Chamonix is probably best known as the skiing and alpine capital of the world. As a destination it has a reputation for the extreme and this, whilst undoubtedly true, can mask a wide array of sporting and leisure activities, peace and quiet, great nightlife, and superb scenery that can be enjoyed at whichever pace suits you.
There really is something for everyone here.
The lively streets of Chamonix are colourful with a mix of sport shops, guide offices, restaurants, bars and cafes. Every Saturday morning the town hosts an outdoor market brimming with local crafts and produce. On bad weather days there is a cinema, a bowling alley, an ice rink, a large sports centre with a pool, gym and indoor climbing wall and numerous museums in which to while away the day.
Situated in the Haute-Savoie region of France, Chamonix is bordered by Switzerland and Italy and dominated by the incredible Aiguilles de Chamonix mountain chain which peaks at the top of Mont Blanc (4810m) - the highest in Western Europe.
The local population of Chamonix numbers around 10 000 inhabitants but this figure swells to nearly ten times that with the influx of tourists, climbers, alpinists, backpackers, students and seasonnaires.
There are two distinct seasons here: summer and winter, but the area is busy for most of the year.
Whilst the principal town is of the same name, 'Chamonix' is often used in reference to the whole valley, stretching over 28km from Le Fayet to Switzerland.
It is, however, made up of several distinct and charming villages including Servoz, Les Houches, Les Bossons, Les Praz, Les Tines, Argentiere, Montroc, and at the top of the valley - Le Tour and Vallorcine.
Images by Chamonix Tourist Office and Chamonix.com