The First Winter Olympics and the Boom in Tourism
In 1924, the first Winter Olympic Games in Chamonix sealed the resort's destiny once and for all. The administration of the organising committee was entrusted to Roger Frison-Roche, celebrated writer and mountain guide, and the first non Chamoniard to become a member of the Compagnie des Guides de Chamonix.
A bobsleigh run had to be constructed as a matter of urgency, along with the first stage of the cable car up to the glaciers in order to reach it. This lift was the first French cable car open to the general public. A ski-jumping stadium and an ice rink were also built in record time. In the end, 15,000 people came to cheer on the 300 competitors representing 16 nations.
The Pranplaz cable car opened in 1927, followed by a second stage to Le Brévent in 1930. At the time, it was the world's highest ski lift.
In 1955, the Aiguille du Midi cable car was opened, with a route that ferrys passengers to the summit at an altitude of 3,842m. The Flégère cable car followed in 1956, and the ski area was extended to include Brévent, La Flégère, Le Tour, and finally Les Grands Montets in 1964.
In the 1960s, the development of the resort was at its peak, with the Alpine Ski World Championships in 1962, and the opening in 1965 of the Mont Blanc tunnel which opened up a direct route to Italy.
The 1970s saw the arrival of many public amenities, including the library, MJC, secondary school and vocational college.
Unfortunately, the growth in tourism also resulted in increased levels of road traffic, which has become a major nuisance for the local inhabitants. Today, the resort is implementing measures to preserve the natural environment despite its economy being almost entirely based on tourism. In 2009, Chamonix committed itself, along with the other four settlements making up the Community of Communes of the Chamonix-Mont-Blanc Valley, to a regional climate and energy plan in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt the area to climate change.
The historical architecture has also been preserved. Today, protestant chapels, traditional farms and Art Deco facades all sit alongside more modern buildings.
Whatever the future may hold, Chamonix remains one of the world's major winter and summer tourist destinations, and continues to host many important international events.