France // The Alps and Franche-Comté //

Mont Blanc

Fifty kilometres to the east of Annecy on the Swiss and Italian borders looms Mont Blanc (4807m), Western Europe’s highest peak. First climbed in 1786 by Jacques Balmat and Michel-Gabriel Paccard, two intrepid gentlemen from Chamonix, the mountain and its surrounding valleys are now the biggest tourist draw to the Alps.

The closest airport is in Geneva, but if you’re coming from France then Annecy is the easiest city from which to approach the mountain, and, of the two road routes, the one east via the Megève is the more picturesque. The two main approach roads to Mont Blanc come together at Le Fayet, a village just outside St-Gervais-les-Bains, where the Tramway du Mont Blanc begins its 75-minute haul to the Nid d’Aigle (2375m), a vantage point on the northwest slope (€27.40 return; w Experienced mountaineers can press on from here along the famous Goûter ridge to the summit of Mont Blanc itself.

If you are heading into Italy from Chamonix, the most direct road is the N205, which takes you south out of Chamonix, then through the 11.6km Mont Blanc Tunnel (one-way €35.10, return €43.70), and brings you out on the road to Aosta and Milan.

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