Chamonix

Highlights

  • Take the cable car up to Aiguille du Midi to get as close as you can to Mont Blanc (without having to climb it!) and for incredible panoramic views of the Chamonix valley below.
  • Hike up to the gorgeous Lac Blanc and enjoy a picturesque picnic by the lake.
  • Enjoy a delicious true-blue French meal at Le Tremplin whilst soaking in the view of the Alps.
  • Stroll through the fairytale old town of Annecy.
 

About Chamonix

Chamonix is the heart of the French Alps, which not only makes it a very popular skiing destination in the winter, but the perfect hiking destination in summer.  Chamonix in winter appeals to everyone - families, groups of friends, couples, etc. However, we would say the same for summer.  If you are the adventurous type then you will love all the hikes on offer, as well as the many other summer activities available i.e. mountain bike riding, rock climbing, paragliding, etc.  There are also light walks, horse riding, and other light outdoor activities on offer if these are a bit too extreme for you.  We love to hike and is what we spent most of our time doing.

We would recommend booking at least 4 nights here - you could easily spend a week here as there is a lot to do, as well as many possible day trips from the area (assuming you have a car!).  

View from aiguille du midi

chamonix

Chamonix in Summer - what to see and do

1. Take the cable car up to Aiguille du Midi

For great views of Mont Blanc, take the cable car up to the 360 degree viewing platform at Aiguille du Midi.  This is the closest you can get to Mont Blanc, without actually having to climb it.  Dress warmly, as even in the summertime it is quite chilly at the top.

You can easily buy tickets at the cable car entrance, however we went June when it wasn't so busy.   For timetables, rates, or to make a booking, visit the website here.

2. Hike: Plan d'Aiguille to Montenvers train/Mer de Glace station (3 hours)

Take the cable car half way to Plan d'Aiguille and follow the signs to Mer de Glace station where lives the longest glacier in France!  Alternatively, you can trek back down to Chamonix (which will take the same amount of time) but we recommend the Mer de Glace hike and then taking the train back to Chamonix for something a bit different.  The hike itself is incredible and offers amazing views of the Chamonix valley below.  It isn't at all strenuous and the signs are very easy to follow.

3. Hike: Lac Blanc (easy / 2 hours)

On the other side of the valley and a little further down is where you'll need to head for this hike.  It begins at Telepherique de la Flegere and ends at the beautiful Lac Blanc.  It is an extremely popular hike for, obviously, the lake but also because it offers spectacular panoramic views of Mont Blanc and the Chamonix Valley.  

You will need to take the funicular to Flegere mid station and then follow the signs.  If you are up for a bit more of a challenge (& have snow shoes) then take it to the top (index) and follow the signs down to Lac Blanc (medium difficulty).  At Lac Blanc there are toilet facilities and a basic cafe, but we suggest bringing your own food to have a picnic at the lake.

Lac Blanc

Eating + drinking

Restaurant Le Tremplin

Le Tremplin came highly recommended to us by our B&B host and we quickly saw why!  Let's just say that we stayed in Chamonix for 4 nights, and ended up eating here 3 out of the 4 days.  It is a very friendly, family-owned restaurant located at the base of what would be ski slopes in the wintertime and so during summer you are rewarded with great views of the glaciers.  The menu is true-blue French and, being a local restaurant, don't expect them to speak much English - learn the language or bring a phrase book (or just take a punt and point at something random on the menu like we did)!  To get the full experience we also recommend that you choose a dish you wouldn't ordinarily order or that looks a bit different - you can't go wrong as all the dishes we had were great and not knowing what to expect means that you will get a little surprise when it comes out.

For more information click here.

Where to stay?

We stayed at Chalet de Pascaline located in Les Houches (a 5 minutes drive to Chamonix's city centre).  If you don't have a car, then this probably isn't the right option for you.  However, we would recommend it if you do!  The owner, Pascaline, was so amazing and really looked after us during our stay.  She threw us an incredible breakfast every morning (included crepes, croissants, a nice big coffee or hot chocolate and fruits), which was set up on her balcony with full views of the surrounding alps.  The three rooms on offer are really cute and felt very cosy, whilst still offering privacy - and there is parking onsite.  

Click here to make a booking.

the biege room, chalet de pascaline

daily breakfast on the balcony

Day trips from Chamonix

1. Annecy

Annecy is about a 1-1.5 hour drive from Chamonix and definitely deserves a visit.  There is a big lake in the middle of Annecy that is surrounded by parklands so if it's up your alley, put together a picnic basket before you leave Chamonix, and relax and enjoy the gorgeous setting.  Annecy is best known however, for its fairytale old town - which is what you'll see in many photos on the town (see below).  You can easily walk here from the lake and then stop somewhere cute for a coffee.