If you’re looking for a beautiful, adventure-filled alpine escape, Chamonix in the summer is all you need to know. Though this small town at the junction of France, Italy, and Switzerland may be famous for its winter offerings, summertime in Chamonix is the real star of the show. *jazz hands*
If you want outdoor adventures, amazing alpine hikes, professional sports, delicious alpine classics, and unforgettable awe-inspiring views, consider visiting Chamonix in the summer. And when you do, this Chamonix summer travel guide covers everything you need to know.
Is Chamonix worth visiting?
Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! For as long or short as you can stay, Chamonix is worth a visit. Whether it’s been on your alpine bucket list for ages or if you’re just hearing about it for the first time, I can’t imagine you won’t have an amazing time here.
If you’re pondering whether to spend more time in Switzerland, elsewhere in France, or to give Chamonix a go, let me just say that Chamonix is very much worth visiting. It’s worth it as a day trip from Geneva, it’s worth it for a wonderful week away, and it’s worth it for the entire summer if you’ve got the time and money to spend.
Or maybe you heard Chamonix is only a winter destination? And you’re wondering if it’s even worth visiting in the summer? Well, it absolutely is! The activities and atmosphere are different, but there’s no shortage of awesome things to do in Chamonix in the summer and no absence of adventure.
I’ve charted all of the places mentioned in this post in the map below so you can easily find everything you need! Click on the box on the left for the map legend.
Visiting Chamonix in the summer
It’s true—Chamonix is primarily a winter destination known for its skiing and other snow adventures. It was the location of the first ever winter Olympics after all. However, visiting Chamonix in the summer is just as rewarding an alpine experience, if not more.
In lieu of snow and ice you’ve got colorful wildflowers and adorable wildlife, green mountains, glacial waterfalls, sunshine, and a whole list of interesting things to do that you can only do in the summer.
Regardless of what’s on your alpine bucket list, chances are you’ll be able to do/see/eat it during a summer visit to Chamonix.
Is Chamonix good in the summer?
Chamonix in the summer offers the perfect conditions for outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, paragliding, climbing, rafting, and tons more. The weather is great with lots of sunshine and warmth during the day, but you still get to experience the coziness of the Alps after the sun goes down.
Additionally, the list of things to do here in the summer is almost endless. Honestly, every time I check I find more hikes I never knew existed, more restaurants I wish I’d eaten at, and more ways to spend my days than anywhere else I’ve traveled. I am perpetually planning my return to Chamonix.
In the summer, there’s a long list of places to stay (some that aren’t even open in the winter), it’s easy to get there and get around, and it’s just all around a perfect alpine escape.
Chamonix summer weather
As you can see from this graph, averages temperatures for Chamonix in the summer are:
- June – High 71°F, Low 45°F
- July – High 75°F, Low 50°F
- August – High 73°F, Low 48°F
During the early part of the day the sun is out and temperatures are much warmer, especially if you’re huffing and puffing your way up a mountain. After the sun goes down temperatures drop to that signature alpine chill, even in the summer.
Most of the days see sun and clear skies but rain and clouds are still a possibility. Here in Chamonix even snow is still possible as late as June (and year-round at higher elevations).
Your best chances for perfect weather in Chamonix are in August. And as someone who spent the biggest chunk of her time in Chamonix in August, I can vouch for this.
What to expect in the summer in Chamonix
In Chamonix in the summer you can expect:
- Warm days, chilly nights
- Larger crowds in August, but not so big that it has any effect on your enjoyment
- Lots of outdoor dining
- The most dogs you’ve ever seen in a single city—all breeds, all sizes, all well trained
- To feel pretty singled out if you’re not trudging through Chamonix with a backpack and poles or climbing gear dangling from your waist.
Chamonix in August
Being the popular European vacation month that it is, August in Chamonix is more crowded than the rest of the summer. But for me, those perfect weather conditions outweighed any downsides to visiting during this month. And once you’re out of the main drag, you won’t even notice.
However, because August is so popular, you may have a more difficult time than usual finding accommodation at the last minute (thought it’s not impossible—I made a few on-the-spot hotel reservations in Chamonix). Also, visiting the city’s top attraction—the Aiguille du Midi—is going to be super packed. But again, it won’t be so bad that it ruins your experience. I still highly recommend Chamonix in August.
How many days do you need in Chamonix?
As many days as you can get, to be honest. You could spend an entire summer in Chamonix and still not see all of it. But even if you only have a couple of days, visiting Chamonix in the summer would still be a rewarding trip.
For those of us not blessed with unlimited vacation time, I’d say a solid week would be perfect. With a week you could see the top sites, get in some of the best day hikes, eat some great alpine staples, and still have time to chill out and relax.
But if you really want to pack the activities in, even 4 or 5 days would work.
How to get to Chamonix in the summer
Being as small as it is and located in a far corner of France, you might think Chamonix is hard to get to, but that is not the case. It’s actually pretty easy and affordable to get to Chamonix from other, larger cities by bus, train, shuttle, or car. Here’s how to get to Chamonix from some of the most popular starting points:
How to get to Chamonix from Geneva
If you’re heading straight to Chamonix from the United States, the best place to fly into is Geneva, Switzerland (GVA). Geneva is just a little over an hour’s drive away from Chamonix and the trip between the two is fast and easy.
If this is the case, the easiest way to get to Chamonix from Geneva is by shuttle bus. Shuttles run back and forth between the two cities throughout the day all summer long. My personal recommendation is Alpybus.
Using Alpybus is extremely simple and stress-free and they offer both private and shared shuttles. They were prompt, clean, affordable, friendly, and easy to communicate with prior to my trip—everything I look for in an airport transfer.
My round-trip ticket from Geneva to Chamonix and back on an Alpybus shared shuttle cost just over $60 US. They pick you up right inside the Geneva airport and take you right to your hotel in Chamonix. Honestly it couldn’t be easier.
How to get to Chamonix from Lyon
If you’re flying within Europe, another option would be to fly into the airport in Lyon, France (LYS). Though this is an option, it’s a much farther away one that will require more travel time to Chamonix (about 3 hours by bus and wayyy longer by train).
The crowd favorite for getting to Chamonix from Lyon is via the BlaBlaBus (formerly and still sometimes known as the Ouibus). This bus journey will take about three hours and cost around 25 € each way. I took the BlaBlaBus from Chamonix to Courmayeur, Italy and it was lovely.
How to get to Chamonix from Paris
Another frequently asked question is how to get to Chamonix from Paris. If you’re looking to add some mountain magic into an otherwise Parisian vacation, it’s entirely possible and quite easy. You’ll even use some stuff you’ve already learned in this post.
To start, you can take the direct train from Paris to Geneva. From there, you can take the Alpybus from Geneva to Chamonix. Bing, bang, boom – done. C’est magnifique!
In this case, you have two train options:
- The high-speed train that will get you from Paris to Geneva in just over 3 hours, or
- The regional train that gets you from Paris to Geneva is 8.5 hours.
If you’d like to check out some of the smaller cities along the way, take the regional train. But if you want to head straight from the Eiffel tower to the Alps, stick with the TGV Lyria high-speed train.
If you’re wondering if you can just take the train straight into Chamonix, well, the answer is yes. However, this route comes with anywhere between 2 and 8 train changes and the trip averages about 14 hours (and doesn’t cost nearly enough less to make it worth it).
How to get to Chamonix from Italy
Getting to Chamonix from cities in Italy is just as easy. I traveled all around Northern Italy before and after spending some time in Chamonix and I did so on the Flixbus.
The Flixbus is a super affordable, no-frills public bus you can reserve seats on that gets you where you need to go. It isn’t luxury but it is clean, on-time, and cheap as hell. The Flixbus will be the easiest way to get to Chamonix from cities like Courmayeur, Aosta, Turin, and Milan.
Where to stay in Chamonix in the summer?
There is a great variety of places to stay in Chamonix and many are right in the center just minutes from everything. Here are some of my Chamonix lodging experiences:
Hotel Croix Blanche
I’ve stayed at Hotel Croix Blanche a couple of times and have had two very different experiences.
I really like Hotel Croix Blanche because they have a staffed front desk all day and the staff is incredibly friendly and helpful. They were always available and went out of their way to assist me. Also, the hotel’s location right in the center of town couldn’t be more convenient.
On my first stay, my room was large and clean, had great views of the mountains, and everything was perfect, modern, and delightful. This room was in the “newer” part of the hotel.
On my second stay, my room was located in the much older part of the hotel and was… not great. Our room was switched at the last minute because of an “issue” (that we later found out meant bugs) and the one they put us in was dirty to say the least.
I won’t go into all the other stinky, moldy, scary, hairy issues we had with our second room but just know there were plenty.
All that being said, I still would stay at Croix Blanche again. The location and staff is unbeatable and those are high ranking factors for me. However, and a very big however, I would demand a room in the newer part of the hotel and if they couldn’t promise that, I would stay elsewhere.
Hotel du Louvre
During another stay in Chamonix I stayed at the Hotel du Louvre which is more or less in the backyard of the Croix Blanche.
The location is perfect and within walking distance to everything in Chamonix. The staff was great, my room was adequate, and the views are phenomenal. However, the desk is staffed only a limited number of hours each day. This wasn’t an issue but it did require some coordination for checking in and out.
Hotel du Louvre is small but perfectly suited my needs and I have no complaints. (Except maybe that time someone burned toast in the kitchen at the crack of dawn and set off the fire alarm, sending me bursting down from the top floor and into the streets in the pajamas. But hey, we’ve all burned toast before.) I would definitely stay here again.
Other places to stay in Chamonix
For finding other places to stay in Chamonix, I always use Booking.com. That link is already set to display Chamonix hotels, so from there I enter my dates then click on “map view” in the upper right. This allows me to find the best hotels based on their location. (I like to be in the center of everything, all the time.)
While on the map view screen, on the left under “review score,” I filter the search results to show me only hotels ranked “Awesome: 9+” or “Very good: 8+” by reviewers. Why waste time wading through all the less than desirable hotels?
If you’re just hiking through Chamonix and are looking for a more no-frills, affordable place to catch some Zzz, check out one of the refuges around Chamonix. These types of accommodations are only available to visitors in the summer due to their remote and hard-to-get-to-in-the-snow locations.
These refuges offer dormitory-style snoozing with multiple beds in a room and basic facilities. Most will provide bedding but require you to bring your own sleeping sheet. Some have showers, some don’t. Most only accept cash and must be booked by calling or emailing directly. However, what they lack in amenities they more than make up for in views!
Some Chamonix-area refuges to consider are:
Refuge Bellachat – I haven’t stayed here but I did stop by for lunch while hiking down to Les Houches from Le Brévent. The views from here are absolutely unmatched anywhere in Chamonix.
Refuge Plan de l’Aiguille – Halfway down from the Aiguille du Midi you’ll find Plan de l’Aiguille, a jumping off point for many great hikes around Chamonix. While most just stop by for a coffee on their way down from the Aiguille du Midi, you can also stay here overnight.
Refuge Lac Blanc – Located in one of the most scenic areas around Chamonix.
How to get around in the Chamonix Valley
Getting around in Chamonix is so, so easy. If you’ve booked a hotel in the center, you can literally walk everywhere you want to go around Chamonix. (I speak from experience.) But there may be a view places you want to go where taking public transportation will simply save you some time. And in that case, the Chamonix bus system is easy to use, fast, consistently on-time, and totally free!
The Chamonix bus system
You can get just about anywhere you want to go in and around Chamonix from the Chamonix Sud bus station. From this station just outside Chamonix’s center you can get to the Bossons chairlift, to the Tour du Mont Blanc sign in Les Houches, Courmayeur, and all around the valley.
The Chamonix bus is free to use for everyone but you need to get your free pass first. For temporary visitors, you’ll need to get the “guest card” that’s available to guests staying at least one night in one of Chamonix’s many hotels. Ask about this when you check in if they don’t automatically give you one. This card will be good for free use of Chamonix’s public transportation during your entire stay.
If you forget or lose your card during your visit, a day pass on the Chamonix bus is 3€. (But honestly, since the bus is free, no one ever checks for this or even cares when you try to pay them. I’m not exactly encouraging you to ride the wheels without paying, I’m just putting that out there.)
The bus system is incredibly straightforward and leaves little room for error. If you’re unsure of which bus to take, I can’t say enough about the helpfulness of the staff at the Chamonix tourism office. Between them and the staff at the makeshift bus ticket station, I never felt unsure of where I was going. And if you’re not exactly sure when to get off the bus, ask the driver.
Chamonix Guest Card (Carte d’hôte)
As a hotel guest, you can receive a free Guest Card to use during your stay in Chamonix. This card gets you free bus transportation as mentioned above, as well as:
- Free train travel between Servoz and Vallorcine
- Discounts at municipal sporting attractions
- Discounts at two of Chamonix’s top museums: the Alpine Museum and the Crystal Museum (read more about those two in my post on what to do in Chamonix)
- And many other discounts in Les Houches and Servoz
For all the details on the Chamonix Guest Card, check out their official document. (Scroll down to the bottom of page 1 for English. Page 2 is in both French and English.)
Chamonix public transportation
Besides the bus, Chamonix offers other kinds of public transportation to suit your needs. Around Chamonix you can also find:
- Ride sharing
- Car rentals
- and even helicopter rides if you just won the lottery and are looking to blow some cash.
Check out all the details on Chamonix’s available public transportation on this page.
Cable cars, gondolas, chairlifts
And if it’s up you want to go, there’s a surprisingly large network of cable cars, gondolas, chairlifts, and funiculars to get you there.
The most popular of these are the Aiguille du Midi cable car to the summit of Aiguille du Midi, the Montenvers train to Mer de Glace Glacier (which is really a funicular), the Bossons chairlift up to the Bossons Glacier, and the gondola to Plan Praz that takes you to the cable car to Le Brévent. You can read about all these adventures in the link below.
What to do in Chamonix in the summer
Don’t let Chamonix’s reputation as a ski capital fool you—there is so much to do in Chamonix in the summer! So much so that I wrote an entire post dedicated to the subject. If you haven’t already, check out my post on 21 awesome things to do in Chamonix in the summer.
As you’ll read in that post, Chamonix has a wide variety of activities for you to get up to. In Chamonix in the summer you can enjoy:
- Endless hiking and outdoor adventures like rafting, hydrospeed, paragliding, more hiking, biking, climbing, and even more hiking. Check out my post on the best hikes in Chamonix here!
- A handful of interesting museums (I liked the Crystal Museum way more than I thought I would.)
- Fun professional sports
- Alpine food and local beer
- And there are even some awesome day trips to take from Chamonix if you want a taste of someplace new while you’re here.
During my visits to Chamonix I’ve done just about everything mentioned in the article. For everything else, it’s on my list!
What to wear in Chamonix in the summer
When visiting Chamonix in the summer, you’ll need to pack a wide array of items to coordinate with the unpredictable weather. Summer in Chamonix is mostly warm and sunny, but there’s always the chance of rain, wind, clouds, and even snow in June.
You’ll need casual clothes for time in the town and appropriate outdoor gear for hiking and all the other adventures. You’ll want to bring sturdy hiking boots and casual sneakers, as well as tops for hiking in the hot sun and a fleece for the Aiguille du Midi.
I’ve written a full post on what to pack for Chamonix in the summer. Check it out here. It covers everything from what to wear in Chamonix top to bottom, what outdoor gear to pack, the best shoes to pack for Chamonix, and all the other things you’ll need to bring with you. It even includes a free printable packing list.
Where to eat in Chamonix
I haven’t eaten at all the places in Chamonix, but I’ve done my fair share of damage. This list contains everything from fancy restaurants to street meat to beer and pizza. Here are some of my favorite places to eat in Chamonix:
Cool Cats is a small eatery in the center of Chamonix that serves a variety of artisanal hot dogs and street food al fresco. Choose your meat, choose your toppings, then choose a seat outside. It’s quick and the food is delicious. My order: the Brick frankfurter
La Calèche on Chamonix’s main pedestrian street is on the higher end of things and is the perfect place to enjoy some alpine fondue or raclette in a chalet-like environment.
Aux Petits Gourmands
In all honesty, I’ve eaten breakfast at Aux Petits Gourmands almost every morning I’ve woken up in Chamonix. The service is great and I can’t stop eating their quiche Lorraine.
They have a large breakfast and lunch menu with a wide variety of things beyond the French staple of coffee + pastry. But these pastries!
While here, be sure to try le Croix de Savoie, the area’s signature pastry meant to resemble the cross on the flag of Savoie, the “department” of France where Chamonix is located. Le Croix de Savoie is a cross-shaped brioche pastry filled with vanilla custard.
I go to La Terrasse for the pizzas and the people-watching. Grab a spot on their 2nd floor balcony for a relaxing yet engaging way to chill out for lunch or dinner. My order: Goat cheese, honey, and sausage pizza
If it’s lunch with a view you want, head up into the mountains. If you’re hiking down from Le Brévent, stop at Refuge Bellachat for a filling lunch on the most incredible patio. My order: simple charcuterie
Chalet du Glacier des Bossons
Likewise, you can take the Bossons chairlift up to the Chalet du Glacier des Bossons for the most stunning way to start your day. Have a coffee (or a beer) and some food on their patio that overlooks the Chamonix Valley.
Chalet des Pyramides
If you continue your hike up the mountain from Chalet du Glacier des Bossons, you can have lunch at Chalet des Pyramides. Maybe it was the view, maybe it was the five hours of hiking I had just done, but I’ve said it a hundred times: my lunch at Chalet des Pyramides was the best meal I had in all of Chamonix. My Order: Croûte au fromage (bread, oil, white wine, cream, cheese, baked and served hot)
Where to get groceries in Chamonix
If you’ll be visiting Chamonix in the summer for any extended amount of time, you may want to pick up some food at the grocery store to save some cash. I’ve made more than a few trips to the grocery stores in Chamonix myself. (Mostly for chocolate bar refills and beer. I regret nothing.)
There are two food shops in Chamonix that are the most centrally located:
- Super U at 117 rue Joseph Vallot, two floors and right next to both Hotel Croix Blanche and Hotel du Louvre actually
- Le Petit Casino at 50 Rue du Dr Paccard on the main pedestrian street, smaller shop but great beer selection
Where to shop for outdoor gear in Chamonix
If you’ll be partaking in any of the many outdoor adventures Chamonix in the summer has to offer, chances are you’ll need to pick up a few supplies.
Since my friend and I flew over from the U.S. and did not check any bags, we needed to pick up trekking poles and sunscreen in Chamonix, among other things.
We did our fair share of shopping at Intersport, right there in the main center of town. This place is pretty big and had everything we needed. We picked up some decent trekking poles for about 40€ for the pair. (I can’t distinguish their quality from that of the $120 pair I use at home honestly.) We picked up some day packs that we used for all of our Chamonix day hikes for, I kid you not, 2.99€.
Technique Extreme is another great option with a large selection and decent prices. I bought a winter hat there that saved me during winter here in Boston. (I even had to wear it on one freezing cold night in Chamonix in August.) Maybe there’s nothing extreme about keeping a sissy girl from the South from freezing her buns off in New England, but here we are.
Another major outdoor retailer in Chamonix is Decathlon and their store is in the center, across the street from Intersport.
I bought my backpack plane cover here which is something I highly recommend if you do plan on checking your hiking backpack when flying. It keeps your trekking bag (with all its pockets and zippers and moving parts) safe and secure during air transit. Something along the lines of this one from Decathlon or this one from Amazon is perfect.
Where to buy sunscreen in Chamonix
I’mma level with you – I honestly thought about writing an entire blog post on where to buy sunscreen in Chamonix because the answer plagued me for longer than I expected it to.
Through trial and error I learned the following about buying sunscreen in Chamonix:
- It’ll be harder to find than you think especially given what an outdoorsy town this is.
- You can find it in the pharmacies and in the grocery stores, but not in the outdoor stores like the ones listed above.
- There’s a good chance you’ll only be able to find spray-on sunscreen, not cream.
- You’ll only be able to find SPF 30 and 50.
- You’ll have a choice of one single brand no matter where you go.
- It will most likely cost more than you’ve ever paid for sunscreen.
I spent longer than I should have in a town of this sort looking for sunscreen. Because I did not check a bag on my way into France I couldn’t bring my own. So if you’re able to, bring some with you.
How to save money on your summer trip to Chamonix
Though the majority of Chamonix’s awesome activities are free (hiking hiking hiking), not everything is. Luckily, there are many money-saving opportunities to be found. Here are a few great ways to save money on your trip to Chamonix in the summer:
Mont Blanc Multipass
The Mont Blanc Multipass is one pass you buy that saves you a bunch on your sightseeing/activities. If you think you’re going to do more than one of the listed activities, consider purchasing the Mont Blanc Multipass.
You can buy them in everything from 1-day to 21-day increments and they include access to:
- 3 of Chamonix’s top attractions: Aiguille du Midi, Montenvers > Mer de Glace train, and the Tramway du Mont Blanc
- Some of Chamonix’s tourist areas like Brévent-Flégere, Grands Montets, Les Houches, and more
- The Bossons chairlift
- Discounts on other Chamonix activities
When I thought I would just be spending one day in Chamonix, I purchased the 1-day Mont Blanc Multipass. I used it to go up to the Aiguille du Midi in the morning, and then to take the Montenvers train to the Mer de Glace glacier in the afternoon.
A case study: The standard adult admission for Aiguille du Midi is 65€ and 34€ for the Montenvers train. The 1-day Mont Blanc Multipass cost me 68€. I saved 31 euros on just that one day. For all the details of the Mont Blanc Multipass, check out that link.
Chamonix Museum Pass
Like the Mont Blanc Multipass, the Chamonix Museum Pass is a single pass that includes access to multiple sites. In this case it gets you into various museums in and around Chamonix, including:
- The Chrystal Museum (very cool place!)
- The Alpine Museum (informative!)
- Maison de l’Alpage et Maison du Lieutenant in Servoz
- Museé Montagnard in Les Houches
- Maison de la Mémoire et du Patrimoine
- Maison Barberine in Vallorcine.
The Chamonix Museum Pass is good for a full year, costs 12€, and you can buy it at any of the above sites when you get there.
Free transportation card
I’ve already talked about how the Chamonix Guest Card gets you access to free public transportation throughout your visit… and I’m going to mention it again. This is such a huge time and money saver!
Even if you spend most of your time within the city center of Chamonix, you may still want to use the bus before or after your day hikes, to the Bossons chairlift, back and forth from Les Houches, and more. Make sure you get one from your hotel when you check in.
The difference between Chamonix and Les Houches
While planning my Tour du Mont Blanc adventure, the difference between Chamonix and Les Houches kept coming up. It seemed as though everyone chose to stay in Chamonix, even though the start of the hike was in Les Houches. So, what is the difference?
Well, Chamonix is a larger (though still not large) resort town with a lot to offer in terms of dining experiences, entertainment, museums and culture, history, outdoor adventures, and more. Les Houches (which is just a short drive down the road from Chamonix) is a smaller commune full of mostly just places to stay.
Les Houches (pronounced Lay-zoosh) is quiet, peaceful, and super no-frills. But Chamonix has lots to do, many places to eat, and makes for a better home base for the many outdoor activities, if you ask me.
Should you stay in Chamonix or Les Houches?
Whether or not you should stay in Chamonix or Les Houches really depends on what you want to get out of the area. That being said, the two towns are just a 10-minute bus ride apart so you really won’t be confined to either one.
Stay in Chamonix if you want to be within walking distance to great places to eat and drink, interesting museums, great day hikes, entertainment, and more. Stay in Les Houches if you’re more interested in a quiet stay away from everything.
Staying in Les Houches, you can still easily take advantage of everything Chamonix has to offer, but you’ll have to take the bus to get there (or the 1.5-hour walk). You’ll have more dining options in Chamonix (especially late) but more affordable lodging options in Les Houches.
Where to start and end the Tour du Mont Blanc
So maybe you’re wondering, if the Tour du Mont Blanc starts and ends in Les Houches, why would you stay in Chamonix? Well, perhaps you’d like a few fun ways to spend some time before you start your TMB. Or maybe you’d like to end your hike in what will seem like a luxurious stay in a modern hotel or apartment (after spending two weeks sharing bunks in huts).
Then again, maybe after 11 days of hiking even the extra 5 miles from Les Houches to Chamonix will be just too big an ask. In that case, Les Houches is a perfectly wonderful place to stay.
Gîte Michel Fagot
And if you do decide to stay in Les Houches, I highly recommend Gîte Michel Fagot. This place is clean and organized and its location within Les Houches is perfect. The meals are fantastic, the staff is incredibly helpful, and it’ll be an all-around wonderful place to begin and/or end your TMB.
Also, Alpybus can also pick you up and drop you off at your accommodations in Les Houches!
I hope this travel guide has helped you plan your trip to Chamonix–one of the most beautiful destinations in the Alps. Have a great time!
How long will you spend in Chamonix in the summer?
Let me know below!
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