This is the highest peak which can be reached by Areal Tramway. Because of the perpetual snow and the sheer walls, a normal tourist can't reach this point hiking.
Take the elevator at the last tramway stop to the view point on top. If it's raining in the valley, you'll be "over the clouds" (litteraly) and in the sun, but in freezing temperatures.
Great pictures guaranteed!
Bear in mind that the price is 45,60 euros up and down/person (prices Summer 2012)
If you want to reduce the price with a few euros, you can take the tramway from "Le Plan de L'aiguille" (2317 m), see my general tips
You might like a preview of the scenery upon the Aiguille... check the video.
The views from the Mont Blanc observation station are magnificent when the weather is clear. From Chamonix, you take the cable car to the summit station via an intermediate station, Plan de l'Aiguille (itself a fine starting point for many hikes). From the summit, you have the option in the Summer of continuing on a gondola to Pointe Helbronner on the Italian border, and even down the other side into Italy if you wish. Your other option is to take the elevator to the Mont Blanc Terrace at 3,842 meters above sea level, and be greeted with an unmatched view of the Alps. At least for winter 2007, you are allowed to reserve specific cable-cars to the top online. See the website for details on ski passes.
NOTE: This is a very high altitude, and is extremely cold even on the hottest summer day. Bring your warmest clothing, or you'll wish you did.
2007 fares: Round-trip fare Chamonix to l'Aiguille du Midi EUR 37 for adults, EUR 29.60 for children 4-15 years old. A "family ticket" (2 parents or grandparents and 2 children) costs EUR 111. Round-trip Chamonix to Pointe Helbronner cost EUR 54 for adults, EUR 43.20 for children.
UPDATE: Reservations for specific cable cars are now compulsory and cost EUR 2 extra. In addition, access to the elevator from the cable car top station to the summit costs EUR 3 extra. To mitigate these costs, check the website for details on the "Mont Blanc Multipass," which appears to cover all costs (remember you still must make a reservation, even though passholders are not charged extra to do so).
The gondola to L'Aiguille du Midi celebrates its 52nd birthday in 2007, transporting 500 000 tourists from all over the world each year.
There is an interesting free exposition about these 51 years. 3 themes are described: the project, the work, and the people who built the gondola.
The exhibition is presented on panels with lots of pictures and info at the Aiguille du Midi.
Absolutely a MUST-SEE if you are in Chamonix on a clear day is the trip up the side of the mountain of Mont Blanc.
We saw as far as Italy on the one side. We met a couple there who had been to Mont Blanc exactly one year ago to the date, and they were mixed up in a snow storm (in May!), so double-check before you go as to the weather conditions up there!
We saw quite a few climbers reaching the top of the mountain while we were up there.
We did it the easy way by taking the cable cars, but if you have a passion for mountain climbing - you really should try it out here. Everyone we saw arriving at the top said it was quite a thrilling experience.
Split your ticket to the "Aiguille du Midi" into 2 different rides
First take the tramway to l'Aiguille du Midi for a view over the Mont Blanc and the most wonderful snowy peaks scenery , then ride the tramway halfway back to the Plan de l'Aiguille. There starts the so-called "Balcony hike" to the glacier "Mer de Glace" (see other tip).
A balcony hike is a hike with (in theory) few difference in altitude.
From the glacier, the train of Montenvers will ride you back to Chamonix when presenting your Aiguille ticket.
We took the photo during our Balcony walk. Don't forget your hiking poles!
If you only have time to do one cable-car trip in Chamonix then I would reccommend the Aiguille du Midi one - although its a hard choice between this and the Mer de Glace funicular.
Although mentioned in general tips I'd like to show you more detail here. So hop on board the cable car in Chamonix at 1030m and ride high over the forest slopes up to Plan de l'Aiguille at 2317m
This "ice tunnel" is where summer skiers and mountain climbers depart. Just observing is entertaining, seeing all those people roped up slip-sliding down the slope with their guide. Just glad I stayed where I was to enjoy the mountain panorama from relative safety.
Do this ONLY on a clear day! Going to the top of the Aiguille du Midi is not cheap, but it is the closest many people will ever be able to come to a real 'mountain top' experience.
You will be up at altitude (3842m) quickly, and be able to feel the difference as you start huffing and puffing going up and down the stairs at the top of the tower.
Why a must see? The views are absolutely stunning. You can see Switzerland and Italy from here, the Mont Blanc Massif, with various Aiguilles and even on occaision you can see the Matterhorn in the far distance.
A few tips to make the most of this pricey gondola ride -
1. Go EARLY in the morning. Often in the afternoon it can get cloudy, spoiling views into Switzerland and Italy. Tour groups start to queue around 9:30-10am.
2. Bring a hat and gloves and coat, even if it is broiling hot in Chamonix. At the top it will be windy and close to or below freezing.
3. Bring water and a snack with you. That way you will avoid paying silly prices for food in the cafes on top.
4. If you go 'off season' the extra charge to go to the tippy top 'needle' is often waived. Otherwise if they are trying to take more money from you for that extra elevator ride, just skip it. It's just one more viewing platform a little bit higher than the others, and you will queue a long time in high season.
You take a cable car from the center of Chamonix city and go up to almost top of Aiguille du Midi mountain (3800).
You will have a magnificent heavenly view of mountains. Your will enjoy the view and awed by the greatness of the nature.
Take time to admire the scenery here before you take change cable-cars to go to the summit. There are great views of the Bosson glaciers here snaking their way down the mountain.
If you are planning to go right to the top make sure you are wearing something warmer than the shorts I was wearing. Even in summer it can be "brass monkey " weather up top.
A final look at the alpine panorama spread out before us from the tunnel exit. if you look at the pic in the enlarged form you can just make out some little red gondolas and their cable-wires. These gondolas take you to POINTE HELBRONNER in the heart of the valley blanche. During the 5 km flight over icy crevasses and serarcs of the Geant basin the gondola slows down 5 times for those photo musts. 400m before the arrival you pass a suspended pylon between the two peaks...really wish we'd done this but its only possible in the summer - the telecabines to Hellbronner (Italy) close from late October to early May. Ah well a good excuse to return one summer.
A round trip including Helbronner can take 4-6 hours during busy times and depend upon weather conditions too.
The cable-car goes up very quickly at this snowy paradise.The scenery is absolutely breathtaking (above all because you are at 3842 meter!).Really it is stunning.The 37 euros best spent in my life.You can see glaciers,snowfields,shinning white peaks,sea clouds...
When you go down stay for a walk at the first stage:Plan de l'Aiguille,in order to fit your body at a higher pressure;I was told by a mountaineer in the gondola.
L'Aiguille du Midi, known as "The Needle of the South" in English, provides an excellent location for viewing Mont Blanc (15,780 ft/4 810 m) ,and the French Alps. The famous Telepherique (Gondola) de l'Aiguille du Midi transports you along an impressive ascent of over 2 800m in about 20 minutes. Once at the top (12,604 ft/3 842m) there are several panoramic viewing platforms where you'll be able to take in the tremendous raw beauty of the Alps.... The landscapes are truly amazing; Mont Blanc appears to be so close that you could just reach out and touch it.
Cost: A round trip ticket is about 35 euros.... not cheap, but very worth it. The gondola is open from May to September, except in cases of bad weather.
Duration of Visit : Allow for 2-4 hours depending on crowds.
Quick Tip: The best time to visit is between 7-8am, when the lighting is ideal and the crowds are small.
Bottom-line: This is a easily a MUST SEE for anyone traveling to Chamonix.
Aguille du midi is in my opinion the essence of Chamonix, I can still remember how hard my heart was beating in that cable car on the way up, the locals were standing there with no problem ready to go, and my knuckles were white from holding onto the poles inside the cable car so tight. It's absolutely breathtaking and I won't even attempt to explain it in any other words.
This picture is the crossing from the cable car to the carved out rock where the climbers begin and elevator is located to the upper deck where I am standing (far from the edge) taking this picture.
Just be sure to wake up extra early the lines get long early, we were there around 8 or so and it was perfect!