Summer in Chamonix is all about being outside – whether that’s hiking in the mountains, enjoying an al fresco lunch in town, climbing Mont Blanc, or splashing in the river. Here are a few of our favourite hiking trails that take in the best parts of the Chamonix valley.
Lac Blanc, Flegere
Lac Blanc is one of the iconic Chamonix hiking destinations. From the top of the Flegere cable car you follow the signposts high above the Chamonix valley, along rocky paths and through high altitude meadows to a crystal clear lake surrounded by towering mountains. There are two routes, either directly from the cable car or from the top of the Index chairlift. Both are only moderately strenuous and take around an hour and a half to reach the lake. The name “Lac Blanc” comes from the white snowy peaks that are reflected in its mirror-like waters. From the banks of the lake you have a panoramic view of the Mont Blanc massif on the opposite side of the valley. Those who are brave enough can dabble their toes in the icy water, extremely refreshing on a hot day! Lac Blanc is within the Aiguille Rouges nature reserve and is a common place to spot alpine wildlife such as bouquetin and marmots in their natural habitat. If you have the energy then you can hike across to Brevent-Planpraz along the Grand Balcon Sud and take the gondola back down to Chamonix.
The Flegere cable car, Index chairlift and Planpraz gondola are all included in the Mont Blanc Multipass – buy it online here
Grand Balcon Nord
This stunning hike not only takes in sweeping views of the entire length of the Chamonix valley but also includes two of our favourite sightseeing attractions, Aiguille du Midi and Mer de Glace. The hike itself only takes around 2-3 hours but we highly recommend setting aside a full day, so that you can fully explore everything that the two sites have to offer. Starting from the Aiguille du Midi cable car, you should ride all the way to the summit at 3842m and take a walk round the various viewing platforms before taking a deep breath and stepping into the void – a glass cube suspended thousands of feet above the glaciers and crevasses of the world famous Vallee Blanche. Once you’ve taken in the jaw-dropping 360° views you can come back down to the mid-station at Plan de l’Aiguille and follow the hiking signs along the Grand Balcon Nord towards Montenvers Mer de Glace. The trail undulates gently along the mountainside, just above the treeline so that you have uninterrupted views of the whole of the Chamonix valley. The towering rocks above you and the pine forests below you make a beautiful contrast to the high altitude meadows that the paths winds its way through. Once at the Mer de Glace you can take a gondola lift down to the ice caves of the glacier, or visit the glaciorium to learn more about the fascinating geology of the area. The historic Grand Hotel Montenvers will welcome you for lunch or a refreshing drink on their terrace before you ride the little rack and pinion train back down to Chamonix centre.
The Aiguille du Midi cable cars and Montenvers train are both included in the Mont Blanc Multipass – buy it online here
Aiguillettes des Houches
This vertiginous ridge walk looks out beyond Chamonix into the gorges and mountain ranges of the surrounding valleys. You get a strong sense of the incredible landscape and the massive scale of the Alps from this breathtaking vantage point. Starting from the centre of Chamonix you take the gondola up to Planpraz, followed by the cable car to the summit of Brevent at 2525m. From here you can pick up signposts for Aiguillette des Houches, but be sure to make the small diversion to the serenely beautiful Lac du Brevent. You can either take a picnic to enjoy at the lake, or stop off at the Bellachat mountain refuge for a traditional Savoyard lunch of cheese omelette and homemade myrtille tart. The trail takes you along a stunning high altitude ridge with carpets of wildflowers and berries stretching out on either side, past the ancient stone shepherds’ huts at Chalets de Chailloux. Once you’ve reached the pinnacle of the ridge the path drops down through the forest, past Parc de Merlet and back down to Les Gaillands, from where you can take the train or bus back to Chamonix centre. Public transport in Chamonix is free of charge with your carte d’hote, issued to you by Mountain Lifestyle.
The Planpraz gondola and Brevent cable car are both included in the Mont Blanc Multipass – buy it online here
Alpage de la Charme, Les Houches
A short walk from the Prarion gondola brings you to the aptly named alpine pastures of La Charme in Les Houches. This short ramble is perfect for families and those who prefer a gentle stroll to a strenuous hike. Picturesque views and a multitude of picnic spots make this a lovely day out, especially if you call in at the goat farm for a taste of locally produced cheese. To turn it into a full day out you can take the train from Chamonix to Saint-Gervais and ride the Tramway du Mont Blanc up to Nid d’Aigle at the foot of the Bionnassay glacier in Les Houches. Once you’ve admired the majestic view you can ride the tram back down to Col de Voza and follow the hiking signs from here to La Charme, taking the Prarion gondola back down at the end of the afternoon and hopping on the bus back to Chamonix.
The Prarion gondola and Tramway du Mont Blanc are both included in the Mont Blanc Multipass – buy it online here
Aiguillette des Posettes, Vallorcine & Le Tour
Make the most of the free public transport in Chamonix and hop on the train to Vallorcine, the train station is right beside the gondola lift that will whisk you up into the pastures of the Domaine de la Balme, right on the edge of the Franco-Swiss border. From here you can hike up to the pinnacle of the Aiguillette des Posettes at 2201m, a stunning viewpoint surrounded by high peaks in all directions. The steep descent will bring you back down to the gentle rolling meadows of Charamillon, where the clinking of cow bells fills the air. You can either hike down to Le Tour car park on a narrow twisting trail or save your knees and take the gondola. From the car park you can pick up the bus back to Chamonix, or walk ten minutes down the road to Montroc train station.
The Vallorcine and Charamillon gondolas are both included in the Mont Blanc Multipass – buy it online here
All of the above hikes can be done simply by following the hiking signs. If you’d like to go farther afield or venture out onto the glaciers then we recommend booking a guided hike to fully appreciate the experience.