in Chamonix to suit different budgets, ranging from backpack joints to luxurious hotels. We were placed in Chalet Pele, a delightful budget bed and breakfast accommodation converted from a renovated old farmhouse. Situated 5 minutes away from central chamonix and 2 mins away from the cable car station, the chalet has 5 bedrooms with attached bathroom and toilet. As we are a relatively big group of 11, we had the whole cottage to ourselves – complete with TV chill out room, dining room, kitchen and sauna. For about 60 euro per day, I would gladly stay there again!
If you do plan to be in Chamonix, visit this website and plan your trip around the many activities that take place there. I only wish that the Cosmo Jazz festival would be 2 weeks earlier. It would have been amazing to watch a world class jazz concert against a backdrop of the Alpine landscape!