Chamoniard Architecture Through the Years
Since the 18th century, architecture in Chamonix has been influenced by a number of different styles. Today, as a result, the town is a unique place steeped in history.
In the Alps, chalets were historically constructed in a pastoral "mazot" style. What we know as a "Savoyard chalet" was originally a simple traditional home built using larch wood and stone, topped with a hayloft which acted as thermal insulation.
From the 19th century onwards, the boom in high mountain resorts, especially for the wealthy, saw the appearance of the first luxury hotels, recognisable by their white facades and stone balconies with cast iron railings. The first such establishment in Chamonix was the Hotel de l'Union. Famous among other things for its baths, it was destroyed by an avalanche in 1931. The present day casino building stands on the site of the former Hotel Royal, built in 1848.
In the 20th century, the opulent hotels typical of the Belle Époque began to appear, with their pleasure gardens, ballrooms and casinos. Chamonix's landmark Congress Centre was formerly the Majestic Hotel, built in 1913.
The Art Nouveau and Art Deco eras, with their characteristic styles inspired by nature, left their architectural mark on the town, typified by the bar La Terrasse and the Payot bank, formerly the Grand Hotel Moderne and Victoria.
On the outskirts of Chamonix, especially in Les Moussoux and Les Glières, around Les Tines, or in Les Bois and under Le Brévent, the "modern chalets" of the 1930s and 1940s, with their characteristic brightly painted shutters, are not to be missed.