Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, the world-famous ski resort, is one of the most beautiful places to visit in southeast France and offers so much more than just a snowy winter ski destination.
Visit Chamonix in summer, and you will discover a charming alpine town offering all kinds of outdoor experiences and eclipsed by Mont Blanc, the second-highest mountain in Europe.
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Is Chamonix Worth Visiting in Summer?
Chamonix is most definitely worth visiting in the summer months. This alpine resort offers a wealth of summer outdoor pursuits for all ages and fitness levels. Chamonix activities include hiking through the most beautiful scenery in the French Alps and riding cable cars up snow-capped mountains, parasailing, helicopter rides, animal experiences and mountain biking, to name but a few.
For those wanting to switch off and completely relax, staying at the world-famous Hotel Mont Blanc is a must. Relax in its outdoor swimming pool and spa, and indulge in fine food at its restaurant. And for shoppers, the main thoroughfare in Chamonix boasts boutiques, charming craft shops and plenty of superb French restaurants.
Visiting Chamonix in Summer
Of course, you can visit Chamonix as a stand-alone destination by flying into Geneva Airport in Switzerland (the nearest to Chamonix and just over an hour’s drive away) and then taking one of these options to reach the town.
When arriving at Geneva airport, you have several ways of transferring to Chamonix:
- Take a taxi from the airport (get a price first as its a long journey)
- Catch the airport transfer Easybus for the 1-hour 15-minute journey. Or try the other bus companies Blablabus, Transalis and SwissTours for routes between Geneva and Chamonix.
- Hop on the train. The rail journey takes up to 4 hours to reach Chamonix as it is not a direct route; however, if you have time to spare and want to get off and explore other towns on the way, this is worth doing.
- Rent a car and drive yourself from the airport – you then have transport at your disposal to explore some of the other pretty towns in the French and Italian Alps.
Travelling From Paris to Chamonix
Combining the hustle and bustle of France’s capital with the alpine setting of Chamonix is easy.
- By Road: The distance from Paris to Chamonix by road is 613km and will take around 6 hours to drive. A good idea is to stop midway in Lyon for a break and some sightseeing.
- By Train: A train service runs out of Paris Gare de Lyon to Annecy, followed by a bus from Annecy to Chamonix.
- By Air: Flights from Paris serve Geneva, and transfers are as previously mentioned.
Day Trips to Chamonix From Geneva
If you prefer to join an organised tour, you can still visit Chamonix on a day trip from Geneva, one of Switzerland’s most beautiful cities to visit.
Best Accommodation in Chamonix
Chamonix is an expensive town because it is a premier ski resort, but it is a beautiful place to stay in the French Alps in summer.
It has many five-star hotels and chalets to book and attracts an international clientele. You can, of course, find places to stay in Chamonix on a budget, but if you can afford to splash the cash, you will be in for a real treat.
5* Hôtel Mont Blanc is a beautiful heritage hotel. It is in the town centre with mountain views from all the bedrooms. A fine-dining restaurant, outdoor pool and Clarins spa offer everything you need for a luxurious stay in Chamonix.
Please check here for availability and pricing for 5* Hôtel Mont Blanc
5* Grand Hôtel des Alpes is 700 yards from the Aiguille du Midi cable car at the heart of the Alpine mountains. Grand Hotel des Alpes offers unique accommodation, a fine dining restaurant, and an indoor pool.
Please check here for availability and pricing for 5* Grand Hôtel des Alpes
5* Le Hameau Albert 1er is just a 5-minute walk from Chamonix SNCF train station, making it perfect for guests arriving by train. It offers luxurious accommodation, indoor and outdoor pools, a spa, a wellness centre and a fine dining restaurant.
Please check here for availability and pricing for 5* Le Hameau Albert 1er
Please click on this link to find the Best Accommodation in Chamonix for all budgets
A Guide to the Best Things to Do in Chamonix in Summer
Take a Ride on the Aiguille du Midi Cable Car
One of the best things to do in Chamonix in summer is to ride Aiguille du Midi, France’s highest cable car and one of France’s major tourist attractions.
Visitors can take the cable car up the mountains to see the famous peak of Mont Blanc, France’s highest mountain. The journey takes around 20 minutes and gives spectacular views of the French Alps during the ride.
Once at the top, if you feel brave, step inside “The Void” – a glass box hanging 1000m over the mountain’s edge. Learn about the mountains in the Alpinism Museum, the highest museum ever built and experience this summer and winter wonderland in 4D at the interactive cinema. Don’t forget to visit the souvenir shop on the way down and pick up a memento of your journey.
Aiguille du Midi is an expensive attraction but a must-do in Chamonix; after all, who doesn’t want to stand at the top of a snowy mountain in summer?
Glide Over to Italy on the Skyway Monte Bianco
If you want to take another scenic journey, take a trip to Italy from Chamonix via a mountain cable car.
Start the journey from Chamonix on the Aiguille du Midi cable car, get to the top and jump aboard the Skyway Monte Bianco cable car, which takes you to the Italian side of the mountains. Descend into Courmayeur, in Northern Italy’s Aosta Valley, and explore this picturesque Italian town before returning to Chamonix by bus or taxi via the 7-mile-long Mont Blanc tunnel.
Book a Chamonix Tandem Paragliding Tour
Look up to the skies in Chamonix, and you will see paragliders descending from Mount Brevant. It is one of the popular activities in Chamonix and a superb way to see Mont Blanc and the neighbouring peaks from this excellent vantage point.
On my trip to Chamonix, I watched the paragliders soaring above the Hotel Mont Blanc as I lazed by the pool plucking up the courage to have a go myself. Unfortunately, by the time I had decided it was something I must tick off my France bucket list, it was too late, and all the slots were booked!
Because of my disappointment, I would strongly advise booking your paragliding tour before you arrive in Chamonix to get the time and date slot you require.
Ascend Mount Brevant
If you fancy reaching the dizzy heights of Mount Brevant but don’t want to hurl yourself off at the top, there is an alternative! Take the gondola lift from Chamonix to Plan Praz, then switch to the Brevant cable car. It will take you to the summit for superb views across the Chamonix valley and is the start of several hikes.
Take to the Skies in a Helicopter
What better way is there to get a bird’s eye view of the majestic Alps than by helicopter? Soar above the Mont Blanc Massif and see for yourself why this mountain range is so revered by mountaineers from all corners of the globe.
Hike the Trails in Chamonix
Chamonix has many scenic trails to hike in summer; after all, this is a destination known for its great outdoors. Explore the alpine valley with easy walks, day hikes, and more strenuous mountain treks taking in the stunning mountainscapes as you go. And don’t forget that even though it is summer, there is still thick snow on the mountains for adventure hikes.
Climb Via Ferrata
Via Ferrata is a system of ladders, ropes and footholds that lead you around the mountain face and is a way to experience rock climbing for the first time. It is suitable for all the family, although an experienced climber should accompany beginners.
Journey to a Glacier Aboard the Montenvers Railway
The famous red Montenvers cogwheel train takes you from the centre of Chamonix to the foot of the Mer de Glace, the longest glacier in France. It is the third largest glacier in the Alps and extends an amazing 7km down the northern slopes of the Mont Blanc Massif. Walk through the ice cave and see this impressive glacier for yourself.
Ride the Chamonix Alpine Toboggan Coaster
The Luge Alpine Coaster is open all year round and is a fun attraction for the whole family. It is located in the Planards Ski Area in the heart of the mountains, and consists of a 1300m long luge track with jumps, bends, and 540° spins to keep the adrenaline pumping!
Meet the Alpine Animals at Parc De Merlet
If you are wondering what animals live in these alpine conditions, visiting the Parc de Merlet will answer your question. As well as being in a stunning position with unbeatable views of Mont Blanc, this is where you can wander around and meet the animals who live in the mountains.
Keep a lookout for llamas, chamois, ibex, deer, marmots and sheep as you follow the trail around the park.
Take the #1 bus from Chamonix Sud to Les Houches to reach the park.
Wander Around Chamonix Town
You couldn’t wish to visit a more charming alpine town than Chamonix. It has a cosmopolitan vibe but retains its historical past with statues, wooden bridges and a beautiful church.
Statue de Saussure dominates the centre of town, depicting two men pointing to the nearby summit of Mont Blanc. In 1760, a reward was offered to the first person who could climb to the summit of nearby Mont Blanc. It was to be twenty-six years later that the feat was accomplished by two Chamonix locals – Jacques Balmat and Michel Gabriel Paccard. The statue is a lasting tribute to their mountaineering achievement.
The town’s flower-covered wooden bridge crossing the Arve river is a popular place for photographers to catch some great mountain images. Stand on the bridge and face the mountains; the freezing rush of air generated from the fast-flowing river beneath you is literally breathtaking!
If time permits, visit Chamonix church. The church’s inside doors have colourful stained glass featuring the outdoor winter sports for which Chamonix is famous.
Eat and Drink Fondue, Raclette and Local Beer
In such a beautiful alpine setting, it would be wrong not to sample the local cuisine. Tuck into a traditional melted cheese fondue, or raclette, washed down with a local brew.
One of the best restaurants in Chamonix for fondue is La Calèche. The family restaurant was opened in the 1940s and retains its traditional alpine decor.
To taste some of the local beers, head to the Chamonix microbrewery. The local Mont Blanc Brewery beer is made with pure glacial water and bottled at altitude – not many beers can hold claim to that interesting technique!
I hope this Chamonix Travel Guide has inspired a summer visit to Chamonix and highlighted that alpine destinations in the French Alps are as beautiful in the summer as in the winter.
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