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Mont Blanc Chamonix France French Holidays

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The highest peak in Europe is Mont Blanc, 60km south of Évian on the Italian border and towering over its neighbours at 4807m. The first successful scaling of this impressive mountain took place in 1786 and today Mont Blanc attracts thousands of tourists, both in the summer and winter.

Annecy is the nearest reasonably connected town to Mont Blanc, itself rather a tourist trap, and then you take the road to Le Fayet (the easternmost road, the N212 via Megève, is the most attractive route) a village near St Gervais. It is here that the tramway du Mont Blanc will take you up to the Nid d'Aigle (the Eagle's Nest) for €22 return, a viewpoint on the northwest slopes. Chamonix Mont Blanc is another 30km from here and this is where most Mont Blanc activities have their home.


Chamonix compensates for its shameless tourist trade by having one of the most spectacular backdrops in Europe : glaciers, snow, ridges, rock et al combine to make this a dramatic place to visit. For information about walks and climbing in the mountains, go to the tourist office at 85 place du Triangle de l'Amitié (04 50 53 00 24) or the Maison de la Montagne nearby (04 50 53 00 88). You can buy a map of summer walks at the tourist office for €4 and you can arrange a guide to take you rock climbing as long as they think you are up to the challenge.

However, Chamonix is not the easiest place to find accommodation and you definitely need to book in advance or you may find yourself out in the cold. Comfortable hotel Le Manoir at 8 route du Bouchet (04 50 53 10 77) has rooms from €55 70, or there is always the chic Auberge du Bois Prin (04 50 53 33 51) at 69 chemin de l'Hermine with rooms from €125 150. Lower down the scale Le Touring at 95 rue Joseph Vallot (04 50 53 59 18) or La Boule de Neige at number 362 (04 50 53 04 48) both have rooms from €40 55.

In terms of restaurants, Chamonix has a wider range on offer. La Calèche at 18 rue Paccard (04 50 55 94 68) does Savoyard dishes for €17 26 or on place Balmat you will find several cheaper options, such as pizzerias. If you just fancy a quick omelette La Poele at 79 avenue de l'Aiguille du Midi has a range from €4.60 12.