Total Immersion: Riding and Living in the Chamonix Valley


My love affair with European travel began with a work assignment in Sweden in 2015. As an American who hadn’t traveled internationally (save for Canada and Mexico), the history, culture, lifestyle, and beauty of Sweden instantly captivated me, prompting me to return to Europe again and again. Since then, I’ve traveled to Europe at least once per year (if not more).

After numerous 1-2 week trips to Europe along with a month-long tour through the Pyrenees and the Alps, I had the tourist approach pretty well dialed in. But bouncing from place-to-place every couple of days can be very stressful and draining. Such a quick mode of travel gives you just a taste of each town that you visit, leaving you hungry for more. I wanted a deeper immersion into European life, with at least a month planted in a single town in Europe (and preferably longer). 

During the fall of 2019, I finally carved out the time to make such a trip happen. I decided to stop in not one but three different destinations, spending a month in each spot. 

First up? Chamonix, France!

FATMAP was born in the rich mountain culture of the Alps, with Chamonix specifically serving as FATMAP’s defacto mountain headquarters. After spending so much time staring at the Mont Blanc in FATMAP and reading through the various adventure descriptions published by writers over the years, I knew that I had to see this place for myself. I knew that my first priority during my 2019 trip had to be a deep dive into the epic destination of Chamonix.

Travel will always throw you unexpected curveballs, and in Chamonix, due to other time constraints, my first curveball was arriving right as all of the bike-friendly lifts closed down for the season. Undeterred by this obstacle, I set out to still explore as many mountain bike trails as possible… even though I had to ride every single trail the hard way!

Despite that challenge, over the course of a month, I was still able to hit the majority of the highest-acclaimed mountain bike trails in the region… and even a few under-the-radar sleeper hits. For an in-depth survey of the best singletrack mountain biking in this world-renowned destination, be sure to read through my guidebook!