Beyond Skiing: The Natural and Cultural Wonders of Chamonix
Attention, ski enthusiasts! Chamonix is renowned for its fantastic skiing – and for good reason! However, this means that its other wonderful attractions are frequently overlooked. You’ve just stepped off your shuttle from Geneva to Chamonix… now how about something a little different? For something distinctly non-touristy yet incredibly worthwhile, why not wander off the beaten skiing track and try some of these alternative activities?
Visit the Mer de Glace
At 200m deep, this is France’s largest glacier. It flows 7km down Mont Blanc’s northern side, moving at a rate of up to 1cm an hour or 90m per year. The ‘Sea of Ice’ is stunning to behold, and after the 430 steps that lead into the grotto, you’ll see some of the best crystal specimens in the Mont Blanc massif. It is reachable by the Train du Montenvers, a picturesque cog railway that will bring you to an altitude of 1913m, from where you can access the Grotte de Glace by cable car. The entry price also gains you access to the Glacorium, which examines the birth, life and future of glaciers – so hold on to your ticket!
Take the Cable Car to the Aiguille du Midi
Rising to 3842m at its peak, the Aiguille du Midi is perhaps Chamonix’s most noteworthy geographical feature. If the altitude doesn’t put you off, you’ll be rewarded with 360-degree panoramic views of the French, Italian and Swiss Alps, which will literally take your breath away.
You can take the cable car Téléphérique de l’Aiguille du Midi all year round, and the journey itself is quite spectacular. Either hop out halfway at Plan de l’Aiguille to begin hiking or paragliding, or continue to the top for views in every direction, thanks to the glass floor of the ‘Step into the Void’ attraction.
Be aware that even in summer, it will be only be about -10°C at the summit, while temperatures can plummet as low as -25°C in winter.
Musée des Cristaux
This museum is home to a dazzling display of crystals from the Mont Blanc massif, and there are also rocks and minerals on display here. The Espace Alpinisme section focuses on the art and science of mountaineering. It has interesting interactive displays and mesmerising videos and photos of ascents that must be seen to be believed.
This collection focuses on the region’s rich history of Alpine adventure, including highlights such as the first ascent of Mont Blanc by a woman, and the cliff-hanging exploits of Jacques Balmat on his quest for crystals.
How to Get There
There are plenty of budget airlines that fly from the UK to Geneva. To get from Geneva to Chamonix, why not book a quick and easy airport transfer? Shuttle Direct offers both private and group shuttles from Geneva to Chamonix, guaranteeing a convenient and pleasant start to your trip.