We have been wanting to visit Chamonix for the longest. And during summer there are also a lot of activities. This is also a recce trip for our winter snowboard trip in Chamonix..
Chamonix-Mont-Blanc (usually shortened to Chamonix) is a resort area near the junction of France, Switzerland and Italy. At the base of Mont Blanc, the highest summit in the Alps, it's renowned for its skiing. Year-round, cable cars take visitors up to several nearby peaks with panoramic views, including Aiguille du Midi above town, and Pointe Helbronner, across vast glacier fields on the Italian border.
And we are also going to Aiguille du Midi and Pointe Helbronner, which is taking the Panaromic cable car to the Italian border.
We checked in to our Airbnb stay last night. The stay was awesome! You have 2 Balconies. One facing Mont Blanc and another facing the road.
The one that is facing Mont Blanc, you could just seat there, have a cup of coffee and admire the amazing view.
Because we booked like 2 weeks before, most of the Chamonix Airbnb stays were booked. In fact, we were rejected by at least 4 of them because they were taken up which was not updated in the Airbnb system.
Fortunately, we managed to book the stay here. Very convenient, as there is a restaurant opposite (which we didn't manage to try) and the bus stop is just below.
If you decide to walk, it is 20mins walk to the centre too. It is like staying the V-Hotel in Lavender.
The host was also very nice to wait for us at 9pm to check in. The delay at the Mont Blanc Tunnel caused it though.
All right, we woke up late so started our day late as well. We have not bought the Mont Blanc Multi Pass, so this is the first thing that we are going to get.
For all the attractions that the Pass provides, this is definitely worthwhile to get.
When we got to the Aiguille Du Midi, we were shocked by the long queues. Everywhere is having long queues.
We were there at 11am. So I saw the Mont Blanc Multi Pass logo and queued like 20mins for it.
And who knows that queue was actually for the Tourist Information which does not sell the pass.
The Pass is sold at another queue! And because we planned to do Aiguille Du Midi, Mer De Glace and Lake Blanc, we were told to head for Lake Blanc which is at La Flégère.
And at 11am, we overheard that the next available timing for the cable car up to AGM is like 3pm to 4pm.
We actually booked for reserved for today and tomorrow (just in case). But we did not have the Mont Blanc Pass. So if we were to queue for it, we will be late.
Feeling frustrated at the queue. We just went to have our brunch. We came across this store while walking to the AGM Cable Car Station. We were ushered in and got an outdoor seat.
Ordered a Cheese Ham Omelette and a Salmon Pizza. Usually pizza with salmon will be with the smoked salmon right?
TMD, this time is cooked salmon with some olives. And it's like having salmon on some roti prata. Wah piang....
But hor, actually the pizza taste pretty good lah. Just that it is difficult to cut. The omeleete is nice too. Another good place to have your lunch / dinner.
While we are having our lunch, I found a way to skip the line and get the Multi-Pass instantly. Click here to get the Skip The Line Guide!
And so we got our Mont Blanc Multi Pass without the long queues. And was advised to head for Mer De Glace instead and do AGM and Lake Blanc for the next day.
We are glad we got the Pass first. The queue at Mer De Glace is equally long! We headed in for the gantry with our pass and voila! We are up the tram to Mer De Glace!
This tram is like a 20mins ride to the peak at 1913m, with beautiful views of the nearby mountains.
All right, this is the place where you can experience the ice cave, and one of the longest and largest glacier. And due to the climate, it getting lower and lower, year by year.
The glacier was once easily visible from Chamonix but has been shrinking backwards, and is now barely visible from below. The surface topography of the Mer de Glace changed very little during the first third of the 20th century, but from 1939 to 2001 the surface of the glacier has lowered an average of 30 cm each year, corresponding to an equivalent loss of 700 million cubic metres of water
The Ice Cave, supposedly is quite awesome to visit. But this is not for the fainted heart. From the train station, you will need to take the cable car (free anyways) to descend halfway.
And from the cable car station, you will have to physically walk/hike/climb down the steps to the ice cave. It probably took us like 15mins to descend. And maybe 25 - 30mins to get up.
If you have difficulty climbing steps, it is good that you avoid this ice cave.
We were lucky that we brought our sweater for this. Inside the ice cave is like inside a fridge. It's cold! Icy cold! And they are really ice.
This ice cave is probably only a short tour, with 4-5 items for exhibition. You can literally finish walking in 1min. What a shame for the effort to climb down, and just a few minutes of exhibition.
After our streunous activity, it is time to reward ourselves with some ice cream and a view of the mountains. This restaurant serves food and dessert. We ordered a coffee and ice cream.
While enjoy our dessert, we also witnessed a rescue mission by the helicopters. I guess is some hikers that was injured while hiking the route to the ice cave.
When you are out of the Montenvers station, and just facing Chamonix Train station, you will see Avenue Michel Croz. I guess this is the orchard road of Chamonix already. With pubs, cafes and shops along the stretch.
You can get your soveneirs here if you want. We got our sandwich from the supermarket. And because we are not that hungry, we shared a McDonald's meal.
While on the way back, our bus took a different route because nearby our apartment the road is closed from some celebration event.
The bus detoured and skip 3-4 stops and we alighted at Les Houches instead of Les Gaillands.
We were lucky to board a bus that actually brings the people to the event. Phew!
And with that encounter, that made us even familiar with the bus operations and know how.
We reserved our Aiguille Du Midi cable car slot at 9.30am, but we just left the house at 9am. And we were advised to reach 30mins before. With that, we rushed to the station. And although the bus stop is below, but due to the yesterday's event, the bus is not stopping there. Hence, we have to fast walk to reach the station.
Heng ah! We got there just nice at 9.30am, took our boarding card from the reservation counter and hop into the queue. Just nice, they were calling for the 9.30am slot to board the cable car!
How lucky! Because the first cable car is full, we become the first few of the next cable car and got the "Window" Seat.
It is a 10mins ride up to the first station. But because we are at the corner of the cable car, we became the last to alight. But again, the next cable is full for us. So we are the first few again.
Another 10mins up to Aiguille Du Midi.
Can you imagine from the height of 1000m+ at Chamonix, we ascend up to 3,842m at Aiguille Du Midi. Just in 20mins!
The view at the peak is awesome and magical. Imagine you see snow during summer time. But this time, we were not well dressed for the weather. Our sweater probably can "tahan" 15-20°c. But at the summit at height 3842m, it is close to 0°c !
Yesterday overdressed, today underdressed.
The highlight of the whole trip is actually Pointe Helbronner. From Aiguille Du Midi, you will need to board another cable car(€29 2 way Return Ticket) to Pointe Helbronner which is at the Italy side.
The cable car seats maximum 4 and a group of 3 cars will travel each time. Each interval is probably 5 minutes.
But the money is definitely worth for this entire cable car journey. You get view the whole of the white snow and glacier and see some hikers along the route.
Once you are out of the cable car, you will be given a departure number. Usually an hour later. But as we want to stay longer, we were advised to "just return anytime you want". The last departure is at 4pm.
There is 2 ways to get down to the snow. One is by the stairs which we did. But the queue was long and not recommended.
Another way is through Rifugio Torino where you can board the lift to the ground level and walk out. Easy and fast.
Do note that venturing out at the snow outdoors is at your own risk. We did not dressed well for the weather, hence our exploreation is cut short.
We took the lift down from the Skyway and Voila! Within minutes we are outdoor at the snow! This is way better and easier than climbing down the stairs.
We have been up at the summit for more than 2 hours, it is time to grab some food.
The food at Rifugio Torino is cooked and served immediately, hence no much of waiting time. But the cost is expensive.
A lasagne, sausage with some mashed potato and a coke cost us €28! Which is like S$ 45 !
But well, the food taste pretty okay though.
And it is time to leave the place, a look at the time, we stayed at Pointe Helbronner for 3 hours! We started leaving at 2.45pm. Guess what time did we manage to reach the cable car station at the bottom. Read on...
There was a queue for the Panaromic cable car back to Aiguille Du Midi and we are glad that we came slightly early than a tour group of 30+ japanese. We were quite "lucky" the whole day uh.
Took us 20mins to reach Aiguille Du Midi and handed a queue number (which is 1 hour later), to get to Chamonix. 4.50pm it says. So we hanged around at the soveneir store and the cafe.
The cafe prices are super expensive! One sandwich set cost like €14 ! Siao ah?!!
There are many displays showing your queue and we slowly make our way to the waiting area.
The waiting area is overcrowded! Because those that has later queue numbers were also crowding there. And luckily there is some crowd control as they only allow visitors with the called number to enter the queue line for the cable car.
And we only reached the bottom station at 5.40pm! Took 3 hours to get down!
But the entire journey is worth it!
As a result, we also missed out our program for Lac Blanc. We settled our dinner again at Mcdonald's and head home to rest for the night.
It is time to leave Chamonix for home now and since we will kinda pass by Geneva, Switzerland. Why not go and have a look there as well.
While googling for our lunch, we were considering between MadCat which sells hotdog and stuffs and Tanpopo, Japanese Soup Ramen.
We decided to go for some soupy food looking at the reviews. It should not be too bad.
Service was fairly okay, because the assistant got my order wrong. But the ramen taste pretty good except that the portion is very small. Seems like ordering a S$2 Wanton Mee portion.
And because for the pricing, we expected more of the food. But well, that's the cost of eating out in France anyways.
Guess how much it cost for 2 x Ramen, 3x Goyza and 1 x Coke.
From Chamonix to Geneva is like a 70mins drive away. And after googling, we will be heading for the top things to do in Geneva.
Parking near the Lake is easy, you just park at the Mont Blanc carpark which is a very short walking distance to the lake and fountain. The lake is beautiful, but we prefer the view at Chamonix more.
We truly enjoy our stay at Chamonix and we were also checking out the place for winter. Hope to do a snowboard trip in Chamonix during winter too!
Don is a Kiasu Singaporean that blogs his journey while exploring Europe. A Singapore Travel Blog that provides travel guides and tips on how to travel free and easy in Europe.
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