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France's rich cultural heritage and deep and romantic history is a major ingredient to its popularity with tourists. The history of this country, memoirs about it, travel guides, poems, and more, revolving around this country are some of the top selling subjects in literature. Understanding French history will deeply enrich an experience here. The French culture is complex and has been shaped by centuries of intriguing kings and queens, revolutionists, and government officials. Reading up on French history and culture will definitely enhance your experience in Chamonix.
To start off in general terms, check out "La Belle France: A Short History" by Alistair Horne or "The Road from the Past: Traveling Through History in France" by Ina Caro.
If you are more interested in the cultural angle of France, try, "The French Way: Aspects of Behavior, Attitudes, and Customs of the French" by Ross Steele,"When in France Do as the French Do" by the same author, or "Themes in French Culture: A Preface to a Study of French Community (Margaret Mead: the Study of Contemporary Western Cultures)" by Rhoda Metraux, Margaret Mead, and Kathryn M. Anderson-Levitt.
If you are more interested in a guide to the area try " Chamonix Haute Route - Zermat" by Peter Cliff and a great walking guide, "Chamonix to Zermatt: A Walkers Haute Route (Cicerone Guides)" by Kev Reynolds.