Compagnie des Guides de Chamonix Bicentenary

Release Date:  21 May 2021




Date of Issue: 21 May 2021
Designed by: Bruno Ghiringhelli
Print process: heliography 15 stamps per sheet
Colors: polychrome
Perforations: 13
Stamp size: 40.85 x 30 mm
Press Run: 600,000
Face Value: €1.08

First Day of Issue on Friday, May 21, 2021 at CHAMONIX-MONT-BLANC (74) Place de l’Aiguille du Midi, 10am-5pm, 74400 CHAMONIX MONT BLANC (only on Fridays).
in PARIS (75) Le Carré d’Encre, 10am-5pm, 13 bis rue des Mathurins, 75009 PARIS.
Bruno GHIRINGHELLI will lead a signing session from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Friday, May 21 (subject to health developments).
General sale on Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Sheet of 15




















































First Day Cancellation – Paris























































First Day Cancellation – Chamonix-Mont Blanc

























































The Saussure Monument which depicts Horace-Benedict de Saussure, with Jacques Balmat (left) who points towards the summit of Mont Blanc, at Chamonix, France, circa 1890-1900.

The Compagnie des Guides de Chamonix is an organization that brings together more than 200 mountain professionals and mountain guides). Its vocation is to enable its customers to live a human and sporting adventure in the mountains by guaranteeing them the appropriate safety standards. Initially focused on mountaineering, it has diversified and today offers a wide range of mountain activities (mountain climbing, rock climbing, skiing, hiking, white water rafting, etc.) aimed at a wide audience: individual, group and company. Most of its activities take place in the Mont Blanc massif. Founded in 1821, it is the oldest and largest guide company in the world.

Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, more commonly known as Chamonix, is a commune in the Haute-Savoie department in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of Southeastern France. It was the site of the first Winter Olympics in 1924. In 2017, it had a population of 8,611. Situated to the north of Mont Blanc, between the peaks of the Aiguilles Rouges and the notable Aiguille du Midi, Chamonix is one of the oldest ski resorts in France. The Chamonix commune is popular with skiers and mountain enthusiasts; via the cable car lift to the Aiguille du Midi it is possible to access the off-piste (backcountry) ski run of the Vallée Blanche.

Panorama of the Chamonix-Mont-Blanc valley from the Aiguille du Midi, February 2017

The valley was first mentioned in 1091, when it was granted by the Count of the Genevois to the great Benedictine house of St. Michel de la Cluse, near Turin, which by the early 13th century had established a priory there. However, in 1786 the inhabitants bought their freedom from the canons of Sallanches, to whom the priory had been transferred in 1519.

In 1530, the inhabitants obtained from the Count of the Genevois the privilege of holding two fairs a year, while the valley was often visited by the civil officials and by the bishops of Geneva (first recorded visit in 1411, while St. Francis de Sales came there in 1606). But travelers for pleasure were very rare.

Chamonix was part of the historical land of Savoy emerged as the feudal territory of the House of Savoy during the 11th to 14th centuries. The historical territory is shared between the modern countries of France, Italy and Switzerland. The House of Savoy became the longest surviving royal house in Europe. It ruled the County of Savoy to 1416 and then the Duchy of Savoy from 1416 to 1860.

The first party to publish (1744) an account of their visit was that of Richard Pococke, William Windham and others, such as the Englishmen who visited the Mer de Glace in 1741. In 1742 came P. Martel and several other Genevese, in 1760 Horace-Bénédict de Saussure, as well as rather later Marc Theodore Bourrit.

Crossing the Sea of Ice, across the glacier in the Chamonix Valley, circa 1902-1904

The growth of tourism in the early 19th century led to the formation of the Compagnie des Guides de Chamonix in 1821, to regulate access to the mountain slopes (which were communally or co-operatively owned), and this association held a monopoly of guiding from the town until it was broken by French government action in 1892; thereafter guides were required to hold a diploma issued by a commission dominated by civil servants and members of the French Alpine Club rather than local residents.

From the late 19th century on, tourist development was dominated by national and international initiatives rather than local entrepreneurs, though the local community was increasingly dependent upon and active in the tourist industry.

The commune successfully lobbied to change its name from Chamonix to Chamonix-Mont-Blanc in 1916. However, following the loss of its monopoly, the Compagnie reformed as an association of local guides, and retained an important role in local society; it provided the services of a friendly society to its members, and in the 20th century many of them were noted mountaineers and popularizers of mountain tourism, notably the novelist Roger Frison-Roche, the first member of the Compagnie not to be born in Chamonix.

Chamonix Valley and Mont Blanc as seen from la Flégère on 31 July 2010.

The holding of the first Winter Olympic Games in Chamonix in 1924 further raised Chamonix’s profile as an international tourist destination.

During the Second World War, a Children’s Home operated in Chamonix, in which several dozens of Jewish children were hidden from the Nazis. Some of those who hid them were recognized as “Righteous Among the Nations”.

By the 1960s, agriculture had been reduced to a marginal activity, while the number of tourist beds available rose to around 60,000 by the end of the 20th century, with about 5 million visitors a year.

The Chamonix – Mont-Blanc railway station in Chamonix, Haute-Savoie, France, photographed on 1 August 2009.









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