CASE STUDY: Chamonix, France
Where is Chamonix?
Chamonix is situated in the north-westerly part of the Alps, just 15km from the Swiss border and 15km from Italy via the Mont Blanc tunnel. At 1035 metres above sea level, it's the largest town in a deep and narrow valley that runs from Servoz (780m) at the south-west entrance of the valley to the Col du Balme (2200m). Chamonix is at the foot of the highest mountain in the Alps, called Mont Blanc, which stands at 4,808m tall.
15km from Swiss border
15km from Italy via Mont Blanc tunnel
Map of Chamonix – showing Chamonix and distance from borders
Local Map of Chamonix – showing main roads and attractions
What attracts visitors to the area?
Visitors of the Mer de Glace
Heated swimming pool
Chamonix provides a huge variety of options for both adrenaline-junkies and those looking for a peaceful holiday. The slopes provide the ideal environment for skiing and snowboarding. Pistes are made easily accessible via cable cars and cog railways. Cross country skiing is an activity available in winter, and there are two local courses for this nearby. Ice climbing, free riding and paragliding are popular tourist activities. Walking is also an option, with snowshoe trails available for hikers. Chamonix has hotels, restaurants and heated swimming pools for winter visitors, as well as spas. There are activities available away from the mountain slopes too, with museums, shops and historical buildings. In the summer, mountain landscapes offer tremendous potential for outdoor activities. Montenvers railway takes tourists to the Mer de Glace. Here, people can see stunning scenery such as the glacier and the valley it has carved. The area has 350km of hiking trails, 40km of mountain bike tracks, rock climbing, mountaineering, canyoning, pony trekking and summer luging. The town has many attractions in the summer too, with live music, outdoor cafés and colourful flowers.
What are the impacts of tourism?
- Easy access to town via motorways & approach roads
- Lots of job opportunities – young people stay in area
- Locals benefit from better public transport & health care
- Conflicts can arise between groups – e.g. farmers and extreme sport enthusiasts, or walkers and party people and skiers
- Jobs changed from farming to tourism
- Companies such as Comagnie du Mont Blanc make a lot of money
- Shops develop – also benefiting locals
- Employment available for locals in 1) hotels 2) guides 3)…