The elite ski resort of Chamonix has long been the haunt of the glamourous ski set. But if you think that Chamonix is all about its infamous après-ski scene and top notch boutiques – then think again. This alpine town has a few surprises in store for culture hungry skiers (and non-skiers too). If your holiday wish list includes, fine dining, art, museums, history, architecture and being surrounded by cultural ambience, then Chamonix is sure to tick all your boxes.
Few people know that Chamonix owes its title of world-class ski resort to two English aristocrats, William Windham and Richard Pocock, who discovered the Priory of Chamouni way back in 1741. Their visit to the tiny mountain village with its curious glaciers sparked a succession of visits from wealthy English tourists who initially came to admire the captivating Mer de Glace. Back in the day, local huntsmen and crystal finders with their profound knowledge of the mountains acted as impromptu guides to the early tourists.
From Chamouni to Chamonix
The opening of the first guest house in 1770 marked the start of what was to become a booming hotel and tourism industry. However, the fate of the village as a top alpine destination was sealed with the conquest of Mont Blanc in 1786. Since then numerous romantic and pre-romantic writers have been bewitched by the beauty and purity of the mountains, helping to demystify their fearsome summits.
The first luxury hotel opened in 1816 and the Montenvers to Mer de Glace railway, which is well worth a visit, opened in 1908. By 1947, 39 hotels had sprung up in the valley!
Mountain Sports for All
In 1924, Chamonix hosted the world's first ever Winter Olympic Games, crowning the fast growing town as a Mecca for winter sports. A number of important ski lifts were built and this paved the way for skiers from all over the world to come and enjoy the mountains. Apart from skiing, a number of other winter sports can be enjoyed in Chamonix such as mountaineering, sleighing and snowshoeing.
Hidden History and Amazing Architecture
If you're willing to look beyond the sleek bars and restaurants you will see the real Chamonix. As the town developed, many different architectural styles evolved. Wander through the charming villages on the outskirts of Chamonix and get your camera ready for some traditional alpine farmhouses. Have a peek inside the baroque churches dotted around tiny hamlets and marvel at the several-hundred-year old Protestant chapels.
A number of hotels and palaces hail from the famous Golden Age and some of Chamonix´s buildings have stunning Art Deco facades. This heady mix of contemporary and classic contribute to Chamonix's undefinable charm.
How To Get There
You'll no doubt be dying to get your camera out for some snaps of Chamonix's amazing architecture as soon as you touch down. The last thing you want is to struggle with public transport to your resort in Chamonix from Geneva airport. Plan ahead and book a private transfer with Shuttle Direct. Our friendly, expert drivers will be on hand to whisk you and your luggage to your accommodation in Chamonix from Genevainternational while you plan where to visit first.
Lukas Johannes is a driver for Shuttle Direct, the number one provider of shared and private airport transfers all over Europe and northern Africa. If you’re looking for an affordable transfer to Chamonix from Geneva, Lukas and his colleagues can make sure that you and your luggage get to and from the airport swiftly and safely.