Best Winter Adventures: Chamonix

France

Chamonix Valley, Les Houches Village, and Mont Blanc    

The birthplace of mountain sports, Chamonix hosted the first Winter Olympics, in 1924, is home to the world's longest ski run, the Vallée Blanche, and is not only the nexus of five resorts with massive drops of up to 9,000 feet but the epicenter of a cosmopolitan community of mountain­eers, ice climbers, downhill mountain bikers, paragliders, wingsuit fliers, and all manner of other action-sport maniacs. Although you might feel illiterate in up to a dozen languages, you'll feel welcome at the tiny restaurants and bars, where the action lasts until 4 A.M. if you want it to, at which point the croissants are already rolling out of the ovens next door. When the snow melts, Chamonix is also home to a Yosemite's worth of quality granite crags, most of which can be climbed in one day. To live like a proper Chamoniard, book the two-night High Mountain Discovery package at the Hameau Albert 1er hotel. This Relais & Châteaux lodge will send you with a guide on a full-day traverse of the Mer de Glace glacier and treat you to breakfast, dinner, and a 50-minute massage every day (from $890 per person; hameaualbert.fr/en).

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