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Commerces et services
05/01/2016 - 13:03

Real estate Chamonix

Chamonix has made mountaineers of visitors from all over the world and many of those whose hearts have been claimed by the grandeur of our mountains have chosen to make Chamonix their home away from home, providing Chamonix with a multi-cultural atmosphere it is proud of. Living in legendary Chamonix

Real estate in Chamonix? Thinking of buying?

For a tiny town Chamonix is colossal! Animated the majority of the year by the rush and bustle of visitors from across the world, Chamonix is also the haunt par excellence of adventurous mountaineers from all parts, for whom Chamonix, cradled at the foot of its grandiose mountains, is the ideal place to dwell on past adventures and to dream of future exploits. Chamonix has managed to successfully marry modern-day tourism and its historic past, the natives of Chamonix and its newcomers, the valley and the mountainous regions: with the momentum it owes to its exceptional environment and its distinguished past the magic of Chamonix can count on a bright future!

The best way to approach Chamonix is to arrive from Les Houches: the mountain range remains hidden from view for quite a lengthy part of the road and then, suddenly, there it is! Astounding! In an instant you find yourself in speechless wonder at the foot of a 4000-metre wall of rock. And then you’re off along the Route Blanche, taking in as you go the hundreds of avalanche corridors wrinkling
the mountain face, the glaciers grinding to a halt close by and the weighty presence of those 4000-metre summits gazing down at you as, humbled, you continue on your way. A quick glimpse of the cable car as you pass and there you are, at the Place du Mont-Blanc, the fulcrum of mountaineering’s Mecca. The word is already out…mountaineering, according to the Oxford dictionary, is «the sport or activity of climbing mountains». Here in Chamonix the word conjures up tales of willpower, tragedy, hot tempers, boundless passion and enduring friendships…

For two hundred years Chamonix has been the birthplace of legends that have truly left their marks. From the era of the first adventurers to climb the Mont-Blanc, through the romantic era and on to the organization of the first winter Olympics (in 1924), Chamonix has always been the place to be. But what exactly does Chamonix represent today? An upmarket ski resort for the jet set? An historical realm inhabited by legendary names and steeped in tradition? A place of the past? Chamonix is above all a paramour of irresistible attraction… At 1,000 metres, wedged between the Aiguilles Rouges (2,500m) and the Mont-Blanc mountain ranges, the Chamonix valley is literally invaded each summer by a playful crowd of tanned and relaxed fun and sun lovers, come to rub elbows in Chamonix’s colourful streets and bistros. The figures speak for themselves: to a population of 15,000 natives add 60,000 summer visitors plus 10,000 to 20,000 day-trippers. No less than 100,000 visitors jostle together in this tiny lap of the mountains: pilgrims off to pay homage to the Sea of Ice, oldies who regret that their legs are no longer a match for their enthusiasm and the mountain folk, hikers, mountaineers and climbers for whom Chamonix is the be-all and end-all. Every day during the peak period (July 10 to August 15), 20,000
explorers crisscross the mountain range… Be it Mont-Blanc via the normal route (300 to 400 people en slow days!) or Les Grandes Jorasses (up to 20 climbing parties per day) or any other of the excellent routes on offer, the mountains are a sell-out each season! We even boast veritable regiments of Japanese, 60,000-odd  each year, trotting off to win their Aiguille du Midi ascension certificate. The
diehard mountaineers, the purists flying in from Tokyo or Yokohama to climb the legendary summits are less numerous: 400 per season according to a local character known as «the Consul», the unofficial representative of the community of twenty or so Japanese settled in Chamonix. Nowadays «the Consul» works in a sports shop and speaks fluent French. Having arrived almost 30 years ago, the least that can be said is that he threw his heart and soul into the adventure: with limited means he managed to travel from Tokyo to Chamonix by the Trans-Siberian Railway in just eleven days.

So, has tourism become Chamonix’s raison d’être? The answer is obvious and the town continues on the trajectory chosen more than 70 years ago. Today, with a plethora of sports shops and over two hundred restaurants and bars the agricultural economy has dwindled and only one herd remains. Tourism is, and has been for a long time, the industry, with the little train of Montenvers the leading attraction, boasting 11,000 passengers on busy days and an average of 800,000 return trips sold each season (May 15th to the beginning of November). The little train continues to outshine all competition, as it has done since it was built at the beginning of the twentieth century. Next in line is, of course, l’Aiguille du Midi tallying 300,000 return trips for the cable car each summer. At a rate of 60 passengers per cable car, that means that 5,000 cable cars are hauled to 3,800 metres each season. So it comes as no surprise that the valley proudly brags of its position amongst the five most visited places in France. In a word, Chamonix is also big business, with a turnover exceeding ten million euros or so for the biggest sports shops and with hotels that are brimming from the beginning to the end of what is a relatively long tourist season (with November being the only really quiet month). One drawback, but of considerable importance: the welcome is not always as warm as one would wish…no doubt the price of success as the valley has struggled to maintain its identity whilst undergoing a considerable metamorphosis. The original population that remained predominant in Chamonix

up until the early sixties has been swamped by a new generation of mountain-dwellers migrating from the cities thus doubling the number of permanent inhabitants. How, under these conditions, can the «Chamoniarde tradition»  survive? In the centre of town, the statue of Jacques Balmat and his partner look up to Mont-Blanc: in climbing to the summit a little over two hundred years ago they earned themselves the title of founding fathers of the chamoniard myth. Since then, thousands of mountaineers have followed in their footsteps and in those of the generations of mountain guides belonging to the renowned Compagnie des Guides who have made a profession of their passion. In terms of resistance to change, it took the Compagnie des Guides 30 years to allow a non-native of the
valley to join their ranks: his name was Roger Frison-Roche…

If you’d like our experienced help in furthering your plans to purchase real property in Chamonix please feel free to contact us at http://www.realestate-chamonix.com/

Josie Bonnet

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