In summer, Chamonix is a very popular destination for walkers. It’s also a good base for exploring the surrounding area. Here are four day-trips by public transport that my family and I enjoyed – and one that I suggest is no longer worth your while.
I’m fond of saying that the view of the mountain is better than the view from it. So here’s the exception: seeing other mountains at altitude from the top of the one you’re currently on takes some beating. This was my experience on the first day of our stay, when we took a cable car up Le Brévent, which offers a fantastic view of the Mont Blanc range.
L’Aiguille du Midi
Like an eagle’s nest next to Mont Blanc, this is reached by two cable cars. The second isn’t for the faint-hearted.
Under clear skies, the 360° views are fantastic. The air was also noticeably thinner.
Martigny by train
Martigny is a town situated at the crook of a 90° bend in the River Rhône. There isn’t too much to see there, but the journey by train is very enjoyable. Our hotel provided us with the Chamonix Valley Carte d’hôte (guest card), which gave us free train and bus travel as far east as Vallorcine. The onward return journey aboard the Mont Blanc Express, costs €36 to travel about 25km, including a vertiginous rack-and-pinion final descent into the Rhône Valley.
Mont Blanc Express website (only provided in French)
This is a three-stage ascent to a dam in the mountains, right on the Franco-Swiss border. It would be the ideal location for an action sequence in a spy movie. The first was a funicular railway that made a near-vertical 700-metre ascent:
The second was a mile-long train journey:
The third was quirkier still:
From the top, the views were stunning:
At €40 for an adult to get up and down the mountain, it wasn’t cheap but we very much enjoyed it as the final treat in our week-long stay.
Mer de Glace
And so to the trip I don’t recommend if you’re expecting a stunning view of a huge glacier. The sea of ice is now barely a sorry trickle as viewed from the station at Montenvers. The Glacier de Bossons, clearly visible from Chamonix, is more impressive.
The journey is worth taking only if a walk in the Alps is your plan or if you have the Mont Blanc MultiPass. We used this to visit Brevent and L’Aiguille du Midi, as well as the Mer de Glace. Although expensive, it was much better value for money than paying individually for each attraction.
I hope you find my suggestions useful. In my next post, I’ll tell you about where we stayed. If you’ve visited any of these attractions, or you’d like to share your own suggestions, please do so in the comments below. I look forward to hearing from you.