Bonjour, Chamonix: Almanac

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Getting There Swissair (800-221-4750) offers daily flights into Geneva from nine major U.S. gateways. For information on Swissair air-and-land packages call (800) 688-7947.

When To Go For hardcore powder, visit during the last two weeks in January or in early March. For spring conditions and weather, try later March or April.

Sleeping In (All international calls to France begin with "011 33.") For a central location try the Hotel Morgane, 4 50 53 57 15. For a 19th century luxury experience, book Le Hameau Albert 1ER, 4 50 53 05 09. Also try the three-star La Sapiniere 4 50 53 07 63. Or for a choice of accommodations, call Central Reservations, 4 50 53 23 33 or e-mail reservation@chamonix.com.

Dining Out Don't miss Pierre Carrier's Albert Premier Restaurant, which recently earned a second Michelin Star. Also try Le Sarpe 4 50 53 29 31 in Les Praz or L'Impossible 4 50 53 20 36 in Chamonix.

Ski Instruction and Guides Call Compagnie Des Guides, 4 50 53 48 04, or Mark Jones' Best of the Alps, 4 50 54 20 24 (phone and fax).

Kicking Butt Test your skills on L'Envers du Plan off the Aiguille du Midi-but not without a guide.

Kicking Back Enjoy swimming, saunas, turkish baths and water slides at Richard Bozon Sport's Center, 4 50 53 09 07.

Activities The Tourist Office offers two-hour history tours of the Chamonix Valley. Also take a whirl on Chamonix's natural ice rink.

Don't Miss A spring tour of Chamonix's Ice sculptures.

Don't Forget Buy Carte Neige Insurance, which covers medical attention and evacuation. Available at the Tourist Office, 4 50 53 00 24.

Vital Statistics Base Elevation: 3,400 feet. Summit Elevation: 12,605 feet, Aiguille du Midi 12,467 feet. Vertical Rise: 9,205 feet. Average Annual Snowfall: roughly 600 inches. Lift Ticket Price: $39. For information call 4 50 53 00 24.

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