If you're coming from Geneva, hire a car on the Swiss side of the airport or you'll get stung extra for using the Swiss motorways. The journey along the A40/E25 toll road takes just over one hour. You can't walk to the end of the street in Geneva without crossing an international border so have your passport handy.
Geneva airport is 50 miles and little more than one hour away via the French toll motorways (www.gva.ch). EasyJet, BA, Swiss Airlines and Bmibaby fly from the UK.
It really makes no sense to get to Chamonix by train. From Geneva's Eaux-Vives station take a French SNCF to Annemasse or Roche-sur-Foron and change for trains to La Fayet/St Gervais Les Bains. From here you can catch the Mont Blanc Express to Chamonix. It's panoramic but the whole trip will take three times longer than by car.
Country code for France: +33. Chamonix: (0)4.
White Heat: The Extreme Skiing Life by Wayne Johnson.
Do go / Don't Go
Chamonix is a great year-round destination and its high-altitude slopes mean good snow from December to April. The dramatic scenery provides a perfect setting for summer hiking, too. The autumn season, when the forests turn burnished gold in colour, is the least crowded but arguably the most spectacular.
Savoyard cuisine is much more than cheese-heavy raclette, tartiflette and fondue although you should definitely try all of these; they'll certainly give you the energy to tackle the mountains. Smoked pork and wild mushrooms are frequently used and mountain berries make for spectacular desserts. For something lighter, delicious pike, perch and trout are caught in Lake Geneva and surrounding Alpine rivers. You'll notice an Italian influence to the food in Chamonix thanks to the nearby Mont Blanc tunnel; pop over to the other side of the Alps for an ice cream.
Call ABAC Taxi Gopee on +33 (0)6 07 02 22 13.
A service charge is normally added to your bill (service compris) in restaurants and cafés but it's still customary to leave a small tip. For taxi drivers, add 10 percent to the metered charge.
Catch the Mont Blanc Express through breath-taking scenery from Chamonix to Martigny on the Swiss side of the border. There you'll find the Fondation Pierre Gianadda which has fantastic mosaics by Chagall and sculptures by Rodin and Moore among its permanent collection. There are regular concerts as well as temporary exhibitions, too (www.gianadda.ch).
It's possible to ski all the way to Italy from Chamonix via the Aiguille du Midi and the Vallée Blanche tramway to the Helbronner border point. From there you can ski down to Courmayeur in Italy's Aosta Valley. Don't forget your passport.
There's a great Saturday market in Chamonix selling all manner of tasty local specialities; if you want local Beaufort, Reblochon or Morbier cheeses then this is the place to come. There are stalls selling some excellent woodcarving as well. There are seasonal markets on Mondays in Les Houches and Sundays in Argentière, too.
Take the world's highest vertical ascent cable car from the town centre to the summit of Aiguille du Midi at almost 4000 metres; the view from the needle-sharp peak is unforgettable.
We love the Austin Powers Alp-chic graphics of Charlie Adam; we stood in front of the shop window chuckling at them for ages. The two official dealers in Chamonix are Design House and Aart's Masters Galerie, both on Rue Paccard (www.bungalowgraphics.com).
March The Boss of Bosses Competition is a showdown between the best skiers from several resorts who battle it out on the mogul fields of Grands Montets. June The Mont Blanc Marathon is not for the faint-hearted. August The Guides Festival lasts four days and culminates with a spectacular concert in recognition of the dedication, bravery and sacrifice of the mountain guides.