Autumn Lift Openings & Things to Do in Chamonix this Week

No sooner have we had our first dusting of snow than the lifts are open again for the autumn half-term holidays! Brevent gondola and cable car open tomorrow morning at 9am – here are our favourite things to do in Chamonix, both on and off the mountain.

Photography in Chamonix, guided walking toursDiscovery Photo Walk
Take a guided tour with a difference and find all the hidden corners and secluded backstreets of Chamonix. Teresa has lived in the valley for long enough to know all its secrets and you’ll see whole different aspect with her as your guide. You can either enjoy the walk for its own sake or bring along your camera for some expert tips on getting some great shots – Teresa is also a professional photographer. This Thursday she is visiting the historic Hotel Mont Blanc and meeting their Michelin starred chef, as he invites you into his kitchen to see him at work. For 50€ you will also enjoy a gourmet lunch at the 5* hotel.
Discovery Photo Walks in Chamonix – find out more

Paragliding in Chamonix parapenteParagliding
With two paragliding sites open in the valley this week there are plenty of flight options! You can either take off from the grassy plateaux of Brevent and soar along the valley right opposite Mont Blanc, or take to the skies from Aiguille du Midi and drift over the glaciers of the Vallée Blanche. Either way, you’ll enjoy amazing views and be able to see exactly where the snow has fallen in the past few days.
Paragliding in Chamonix – find out more

Mer de Glace ChamonixGlacier Hike
The Aiguille du Midi cable car and Montenvers train are both open until the end of November, giving access to the Vallée Blanche and the Mer de Glace glaciers. What could put you in the mood for winter more than exploring the icy wonderland that lies between the seracs and crevasses of the Mont Blanc valley? Roped up and accompanied by a guide, you’ll learn how to move safely across the ice using crampons and ice axes to discover another world.
Glacier Hikes in Chamonix – find out more

Lac du BreventLakes & Mountains
Brevent is a great area to explore with a network of hiking trails that lead to a number of beautiful alpine lakes. Now that winter is almost upon us many animals are starting to prepare for hibernation and you’re likely to see marmots bumbling around on the rocks and chamois coming down from the higher terrain to be closer to the forest. You can either grab a trail map and find your own way, or go on a guided hike with an IML who can show you all the very best sights and point out local flora and fauna.
Mountain Hiking in Chamonix – find out more

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World’s Toughest Triathlon Comes to Chamonix with Evergreen Endurance

This weekend see the first of what will hopefully become an annual event – the Evergreen Endurance Triathlon; Chamonix’s first iron-distance competition, boldly billed as “the world’s toughest, most beautiful and most environmentally responsible iron-distance event”!

Chamonix triathlon swim
Photo Credit : Evergreen Endurance

The action starts tomorrow, Saturday 12th September, at 6:30am as the sun comes up over Lac Montriond in Morzine. The athletes will plunge straight into a 4 hour swim, completing two laps of the lake with an Australian exit in between before leaping on to their bikes for a 181km ride across the many climbs of the Savoie and Haute Savoie roads.

Chamonix triathlon, bike ride
Photo Credit : Evergreen Endurance

The bike ride will take them from Montriond to Chamonix via Morzine, Marignier, Le Grand Bornand, La Clusaz, Col des Aravis, Megeve and Domancy. As if 181km isn’t far enough they will also climb a total of almost 4500m on steep mountain roads.

Chamonix triathlon, trail run
Photo Credit : Evergreen Endurance

Once they’ve completed their transition in the centre of Chamonix, they’ll head off into the mountains to run a full 43km marathon by doing two loops of the Grand Balcon Nord. From Chamonix centre they’ll climb up to the Forbes Signal (alt 2188) at Montenvers, traverse across to the Plan de l’Aiguille (alt 2205), then charge down the steep descent past the Cascade du Dard to Chamonix.

If you want to see the action and cheer the athletes as they run past, the best spectator points once they reach Chamonix will be at:

Chamonix webcam imagePlace de l’Eglise: the square in front of the tourist office in Chamonix centre is where the second transition will take place, competitors will be tearing off their bike gear and grabbing whatever they need for the run before dashing off again through town – should be very exciting!

Mer de Glace ChamonixMer de Glace: the steep climb up to the Forbes Signal will pass by the Mer de Glace, via the Buvette du Caillet – hop on the Montenvers train to get a great view of them charging past! The Montenvers train is included in your Mont Blanc Multipass.

hiking-aiguille-chamonix-donkey-01

Refuge du Plan de l’Aiguille: this charming old mountain hut sits just below the Plan de l’Aiguille lift station, on the Grand Balcon Nord hiking route. Grab a coffee and a slice of myrtille tart as you wait for the runners to come through. You’ll probably have time to take the second stage of the Aiguille du Midi cable car up to the viewing platforms at the summit and even Step Into the Void, in between the first and second laps. The Aiguille du Midi cable car is included in your Mont Blanc Multipass.

Cascade du Dard waterfall and hiking trail in ChamonixCascade du Dard: one of Chamonix’s hidden gems, this beautiful waterfall is on one of the less frequented hiking routes and is completely secluded in the forest until you get right up to it. There is a lovely little chalet serving local dishes and homemade cakes, so you can hike up and enjoy a nice lunch while you cheer the runners down the descent. Please note that the hiking path is very narrow, so make sure that you look out for runners and give them right of way!

Chamonix in summerChamonix Centre: the two-lap course ensures that the athletes will be passing through Chamonix at least once before finally crossing the finish line in the centre of town – no matter where you are, you’re sure to see some of the action!

If you have friends or family who are competing in the Evergreen Endurance Triathlon, you can follow them online here – best of luck to everyone taking part!

Fete des Guides : Mountain Guide Festival in Chamonix

This weekend is the annual Fetes des Guides; a celebration in honour of the men and women who dedicate their lives to the mountains.

Fete des Guides ChamonixThere have already been events throughout the week in Lavancher, Les Houches and Argentiere but Saturday is the grand finale. The day begins with a special church service at 9:30 to remember all those guides that have lost their lives in the mountains, followed by a traditional ceremony in the centre of Chamonix to bless the ice axes and welcome all newly qualified guides to the company.

Fete des Guides ChamonixThere will be stalls, entertainments and face painting in the centre of town until 4pm when the party moves to Lac des Gaillands. There is an entry fee of 13€ for adults and 5€ for children aged 5-12 (free for under 5’s), all the proceeds of which go to Caisse de Secours – a charity fund that supports the families of deceased or injured mountain guides.

Fete des Guides ChamonixThe celebrations carry on into the night with live music, a helicopter rescue demonstration, outdoor games, BBQ and the essential giant tartiflette. The guides themselves will star in a “grand spectacle” played out on the rock face with laser lights and sound effects – expect lots of whizzing about on zip wires and swinging off ropes. Their acrobatic skills are very impressive, even if the storyline is incomprehensible and the acting a bit dodgy… The night ends in a blaze of fireworks, set off over the lake against the night sky.

Without the expert skills of qualified mountain guides, we wouldn’t be able to enjoy a fraction of what you can do in Chamonix; here are some of the fantastic things you can experience when accompanied by a mountain guide:

Mer de Glace ChamonixExplore the Glaciers
Thanks to the Aiguille du Midi cable car and the Montenvers train, the glacial terrain of the Vallée Blanche and the Mer de Glace is amazingly accessible. If you want to do more than just sightsee you’ll need alpine equipment such as crampons and harnesses, as well as the knowhow to explore the crevasses and marvel at the seracs in safety. You can join a group or organise a private trip tailored to your own interests – contact us now to book your glacier hike.
Glacier Hiking in Chamonix – find out more

Hiking in ChamonixHike the Haute Route
A legendary trek from Chamonix to Zermatt, taking you from the foot of Mont Blanc to the Matterhorn via alpine forests, glaciers, meadows, mountain trails and remote refuges. See the brightest stars you’ve ever seen as you settle into your lodge for the night and work up a hearty appetite for classic dishes such as cheese fondue and saucisson. This trip can be done over 8 or 14 days, depending on the route – contact us now to plan your Haute Route hike.
Haute Route Chamonix to Zermatt – find out more

Rock climbing in Chamonix
Photo Credit : Chamex

Rock & Ice Climbing
Thanks to its high altitude terrain, you can find superb mixed climbing routes even in summer – huge granite crags leading to spectacular ridges high amongst the snow covered peaks of the Mont Blanc Massif. From one day ascents to multi-day expeditions, we offer a range of options to suit all levels – contact us now to find out more.
Alpine Climbing in Chamonix – find out more

Mont Blanc ChamonixClimb Mont Blanc
Summit the highest mountain in the Alps, venturing amongst the glaciers and seracs to reach the pinnacle at 4807m. Setting off from Chamonix you’ll traverse high ridges, sleep over in mountain refuges and see the sunrise over the mountains as you set out for the summit. This is a once in a lifetime experience that you’ll never forget – contact us now to plan your Mont Blanc expedition.
Mont Blanc – find out more

Ice Climbing & Glacier Hiking in Chamonix : Unusual Summer Adventures

With this summer having been so hot you’d be forgiven for thinking that ice axes and crampons are winter-only gear. In fact, the amount of glacial terrain in the Chamonix valley means that you can be in a world of ice and snow at any time of the year, often within just a few minutes. Here are some of our favourite options for a day of alpine adventure.

Aiguille du Midi cable car ChamonixAiguille du Midi
The easiest way to get up amongst the snowcapped peaks is to take the Aiguille du Midi cable car up to it’s summit at 3842m. Walk through the ice tunnel to the gate that marks the start of the famous arret – a narrow frozen ridge that leads out into the wilderness of the Mont Blanc Massif. Don’t even think about going beyond this point unless you are with a qualified mountain guide – you can enjoy the view in perfect safety though from one of the many panoramic terraces. If you’re brave enough you can Step Into the Void, a glass box suspended over a 1000m precipice, with nothing but crevasses and seracs beneath you… Access to the Aiguille du Midi is included in the Mont Blanc Multipass.
Mont Blanc Multipass – purchase online

aiguille-du-midi-chamonix-01Traverse the Vallée Blanche
If looking on from the sidelines is not your thing then hire a mountain guide and venture out from the top of the Aiguille du Midi onto the world-famous Vallée Blanche – the longest off-piste ski run in the world. Despite the high altitude and jaw-dropping surroundings, the traverse is actually not too technical and can be experienced by anyone with a reasonable level of fitness and a steady head for heights. Roped up and wearing all the necessary safety equipment, you’ll be lead through spectacular glacial terrain by your guide for an unforgettable day in the mountains.
Vallée Blanche Traverse – find out more

mer-de-glace-01Glacier Hiking, Mer de Glace
Armed with crampons, ropes, harnesses and ice picks, our mountain guides will lead you across this spectacular sea of ice. Marvel at the unbelievable crystalline blues and peer into deep crevasses. Whether you’ve never set foot on ice before, or crampons are as familiar to you as a pair of slippers, this is an experience not to be missed. The adventure starts with a ride up to the glacier on the historic Montenvers train, included in the Mont Blanc Multipass. The glacier hike is a half day activity but you are welcome to spend the rest of the day at the Mer de Glace if you wish to explore the area and visit the ice caves.
Mer de Glace Glacial Hike – find out more

Cosmiques Arret, Chamonix Mont Blanc
Photo Credit : Chamex

Cosmiques Ridge
The Cosmiques Ridge or “Arete” is a spectacular journey through snow, rock and ice. Starting out from the Aiguille du Midi your guide will help you rope up, fasten your crampons and step out into another world. Making your way along a steep icy ridge is the first challenge, then you’ll follow an extremely exposed route with breathtaking views in all directions as well as two sections of abseiling. The route is stunning but not too difficult as long as you are comfortable with heights, and you’ll be in very safe hands with our guides.
Cosmiques Ridge – make an enquiry

Petite Aiguille Verte, Massif du Mont Blanc
Photo Credit : Chamex

La Petite Aiguille Verte
At 3515m, the Petite Aiguille Verte is a genuine high-mountain experience that involves glaciers, bergschrunds and mixed climbing on rock and ice. The climbing is not extremely difficult and takes you on to some spectacularly exposed ridges. This route is an excellent introduction to alpinism and is ideal for anyone who wants to improve their alpine climbing skills. Accessed by the Grands Montets, this is an opportunity to explore one of the finest day climbs in the Mont Blanc Massif.
La Petite Aiguille Verte – make an enquiry

These are just a few of the many incredible excursions that we have to offer; from gentle hiking to summiting Mont Blanc, our mountain guides are fully qualified, insured and experienced in all alpine activities. Please contact us for further details and tailor-made adventures.

Music in the Mountains : Chamonix Cosmojazz Festival

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.

cosmojazz-03Many 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.

emosson-dam-01Sunday 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…

Marathon du Mont Blanc ChamonixTuesday 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

Les Houches in Summer in ChamonixWednesday 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

Parapente ChamonixFriday 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

Lac du BreventSaturday 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

mountain-biking-chamonix-01Sunday 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.