hiking out of Chamonix, France

Much critical of France over the years, I must admit I’m loving Chamonix. It’s a great hiker’s town.

Only 10,000 people live here. Yet the valley hosts over 5 million visitors a year!


… the snowclad summit of Mont Blanc towers above the valley from the southeast. At 15780 feet, Mont Blanc is the highest mountain in Europe. …


When I checked with tourist information, my usual question: “What’s the best hike out of Chamonix?” … the woman laughed.

She told me that there are far too many choices for her to be able to steer me to the “best” hike.

Jon Krakauer, in an essay in his collection Eiger Dreams, described the town as “the death-sport capital of the world” because Chamonix serves as an ideal playground for almost all types of outdoor activity, especially in their more extreme variants, such as ice climbing, rock climbing, extreme skiing, paragliding, rafting, and canyoning. …

I like this town even better than the much more famous, upscale Zermatt, Switzerland.

Chamonix and Zermatt are two of the best hiking towns in the world. Leave a comment if there are other hiking centres you would rank in the top 10.

5 Replies to “hiking out of Chamonix, France”

  1. Te Anau, New Zealand is known as the “walking capital of the world” and with good reason. It’s close to the Kepler Track, Dusky Track, Routeburn Track, Milford Track, etc. etc. I would put it in the Top 10.

  2. Huaraz in Peru, base for trekking in the nearby Cordillera Blanca and Cordillera Huayhuash. I’ve just spent three weeks trekking there, and it was pretty perfect – the town has all you need to make hiking as easy as possible whether independently or in a group, it’s a very friendly place and the hiking is the best in the world.

    1. Since you commented, Geoff, I’ve been thinking of Huaraz. Been there twice. … But perhaps will go again in 2010. For the Andean Summer.


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