One of our favourite events of the year starts this weekend – Cosmojazz! 8 days of live music in Chamonix, in the mountains, even amongst the glaciers.
Many of the concerts are free to watch and feature amazingly talented musicians from all around the world, from Timbuktu to Rio de Janeiro. Some of the most stunning venues are up in the mountains, beside lakes or in an Alpine meadow – you’ll need a lift pass to access them but other than that, they are totally free.
If you’ve got the whole week to enjoy the festival then we’ve concocted the perfect itinerary to combine as many concerts as possible, with some of Chamonix’s best activities.
Saturday 25th July
Start the day with a scenic train ride to Chatelard and then a short bus journey to the tiny Swiss village of Trient to catch the first concert of the festival with Mohamed Abrozekry, playing the oud (an Arabic lute) from 11am to 4pm beside the glacier. Relax, listen to the tunes, enjoy a picnic lunch then follow this hiking route to Vallorcine, where you should arrive in time to catch the funky Caribbean grooves of Professor Wouassa. You can then catch the train back to Chamonix in time for the evening entertainments.
Sunday 26th July
Back over to Switzerland, this time to spend all day at the magnificent Emosson Dam. Professor Wouassa will be filling the air with tropical beats from 11am followed by Guillaume Perret & the Electric Epic playing an eclectic mix of jazz-rock and African folk music from 2pm. While you’re up there, make sure you find time to do one of the many hiking trails – the views are as epic as the music and you may even find some dinosaur footprints…
Tuesday 28th July
After a day of rest we’re ready to hit the hills again amongst the towering crags of Le Brevent to listen to Émile Parisien on saxophone and Vincent Peirani on accordion at 11am. After the concert we recommend doing one of our favourite hiking routes along the Grand Balcon Sud to Flegere, it’s absolutely beautiful and if you’re lucky you might spot some marmots or chamois. If you want to increase your chances of sighting some mountain wildlife then think about booking a hiking guide to take you off the beaten track. From Flegere you can get the cable car back down to Les Praz and hop on the train or bus to Chamonix in time for apero-jazz with the Gangbé Brass Band in the centre of town from 4:30pm.
The Brevent and Flegere lifts are both included in your Mont Blanc Multipass
Wednesday 29th July
Today we’re off to Prarion at Les Houches, easier to reach by bus than train, to go on a musical voyage of Jewish, Oriental and Middle Eastern music courtesy of Yom and his clarinet at 2pm. From here you can enjoy a beautiful hike along the Col de Voza to Bellevue, making sure to call in and say hello to the goats at La Charme along the way. Take the Bellevue gondola back down to Les Houches, where you can enjoy afternoon tea and cakes at Kitsch Inn with more live music from 5pm, before picking up the bus back to Chamonix in time to catch all the great bands that will be playing in various bars and restaurants until late – you can find the full evening programme here.
The Prarion and Bellevue lifts are both included in your Mont Blanc Multipass
Thursday 30th July
Hop on the historic red train up to the Mer de Glace, established in 1908 to take the very first tourists to marvel at the glacier. Songhoy Blues will be playing African-inspired music there from 2pm, giving you plenty of time to go and visit the ice caves and enjoy lunch at the Hotel Montenvers beforehand. Afterwards you can hike the Grand Balcon Nord across to the Plan de l’Aiguille and then ride up to the summit of the Aiguille du Midi at 3842m to gaze at one of the most spectacular views in the world. The last lift back down to Chamonix is at 6pm, just in time to catch a jazz/hip-hop/funk fusion experience in the town centre by the Youngblood Brass Band, a collective of 11 young musicians from Wisconsin, USA.
The Montenvers Train and Aiguille du Midi are both included in your Mont Blanc Multipass
Friday 31st July
15 years of road tripping have given Moriarty plenty of tall tales and unusual encounters to influence their bluesy-folky style. They’ll be playing up at Les Grands Montets from 1pm; take the cable car up to Lognan and do the short but rewarding hike to see the Argentiere glacier, then chill out in the sunshine with a glass of something chilled and enjoy the music. If you want to see the glacier in all its glory then treat yourself to a parapente flight – an unforgettable ride past the dramatic peak of the Drus, above the Mer de Glace, with majestic views of the Grand Jorasses and the Italian border. You’ll be back in Chamonix just in time to catch Minor Sing at the Maison des Artistes, a beautifully restored old house in the centre of Chamonix that has recently become a very hip jazz club.
The Grands Montets cable car is included in your Mont Blanc Multipass
Saturday 1st August
Today we’re back up at Brevent for two concerts at Planpraz, so pack a picnic and make a day of it. The three brothers that make up Trio Joubran will be playing melodic sounds influenced by their Palestinian heritage from 11am and then Violons Barbares (the barbarian violins!) will be plucking an usual selection of strings from 2pm. Try to find time during the day to take the second cable car to the summit and walk to Lac de Brevent – a beautiful mountain lake with one of the most stunning backdrops in the valley. The intriguingly-named Guts will be rocking out with a lively mix of rap, jazz, soul and hip-hop from 6pm in the centre of Chamonix, followed by plenty more concerts in various restaurants, bars and clubs until late.
The Brevent lifts are both included in your Mont Blanc Multipass
Sunday 2nd August
The last day of the festival takes us to Le Tour for two concerts in the beautiful alpage at Charamillon, Dan Tepfer at 11am and Yaron Herman at 2pm. Le Tour is one of the best mountain biking areas in the valley with a network of trails and plenty of descent. Alternatively you could take the train to Vallorcine and get on the gondola to hike across the Col de Balme to Le Tour; it’s one of the most typically “Alpine” trails in the valley with fantastic views both along the Chamonix valley and over the other direction into Switzerland. If you’re feeling particularly energetic there are plenty of variations, including trails up to the Aiguille des Posettes and the Albert 1er refuge, if you want to explore the valley properly then you can always join a guided hike from just 25€ per person. To end the Cosmojazz festival in style there will be a concert in the centre of Chamonix at 6pm by renowned jazz musician and festival organiser André Manoukian, followed by a jam session at the Hotel Alpina until the small hours.
The Vallorcine and Le Tour lifts are both included in your Mont Blanc Unlimited Multipass
All the concert details and the full programme can be found on the Cosmojazz website, with events taking place the length and breadth of the valley – don’t forget that public transport within the valley is completely free of charge with your Carte d’Hote guest card, given to you when you check in to your accommodation.