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Chamonix valley from la Flegere,2010 07.JPG
The Chamonix Valley seen from La Flégère with the Mont Blanc in the background
Blason ville fr Chamonix-Mont-Blanc (Haute-Savoie).svg
Coat of arms
Location of Chamonix
France location map-Regions and departements-2016.svg
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Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes region location map.svg
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Coordinates: 45°55′23″N6°52′11″E / 45.9231°N 6.8697°E / 45.9231; 6.8697 Coordinates: 45°55′23″N6°52′11″E / 45.9231°N 6.8697°E / 45.9231; 6.8697
Country France
Region Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
Department Haute-Savoie
Arrondissement Bonneville
Canton Le Mont-Blanc
Intercommunality Communauté de communes de la vallée de Chamonix-Mont-Blanc
  Mayor (2020–2026) Éric Fournier
245.46 km2 (94.77 sq mi)
 (Jan. 2018) [1]
  Density35/km2 (91/sq mi)
Time zone UTC+01:00 (CET)
  Summer (DST) UTC+02:00 (CEST)
INSEE/Postal code
74056 /74400
Elevation995–4,807 m (3,264–15,771 ft)
(avg. 1,035 m or 3,396 ft)
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km2 (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.

Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, [lower-alpha 1] (Arpitan : Chamôni) more commonly known as Chamonix, [lower-alpha 2] [lower-alpha 3] is a commune in the Haute-Savoie department in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of Southeastern France. It was the site of the first Winter Olympics in 1924. In 2017, it had a population of 8,611.


Situated to the north of Mont Blanc, between the peaks of the Aiguilles Rouges and the notable Aiguille du Midi, Chamonix is one of the oldest ski resorts in France. The Chamonix commune is popular with skiers and mountain enthusiasts; via the cable car lift to the Aiguille du Midi it is possible to access the off-piste (backcountry) ski run of the Vallée Blanche.


Chamonix is the fourth-largest commune in metropolitan France, with an area of 245 km2 (95 sq mi). Its population of around 8,900 ranks 1,089th within the country of France. [5]


Horace-Benedict de Saussure, with Jacques Balmat (left) who points towards the summit of Mont Blanc, Monument at Chamonix. The Saussure monument, Chamonix.jpg
Horace-Benedict de Saussure, with Jacques Balmat (left) who points towards the summit of Mont Blanc, Monument at Chamonix.

The valley was first mentioned in 1091, when it was granted by the Count of the Genevois to the great Benedictine house of St. Michel de la Cluse, near Turin, which by the early 13th century had established a priory there. [6] However, in 1786 the inhabitants bought their freedom from the canons of Sallanches, to whom the priory had been transferred in 1519.

In 1530, the inhabitants obtained from the Count of the Genevois the privilege of holding two fairs a year, while the valley was often visited by the civil officials and by the bishops of Geneva (first recorded visit in 1411, while St. Francis de Sales came there in 1606). But travellers for pleasure were very rare.

Chamonix was part of the historical land of Savoy emerged as the feudal territory of the House of Savoy during the 11th to 14th centuries. The historical territory is shared between the modern countries of France, Italy and Switzerland. The House of Savoy became the longest surviving royal house in Europe. It ruled the County of Savoy to 1416 and then the Duchy of Savoy from 1416 to 1860.

The first party to publish (1744) an account of their visit was that of Richard Pococke, William Windham and others, such as the Englishmen who visited the Mer de Glace in 1741. In 1742 came P. Martel and several other Genevese, in 1760 Horace-Bénédict de Saussure, [6] as well as rather later Marc Theodore Bourrit.

The growth of tourism in the early 19th century led to the formation of the Compagnie des Guides de Chamonix in 1821, to regulate access to the mountain slopes (which were communally or co-operatively owned), and this association held a monopoly of guiding from the town until it was broken by French government action in 1892; thereafter guides were required to hold a diploma issued by a commission dominated by civil servants and members of the French Alpine Club rather than local residents.

From the late 19th century on, tourist development was dominated by national and international initiatives rather than local entrepreneurs, though the local community was increasingly dependent upon and active in the tourist industry.

The commune successfully lobbied to change its name from Chamonix to Chamonix-Mont-Blanc in 1916. However, following the loss of its monopoly, the Compagnie reformed as an association of local guides, and retained an important role in local society; it provided the services of a friendly society to its members, and in the 20th century many of them were noted mountaineers and popularisers of mountain tourism, notably the novelist Roger Frison-Roche, the first member of the Compagnie not to be born in Chamonix.

Chamonix Valley: crossing the glacier on foot (between 1902 and 1904) Zentralbibliothek Zurich - Vallee de Chamonix Traversee de la Mer de Glace - 400017818.jpg
Chamonix Valley: crossing the glacier on foot (between 1902 and 1904)

The holding of the first Winter Olympic Games in Chamonix in 1924 further raised Chamonix's profile as an international tourist destination.

During the Second World War, a Children's Home operated in Chamonix, in which several dozens of Jewish children were hidden from the Nazis. Some of those who hid them were recognised as "Righteous Among the Nations". [7]

By the 1960s, agriculture had been reduced to a marginal activity, while the number of tourist beds available rose to around 60,000 by the end of the 20th century, with about 5 million visitors a year.



The commune of Chamonix-Mont-Blanc includes 16 villages and hamlets. From north to south: Le Tour 1,462 m (4,797 ft), [8] Montroc, Le Planet, Argentière 1,252 m (4,108 ft), [8] Les Chosalets, Le Lavancher, Les Tines, Les Bois, Les-Praz-de-Chamonix 1,060 m (3,478 ft), [8] Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, Les Pècles, Les Mouilles, Les Barrats, Les Pélerins, Les Gaillands, and Les Bossons 1,012 m (3,320 ft). [8]


Due to its elevation, Chamonix has a humid continental climate (Dfb, according to the Köppen climate classification ), with an average annual precipitation of 1,275 mm (50 in). Summers are mild and winters are cold and snowy.

Climate data for Chamonix, elevation: 1,042 m (3,419 ft), 1981–2010 normals, extremes 1880–present
Record high °C (°F)15.3
Average high °C (°F)2.7
Daily mean °C (°F)−2.2
Average low °C (°F)−7.1
Record low °C (°F)−31.0
Average precipitation mm (inches)93.9
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm)
Source: Meteo France [9]


Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.
1793 1,830    
1800 1,925+0.73%
1806 1,949+0.21%
1821 2,232+0.91%
1836 2,528+0.83%
1846 2,304−0.92%
1856 2,308+0.02%
1861 2,304−0.03%
1866 2,415+0.95%
1872 2,455+0.27%
1876 2,406−0.50%
1881 2,420+0.12%
1886 2,450+0.25%
1891 2,447−0.02%
1896 2,435−0.10%
1901 2,729+2.31%
1906 3,482+4.99%
YearPop.±% p.a.
1911 3,109−2.24%
1921 3,040−0.22%
1926 3,811+4.62%
1931 4,446+3.13%
1936 4,633+0.83%
1946 5,883+2.42%
1954 5,699−0.40%
1962 7,213+2.99%
1968 7,745+1.19%
1975 8,393+1.15%
1982 8,746+0.59%
1990 9,701+1.30%
1999 9,830+0.15%
2007 9,086−0.98%
2012 8,882−0.45%
2017 8,611−0.62%
Source: EHESS [10] and INSEE [11]

Mountain and winter sports

Chamonix is a winter sports resort town. As the highest European mountain west of Russia, [12] Mont Blanc attracts mountain climbers. There is a cable car up to the 3,842 m (12,605 ft) Aiguille du Midi. Constructed in 1955, it was then the highest cable car in the world [13] and remains the highest vertical ascent cable car in the world. [14]

Chamonix is divided into 3 separate ski areas (Les Grands Montets, Brévent - Flégère, le domaine de Balme) which run along the valley from Le Tour down to Les Houches. [15]



The town of Chamonix is served by French Route Nationale 205 (RN 205), nicknamed the Route blanche, [16] or "white route", due to its snowiness. This is an extension of French autoroute 40 (A40), similarly nicknamed the autoroute blanche, which ends at Le Fayet, a village in the commune of Saint-Gervais-les-Bains. [17] The 11.6-km Mont Blanc Tunnel originates here, linking Chamonix to Courmayeur in Italy. [18] Chamonix is linked to Switzerland by what used to be RN 506a. In 2006, it was converted to a Route Départementale 1506, with a part of it integrated into RN 205. The nearest airport to Chamonix is Geneva Cointrin International and it is 88 kilometres (55 miles) away.


Front and facade of the Chamonix - Mont-Blanc railway station. Gare de Chamonix - Mont-Blanc.JPG
Front and façade of the Chamonix - Mont-Blanc railway station.

Chamonix is served by the metre-gauge St Gervais-Vallorcine Line, operated by SNCF. The line from Saint Gervais (on the standard-gauge rail network) to Chamonix opened in 1901; it was extended to Vallorcine in 1908. The line holds the record for the steepest gradient on any standard (adhesion) railway.

From Vallorcine, the rail route continues over the border into Switzerland, meeting the SBB network at Martigny. This latter section, a metre-gauge cog railway, is operated by Transports de Martigny et Régions SA. The train service from Vallorcine to Martigny is known as the Mont Blanc Express. Timetables on the St Gervais-Vallorcine and Vallorcine-Martigny sections are synchronized. [19]

The 5.1-km Montenvers Railway is a cog railway that provides access to the tourist site of Montenvers. Opened in 1909, its rail station was built next to SNCF's Chamonix station on the St Gervais-Vallorcine Line. In fact the two stations are directly linked. [20] Montenvers provides further tourist access to middle and high mountain areas. [21]

Cable cars

Chamonix has one of the highest cable cars in the world, which links the town to the summit of the Aiguille du Midi at 3842 m. [22] It is based on an older system built in 1920, rebuilt in the first half of the 1950s over five summer seasons, [23] fully modernized in 1979, and upgraded again in 2008. On the other side of the valley, another cable car links Chamonix to the viewpoint of Planpraz. A second line links Planpraz to the summit of Le Brévent at 2525 m. [24] [25] Many other cable cars exist in the valley, and are heavily used by skiers and residents. The Plan Joran chairlift at the base of Les Grands Montets is due to be replaced by a 10-person gondola for the Winter 2014/15 season. [26]

Sister cities

Chamonix is twinned with:

See also

Panorama of the Chamonix Valley Chamonix panorama Aiguille du Midi.jpeg
Panorama of the Chamonix Valley


  1. French pronunciation:  [ʃamɔni mɔ̃ blɑ̃] .
  2. English pronunciation: UK: /ˈʃæməni,-mɒni/ SHAM-ə-nee, -on-ee, [2] [3] US: /ˌʃɑːmˈn/ SHAH-moh-NEE. [4]
  3. Formerly spelled Chamounix.

Related Research Articles

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Les Houches Commune in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, France

Les Houches is a commune in the Haute-Savoie department in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of Eastern France. In 2017, it had a population of 2,943.


ArgentièreFrench pronunciation: ​[aʁʒɑ̃tjɛʁ] is a picturesque skiing, alpine walking and mountaineering village in the French Alps, part of the commune of Chamonix Mont Blanc, at an altitude of 1,252 m (4,108 ft).

Aiguille du Midi Mountain

The Aiguille du Midi is a 3,842-metre-tall (12,605 ft) mountain in the Mont Blanc massif within the French Alps. It is a popular tourist destination and can be directly accessed by cable car from Chamonix that takes visitors close to Mont Blanc.

Mont Blanc tramway

The Mont Blanc tramway or Tramway du Mont-Blanc (TMB) is a mountain railway line in the Haute-Savoie department of France. It is the highest in France and the fourth highest in Europe. It is also the only railway in France reaching over 2,000 metres above sea level.

Courmayeur Comune in Aosta Valley, Italy

Courmayeur is a town and comune in northern Italy, in the autonomous region of Aosta Valley.

Les Contamines-Montjoie Commune in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, France

Les Contamines-Montjoie is a commune in the Haute-Savoie department in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region in south-eastern France.

Mont Blanc massif Mountain range in the Alps

The Mont Blanc massif is a mountain range in the Alps, located mostly in France and Italy, but also straddling Switzerland at its northeastern end. It contains eleven major independent summits, each over 4,000 metres (13,123 ft) in height. It is named after Mont Blanc, the highest point in western Europe and the European Union. Because of its considerable overall altitude, a large proportion of the massif is covered by glaciers, which include the Mer de Glace and the Miage Glacier – the longest glaciers in France and Italy, respectively.

Vallée Blanche Cable Car

The Vallée Blanche Cable Car, , is a passenger cable car linking a mountain peak above Courmayeur (Italy) to a peak above Chamonix (France) by passing over the Mont Blanc massif, in the Alps. The engineering was developed by Vittorio Zignoli of Polytechnic University of Turin. No helicopters were used, and all the workers were chosen among locals and alpine guides. After a construction period of four years, it began service in 1958.

Saint-Gervais–Vallorcine railway

The Saint-Gervais–Vallorcine railway, also known as the Saint-Gervais–Vallorcine Line, is a single-track 36.5 km (22.7 mi) long metre gauge railway in France connecting the SNCF's Saint-Gervais-les-Bains-Le Fayet station with Vallorcine and the border with Switzerland through Chamonix. Opened in 1901 by the Chemins de fer de Paris à Lyon et à la Méditerranée, it is part of the main SNCF network as far as Vallorcine. To Le Châtelard is run by the Swiss company TMR, which also operates the Martigny–Châtelard railway.

Col de la Forclaz

Col de la Forclaz is a mountain pass in the Alps in the Canton of Valais in Switzerland. It connects Martigny at 471 m (1,545 ft) and Le Châtelard (Finhaut). The road from Martigny to the Col has an average gradient of 6% but in parts is closer to 8%. After the Col, and Le Châtelard, the road leads to Chamonix in France via Vallorcine and the Col des Montets.

Saint-Gervais-les-Bains Commune in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, France

Saint-Gervais-les-Bains is a commune in the Haute-Savoie department in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region in south-eastern France. The village is best known for tourism and has been a popular holiday destination since the early 1900s. It has 445 km of pistes, the third largest domain exclusively in France, and is one of the least busy ski areas of its size. In 1892, two hundred people were killed when a water pocket in a glacier above the town suddenly burst open and caused flooding.

Les Praz

Les-Praz-de-Chamonix is a mountain village in the French Alps, part of the commune of Chamonix. Altitude: 1060 m (3477 ft.).

Vallorcine Commune in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, France

Vallorcine is a municipality in the Haute-Savoie department in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region in south-eastern France.

Pointe Helbronner

Pointe Helbronner is a mountain in the Mont Blanc massif in the Graian Alps on the watershed between France and Italy.

Cosmiques Hut

The Cosmiques Hut is a mountain hut in the Mont Blanc massif in the French Alps at an altitude of 3,613 m. It is a large structure capable of accommodating 148 mountaineers. It was constructed in 1990 on a rock promontory situated between the Col du Midi and the base of the Cosmiques Arête which descends southwards from the Aiguille du Midi. It gives access to a number of classic alpine mountaineering routes, and has proved to be extremely popular with mountaineers, so much so that in the summer months prior booking a few days beforehand is essential in order to secure a bed. The Hut is wardened between mid-February and mid-October. In winter the nearby Abri Simond Hut is left unlocked, although this has no cooking facilities, heating or water.

Torino Hut

The Torino Hut is a high mountain refuge in the Alps in northwestern Italy. Located near the border with France, it is about 15 km (10 mi) southwest of Mont Dolent, the tripoint with Switzerland. The refuge is in the Mont Blanc massif above the town of Courmayeur in the Aosta Valley, Italy. It can be most easily accessed from the Italian side by the Skyway Monte Bianco cable car from La Palud in Courmayeur, with a change at the Pavilion du Mont Fréty. It can also be reached from Chamonix via the Aiguille du Midi, either by cable car which crosses the massif, or by a long crossing of the Glacier du Gèant. The refuge lies nearly directly above the 11.6 km (7.2 mi) Mont Blanc Tunnel, which passes deep underground, and connects Courmayer to Chamonix.

Aiguilles Rouges National Nature Reserve

The Aiguilles Rouges National Nature Reserve is a nature reserve located in the Aiguilles Rouges mountain range in the Haute-Savoie department in southeastern France.

The Marathon du Mont Blanc is an annual marathon distance (42.195 km) alpine trail running event held in Chamonix, France. The Marathon du Mont Blanc race is the titular event but the name also refers to the group of longer and shorter distance races one or more of which competitors can compete in over a three-day period starting on the last Friday in June.

Chamonix-Aiguille-du-Midi station

Chamonix-Aiguille-du-Midi station is a railway station in the commune of Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, in the French department of Haute-Savoie. It is located on the 1,000 mm gauge Saint-Gervais–Vallorcine line of SNCF.


  1. "Populations légales 2018". INSEE. 28 December 2020.
  2. "Chamonix". Collins English Dictionary . HarperCollins . Retrieved 18 August 2019.
  3. "Chamonix". Lexico UK Dictionary. Oxford University Press . Retrieved 18 August 2019.
  4. "Chamonix". Merriam-Webster Dictionary . Retrieved 18 August 2019.
  5. Sources des données : INSEEChamonix: Données générales
  6. 1 2 The Development of the Appreciation of Mountain Scenery in Modern Times, Walter Woodburn Hyde, Geographical Review, Vol. 3, No. 2 (February 1917), pp. 107–118
  7. the Children's Home in Chamonix, at Yad Vashem website
  8. 1 2 3 4 "Chamonix Valley Website" . Retrieved 2010-02-10.
  9. "Chamonix (74)" (PDF). Fiche Climatologique: Statistiques 1981–2010 et records (in French). Meteo France. Retrieved 14 February 2019.
  10. Des villages de Cassini aux communes d'aujourd'hui: Commune data sheet Chamonix, EHESS. (in French)
  11. Population en historique depuis 1968, INSEE
  12. "Chamonix Resort Information". Freedom Snowsports. Retrieved 30 July 2018.
  13. "Chamonix, Capitale Mondiale De L'alpinisme". Summit Post. 6 April 2008. Archived from the original on 13 April 2015. Retrieved 30 May 2016.
  14. Berne, Laurent (2012). L'aventure du premier téléphérique de France: Chronique du premier téléphérique de l'Aiguille du Midi, dit "des Glaciers", à Chamonix-Mont-Blanc. Éditions des Rochers. ISBN   9782746641556 . Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  15. Chamonix ski resort guide
  16. Le Comité de préservation du village des Houches – Dossier publié le 12/05/2004 [ permanent dead link ] (PDF)
  17. Site de l'association de défense des usagers de l'A40 et de l'A41 – Revue de presse
  18. "Chamonix Valley Website". Archived from the original on 2008-11-14. Retrieved 2010-02-10.
  19. "Mont Blanc Express timetables for 2010" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-07. Retrieved 2010-02-10. [in French]
  20. Site de Christophe Jacquet spécialisé sur les trains du Mont-Blanc
  21. "Montenvers Mer De Glace". Compagnie du Montblanc. Archived from the original on 2 April 2016. Retrieved 30 May 2016.
  22. Site de l'Aiguille du Midi – Histoire du téléphérique Archived July 24, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  23. Cable Way to the Top of the Alps. Popular Mechanics, April 1956, pp. 81-84.
  24. "Map of the Brévent-Flégère area". Archived from the original on 2010-05-27. Retrieved 2010-02-10.
  25. "Summer timetables for Chamonix gondolas and funicular railways". Archived from the original on 2010-02-11. Retrieved 2010-02-10.
  26. New for Winter 2014/15 -
  27. "Ville d'Aoste" (in French). Retrieved 2013-06-18.
  28. "Aspen's Sister Cities | Aspen CO Chamber". Retrieved 2018-12-11.
  29. "International Exchange". List of Affiliation Partners within Prefectures. Council of Local Authorities for International Relations (CLAIR). Archived from the original on 5 February 2016. Retrieved 21 November 2015.