Chamonix has long been a place where pushing the limits is a daily vocation, from the very first alpinists and mountaineers of the 18th century to the most noted of modern day mountain men and women Chamonix has been the place to come and test themselves.
The town itself is the host of the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc possibly the toughest footrace on earth where participants tackle an eye watering course of 166km with a verticle gain of 9200 metres. Non stop. It is held each year, welcoming thousands of runners from all over the globe to try to complete the course and has over the last ten years become one of the main events in the Chamonix calendar.
Naturally this means that trail running is a huge sport in Chamonix and this can be sensed when walking in the town with Asics, Salomon, North Face and many other shops offering the latest innovations to the sport.
Beyond its strong link to mountain sports of all kinds the historic town is bustling with life, both day and night, with cafes, busy restaurants and bars, there is always something to tempt you! Moreover the eye-crushing mountain views and the Majestic Mont Blanc make it a great place to stroll and simply soak up the atmosphere.
In 1741 two Englishmen, Windham and Pococke, discovered the ‘Chamouny’ valley and its glaciers. Their expedition was met by a rural population of mountain farmers. The first guest house was opened in 1770 and towards the end of the century the town began to gain notariaty with celebrities such as Saussure and Geothe amongst the approximate 1500 visitors every summer. The first ascent of Mont Blanc was completed in 1786 by two local men and a bronze statue of Saussure and Balmat stands proudly in Place Balmat.
In 1860 a simple road was built to take carriages from Geneva to Chamonix and not long after this the construction of something resembling modern day Chamonix began. In July 1901, the railway line that passes through the Chamonix valley was inaugurated. This opened the town to winter visitors and was followed Between 1908 and 1910 by Chamonix taking its present rhythm of winter and summer seasons.