1 Mont Blanc
One of nature's most spectacular sights, Mont-Blanc is the highest peak of the Alps and forms part of the French border with Italy. Mont Blanc reaches an altitude of 4, 810 meters, so high that it is always covered in snow-explaining why it's called the "White Mountain." Experienced climbers with a guide are able to climb to the top of Mont Blanc, although it is extremely strenuous. From Les Houches, the climb takes 10 to 12 hours. The most common climbing route is through the Aiguille du Goûter and the Arête des Bosses. After conquering Europe's highest mountain, climbers are rewarded with absolutely breathtaking panoramas from the summit. Mont Blanc is known as "the Roof of Europe" because of its thrilling viewpoints of the Aiguilles Rouges mountain ranges and Chamonix Valley. Tourists can enjoy the scenery and views on various hiking trails or by taking one of the gondola lifts.
There are many options for easy to intermediate hiking around Mont Blanc. The Au Tour du Mont Blanc hiking trails include routes for all ability levels. The trails range from gentle walks to treks along more vigorous uphill terrain. All of these trails have gorgeous scenery, and some feature perfect photo-ops of Mont Blanc in the background. Admire the views and stop for refreshments at the traditional alpine huts and restaurant chalets along the way.
2 Tramway du Mont Blanc
The Tramway du Mont Blanc offers a classic Chamonix experience, ideal for visitors who simply want to admire the scenery. The tramway departs from Le Fayet or Saint-Gervais. The Saint-Gervais Buffet de la Gare at the train station is a wonderful Old World style restaurant. The train journey takes about one hour and stops at Motivon village at the Col de Voza pass (there is another restaurant here), which has views over Contamines Valley, the Aiguille du Goûter peak and Aiguille du Midi peaks, and the Aiguilles Rouges mountain range. After winding around the mountain pass, the train continues towards Bellevue.
Admire the scenery of pastures and forests as the tramway ascends to Bellevue at 1, 800 meters. True to its name, Bellevue offers exceptional views. Bellevue has an elegant mountain restaurant with good food and a pleasant ambience. From Bellevue, mountain biking trails lead to Les Houches village. To continue up the summit, take the 25-minute tramway ride until reaching the Nid d'Aigle at 2, 372 meters. The Nid d'Aigle is nestled under the Aiguille du Goûter mountain peak (where mountaineers set out for their climb of Mont Blanc). There are many hillside walking paths around the Nid d'Aigle including the scenic paths to Bionnassay Glacier and the Tête de Charme. The Nid d'Aigle mountain hut offers gourmet dining in a comfortable rustic setting.
3 Chamonix Village
Chamonix was put on the map by two English aristocrats who discovered the place in 1741. They were enchanted by the charming alpine village called the "Prieuré de Chamouni" surrounded by awesome snow-covered mountains. The village's first inn was opened in 1770 when interest in mountaineering was beginning to take off. Soon, many visitors flocked to Chamonix to see the mystical summits. In 1816, the first luxury hotel was created, with more to follow later in the 1800s. During the reign of Napoleon III, the road access to Chamonix was improved and railways were inaugurated. The train allowed visitors an easy way to arrive at Chamonix in winter, making it a popular winter sport destination.
Reflecting its history, the architecture of Chamonix is a mix of traditional and modern. Wander through the town and discover the quaint alpine chalets, lovely Baroque churches, and historic Protestant chapels. Many visitors stay in luxurious modern hotels, but there are also rustic country lodges. Chamonix is renowned for its upscale atmosphere and fancy boutiques. The village also boasts dozens of top-rated restaurants-from casual cafés and bustling brasseries to fine dining establishments. For an authentic experience, try the regional cuisine at a welcoming auberge or local farm.