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French alps towns


We are planning a trip to the French Alps this July and are unsure of where to stay. We are flying into Geneva, but don't have a concrete plan after that, aside from a trip to the coast a few days later. We are looking for one or two places to visit that have access to hiking trails, as well as some restaurants. We figured we would do a couple nights in Chamonix, but would love your thoughts! I've also read good things about Megéve. Any and all advice welcome!

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Chamonix, while touristy, is a very good choice with world-class scenery but do note that most good hiking requires that you first take a lift up from the valley (unless you are seriously fit). It is not an issue for most people, but you should have it mind, it does involve a slight expense.
Megève is cute, but it is a ski resort town, so there is a lot of clearings through the trees, lift pylons, etc. around the town. I would choose Chamonix over it.

But since you are looking for alternative and maybe less touristy locations, another suggestion I have is Sixt-Fer-à-Cheval, at the end of a deep valley with some rather "unspoilt" scenery in the Fer-à-Cheval cirque. No ski lifts (except a couple right in front of the village). Easy drive from Geneva.