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COURMAYEUR, ITALY – sport and dolce vita

Through the Mont-Blanc Tunnel, on the other side of the mountain to Chamonix in Italy, is the charming small town of Courmayeur, a chic ski resort and Italy’s mountaineering capital, from where you could start an Italian ascent of the Monte Bianco.

The cable car that runs up Italy’s Monte Bianco opened to the public in 1948. It has just been completely renovated and reopened in June 2015 after 3 years of works, with a new conference and cinema auditorium for 150 with simultaneous translation, WiFi and restaurant in the Pavillon du Mont-Fréty at the mid-station at 2173m of altitude. From the base station at La Palud, just outside Courmayeur, 2 cable cars take you up to Punta Helbronner - from where you can ski down to Chamonix, avoiding the vertiginous walk down the snowy ridge from the Aiguille du Midi, via the Italian connecting route to La Vallée Blanche in winter; or you can take the gondola across to the Aiguille du Midi cable car station in France in summer.

The Monte Bianco cable cars give access to the fabulous off-piste glacier skiing of La Toula, heli-skiing is possible on the Bionnassay and Lex Blanche glaciers, while the pisted ski area of Couymayeur on the other side of Val Veny has stunning views over to the Italian side of Western Europe’s highest peak and is accessible by cable cars and gondolas from the centre of town.

It takes about half an hour to drive from Chamonix to Courmayeur, where you can savour delicious Italian cuisine, feast on classic pizza and pasta, sample tasty anti-pasti with your aperitifs or just enjoy the perfect coffee in a historic café in between browsing the stylish boutiques.

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