The Top Things to See and Do in Chamonix, France

Mont Blanc is the crown jewel of the Chamonix region
Mont Blanc is the crown jewel of the Chamonix region | © Genadijs Zelenkovecs / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Nick Dauk
27 April 2021

Chamonix is often synonymous with Mont Blanc and, while the mountain deserves the worldwide fame it has, the commune itself is much more than a single site. It is a picturesque place to enjoy the outdoors, from low valleys to sky-piercing peaks. Hiking, skiing and catching snowflakes are only a few of the great things to see and do during a getaway here.

L’Aiguille du Midi

Natural Feature
Map View
Telepherique de l'Aiguille du Midi Station - Chamonix Mont-Blanc
© Thomas Weightman / Alamy Stock Photo

There’s no better place to take all the glory of the Alps than on l’Aiguille du Midi. At nearly 3.9km (2.4mi) up, it gives you an unmatched 360-degree panorama of the mountains, and a cable car from the heart of Chamonix will get you there in only 20 minutes. Ride it all the way up before scaling Mont Blanc, or you can stop at Plan de l’Aiguille on the way to hike to picturesque Montenvers.

Le 3842 – Step Into the Void

Restaurant, French, $$$
Map View
Woman in a crystal box on the void, Pas dans le Vide - step into the void - at 3842 m, Aiguille du Midi, Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, Haute-Savoie, France,
© agefotostock / Alamy Stock Photo
Ascending l’Aiguille du Midi has its perks. Atop the summit sits the Le 3842 cafe and restaurant. There are few better ways to warm up than with a steaming cup of mushroom soup or hot cocoa while you savour unobstructed views of the Alps. Many mountains in Chamonix offer spectacular sights, but only l’Aiguille lets you stare down into the abyss: Step Into the Void is a viewing platform completely encased in glass where the daring will feel like they’re walking into the sky.

Mont Blanc

Hiking Trail, Natural Feature
Map View
Mont Blanc in Saint-Gervais les Bains, Haute-Savoie, French Alps, France, Europe
© robertharding / Alamy Stock Photo

Straddling three countries, Mont Blanc is the crown jewel of the Chamonix region. It’s the highest mountain in the Alps and one of the most imposing on the continent. The courageous can tackle this mountain head on, but that doesn’t mean the cautious will miss out: a cable car takes you straight up to the summit. After scraping the sky on Mont Blanc’s peak, consider seeing the mountain from the inside via the Mont Blanc tunnel. It travels nearly 2.5km (1.6mi) beneath the mountain range.

Telecabine Panoramique Mont Blanc

Architectural Landmark
Map View

The Telecabine Panoramique Mont Blanc is the ultimate European border crossing. This aerial tramway connects Chamonix to Courmayeur, Italy, via a snowy skyway. Take the cable car from Chamonix centre up to l’Aiguille du Midi, then hop the Telecabine Panoramique Mont Blanc to make the hour-long journey to Pointe Helbronner across the border. A landscape of dazzling glaciers, rocky mountains and peaceful valleys makes for a unique voyage across the Alps.

Glacier des Bossons

Natural Feature
Map View
Mont Blanc glacier des Bossons ans de Tacconaz from la Jonction, Chamonix Mont Blanc, France
© Elisa Locci / Alamy Stock Photo

There’s no right or wrong way to reach the Glacier des Bossons. A short, though mildly difficult, hike through wildflowers will lead you straight there. An even shorter chair lift will climb the 1.4km (0.9mi) glacier for you, dropping you off at the chateau resting above Bossons village. No matter how you arrive, the Glacier des Bossons (and the nearby Glacier de Taconnaz) is patiently waiting to leave you awe-inspired. Learn more about the glacier’s history through an interpretive walk – or simply scroll through the amazing photos over a dish of raclette at the Pyramides chalet.

Chamonix Luge Alpine Coaster

Amusement Park
Map View

Why ski or snowboard down a mountain when you can rocket down the slopes on a rollercoaster? The Chamonix Luge Alpine Coaster is a year-round attraction that thrills both adults and kids. Though family-friendly, it doesn’t pull any punches; twists, turns, jumps and 540-degree spins keep the adrenaline running high throughout the 1.3km (0.8mi) ride. Though there are a dozen other fun rides in the amusement park, it’s a safe bet that you’ll be hopping back in line for the luge as many times as possible.

Musée des Cristaux

Museum
Map View

Calling this museum of locally-mined crystals a “hidden gem” would be cheesy, but accurate. Chamonix and the Mineralogy Club came together to curate a stunning collection that includes pink fluorspar and smoked quartz. Adjacent to the Musée des Cristaux is the Espace Tairraz: a mountaineering museum that highlights the science and art behind the sport.

Tramway Du Mont-Blanc

Train Station, Architectural Landmark
Map View

Searching for a way to touch the mountaintops without lifting a foot? The Tramway Du Mont-Blanc does the work for you. This railway line runs from Le Fayet and Saint-Gervais, all across the Bellevue Plateau and Le Prarion, before coming to a stop at Mont Blanc itself. Throughout the journey, you’ll witness the serenity of snow-covered landscapes from 1.8km (1.1mi) up, brought to you by the highest rack railway in France. The Tram Du Mont-Blanc offers a simple mountaineering excursion with no trekking, hiking or scrambling required.

Argentière

Natural Feature, Ski Resort
Map View
Argentiere and Grand Montet ski area, Chamonix Valley, Haute-Savoie, French Alps, France
© robertharding / Alamy Stock Photo

Sightseeing and skiing come together at Argentière. This hamlet is only 9km (5.5mi) from Chamonix, making it a great basecamp for adventures in the Alpine. You won’t be able to resist snowshoeing, snowboarding and skiing in this winter wonderland; meanwhile, those visiting in the summer will be tempted to hike the Aiguilles Rouges National Nature Reserve, or perhaps even summit Mont Blanc. After a day of scouring the slopes, the local, traditional architecture provides a picturesque backdrop for winding down with cheese fondue and a bottle of dry white wine.

The Merlet Animal Park

Park, Natural Feature
Map View
France, Les Houches, Haute-Savoie, Merlet animal park, mouflon, ovis aries
© Hemis / Alamy Stock Photo

The Merlet Animal Park invites nature lovers to spend the afternoon exploring 50 acres (20ha) dedicated to the wildlife residents of the Chamonix Valley. Stags, hinds, llamas, ibex, marmots, deer, chamois and more wander the meadows and forests under the watchful eye of Mont Blanc. There’s a restaurant on site and organised activities throughout the summer, but every spare moment is best spent in the park where the animals will casually stroll across your path in neighbourly fashion.

Mer de Glace

Natural Feature
Map View
France, Haute Savoie, Chamonix Mont Blanc, Montenvers, cave of the Mer de Glace glacier
© mauritius images GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

At 200m (656ft) deep and 7km (4mi) in length, the Mer de Glace is France’s largest glacier. This Sea of Ice is only a train ride away from the centre of Chamonix. Though the glacier itself is worth viewing for its beauty, the Mer de Glace allows visitors to bear witness to the undeniable impacts climate change has had on the Alps. The glacier nearly kissed Les Tines years ago; now it’s receding at record pace. A photo at Mer de Glace is a must, simply because such an opportunity is shrinking by the year.

Lac Bleu

Natural Feature
Map View

On the way up to l’Aiguille du Midi, take a quick and quiet detour to Lac Bleu. Only 1km (0.6mi) from the Plan l’Aiguille cable car station, the hike to Lac Bleu is an easy side trip that will hardly eat up an hour. Lac Bleu is small yet splendid, offering fantastic views of the Chamonix Valley for those who enjoy the tranquillity found floating on mountain lakes.

Refuge du Goûter

Architectural Landmark
Map View

Kick back for a high-altitude hangout at Refuge du Goûter. Known as The Hut, this exceptional building’s sleek construction looks even more striking against the snowy slopes: a technical marvel that looks like it could be home to a Bond villain. If you stay in The Hut en route to the Mont Blanc summit, you can catch a few winks and grab a bite to eat while planning the last leg of the climb.

Chemin de fer du Montenvers

Train Station
Map View

Skip the ski lifts and take a ride up the mountain on the red Montenvers Railway. This old-school rack and pinion railway rolls from the Chamonix Mont Blanc station to the base of the Mer de Glace. The 1.9km (1.2mi) trip takes less than a half an hour, and the views of the Grandes Jorasses, the Drus and the Mer de Glace aren’t the only reward: the interactive Glaciarium teaches visitors about climate change and glaciology. Those searching for a look into the past can take a 20-minute hike (or quick cable car ride) to the Ice Cave, where mountain life in the early 19th century is on full display.

Cascade du Dard

Natural Feature
Map View
Cascade du Dard waterfall in Chamonix, France.. Image shot 2014. Exact date unknown.
© David Cooper / Alamy Stock Photo

Fall in love with the Cascade du Dard on a quick afternoon hike in Chamonix. This near-3mi (5km) moderate loop trail has an elevation gain of roughly 427m (1,400ft), but is well worth it for the waterfall views. Prepare for an uphill climb that, though well-travelled, can be a little challenging if there’s snow or rain afoot. Seeking out the Cascade du Dard is an undertaking best left between March and October, especially if a four-legged friend will be jogging up the trail with you.

These recommendations were updated on April 27, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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