9+ Chamonix France Things to Do: Secret Gems

Whet your appetite with Chamonix's La Maison Carrier where each bite tells a story of tradition, but it's not just the...
Date Published
March 8, 2024

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Heard Chamonix was just a winter wonderland for those fancy pants skiers? Think again, pal. This gem hidden in the French Alps is a year-round playground for adventurers, gourmands, and yes—shutterbugs like you, itching to snap the kind of pics that'll make your Instagram an instant hit. Whether you're drooling over authentic Savoyard fare at La Maison Carrier or tracing history-laden steps in Vallorcine, there's a 'monumental' amount of things to do, see, and inhale (because that crisp alpine air is like nature's own brand of euphoria).

Chamonix isn't just a dot on the map—it's an explosion of experiences waiting to burst. Imagine indulging in world-class spa treatments with the snowy peaks playing peekaboo or swaying to smooth evening jazz at Maison des Artistes after a day surrounded by Alpine blooms. You're not just visiting a city; you're teleporting to a corner of the world where every turn is a memory in the making. But wait, there's more – because what's Chamonix without flexing those muscles in eco-treks or ice climbing for the brave? So, lace-up those boots, and let's dive into a place that's more than just a pretty face—this is your ultimate guide to living your Chamonix adventure story (and telling about it). Let's get this

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Savor Authentic Savoyard Fare at La Maison Carrier

When you're cruising through the alpine wonderland of Chamonix, you've got to fuel up, right? So why not do it in style? La Maison Carrier isn't just a restaurant; it's an experience that serves up a dishful of local culture right on your plate. It's one of the chamonix local cuisine spots that, trust me, you don't want to skip.

Plop yourself down in this cozy, farm-style eatery, and let the waft of traditional Savoyard dishes wrap you up like a warm blanket. What's on the menu? Oh, you know, just the kind of hearty, melt-in-your-mouth food that'll have you feeling like you're a part of a French fairytale. We're talking fondues, raclettes, and other cheesy delights that are the heart and soul of this region's cuisine.

But here's the deal: it's not just about the food. Dining at La Maison Carrier is like taking a step back in time. The rustic decor, the buzzing atmosphere—it's the perfect backdrop for stuffing your face and sipping on some fine wine. It's got that authentic charm that'll have both the locals and travelers nodding in approval.

You'll want to clear your schedule for this one. Breezing through won't do it justice. Give yourself a solid couple of hours to immerse in the flavors and aromas. It's perfect for families looking to taste authentic Chamonix, for couples on a romantic alpine retreat, and even for solo explorers craving a slice of local living.

So, grab your friends, snag a table, and make a toast to the mountains. You're here to savor, indulge, and maybe even let out a satisfied sigh. Because at La Maison Carrier, every bite tells a story of the rugged, yet charming life in the Alps. And that, my friends, is worth every minute of your Chamonix adventure.

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Traverse the Historic Trails of Vallorcine

Imagine lacing up your hiking boots and stepping into a postcard-perfect scene, because that's exactly what you'll do on the historic trails of Vallorcine. Just a whisper away from bustling Chamonix, Vallorcine is your secret window into the soul of the French Alps.

The trails are more than just dirt paths; they're time machines. With each step on these winding routes, you're retracing the steps of generations past. Who wandered here, you might wonder? Well, these historic routes once connected mountain farming villages and were trodden by traders and mountaineers alike. Talk about walking through history!

What makes Vallorcine truly stand out is the serene solitude you'll find here. It's a splendid escape for soul-searchers and history buffs. You could spend a couple of hours or a whole day, depending on how many of the chamonix historical routes you want to explore. And don't worry about getting lost in the past; Vallorcine is well-marked and maintains its paths like they're treasured artifacts - because, well, they are!

Whether you're solo, with your loved one, or guiding an inquisitive pack of kiddos, these trails have something for everyone. The raw beauty of the surrounding peaks serves up a feast for your eyes and an adrenaline rush for those who live for the great outdoors.

Now, before you get too lost in thought, remember to peek at the little villages sprinkled along the way. They are charming, filled with stories, and make for delightful pit-stops. And hey, speaking of stories, why not create your own adventure tale to tell? After all, Vallorcine is more than just a hike; it's an experience waiting for you to write the first line.

So, ready for a day to remember? The historic trails of Vallorcine are calling your name. Put on your explorer hat, pack a picnic, and let the alpine whispers guide you through a journey you'll never forget.

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Photograph the Serene Lac des Gaillands

Picture this: you're standing at the edge of a glassy lake, the majestic Mont Blanc reflected on its surface, and all around you, the Chamonix Valley is bursting with color and life. Welcome to Lac des Gaillands, a hidden gem perfect for shutterbugs and nature lovers alike.

Camera-touting visitors, you've found your very own Shangri-La. This serene spot offers a postcard-worthy scene at every angle. Whether you're an early bird catching the dawn light spilling over the peaks or a night owl capturing the twinkle of the stars, the photographic opportunities are endless. Set up your tripod or just snap from your phone; you won't be disappointed.

Lac des Gaillands is not just for professional photographers; it's a paradise where families cherish picnics by the water, where friends gather for a laughter-filled afternoon, and where solo travelers find a moment of peace. It's versatile—suitable for introspection or socialization, depending on your mood.

Got a couple of hours? Great! You'll want to soak in the view. Maybe pack a lunch, or just sit and meditate on the reflections in the water. It's a communion with nature that's good for the soul.

And here's a fun fact: Lac des Gaillands is man-made, an enchanting result of human creativity that somehow feels as natural as the mountain backdrop itself. It's like Mother Nature and an artist shook hands.

So who's this place perfect for? Honestly, anyone with a pulse. It’s a hit with families, including those with toddlers who marvel at the ducks, and with adrenaline junkies who've just descended from the nearby climbing crags. But it’s not just for those with a camera in hand; it's for anyone who wants a slice of tranquility and a reminder of how darn beautiful this planet can be. So go ahead, take a glimpse at Lac des Gaillands—it's sure to capture your heart.

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Indulge in a Spa Day at Les Thermes de Saint Gervais

Picture this: You're nestled in the heart of a breathtaking alpine landscape, muscles weary from adventuring through the bustling streets of Chamonix or from conquering its snowy slopes. What better way to unwind than a lush spa day at Les Thermes de Saint Gervais? Without a doubt, it's one of those chamonix spa retreats that transforms tired travelers into rejuvenated souls.

It's time to swap those ski boots for slippers and immerse yourself in the healing embrace of geothermal waters, famed for their restorative properties. Does it get more 'ahh'-inspiring than a naturally heated pool with a view of the Mont Blanc massif? Yeah, didn't think so.

So, who's this slice of relaxation heaven perfect for? Anyone and everyone! Whether you're a solo explorer seeking some quietude or you're part of a duo whose idea of romance is a tandem face mask, Les Thermes de Saint Gervais has you covered. Got a flock of little adventurers with you? There's joy for them too—with family-friendly pools, even the kiddos can join in the zen.

All that relaxation must mean it's a short visit, right? Wrong! You could easily let hours slip by here. Saunas, massages, or even a lazy float—take your pick. And when you're all pruny from the pampering? There’s more to explore nearby, like the charming town of Saint-Gervais-les-Bains, just a stone's throw away.

Hang up your adventure hat for the day and prepare to be pampered like alpine royalty. It's not just about the bubbling baths—it's about melting away the hustle and feeling the mountain's slow rhythm. Ready to elevate your getaway, one spa treatment at a time? Your very own rejuvenation station awaits—just a click away.

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Delight in Evening Jazz at Maison des Artistes

Picture this: after a day of breathtaking mountain adventures, you trade your hiking boots for some slick, comfy shoes and meander down to Maison des Artistes, one of the coolest spots in Chamonix to soak in the local nightlife. What's the special here? Oh, it's the jazz, baby!

Maison des Artistes isn't just any jazz club; it's a melting pot of creativity that sets the rhythm of the night with live bands that know their way around a saxophone. You, grooving to authentic jazz in the heart of the Alps – can it get any more swanky?

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  • Who loves this place? Everyone who's got a taste for toe-tapping tunes and a laid-back evening. It's perfect for couples seeking a romantic ambiance or a group of friends ready to unwind.
  • How long should you stay? Give it a couple of hours at least. Rushing through the experience would be a crime against jazz itself.
  • What's nearby? Once you’re jazzed up, the streets of Chamonix await with their charming boutiques and inviting restaurants. A short stroll can lead to a nightcap or a starlit walk.

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Come mingle with locals and travelers alike who share a passion for music. If you’re here during a festival, you might just catch some of the biggest names in jazz. And if you're a budding musician, this is the place where you could even find your next inspiration.

The Maison des Artistes vibe is cool without trying too hard. It’s warm, welcoming, and hey—those cocktails are calling your name, aren't they? Shake off the chill of the Alpine air and let the smooth melodies carry you away. It's the kind of place that makes you feel alive and fuels your Chamonix stories with a jazzy twist.

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Journey through the Alpine Gardens

Picture yourself surrounded by a rainbow of wildflowers with the majestic Mont Blanc in the distance. You're wandering through the Alpine Gardens, a living showcase of the rich biodiversity nestled within Chamonix's valleys. These gardens aren't just any botanical gardens; they're a tranquil haven where alpine flora blossom in their natural habitat, making it a serene escape for anyone and everyone - whether you’re a solo flora enthusiast, a couple seeking a romantic stroll, or a family aiming to instill a love for nature in the kiddos.

Let’s talk uniqueness! This verdant wonderland is home to over 1,000 mountain plant species. That's right, more varieties than you could count on a hike! Two things you absolutely can’t miss while there:

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  • The explosion of color when the flowers are in full bloom. It turns the place into an artist's palette.
  • And the educational signs that sprinkle the gardens, ensuring you walk away with a botanist's level of insight. Learning and beauty? Sign me up!

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So, breathe in that crisp alpine air (it's like a natural spa for your lungs, truly). Here's your chance to flex those photography skills because every turn is a new postcard view begging to be captured. Plan to spend at least an hour here, maybe more if you're all about taking the slow road. And hey, it's not just about looking at plants. There are often events and exhibitions that bring these gardens to another level of cool.

An absolute cherry on top? It's perfect for all visitors – sure, even your adrenaline-junkie friend might find their heart rate climbing with excitement at the sheer beauty of it all. And when you feel like you've had your fill of greenery (as if that's possible), the towns and other exciting attractions of Chamonix are just a stone's throw away.

So, lace up those walking shoes, grab that camera, and get ready to journey through a hidden gem that will make your heart skip a beat. The Alpine Gardens are waiting for your footprints. And who knows? You may just leave with a newfound green thumb or at least a bunch of epic selfies among the blooms!

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Discover Chamonix’s Artisan Markets

Picture this: You’re strolling along the vibrant streets of Chamonix, sounds of laughter and clinking glasses fill the air, and delicious aromas waft from every corner. Sounds like a dream, right? Well, get ready to dive into the colorful world at Chamonix’s artisan markets! These bustling hubs are where creativity meets tradition, and trust me, they’re not your everyday market scene.

You'll encounter a kaleidoscope of stalls, each one bursting with handmade treasures that scream local craftsmanship. From finely stitched leather goods to hand-carved wooden wonders, the artisans here pour their hearts into their work. And, oh, the foods you'll find! Cheese that melts in your mouth, cured meats with the perfect balance of smoky and savory, and the sweetest honey you’ll ever taste. Foodies, bring an extra stomach.

Don’t even get me started on the atmosphere. The local vendors? They're the stars of the show with stories as rich as the history of Chamonix itself. They'll charm your socks off and make you feel like a part of their community, even if you're just passing through.

And it's not just shopping. You'll hear local musicians strumming away, adding the perfect soundtrack to your market exploration. It's vibrant, it's lively, and it's the pulse of Chamonix in microcosm.

So, who’s this for? If you’ve got a hankering for the unique, the handcrafted, or the downright delicious, these markets are your haven. Bring your friends, your family, or just your good old self – there’s something here for everyone. Spend a couple of hours, or linger for a day. Either way, you’ll leave with your senses tingling and your bags full of Chamonix's soul.

Got your camera ready? Because every turn here begs for a snapshot. The artisan markets in Chamonix are an experience that’s woven from the very threads of creativity, community, and alpine charm – don’t miss it!

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Bike the Col de Balme Pass

Imagine feeling the cool mountain breeze against your face as you pedal up the epic Col de Balme Pass. The views? Unbelievable! You're not just on a bike ride; you're on an adventure in one of the most breathtaking spots in Chamonix. Ready to talk Chamonix mountain biking? Because, my friend, this is where the rubber meets the road - or should I say, the trail.

Col de Balme is like the secret handshake of the mountain biking world here. It's where the locals go to get away from the bustled tourist paths and where the real pedal-pushers meet to test their metal—or, more fittingly, their carbon fiber.

Why should you bike here? For one, the scenery is top-tier. We're talking soaring peaks, alpine meadows, and the kind of panoramic views that make you wonder if you’ve accidentally biked into a postcard. How long should you spend? Trust me, clear your afternoon. You'll be so caught up in the crisp air and majestic views that time will just fly by.

And let's talk about who it's for. You don't have to be a Tour de France hopeful to enjoy the Col de Balme. Sure, if you love an adrenaline kick, you'll get your fix. But even if you're more "casually intense" about your biking, there's a trail with your name on it. Just remember to bring your camera; this is the kind of place that'll have your Instagram blowing up with likes.

So, what’s nearby this biking paradise? Oh, only a smorgasbord of sights and bite-sized adventures. You've got the picturesque town of Chamonix only a spin away and enough quaint spots to grab a bite and refuel after your ride.

Whether you're a solo rider, dragging along some buddies, or looking to tire out the family, the Col de Balme Pass offers trails for every pace and flavor. So give the wheels a spin and treat yourself to one of the finest rides Chamonix has to offer. It's about the journey AND the destination here, and every turn offers a fresh, picture-perfect vista begging to be explored.

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Embark on a Mer de Glace Eco-Trek

Picture this: Stepping onto the frost-kissed trails, the chilled air delivering a brisk, invigorating welcome. You're embarking on the ultimate eco-adventure: a trek to Mer de Glace, the magnificent "Sea of Ice." This isn't just your typical walk in the park, oh no! We're talking about the largest glacier in France, folks. And guess what? It's nestled beautifully right in the heart of Chamonix.

So, what makes it so special? Let me spill the tea. Mer de Glace isn't just another ice cube in your drink; it's a majestically creeping glacier that serves up eco-marvels galore. It’s a kind of natural wonder that makes you say, "Mother Nature really outdid herself this time." We're talking jaw-dropping ice caves, stunning glacial sculptures, and views to die for – if you’re into freezing your butt off for a killer Instagram shot, that is. And trust me, it's totally worth it.

But remember, this isn't a hop-skip-and-a-jump kind of day. You’ll want to reserve a chunk of your day to fully experience this icy spectacle. Bring your friends, your family, or even your introspective self – Mer de Glace is a hit with all ages and all kinds of thrill-seekers, environmental buffs, or even those who just appreciate a killer view.

While there, don't miss out on the informative eco-tourism opportunities. This eco-trek isn't just about snapping cool pics; it's an educational journey through the heart of Chamonix's natural beauty, giving you a front-row seat to the effects of climate change and the steps being taken to preserve this frosty marvel for future generations.

So, why should your feet do the happy dance in anticipation? Because this eco-trek is your golden ticket to appreciating our planet's raw beauty and understanding the importance of environmental stewardship — all wrapped up in an unforgettable alpine experience. Now go ahead, lace up those boots and set out on a Chamonix adventure that promises to be as enriching as it is exhilarating!

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Conquer Ice Climbing at La Crèmerie

Picture yourself being the king or queen of a frozen waterfall, with a kingdom of ice under your fingertips. That's exactly what you feel like when you conquer ice climbing at La Crèmerie. When it comes to ice climbing sessions, you should plan for about 2-4 hours of action-packed adventure, depending on how much of an ice warrior you are.

Ice climbing here is not just for the pros. Nope. It's perfect for anyone who wants to strap on some crampons, wield an ice axe, and feel like a superhero. Seriously, imagine telling your friends you've scaled a frozen waterfall. And there's a guide too, so even if you've never climbed anything taller than your office cubicle walls, they'll have you scaling icy heights like you were born in a glacier.

Your fellow climbers? They'll be like your band of brothers and sisters, looking out for each other and cheering you on. Perfect for singles, couples, or families with older kids who want a taste of adrenaline without strapping themselves to a jet engine.

And let's talk locale. La Crèmerie isn't just an epic climb; it's set against a backdrop that'll have your Instagram followers turning green with envy. You'll be hanging (literally) in the famous Chamonix valley, where the views are so good, you might forget to pay attention to the ice.

After you've owned that icy cascade, warm up with a hot chocolate or something stronger because, hey, you've earned it. Ice climbing at La Crèmerie is more than just an activity; it's a story for the grandkids. So, you and your cliffhanger crew ready to hop into this frosty escapade?

Grab your gear, and for the love of all that's chilly, don't forget those cozy socks. Now, head on over to La Crèmerie and brace yourself for one cool adventure.

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Explore Mont Blanc's Panoramic Berth

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You've heard the whispers of a place so breathtaking, it's like you've stepped into a postcard, and those whispers are all about the panoramic berth of Mont Blanc. Get this: at these viewpoints, you're not just looking at the scenery; you feel like you're part of it!

Standing tall at these chamonix panoramic viewpoints, you can soak in the 360-degree splendor with Mont Blanc smiling down at you. Kiddos and grown-ups alike get a kick out of these vistas; they're all about family-friendly oohs and aahs combined with a dash of adventure for those craving that adrenaline ping.

But let’s spill the tea on what exactly makes Mont Blanc's lookout spots the place to be:

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  • Mont Blanc is not just a mountain; it’s the king of the range, so you’re looking at royalty in the alpine world.
  • These spots offer views from so many angles, it's like Mont Blanc is playing dress-up with each turn of your head.
  • Your social feeds are gonna blow up because if you don't snap a panoramic shot here, did you even chamonix?

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And what to expect? Folks are often up here for a good chunk of the day, mesmerized by the beauty. Whether it's a picnic that turns into a photoshoot, or just chilling with your thoughts, time kind of gets lost up here. And hey, if you're the adventurous type, feel the wind in your hair and dare to paraglide around Mont Blanc’s peaks. Gives you a whole new perspective, right?

So, who should haul their cookies to these views? Literally, everyone. Singles, families, even your Aunt Edna who loves a good landscape painting - all are welcome. If you've got eyes for beauty and a heart that pounds for high-altitude wonders, Mont Blanc's panoramic outposts are your jam.

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Stroll through the Quiet Hamlet of Argentière

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Imagine wandering through a quaint Alpine village, where the serene backdrop is the stuff of postcards; welcome to Argentière. Tucked away just up the valley from Chamonix, this little slice of paradise is perfect for those who appreciate the quieter side of mountain life.

You'll find it's less crowded than Chamonix, making Argentière a treasure for those seeking tranquility. What makes this hamlet unique? It's got a distinct charm with its traditional chalets and a genteel atmosphere that invites you for a leisurely stroll. Picture yourself walking along the petite streets with towering mountains overseeing your every step—it's like stepping into a painting where each corner is a new delightful scene.

Argentière is infamous for its enchanting picnic spots. Grab some local cheese, a fresh baguette, and find your cozy corner in the sun. It's a perfect spot for families looking for a laid-back day, couples seeking a romantic getaway, or solo travelers craving some me-time with a view.

Nearby, the spectacular Grands Montets ski area looms, suggesting that adventure is never far away. But you DON'T need to be an adrenaline junkie to love it here; it's a paradise for peace-seekers and nature enthusiasts alike. Spend a couple of hours, or let the day drift by at glacier's pace.

And for the creatively inclined, don’t forget to snap some photos. The hamlet is sprinkled with old-world charm and natural beauty, begging to be captured through your lens.

Argentière isn't just a visit, it's a balm for the soul, best served with a side of Alpine sunshine. Whether you’re a family, a thrill-seeker or just someone who wants to read a book surrounded by mountains, you’ve found your spot. Can you feel that? That's the stress melting away like snow in the spring sun. Welcome to Argentière. Enjoy every peaceful, picturesque moment.

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FAQ

Q: What are some things to do in Chamonix, France, during winter?

A: Hit the slopes for some world-class skiing, explore ice caves, or take a scenic ride on the Aiguille du Midi cable car.

Q: What activities can you enjoy in Chamonix, France, in December?

A: Enjoy the festive Christmas markets, go dog sledding, or try snowshoeing through the winter wonderland.

Q: Are there free things to do in Chamonix, France?

A: Yes, you can hike the stunning trails, visit the Alpine Museum, or relax in the town's lovely parks without spending a dime.

Q: What are some free activities in Chamonix?

A: Take advantage of the free walking tours, marvel at the Mer de Glace glacier, and soak in the panoramic mountain views.

Q: What can you do in Chamonix in the summertime?

A: Engage in outdoor adventures like hiking the Mont Blanc trail, paragliding, mountain biking, or even rock climbing.

Q: What's there to do in Chamonix town centre?

A: Stroll through charming streets, dine at cozy cafes, browse local boutiques, and watch street performers.

Q: Is Chamonix worth visiting?

A: Absolutely, with its breathtaking scenery, abundant activities, and unique alpine culture, Chamonix is a definite must-visit.

Q: What is Chamonix known for?

A: Chamonix is renowned for its dramatic mountains, particularly Mont Blanc, and its status as a world-famous skiing and climbing destination.

Q: How do you spend a day in Chamonix?

A: Take a morning cable car ride, enjoy a mountain lunch, explore glaciers or trails, and unwind with some après-ski in the evening.

Q: Is Chamonix worth visiting if you don't ski?

A: Yes! There's plenty to do like hiking, sightseeing, cultural tours, and savoring delicious French cuisine. Skiing is just one slice of the pie.

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Final Words

Alright, you've feasted on the local delights, trekked through history, and even taken your camera on a scenic dream date—all based on what we've dished out in this post. We've soaked in a spa, jazzed up the night, and perused artsy markets, not to mention biking and a bit of eco-friendly trekking. Heck, we even threw in some ice climbing action for the thrill-seekers.

You've also eyed Mont Blanc like never before and chilled in a charming, quiet hamlet. Now, with all these experiences tucked into your adventure belt, you've got a trove of Chamonix France things to do that'll make your trip unforgettable. Here's to your epic journey in the heart of the Alps—may it be as magnificent as the peaks themselves!

Meet the Author
Aria Ohlsson
Aria Ohlsson, the Instagram storyteller extraordinaire, takes you on adventures through her enchanting narratives. An avid hiker, she scales peaks and weaves tales of mountaintop triumphs. When she's not conquering trails, you'll find her immersed in classic novels, finding inspiration for her next tale.
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