Chamonix is a beautiful, picturesque town at the base of Mont Blanc, the highest summit in the Alps. Located near the junction of France, Switzerland and Italy, it puts it in a prime location and is renowned for its outdoor activities, panoramic views and winter skiing. We headed over over in early March; catching the end of winter in Chamonix, for a week of activities, work and the most inspiring change of scenery. Here, have a read of this post, ‘LIVE FROM CHAMONIX.’
Most people visiting in winter will be drawn towards the skiing and snowboarding, but Chamonix has so so much more to offer than that. Here’s seven things you HAVE to do whilst visiting…
1. Snow shoeing
It’s how we kicked off our holiday and I honestly wouldn’t recommend doing it any other way! Get out in the fresh mountain air, with the snow crisping beneath your feet and the gentle breeze blowing in your face. The views are UNREAL and it will put you in the heart of everything to really be able to take it all in. When you’re skiing your main focus -if you’re anything like me- is to simply stay on your feet(!) so it’s difficult to really appreciate the beauty around you. Snow shoeing is a great option for skiiers or non-skiiers and there are tour companies both online and throughout the town who will offer these excursions.
2. Mer de Glace
Next on the list HAS to be the beautiful Mer de Glace (better known as the Sea of Ice), a valley glacier located on the northern slopes of the Mont Blanc massif. Being the largest glacier in France at 7km long and 200m deep, it was 100% one of the highlights for me as it was actually like nothing I had ever seen before. To reach it, you take the little red train, Montenvers, from Chamonix town center, making it super easy and accessible. The train journey in itself is an experience as it’s incredibly scenic; taking you up and up the mountains to the most breathtaking view at the top! With a cafe/ restaurant amongst the peaks, it makes the perfect lunch-stop. But wait, there’s more…
3. Grotte de Glace
Once you’ve reached the Mer de Glace you have to go and explore the Ice Grotto at the bottom. Not only does it enable you to see the glaciers at a whole different viewpoint but you then step into the grotto that has literally been cut into the living glacier over years and years. (They actually have to re-sculpt it yearly too- it’s pretty impressive!) To get here, you take a short cable car down then walk 480 steps right to the bottom. Welcome to your very own ICE PALACE!
4. Aiguille du Midi
With tours coming from Geneva and surrounding areas, Aiguille du Midi takes you on one of the most famous cable-cars in the world (and the highest cable car in Europe!) to the 3842m peak in the Mont Blanc massif of the French Alps. This is the closest you can get to the summit of Mont-Blanc without hiking or climbing and the experience will completely take your breath away. With several terraces across the area, you’ll see the most spectacular views of the French, Swiss and Italian Alps. Peaks like the Dome du Gouter (4304m), Refuge Vallot (4362m), Mont Maudit (4465 m), Mont Blanc du Tacul (4248m) and, of course, the summit of Mont Blanc (4810m) can be seen; making the visit so so memorable.
There’s also a cafeteria, snack bar and (open seasonally) the “3842” Restaurant: situated at an altitude of 3842m, this is one of the highest restaurants in the world. So yep, I think it’s fair to say you’ll have plenty of record breaking experiences up here! Aside from the views, there’s also tunnels which give you an insight into the history of the site and the activities that go on up here (it’s an adrenaline-junkies heaven!) You can also stand on a glass cube suspended 1000 metres in the air with the special ‘Step Into The Void’ attraction (included in your ticket price): now that’s something not to miss! Super fun experience and one you’ve 100% got to do whilst you’re in the area (it’s bucket-list worthy for sure!)
5. Husky Sledging
Is there really any better way to spend the morning than getting out in the wilderness with a bunch of beautiful huskies? You’ll have the reigns in your hands, the breeze blowing your hair in your face and will want to scream with excitement! (Trust me: it’s NEXT LEVEL brilliance!) The dogs love it, you love it and if I could take them out every day having my own pack back at home, I 100% would! These little guys will melt your heart whilst getting your adrenaline racing. It’s an experience you certainly can’t miss!
6. Mountain Paragliding
Talking of activities that get your heart racing, how about going paragliding?! NOT for the fainthearted but an unforgettable experience and -in my opinion- something you have to do at least once in your lifetime! The better the scenery, the better your experience. So what better place for it than Chamonix? Tandem Paragliding is the perfect option for first-timers. You’ll see the stunning views of the Mont-Blanc range from the sky; in safe hands, without having to worry. Or if you’re feeling a little adventurous, why not go for the Acrobatic Paragliding Experience?! You’ll have your very own professional paragliding instructor for a Free Style flight, performing intense acrobatics! You’ll soon understand what the expression “take G” means. Guaranteed adrenaline rush!
7. Spa Day
Last but not least, when finishing your trip- you have to revive those aching limbs and take some time out in one of the many spas in Chamonix. Overlooking the Alps, what a better place to relax?! We indulged in five-star luxury, with a full body massage and some time using these incredible facilities. Indoor-outdoor pool, hot tub with a view. It honestly made the break complete; leaving us going home feeling truly refreshed!
Aside from this, you can do things like Ice Climbing, Fat Biking, Helicopter Tours, Winter Trail Running (Or Walking!) and the town itself is also a really nice place to casually explore. They have both independent and chain stores; great for a couple of hours shopping. There are a variety of cafes and restaurants (you 100% have to try the cheese fondue: I personally challenge you to try to finish it all!) and a variety of museums to wander around on a relaxed afternoon. After skiing, the town really comes to life with regular live music sets on and choices of bars to move onto. Chamonix actually kind of has it all, and I really hope you fall in love with it as much as we all did. Any questions- you know what to do! Don’t hesitate to reach out or pop them in the comments below. I’d be more than happy to see how I can help.