Chamonix is the oldest ski resort in France. Situated at the base of the Mont Blanc Massif — the highest mountain in the Alps — it’s also close to where France borders Italy and Switzerland. It has a magical setting and vibe you’ll instantly fall in love with. It’s no wonder that the epic Tour du Mont Blanc, a multi-day hike around Mont Blanc is considered to be one of the best treks in the world!
If you are planning a visit to Chamonix, you’ll get to see a landscape of stunning views, beautiful lakes, and imposing mountains — Much of which can be taken in from panoramic gondola rides.
While the area is famous for its winter sports like skiing and more extreme sports like off-piste skiing and mountaineering, you’ll also find far less adventurous activities, like strolling down the resort town’s pedestrian street.
Our guide provides you with an overview of what to see and do and where to stay in Chamonix. So as the French would say allons-y!
Chamonix Guest Card
You’ll get the Chamonix Guest Card when you check into your accommodation but if you don’t, then ask for it. given to you on the day of your arrival by the property owner.
With the free Chamonix guest card, you’ll get reduced admission at certain attractions. However, the biggest benefit is free public transportation within the Chamonix valley. That includes the Chamonix-Bus and Train TER-SNCF, the Mont-Blanc Express.
If you’re starting your Tour du Mont Blanc self-guided tour from Les Houches, then you can take a direct train from Chamonix. It’s also free.
You can see all the benefits here.
Adventure Activities in Chamonix
When you arrive in the resort town, you’re spoilt for choice with all the things you can see and do.
The Chamonix Tourist Office will give you plenty more information. But as a starting point, you’ll definitely want to check out the following.
Take the Cable Car to L’Aiguille du Midi
6:10 am. Last return trip: 5:00 pm (Every day July 4th to August 28th). Check the site for dates outside of this range as the opening times are more limited and for the most up-to-date information as it’s dependent upon the weather.
The attractions listed below correspond with the opening times of the cable car unless otherwise specified. As you can see, there’s a TON to do there. So although the lift pass looks expensive at first glance, it provides more value than just a cable car ride. That’s why I highly recommend doing it when visiting Chamonix.
Price: €69 return. If you’re arriving a few days earlier, then consider the MultiPass, which includes other attractions.
Buy tickets online in advance to avoid long lines. During the peak summer hours, it runs from 6:10 am with the last return trip at 5:00 pm. Check the website for the exact opening hours since off-season and at different times of the year, the opening hours are much shorter.
You’ll get one of the best panoramic views in the Alps and a glimpse at where you’ll be hiking from L’Aiguille du Midi, an impressive mountain measuring 3,842 metres. You reach it in 20 minutes by taking the highest cable car in France.
1b Mont Blanc Area
Once you arrive at the top, you’ll want to explore the Mont Blanc Area. Prepare to be amazed at the routes leading to the famed Mont-Blanc and the incredible Tacul, and the Mont Maudit.
1c The Pipe
You’ll want to explore the Pipe, a unique 32 m long steel gallery that provides a circuit around the central pillar of the Aiguille du Midi with exhibitions and inspiring views along the way.
1d Vertical Area: Alpine Museum in Chamonix
The Vertical Area houses the Museum of Alpinism. The mountaineering alpine museum will be of special interest to hikers and mountain lovers. It also has the honor of being the highest museum in the world at 3842 m.
1e Have Lunch at Restaurant Le 3842
11:30 am – 3:00 pm, online reservations are accepted (and recommended) one week in advance.
Soak in the panoramic summits at one of the highest restaurants in Europe. Restaurant Le 3842 offers fine dining, fresh and local cuisine and an ever-changing lunch menu for a filling lunch.
There’s also a cafeteria and a coffee shop if you prefer something simpler.
1f Step into the Void®
Free, but access is only through the 3842 terrace
After lunch or a snack, you’ll want to do the exhilarating Step into the Void®. You’ll step into a box made of glass from 5 sides that makes you feel like you’re flying with more than a thousand meters of the emptiness below you.
You can easily spend a few hours exploring everything there is to do here.
Hiking in Chamonix
If you love hiking, then prepare for an unforgettable experience! You could easily spend days hiking here and people do.
Chamonix has some incredible hiking routes, most famously the multi-day Tour du Mont Blanc and the Haute Route. If you don’t have time for one of these incredible hiking tours, you can still enjoy hours of hiking to some of the most mesmerizing scenery you could ever hope to witness.
As you walk through its magical landscape, your heart will soar with admiration at the towering white-capped mountain peaks, lush green meadows, rolling hillsides, and cobalt skies.
There are plenty of hiking routes you can do that will range from 3 to 6 miles and can take up to ~6 hours to complete. Within only a couple of hours, you can get incredible mountain views, especially during the summer months.
These include the hike around Lac Blanc, the Aiguilletteis des Posettes, the Albert Premiere, and the Grands Montets.
Another great option is to hike up to the Chalet du Glacier des Bossons. You’ll get fantastic views of the Glacier des Bossons and the Aiguilles de Chamonix. There’s also a Chalet restaurant, so it’s a great hike to time to start around 11:00 am ish to arrive in time for lunch or enjoy a cold beer.
It’s 2.6 km long each way, with an elevation gain of 268m, so you’ll work up an appetite without it being too strenuous of a hike, but enough to get your heart rate up. It takes around 1 hour and 20 minutes roundtrip.
If you’re into more extreme sports like climbing, Chamonix is a great place for that too.
The Chamonix Tourist information center will be able to give you more information about any of these trails.
If you’re arriving in Chamonix in mid-afternoon right before your self-guided Tour du Mont Blanc hike and don’t have time to explore the L’Aiguille du Midi or want to go hiking since you’re already doing the TMB, there is a variety of activities you’ll be interested in, like:
Chamonix Luge Alpine Coaster
Love roller coasters? Then you will relish the Chamonix Luge Alpine coaster!
You’ll find it at the Chamonix Amusement Park, a terrific day out for adults and children alike for your entire time here.
Once there, the highlight is the 1300-meter luge run. It offers sensational views of the Alps as you turn, twist, drop, and whizz your way along it at high speed.
For sheer adrenaline-rushing fun, this is one of the best things to do in summer in Chamonix.
Take the Montenvers-Mer De Glace Train in Chamonix
Take a ride on the famous Montenvers-Mer De Glace Train. This cute little cogwheel train takes you on an unforgettable 20-minute ride from Chamonix, at 1035 metres, to Montenvers Station, which sits at a dizzying altitude of 1913 metres.
Once the train has reached its stop in the mountains, you’ll be able to hop on a small cable car to see the wonderful Mer de Glace (Sea of Ice), the largest glacier in France!
While you’re there, you’ll be able to venture into the ice cave. You’ll also see the Gallery of Crystals, as well as several incredible ice sculptures. Be sure to dress VERY warmly, as this grotto is freaking cold!
You’ll also see the north faces of the Grandes Jorasses, which reside at the very end of the imposing Leschaux glacier.
We recommend stopping and going into the heart of the glacier to the Glaciorium. Here you’ll learn about the evolution of this natural wonder.
Or you can pop into the iconic Montenvers hotel, which offers amazing views of the Drus.
Paragliding in Chamonix
White Water Rafting on the Dora Baltea
While you might think Chamonix is just a place to go for skiing, it’s actually a fantastic destination for those who love white water rafting as well.
Consider booking a white water rafting tour because the scenery takes in amazing views. Think stunning mountains, gorgeous forests, beautiful meadows with flowers and, of course, raging rivers.
There are lots of tour options you can book. Some of which are in Chamonix and others in neighboring Italian towns. So, you get a sneak peek of that wonderful country too.
Take the Le Brevent Cable Car
If you love nothing more than a jaw-dropping view, then you’ll want to take a ride on the Le Brevent Cable Car!
Not only will you get to see incredible views of the Mont Blanc range. You’ll also get to take in awesome views of the Aiguille du Midi, the valley and even the borders of Italy and Switzerland.
To get there from Chamonix, you’ll take the gondola lift to Plan Praz, which sits at 2000 metres. From there, a cable car takes you up to Le Brévent at 2,525 metres. Once you get to Le Brevent, there are several hiking trails to explore.
Other Summer Attractions in Chamonix
Anyone who visits summer in Chamonix should also check out the following local attractions.
Explore Chamonix on Foot
Chamonix is worth exploring as well. Expect lots of specialty shops which are perfect for discovering local wine and cheeses. If you need last-minute hiking gear, like hiking poles before your self-guided Tour du Mont Blanc, you’ll find it in Chamonix as well. Head to the charming pedestrian street of Rue du Dr Paccard for shopping, cafes and restaurants.
If you want to learn more about the history of Chamonix and all its insider secrets, book a private walking tour with a professional guide for a unique perspective.
Le Panoramic Restaurant
Although eating out can be expensive in Chamonix, if you only do it once, then make it at the Le Panoramic Restaurant.
Located on the summit of the Brévent, at an altitude of 2525 metres, this fantastic restaurant offers incredible views of Mont-Blanc and a wide variety of food to choose from.
It is open every day from 9 am to 5.30 pm for brunch, lunch, and snacks. Serving up a delicious selection of Savoyarde food, as well as delicious French cuisine.
It’s easily reached via a panoramic gondola ride, but book your table in advance.
Merlet Animal Park
If you love animal parks, then you’ll want to visit Merlet Animal Park.
Merlet Animal Park is an open sanctuary for mountain wildlife, you’ll walk along the mountain trails that lead into the 21 hectares park. Once there, at an altitude of 1,563 metres above the Chamonix Valley, you’ll be able to view the fauna in its natural habitat.
This is a great outdoor activity to do in summer in Chamonix because you’ll see over 80 species of mountain animals. This includes the likes of Roe, Fallow and Sika deer, Marmot, Chamois, Mouflon, and Ibex — all of which roam semi-freely.
Explore the Crystal Museum
The Crystal Museum in Chamonix is another pleasant diversion if you have time and is more exciting than it sounds.
You’ll get to see a selection of crystals and minerals from several regions around the world. They also have rotating exhibitions to check out too. You can spend a couple of hours being mesmerized by everything on display here.
How Much Time do you Need in Chamonix?
However, if you’re looking to experience the highlights, then plan for at least a couple of days if you’re not interested in hiking or outdoor sports. If you do want to hike, then plan 5 to 7 days for your summer trip to Chamonix.
This will give you enough time to visit the magnificent Aguille du Mide and Montenvers and take a couple of other day trips.
You’ll also be able to check out the beautiful views of the Chamonix Valley on the Mont Blanc Express, explore the town center, take a gondola lift ride, hike to beautiful valleys and lakes, visit quaint gift shops or even tackle some mountain trails, the Tour du Mont Blanc is famous, among many other outdoor activities.
Tips for Visiting Chamonix France
If you plan to spend part of your summer in Chamonix, here are some tips that will make your trip better.
- Save money on expensive meals by self-catering at least some of your meals or eating delicious street food.
- Summers can be hot during the day, but temperatures cool off at night, so pack appropriately.
- Chamonix is a walking city with little public transport. Wear a good pair of walking shoes or hiking sandals as you’ll likely be on your feet all day.
- Avoid the queues at the Aiguille du Midi cable car by making an advanced booking for the early morning.
- If you plan to go hiking, the staff at the Chamonix Tourist Office will advise you on the best/safest route with the most awesome views.
Is it expensive to visit Chamonix in summer?
Unfortunately, Chamonix is an expensive place to visit at any time of the year, but peak prices are in winter and in the summer season.
It’s actually the fourth most expensive city in France. So, everything from accommodation and shopping to eating and drinking is likely to cost more than you are used to paying in the USA.
As delicious as French cuisine is, the average cost of a meal in Chamonix is around US $40. While the equivalent size of an American pint of beer usually exceeds US $10.
Still, it’s worth indulging at least occasionally as French cuisine is sooo good.
Groceries, clothing, medicines, and taxis to the centre of town will cost you more than back home.
When planning your trip, be sure to set a high budget for your daily expenses. But remember, there are ways to keep costs down like renting self-catering accommodation so that you can eat at least some of your meals at home.
How to Get to Chamonix
the easiest way to get to Chamonix from Paris is by train. It takes ~ 5:30 – 7 hours. It may be direct or you may need to switch trains depending on which train you take.
the easiest way to get to Chamonix is with a shared transfer which takes 90 minutes. You can book this by clicking on the above link. It’s available directly from the airport. They also allow cancellations up to 24 hours in advance. I’ve taken them before and was happy with them.
There’s also an option to take a private transfer on Viator, which is even cheaper. I haven’t personally taken this shuttle, so can’t comment on it one way or another, but it is another option. The journey by shuttle or bus takes ~ 90 minutes.
The train takes over 3 hours and isn’t any cheaper, so we don’t recommend this option.
Do they speak English in Chamonix, France?
As you would expect, French is the official language spoken in Chamonix. But don’t worry, as it is a major tourist destination, English is widely spoken, too.
Where to Stay in Chamonix, France
We recommend staying centrally, either near the city center or train station, for more affordable lodging options. Check out our recommended accommodation in Chamonix post for a complete guide on where to stay.
If you’re doing our 10-day self-guided Tour du Mont trip, your tour starts from Chamonix. If you’re doing the 6 or 7-day tour, it starts from Les Houches.
However, Les Houches is a short train ride away, so it’s fine to stay in Chamonix and take the train the morning of your tour if you prefer.
Best Day Trips from Chamonix, France
✔️ Courmayeur, Italy
Courmayeur is the Italian equivalent of Chamonix and is a great place to explore. Check out our best things do in Courmayeur post.
✔️ Geneva, Switzerland
If you’re flying, Geneva airport in Switzerland is the closest airport. It’s worth adding a day at the beginning or end of your trip to explore the city. Check out our best things to do in Geneva post.
If you have the time, the Swiss village of Zermatt is a must-visit!
Located at the base of the Matterhorn, you’ll get to see breathtaking views of Europe’s tallest peak. Awesome activities await you at this outdoorsy town.
When not on the slopes, you will also be able to check out its stunning valley, as well as see its iconic English church steeple and eat some delicious food at cozy food shops too.
Lake Annecy and its surrounding area are just beautiful. It’s only a 90-minute drive from Chamonix, so it makes a great day trip during the summer season.
When you get there, you’ll be blown away by its medieval architecture. You’ll love its outdoor markets too, while the Le Palais de I’Île is a really fascinating museum, too. A must-add on to your Chamonix experience bucket list.
On the lake, you can go boating or paddle boarding. While the town also has a warren of hundreds of narrow cobblestone streets, which are fascinating to explore.
It’s a completely different vibe from Chamonix! But that is half its appeal, as it makes a nice change of pace from what you can see and do there. There is just plenty of options here.