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Chamonix is situated on the northwest side of the Alps. It developed in the valley of the same name, near the point where the French, Swiss,and Italian borders all come together. The valley, about 17,5 km in length, has about 10,000 permanent residents and was originally created by glaciers. To the northwest rises the rugged Le Brévent (2400m) and Aiguilles Rouges (3000m), while the snowclad summit of Mont Blanc towers above the valley from the southeast. At 4810m, Mont Blanc is the highest mountain in the European Alps. The Arve, one of the principal water channels in the department of Haute-Savoie, originates in Le Tour and flows through Chamonix, situated at 1050 meter. The Arve is joined by the torrent l'Arveyron, which rises in the famous Mer de Glace just above Chamonix, and flows for 100 km until it dumps into the Rhône in the Swiss city of Geneva.