Now that you’ve done all your training at home in preparation for your Mont Blanc trek, you can warm up your legs before the main event with day walks around Chamonix. This gateway town for all our Tour Mont Blanc treks is a wonderful place to explore.
We recommend arriving into Chamonix at least a day or two before your trek begins. Chamonix is located at 1035m so you should not be affected by altitude sickness. It can, however, take a few days for your body to adjust to the altitude gain in the area. You won’t feel unwell but you may wonder why you don’t feel as fit as you thought you were.
You also need 3 to 4 days in Europe to make sure you are over any jet lag. Having this extra time and warming up with some alpine walking can be beneficial to your success and enjoyment along the trail.
There are some fabulous day walks around the Chamonix Valley. Here are two of my favourites:
Glacier des Bossons
I loved walking up to Glacier des Bossons, which is a moderate 2-hour walk. If you are staying at our base hotel La Chaumiere, turn right and follow the road to the Lake (Lacs des Gaillands). Turn left here then wind your way up following the signs to the glacier. I recommend visiting from the left side of the glacier as this is more scenic plus if offers better cafe options for lunch. Make sure you walk up to the ‘panoramique viewpoint glacier des bosssoms’ for a closer view of this dramatic glacier (an extra 30 minutes).
Having lunch at the picturesque cafe Cabane du Cerro was a real highlight where you can watch the paragliders over the valley through the mepese pine trees while you listen to the sound of the waterfalls on either side of you. Our delicious lunch was made using produce from their garden, we loved the omelette served with salad and herbs from the garden. This cafe is known for their homemade cakes, we were too full to try the peach tart!
Plan de L’Aiguille du Midi to Montenvers / Mer de Glace
The 2¼-hour walk (one way) from Plan de L’Aiguille du Midi across to Montenvers offers stunning views across the valley through dramatic rocky alpine scenery. Take the cable car from Chamonix to Plan de L’Aiguille du Midi, which is the first cable car up to Auguille du Midi. You can stop here for a coffee with a view or start your walk by dropping down towards the Refuge du Plan de L’Aiguille.
Follow the path off to the right horizontally towards Montenvers/Mer de Glace. Ignore the paths that wind their way down to Chamonix. There are many places to stop and admire the impressive view of the Aiguille de Chamonix, Auguille du Midi and the impressive Mont Blanc. This walk is quite well signed and you can enjoy the changing view as you follow the winding path towards Mer de Glace.
It’s worth doing this walk in the morning (the first cable car usually leaves at 8.30am from Chamonix) so that you can enjoy spending some time exploring the ice cave at Mer de Glace. The ice cave is dug out every summer into the living glacier where you can see ice sculptures and appreciate the depth and vastness of France’s largest glacier.
You might fancy having lunch at the Restaurant Montenvers, which offers the atmosphere of an authentic altitude restaurant along with delicious mountain cuisine. After you explore this area, you can return to Chamonix via the Montenvers funicular railway, which opened in 1908.
You can also do this walk the other way around starting with a morning funicular train ride from Chamonix to Montenvers.
Click here for more information about walking around Chamonix.
Chamonix is an easy 80-minute bus ride from Geneva Airport. As well as beautiful day walks, there are dozens of outdoor activities on offer, great shopping if you need to stock up on gear or clothing, atmospheric cafes where you can chill in the sunshine, and even relaxing spa resorts.