Ski hire : Chamonix

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Chamonix - Visit the Chamonix Unlimited Festival

Nestled in the shadow of Mont Blanc and its peak, which towers at 4,810 metres, Chamonix is one of the world's most visited natural sites. It's considered the "cradle" of skiing and mountaineering, and it's also a popular spot in the summer months for outdoors enthusiasts.


The French resort also offers a unique mountain setting for a music festival. Chamonix Unlimited is a five-day event that takes place from Wednesday, April 5th to Sunday the 9th. Organised by We Are Reality, this year's event will take place at some of the most beautiful sites around the Massif du Mont-Blanc. It will include some of the best electronic music, so you can enjoy your favourite tunes while dancing well into the night.


If you're headed off to any of the performances, be sure to check beforehand whether the venue is indoors or outdoors - and be sure to dress appropriately. The weather might be warming up, but it still gets pretty cold at night. For example, Planpraz is an outdoor venue at an altitude of 2,000 metres. Take the night lift up into the mountains to dance under the stars - in your fuzzy hat and heavy coat.


The event will kick off on Wednesday at 5 pm with Red Bull Studios Paris presents Kosme & Konstantin Sibold at Planpraz. For something a bit different, why not head to the Le Vert Hotel? From 7 pm on Friday, the hotel will be welcoming visitors with a lively atmosphere and plenty of music, and the party won't finish until 3 am. The hotel will also be offering an ongoing promotion throughout the festival - a free cocktail on arrival with any restaurant booking if you show your festival pass.


Other performances will include Voiski and Laurent Garnier. For the remainder of the festival, be sure to look out for other top names, including Ben Klock, Kerri Chandler, Maceo Plex, Marcel Dettman, Vitalic and Yuksek.


A variety of tickets are available, ranging from unlimited passes through to single events. There's even a full package available that includes a hotel room, breakfasts and lift tickets



Chamonix - Neverest Girls face a new challenge in the French Alps

A team of fundraisers - known as the Neverest Girls - is hitting the trails once again for charity. This time, the group of women is planning a long-distance challenge, covering a total of 10,000 km before the end of the year.

The Neverest Girls have already completed a number of impressive challenges in recent years, including running the world's highest marathon at Everest Base Camp, and a six-day trek across the Rocky Mountains in the US.

This time around, the team is staying closer to home and logging their distances mainly in the local trails around Chamonix, as well as other European locations. Their year-long challenge is a bold one, which means each member must cover around 100 km every month - and they hope to raise a total of €10,000 (£8,650) by the time they're done.

Money raised will go to support A Chacun Son Everest. This Chamonix-based centre provides respite and support for women recovering from cancer. The centre was founded by Dr Christine Janin, a mountaineer herself who has various Alpine achievements under her belt. Dr Janin's aim is to provide healthcare to women at the centre, as well as helping them restore their emotional wellbeing and confidence. The facility provides a space where women in recovery can meet others in the same situation, talk to counsellors, meditate, take part in activities and benefit from the unique mountain environment.

To achieve their goals, the Neverest Girls have already signed up for a number of running events including Alpine ultras and marathons. For example, three members will be taking part in the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc Series. Their progress can be tracked on their Facebook page and Strava, a social network for athletes. Donations to support their efforts and A Chacun Son Everest can be made on their website - all events are self-funded, so all donations go directly to the charity.

As well as fundraising through running events, the Neverest Girls also put on regular events to help their chosen organisations. For example, in the past few years, they have held fancy dress parties, clothes swaps, gala dinners and summer fetes. More such events are expected for 2017, and many will be held in Chamonix.


Chamonix - The Let's Be Guided event begins in Chamonix

This week sees Let's Be Guided come to Chamonix. The five-day event is the annual assembly of the Syndicat National des Guides de Montagne (SNGM) - a group of mountain guides. The week offers a variety of activities and learning opportunities, and there will also be plenty of time for networking and socialising.

As part of the event, the SNGM is celebrating its 70th anniversary, meaning there's even more meaning to celebrate this year. The syndicat was established in 1946 and today, it comprises more than 1,600 active professionals. 

Throughout the event, the SNGM will be promoting its broad vision of professionalism among mountain guides, and will include meetings, round-table discussions, films, training opportunities and other activities. Participants will have a chance to consider the history, evolution and future of mountaineering, and it's not just an opportunity for professional guides - the general public and amateurs will also be invited to take part in the activities, providing a glimpse into what it's like to be a mountain guide.

The event began on Tuesday, December 6th and runs until the 10th. The diverse programme is sure to offer something interesting for everyone. Every night of the event, there will be a mountain movie festival. Films being shown include Perception - this will be the first French screening - while Kukuczka tells the story of Jerzy Kukuczka, the second man to conquer the fourteen 8,000 metre peaks.

Guides By Night should also offer some enjoyable experiences - these evening events will include activities like wine tasting, concerts and salsa lessons. Workshops will be available to help guides learn new skills and brush up on existing abilities and there will also be the chance to check out the latest equipment at the Mountain Trade Show on Thursday, December 8th.

And for those guides who just love a party, the Altitude Party will begin with a fashion show for guides and hut caretakers - and it will be followed by a concert by La Famiglia Rubinetti.


Chamonix - What are the best European resorts for expert skiers?

When it comes to fantastic ski resorts, the Alps certainly have plenty to offer - and there are destinations to suit every preference, whether you're looking for pistes of a certain skill level, style of snowsport or the best off-slope facilities.

So where are the best spots in Europe for expert skiers - those who are looking for some real black-run challenges and off-piste excitement? Here are some options to consider:

●Chamonix - This French resort offers an extensive selection of off-piste and ski-touring terrain, coupled with stunning views of Mont Blanc and a charming traditional Alpine town. Head to the Grand Montets ski area for some long and bumpy black runs. The Pas du Chevre, Couloir du Dru and Rectiligne all have pitches of up to 45 degrees. A cable car will take you up to an altitude of 3,275 metres and from there you can choose between two long ungroomed black runs that take you down 1,300m to the mid-station.

●St Anton - This ski resort in Austria's Tyrol region is unrivalled for its steep, ungroomed slopes. To get to the high and wide Valluga bowl near the top of the mountain, you'll need to take a gondola and then either a cable car or chairlift. Once there, you'll find a few marked and avalanche-controlled routes down, or you can go off-piste. 

●Tignes - Located next to the Val d'Isere ski area, Tignes is well-known for its large number of accessible off-piste runs. There include La Sache, which runs from the Aiguille Percee down a secluded lift-free valley with large moguls. There's also La Face, which runs from the top of Bellevarde down into town. The latter is often groomed and has been used for world-class downhill races.

●Les Arcs - Another French resort, Les Arcs is best known for its intermediate-level runs, but has plenty of options for experts too. Most of the black runs are never groomed and full of moguls. Three of these are served by the Varet gondola from Arc 2000.


Chamonix - Family-friendly activities in Chamonix

Going on holiday with kids can be a lot of work. New places, new customs and new foods can all put children out of their comfort zones and parents often feel like they have to be on extra-high alert during what's supposed to be a relaxing break.

But the good news for families looking to get away for a few days is that many of the mountain resorts offer a host of kid-friendly activities. This means you can enjoy some quality family time, and maybe even wear the kids out so they go to bed early and you can enjoy a few hours of peace and quiet in the evenings.

For example, Chamonix has a huge range of options to keep kids and their parents busy and entertained during the summer - from nature reserves and zoos to horse riding and swimming. And there's plenty to do in the winter too, making this destination the perfect choice for a family getaway. Here are some ideas to help you get started:

●    Merlet Animal Park - This is not a zoo, but rather a large open area where animals can be spotted in their natural habitats, running free. Visitors exploring the region might be able to spot deer, chamois, ibex, marmots, llamas and more.
●    Amusement parks - These offer a great place to spend time with family. Kids and adults can enjoy fun activities like toboggan rides, trampolines, giant swings, splash boats and ziplines. Options include the Chamonix Amusement Park and the Accro'Park.
●    Paradis des Praz - Perfect for kids aged two to seven, this is a lovely setting situated on a small river that includes an outdoor play area, ponies and a small lake for swimming. There's also a small restaurant that serves drinks and snacks.
●    Les Marecottes - This Swiss Alpine zoo is situated at an altitude of 1,100 metres and surrounded by pine and larch forests. The zoo is home to a variety of local creatures - such as black bears, wolves, lynx, marmots, foxes, owls, deer and boar - giving visitors a chance to see them up close.

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