$S4Yes, I know that Chamonix is a winter station, but Fernanda can't support cold, so, we've been there only in summer.
Anyway, plenty of snow everywhere, and the colours of the sunny streets made, even Fernanda, appreciate the visit.
Yes, it was warm, and fun!
When I returned to France in 2008, one of my objectives was to trek the Haute Route but spent more time in the Pyrenees than I could and still have time for this scenic hike. Leading from Chamonix in France through the southern Valais to Zermatt in Switzerland, the Haute Route traverses some of the highest and most scenic country accessible to walkers anywhere in the Alps. The summer Haute Route walk (which takes a different course than the more famous winter ski touring route) takes around two weeks to complete. It mainly involves "pass hopping" and demands a high level of fitness, with every section containing a high huff factor. Having made this discovery and factoring in my COPD, I decided that this would require at least two dedicated weeks, so this goes on my Bucket List.
Walking is the excercise doctors recommend to everybody, at every age. In the Chamonix valley one can forget this and walk just for the pleasure of going through a beautiful environment surrounded by spectacular mountains. So even if you are not fit enough for uphill walks, or if you must avoid high altitude, you will find a number of nice paths through woods and grassy areas that allow you to enjoy the mountains at an altitude of about 1000 metres with virtually no ascents or descents.
One of the possible routes goes along the river Arve to the village of Les Praz. It is about 3 Km. When you arrive in Les Praz you can get back to Chamonix (by bus or train if you are tired) or you can go on walking, up to the village of Les Tines. This path goes through beautiful woods.
Another possible route follows the Arveyron river, up to the hamlet of Les Bois.
These are just two examples, because there are more options.
This famous hike will get you some wonderful scenery. It also works quite well after a visit to l'Aiguille du Midi. You start at the middle station of the gondola, Plan de l'Aiguille. Follow the trail to "Montenvers." You will continue along the Grand Balcon Nord, enjoying the valley below. About 1 1/2 hours into the hike, the trail splits: one goes directly to Montenvers, the other goes to Signal de Montenvers (aka Signal de Forbes). If you take the latter, you will be rewarded with a breathtaking panorama -- and punished by a knee-numbing steep downhill walk to Montenvers.
Once in Montenvers, you can visit the Glacier, Mer de Glace; enjoy a meal at the restaurant; then return to Chamonix, either by foot or scenic train. Enjoy -- we did!
Address: 100, place de l'Aiguille du Midi F-74400 Chamonix
Directions: About a 10 minute walk from the train station. Follow the signs for "Aiguille du Midi." Get off at the middle stop, Plan de l'Aiguille.
Phone: +33 (0)8 36 68 00 67
Start: at the Plan de l'Aiguille. If you don't want to hike all the way up to this place, you can take the cable car.
From the Plan you first follow the markers "Lac Bleu", then the pink stips on the rocks. It's a hike of about 15 minutes. Easy and... a stunning view is the reward!
Directions: a hike of 15 minutes starting at "Le Plan de l'Aiguille"
the hiking trail around the mont blanc is mabye the most classic of all hiking trails in europe.
it tkaes you through 3 countries and around the highest mountain in western europe.
the complete hike will generally take you 10 to 14 days and you can stay in mountain huts and small hotels along the route or you can camp at various places.
the hike is not technical, but fairly tough and you need to be in good shape to fully enjoy it.
Here's another wonderful hike, this time on the Grand Balcon Sud. Take a local train (or walk) to Les Praz de Chamonix. Board the Le Brévent gondola and get off at the intermediate stop of Planpraz. Follow the signs to La Flégère. Allow for a 2 hour moderate hike. Check the website below for additional details. As always, bring water, waterproof clothing, and a map.
Directions: Take the train to Planpraz de Chamonix. Follow the signs to the Le Brévent gondola.
Le Brévent is a well known ski slope in Chamonix and it is a short but steep walk from the town centre.
Le Brévent is at the southern end of the range and from Planpraz there are sensational views of the valley some 2,500m down below.
Planpraz also has a very steep paragliding ramp which is a point of no return once you start your run.
The Bosson Glacier is the largest ice fall in Europe and is it incredibly steep and gloriously white. Apparently it is now retreating rapidly.
It was the site of a horrific Air India plane crash on the summit of Mont Blanc in the 1950's. One of the plane wheels took more than 20 years to travel to the bottom of the glacier and it is now on view to the public.
There are multiple options to hike around Le brevent.
We walked from the midstation (Planpraz) to the top (Le Brevent). A 525m climb over a steep path (good shoes required). Walking time about 2.5 hours. On Brevent (on good weather) you have a magnificent view across the valley and on Mt Blanc.
It is possible to extend the walk to Lac Brevent (2.5h extra). Taking the cable car down is the easy way down (see also my "multipass" travel tip)
Climbing (hiking) to the Tete de Balme , when the weather allows, you can see the whole Chamonix valley from above.
The lift that goes there (from Balme/Charamillon) is the startpoint for superb mountain ski and off roads skiing when you head in the direction of the col des Montets (if you do it, take care, check the snow conditions and have an ARVA)
Address: La Tete de Balme
Directions: Take the lift above Argentieres at Balme-Charamillon
Chamonix is at the bottom a valley that is dominated by the Mont Blanc range.
And being the highest mountain in the Alps it is difficult to miss the distictive "ice cream scoop" shape.