Chamonix - City of France
Chamonix-Mont-Blanc or, more commonly, Chamonix is a town and commune in eastern France, in the Haute-Savoie département, at the foot of Mont Blanc. The town lies at an altitude of 1,035 metres. The 1924 Winter Olympics were held at Chamonix.
The valley was first mentioned in 1091, when it was granted by the Count of the Genevois to the great Benedictine house of St. Michel de la Cluse, near Turin, which by the early 13th century had established a priory there. However, in 1786 the inhabitants bought their freedom from the canons of Sallanches, to whom the priory had been transferred in 1519.
The growth of tourism in the early 19th century led to the formation of the Compagnie des Guides de Chamonix in 1821, to regulate access to the mountain slopes , and this association held a monopoly of guiding from the town until it was broken by French government action in 1892; thereafter guides were required to hold a diploma issued by a commission dominated by civil servants and members of the French Alpine Club rather than local residents.
The commune successfully lobbied to change its name from Chamonix to Chamonix-Mont-Blanc in 1916. However, following the loss of its monopoly, the Compagnie reformed as an association of local guides, and retained an important role in local society; it provided the services of a friendly society to its members, and in the 20th century many of them were noted mountaineers and popularisers of mountain tourism, for example the novelist Roger Frison-Roche, the first member of the Compagnie not to be born in Chamonix.
The holding of the first Winter Olympic Games in Chamonix in 1924 further raised Chamonix's profile as an international tourist destination.
By the 1960s, agriculture had been reduced to a marginal activity, while the number of tourist beds available rose to around 60,000 by the end of the 20th century, with about 5 million visitors a year.
FRANCE National Bird : Cockerel (alias Red Junglefowl, when not domesticated)
FRANCE National Flower : Iris
FRANCE National Game : Football