About Summer Activities in Chamonix
Whatever you choose to do on your summer holiday you are sure to find a huge range of activities across the Chamonix area. From relaxing to full on adrenaline there is something for everyone, every ability and every age in Chamonix. Check out the selection of things to do below for some holiday inspiration!
The Chamonix Guest Card (Carte d'Hote) is valid in summer and winter for the duration of your stay, and entitles you to free travel on the buses and trains between these resorts (with the exception of the Chamo’nuit night bus). If you wish to take the train all the way through to Martigny in Switzerland or down to Le Fayet and St Gervais, you just need to pay the difference from Vallorcine or Servoz. The Guest Card also entitles you to various discounts throughout the valley, such as discounted entry to the swimming pool, Alpine Museum, cross-country skiing and more. So, ask for one at the Tourist Offices of Chamonix, Les Houches, Servoz and Vallorcine if you do not receive one when you check into your accommodation.
In Chamonix Sud there's a children's soft play area and café called La Petite Folie which is open 7 days per week and is available for birthday party bookings.
Practice your Robin of Sherwood skills in a tranquil alpine setting. Beginners can learn from scratch and those with more experience can put their skills to the test with a variety of courses. The Coupeau area of Les Houches has a trail running through it equipped with archery courses of varying difficulty. Access is free to anyone registered with the FFTA.
You can bowl in Chamonix in winter or summer at the bowling lanes in Cham Sud. A great places to go if you're in a family, a group or to while away rainy days.
Just down the road from Chamonix, in nearby St Gervais, is a very large bridge which you can bungee off. No experience is necessary, just a good head for heights and a lot of bravery!
Canoeing / Kayaking
Canoe rafts are an unsinkable, stable type of inflatable canoe that allow you, without too much technique to profit fully from the joys and fun of white water river descent. The descents are taken on by groups of 4 to 5 boats, accompanied by a fully qualified guide. You are equipped with neoprene suits and shoes, a safety jacket and a helmet. The course which you take is chosen according to the water levels and experience of the participants.
Kayaking is a fun watersport that can be enjoyed as a team or on your own. Unlike canoeing, paddlers face forward and have a double bladed paddle. It is a versatile sport that you can enjoy on rivers, lakes and the sea. You can take your inflatable or plastic kayak and make your way down the water. Using the double bladed paddle you can control the speed, direction and enjoy the experience and wonderful views in your own time. There are some watersports centres and adventure companies who can take you out for your kayaking experience.
A not-so-gentle but extremely refreshing summer activity is one way to describe canyoning! Plunge yourself into the mountain streams via a series of abseil descents, jumps and natural water slides – just make sure you choose a warm day!
You will make your way along rivers and rapids, using the river bed as a natural obstacle course. Not suitable for very young children, but anyone over the age of about 8 can take the (very cold) plunge and try canyoning. With the safety of a guide everyone can abseil down cascades, splash into pools and ride the river rapids. You can choose from short beginners’ routes or longer ones for the more adventurous. Different companies will have their own policies on age limits but usually, unless they are booked onto a children's activity course, anyone under the age of about 14 years old will have to be accompanied by an adult. A basic level of swimming ability is required for safety reasons. There are a number of adventure companies that offer guided descents down the local waterways.
Catch the latest films and releases in Chamonix on your winter or summer holiday. Some cinemas open their doors early on a bad weather day, otherwise you'll find most screenings in the evenings. Look out for VOST for English speaking films.
Riding in the Alps is much more demanding than your favourite local route back in the UK. The roads around Chamonix are the setting for some of the most gruelling sections of the Tour de France, but they can be tackled by enthusiasts as well as professionals. To gain the most from your riding in the area it goes without saying you need to have a reasonable level of fitness. You do not need to be a super man or woman but the ability to ride comfortably for up to 3-4 hours in the UK should see you enjoy the mountain routes.
Also see: Cycling in Chamonix
If you fancy a spot of fishing whilst in Chamonix then there are a few local and nearby lakes where you can catch some fish and enjoy the Alpine scenery.
Within a 20 minute drive from Chamonix you can reach 2 groups of lakes, both of which you can fish in certain areas. Lac Passy is a popular picnic and sunbathing spot with a children’s play area, so you may not find the tranquillity you are looking for by the main lake. If you carry on though there are smaller, less frequented lakes where fishing is also permitted. Enquire at the main lake for details on where best to go for a quiet spot of fishing. Lac des Ilettes is a quieter group of 3 lakes where fishing is permitted.
Closer to Chamonix is Lac des Chavants in Les Houches; apparently a good spot for catching some tasty trout, which you pay for by the kilo. You can also hire rods and purchase bait. Permits are available from the Saint Antoine tabac or from the Les Houches Tourist Office.
Closer still is Lac Gaillands, by the large climbing wall on the road out of Chamonix just before you reach Les Bossons. Fly fishing only is permitted and permits can be bought from the small chalet serving snacks and drinks.
Remember that before fishing any area you must ensure that you have the correct permits and are aware of the local regulations.
In front of the Richard Bozon Sports Centre in Chamonix there is a large multisports court where you can play football. The indoor court can also be used for indoor football.
If it's a game of rugby you're after, every Monday evening throughout the summer the local touch rugby group hit the fields or astro turf and hold a game or two of touch rugby. Starting between 17:30 and 18:00, you can play touch rugby and make new friends along the way.
Join in with locals and holidaymakers alike with the local Ultimate Frisbee club who organise ultimate frisbee every Wednesday or Thursday depending on the season. Check out our events calender for more information or their facebook page.
There are over 2.5 million people doing geocaching around the world and some of them (perhaps surprisingly) are right here in Chamonix!. It’s a relatively new craze that started taking the world by storm in May 2000 after a computer geek decided that GPS could be “really exciting”. He hid some treasure at his home in Portland, America, for people to find, broadcast the GPS coordinates and said, “Come and get it”. His only rule: “Take some stuff, leave some stuff”. And that’s exactly what Geocaching is…you go in search of treasure by using the GPS system on your mobile device – once you’ve found it, you write your name in a logbook and replace the treasure you decide to take. It’s pretty simple really and means, as a family, you can be adventurers together. You won’t usually find anything quite as precious as gold, silver and diamonds but nevertheless it’s quite exciting!
For a truly unique experience, clamp on your crampons and go hiking up the stunning Mer de Glace, Argentière or Le Tour glaciers. The Mer de Glace is one of the longest and deepest glaciers in the Alps, moving at a comparatively rapid 120 metres a year. To get onto the glacier you'll have to clamber down long steel ladders which are scary enough in themselves but you'll quickly forget about that once you start admiring the breathtaking views and spectacular crevasses below. (If you're quiet you can even hear the ice shifting.)
The breathtaking views and spectacular crevasses make this an incredible adventure. There are a number of glacial hikes, of varying difficulty, in this region of the Alps. Most mountain guiding companies and adventure companies will run organised excursions to the most accessible. To read more about glaciers and the environment please read our Glacier Meltdown article.
Excellent course and beautiful scenery, you can play golf in the summer in Chamonix surrounded by the fantastic views of the Mont Blanc and the massif of the Aiguilles Rouges. The 18-hole golf course in Les Praz was first created in 1934, although the last 9 holes were not built until 1982.
Gym / Fitness centres
At the Richard Bozon Sports Centre there's a gym with weights and cardio machines. They also offer fitness classes such as aerobic or step. Many hotels in the valley also offer fitness facilities.
Sit back and admire the mountains from even higher up! Daily panoramic helicopter flights are available (weather permitting) with a number of local flight companies. Relax and enjoy the stunning views as you fly over the snow-capped mountain tops, glaciers and alpine forests of the Alps.
Horse-drawn sleigh rides
A horse drawn carriage ride around the streets of Chamonix with Dr Zhivago is a popular thing to do in Chamonix in both winter & summer. Head to the small square near Irish Coffee in the centre of Chamonix to jump on board.
The Chamonix Valley has a multitude of trails that can be explored on horseback; you can cover more ground than on foot, get an elevated view of the scenery and hopefully get a closer peek at the wildlife! There are a number of adventure companies who can take you out for your horse riding experience.
Alternatively the Paradis des Praz play area has a 'mini-ranch' where children can go on short accompanied treks through the woods on small ponies. There is also a riding school in Les Houches were you can take lessons in their arena or do multiple day treks up the mountain.
Hot air ballooning is a truly unique and fun experience. You can experience views and scenery like never before. The views are stunning, and as you glide over the forests you may see deer and other animals normally hidden from view. The pilot controls the height but the wind determines which direction you take, so the flight can take anything from one to two hours, depending on when a suitable landing site comes into view. Hot air ballooning looks serene, but there are moments of excitement; once the creaking wicker basket rises and you are suspended in the air metres above the ground, with nothing but the wind and the pilot taking you through the blue sky, it can be quite thrilling.
Hydro speeding is one of the newer 'extreme' water sports to hit the market, it's a fun and exhilarating way to get yourselves down a river!. Using a large float, which bears resemblance to a bodyboard, be ready to cling on for dear life as you send yourself hurtling down the rapids! This activity is a little more demanding physically than rafting or canoe rafting, but allows you to discover the unique sensation of surfing down white water rivers. It is also accessible to all, no need to be a professional diver or swimmer, you just have to be smart at using the water movements, obstacles and waves.
There's plenty of protection from the icy water elements as you'll be given a wetsuit, safety helmet and flippers. You will need to bring a towel, swim wear and if you wear glasses, a cord to keep them on. Guides will brief you with a safety demonstration at the beginning and there’s a vehicle to meet you at the end of the rapids that will shuttle you back to your starting destination.
Ice-skating / Hockey
Chamonix's main ice rink is open in summer as well as winter. Come along and enjoy a skate or support Chamonix's local team Les Chamois when they play home matches.
The Chamonix valley is home to one of the largest indoor climbing walls in France. The Mont Blanc Escalade is located in Les Houches and is open all year, with 1250m sq. of climbing surfaces, and more than 100 routes to the roof, ranging from 16 to 21 metres in height. In Chamonix town, there is a good sized bouldering wall in the Sports Centre (Centre Sportif Richard Bozon). There is another climbing wall at the ENSA, but you need to be a member of the local Club des Sports to gain access.
There are various traditional weekly markets around the Chamonix Valley. Every Saturday morning you can head off to Chamonix's Place de Mont Blanc, while there's a summer market at the bottom of the Aiguille du Midi lift every Tuesday. At Les Houches, a farmers market takes place every Wednesday afternoon at a farm on Route du Pont
Chamonix offers some of the best terrain for mountain biking in Europe. There are hundreds of kilometres of fast, smooth and rocky trails available all under the backdrop of Mont Blanc. If you’re not a fan of the uphill, then you can always take the stress out of it all by taking any of the main lifts up and enjoying the descent. Mountain biking in Chamonix has something for all riders, from beginners right up to the more technically advanced. Note that, in French, mountain biking is called VTT (Vélo Tout-Terrain!).
Also see: Mountain Biking in Chamonix
Chamonix is quite simply the Mecca of Alpine Climbing. Whether you are a rock climber, ice climber, ski tourer, or just enjoy being in the mountains, Chamonix really is the place to be. The glaciers and icy slopes of the Mont Blanc Massif offer a massive number of climbing routes for alpinists, while the world famous Chamonix Granite is extremely popular with rock climbers. For beginners, or those in need of a practise, there are the indoor climbing walls in Les Houches or the sunny rock face of the Les Gaillands outdoor wall. Argentiere is the place to head for a spot of bouldering.
Museums & Galleries
The Chamonix Valley offers quite a wide range of museums & galleries to suit all tastes. Most of them open during high season and school holidays.
For those interested in the traditions and customs of the Alps you can head to the Maison de la Memoire et du Patrimoine in Chamonix centre dedicated to the town's history, the Maison de Barberine Museum in Vallorcine an 18th-century house showing pastoral life, the Montagnard Museum in Les Houches to learn about old mountain lifestyles, or the Maison de l'Alpage in Servoz dedicated to agriculture and landscapes.
Being the birthplace of alpinism, the valley also has exhibitions on this sport and on the mountains in general, mainly at the Alpine Museum, while the Espace Tairraz has a nice collection of crystals. At Montenvers you can also visit a range of museums and exhibitions. You can get a taster of the types of gems that have been found in the area at the Crystal Gallery. Hewn out of the rock, the gallery was completely redone in summer 2007 and inside you will now find a wonderful collection of rare and beautiful specimens (quartz, amethyst, pink fluorite, etc. You can also read about some of the greatest crystal hunters of the region to complete the exhibition. The Glaciorum is a very interesting small exhibition on the creation and evolution of the glaciers over the centuries, while the Temple of Nature takes visitors on a trip to the past thanks to an innovative optical theatre system. There you can meet Forbes, Chateaubriand or Louis Pasteur.
Nature Reserves & Parks
Chamonix is surrounded by stunning mountain scenery, being at the foot of western Europe's highest mountain, the Mont Balnc with its 4810m. There are also protected areas around the valley which are perfect for hikes and to see the local flora and fauna in its natural habitat.
The most famous one is the Aiguille Rouge Nature Reserve, a bio-diverse area of around 16,000 hectares with spectacular views of the Col des Montets. On site there is an information centre where you can find out about the animals and plants of the area and buy a drink or snack.
The Parc de Merlet in Les Houches is a great place to spot some local animals in their natural environment. A nature reserve, rather than a zoo, the park is perched on a large plateau high above Les Houches.
Head to the woods at Bois du Bouchet with a team of friends and try your hand at paintball. All equipment is supplied and all you need to do is be a good shot, and know how to duck for cover!
Paragliding / Parapenting
If you’ve never tried paragliding before then Chamonix is a great place to learn how to fly. Known as “parapenting” in France & Switzerland, there are a great number of clubs and organisations in the area whose sole purpose is give you the experience of flying. From the heights of the mountain tops you can glide down to the bottom of the valley on a tandem paraglider controlled by the instructor. He manoeuvres the parachute while the passenger enjoys the ride and fantastic views. Top tip: go on a sunny, warm day when the thermals will keep your airborne for longer.
Petanque / Boules
Petanque is one of the most popular pastimes in France. You can practice it in Les Houches at the Espace Olca (indoor), Vallorcine and Chamonix.
Discover the unusual and secret itineraries behind the scenes. Taste and photograph the unique neighbourhoods and hamlets of the Chamonix valley with a professional photographer. Meet with chefs, artists, craftsmen, and guides… Admire and taste their creations. An activity for people with a passion for photography. Walks take place in Chamonix, Servoz, Les Houches, Le Coupeau, Vallorcine, Montroc... and many other places that you may have yet to discover!
Chamonix has numerous spots along the Valley for cragging. In France it is common to find bolted routes or single pitch or top rope, which makes climbing relatively accessible as less gear is required.
The most popular spot is at Les Gaillands which is within walking distance from the town centre and has an open park which is ideal for barbecues. It is a great location for a day out as it is set next to a lake and has many walking trails nearby, as well as a buvette (snack bar). Les Gaillands is one of the oldest climbing sites in France with the first of its 130 bolted routes being put up in the 1930's by Alfred Couttet. The routes are now maintained by the Compagnie des Guides de Chamonix and offers a variety of slabs, cracks, and overhangs at all levels of difficulty.
Rock Climbing in Vallorcine
At the high end of the Chamonix Valley, twenty minutes by car, sits the pretty village of Vallorcine. Vallorcine is the perfect place to head if you want to escape the busy world of Chamonix, and enjoy some great rock climbing. The options available range from children’s routes to highly technical routes with official climbing grades up to 8a+
La Dalle de Vallorcine
This wide and large climbing wall is a great place to discover the sport and is used by schools and groups for lessons. The face is very easy to get to. Driving from Chamonix turn right just as you enter ‘Le Buet’ and take the signs to the ‘Montets’ campsite. Before the campsite, park and then take the tunnel under the railway and it’s then just a short walk. There are over thirty mid-range climbs available here, ranging from grade 4 to grade 7a. They are typically north-west facing.
Les Perrons de Vallorcine
More challenging climbing with crags up to 370m high is available at Les Perrons de Vallorcine. There are over 20 climbs here on south-east faces that will demand the best from climbers. The way to access these is via the Emosson Dam, accessed from just across the Swiss border at Chatelard. This includes the Bada Boom route – the hardest and longest (at 400m) on Les Perrons.
Bouldering in Grands Montets
Just up from Vallorcine, there are two bouldering areas located on either side of the Col des Montets, with more than 50 problems from 3a to 7c grades. The first is located about 200m from the Col on the Vallorcine side, while the other is on the Col itself, looking back towards the Grands Montets. Parking is roadside or just opposite the Col.
A useful book that has all of the climbs in Vallorcine and the surrounding area detailed is ‘Les classiques et les nouveaux spots de Barberine Gietroz’
Climbing Accommodation in Vallorcine
The Bellevue Alpine Lodge is a friendly, family-run gite in Vallorcine, a short 15min walk from La Dalle de Vallorcine, 3mins drive from the bouldering and 20mins from the access points to Les Perrons de Vallorcine. Five rooms are available as half board or B&B.
With the growing popularity of trail running in the Valley, Chamonix has recently declared itself the Trail Valley. The terrain lends itself perfectly to trail running with the stunning scenery, hundreds of MTB free routes, some fairly significant height gains and a near year round lift network to get you to new stomping grounds.
The Maison Du Trail is a dedicated information site based at the Bois du Bouchet, where two local trail runners will be available to give advice on running in Chamonix. Open everyday during the summer season from 09:00 to 19:00.
Also see: Running in Chamonix
Many people would not automatically think of Chamonix as a place to shop, however, the town boasts some great stores. As you would expect from an outdoor sports resort, there are plenty sports stores where you can get your hands on some of the top mountaineering, ski and snowboard brands but there are also some fashionable clothing stores, and plenty of shops selling traditional mountain goods.
Also see: Shopping in Chamonix
Sky-diving & parachuting
If you want to experience the beauty of the mountains and the thrill of falling through the mountain sky then you can do just that in Chamonix. Various activity companies will teach you all the basics you need to know about skydiving in a quick session and take you up in small plane, and take the leap with you. Skydiving gives you an extreme thrill seeking experience like nothing you have ever done before. It is a truly new experience, with the total free fall at the beginning of the jump and then once your parachute is up the gentle movement through the sky, if you want to give skydiving a go then Chamonix is definitely the place to do it!
Spas & massages
If it is calm and relaxation you are after then head to a luxury day spa or book in for massage therapies and beauty treatments. A day spa is also the perfect activity when the weather turns. You can keep warm and revive aching muscles in saunas, steam rooms and jacuzzis or take a refreshing dip in a swimming pool. Unwind, relax and indulge.
Apart from the squash courts at Chamonix's tennis centre, Argentière has a number of indoor courts situated on the left hand side of the road just after the avalanche bridge as you are driving in from Chamonix. These are both open all day every day, but if you are playing indoors you need a 'light-token' which can be purchased during office hours (09:00 -12:15 and 14:00-19:30 in Chamonix; 15:00-21:30 in Argentière). Prices are around €15 for 1hr/1 court for tennis, and €9 for 45min/1 court (including lights) for squash.
The Chamonix Parc de Loisirs at Planards features a summer luge: 1300m on a roller-coaster rail. Spins, loops and jumps... a roller coaster in the mountains!
There are a number of swimming facilities in the Chamonix valley, from hotel pools, to the sports centre, to the outdoor lakes there are plenty of places you can take a dip. The indoor pool at the Richard Bozon Sports Centre is 25m long and also features a separate children's pool with bubble jets and a water slide. The outdoor pool is 50m long and surrounded by sunbathing terraces and a children's splash pool. There is also a large grassy area by the lake within the sport centre grounds, which has a snack bar and is perfect for sun-bathing or letting the children run around (swimming not allowed in the lake). Bear in mind that chaps of all ages have to wear Speedo style trunks which, rather disturbingly, can be rented at the ticket desk!
Another popular swimming spot is Lac du Passy, just 15-20 minutes drive from Chamonix. Popular with locals and tourists alike, the natural lake has a children's play area, snack bar and toilet/changing facilities. Access to the lake is free but there is a charge for using the car park before 6pm.
There are also a few hotels in town that allow non-residents to use their swimming pools for a small fee the Hotel Excelsior, in Tines, has a nice outdoor pool with sunbathing area and grassy play area. All you have to do to use the pool all day is book a table on the terrace for lunch (the lunches are very nice too!). You can use the swimming pool & the whole spa area the the Hotel Aiglons by booking the lunch & spa package.
Tennis is a great way to enjoy the summer time weather and get your legs moving. A fun activity to do with family and friends you can hop on the court and have a friendly game or enjoy a tennis lesson to improve your technique.
The tennis and squash club in Chamonix is situated just beyond the sports centre and has both indoor and outdoor courts, you can reach it by walking along the path that runs from beside the hotel Alpina alongside the river. You can book group or private lessons and hire rackets if necessary, or just pay for an hour on a court.
There are also tennis courts in Les Houches, by the Chavants Lake, as well as in Servoz.
Tours & excursions
The Mer de Glace is undoubtedly one of the most popular visitor attractions in the Chamonix Valley, and rightly so. It is one of the largest glaciers and one of the most beautiful ones. You can access it via the Montenvers train and visit the ice cave once you're there.
Other points of interest at Montenvers are the Crystal Gallery, the Museum of Alpine Fauna, various nature trails and the famous Hotel du Montenvers. Built in 1880, the hotel is an integral part of Chamonix’ history. It was well renovated in 2003 but still retains its rustic charms and authenticity. The restaurant serves a variety of traditional dishes either indoors or on its impressive terrace and it also has a 33 bed dormitory that is still a popular stop off for hikers and mountaineers today. Leading on from there are a number of beautiful walks and hikes: Forbes Signal – for truly spectacular views of the Mer de Glace (approx: 1hr up and 30 mins back down – 300m total ascent), Grand Balcon Nord – leading from Montenvers across to the Plan d’Aiguille (approx: 2h30 – 3hrs) or the descent back to Chamonix through larch and pine forests, via the original Mule Trail (approx. 1h45).
One way to find your way around town in the summer is to hop aboard the miniature tourist train that trundles daily through Chamonix from early May to mid-October. From 10:00 to 19:00 it makes its way past the sights of Chamonix with a multi-lingual commentary telling you about the history and culture of the area. It leaves every 30 minutes from outside the Post Office, the Montenvers Train Station and the Aiguille du Midi lift station. It costs 6€ for adults and 4€ for children, and operates throughout the summer months only.
In Servoz, the Gorges de la Diosaz are a series of natural waterfalls that gush down through a deep gorge. By following a man-made footpath you can walk along the side of the gorge, learning about the geology and the remarkable history of the gorges as you go. To walk all the way along and back takes around an hour and a half at a gentle pace. This walk is suitable for children of all ages, but the path is not suitable for pushchairs and although there are safety barriers you are advised to keep hold of small children by the hand. The gorges are open from June through until September, the most impressive time to visit is after heavy rainfall when they are at full flow. Although outdoors the walkway is sheltered by trees and overhanging rock, so this a great activity for wet weather days. Children under 5 go free and there are reduced rates for children under 16, seniors and groups of ten or more people. Servoz can be accessed by train from Chamonix, the Gorges are just a 5 minute walk from Servoz train station.
Tree-top / Forest adventures
Just across from the Montenvers train station you will find the Chamonix Leisure Park at Les Planards – an action packed fun area that is a magnet for children and families in the summer and winter months. The lower part of the area is packed with activities for kids of all ages. Little ones can bounce on the safely enclosed trampolines, clamber on the adventure climbing frame or ride round the mini go-cart track. The Adventure Park is a safe but challenging adventure course through the trees. A network of ropes, bridges, zip lines, balance beams and scramble nets will test your head for heights as you traverse the forest high above the valley floor.
At the Kid's Arbre Aventure in Les Houches you can let your kids (from 4-8 years old) enjoy climbing through the trees in a completely safe and enjoyable adventure. Your child’s harness and ropes are secured by an instructor at the outset to a permanent secured safety-line from start to finish - watch them cross bridges, slides, and beams like monkeys! Prices are €9 for individuals or €11 for groups of more than four. In good weather, opening times are from 09:30 with the last departure allowed at 18:00, although you can book in advance when the weather is less favourable. The circuit takes around 1h30 to complete although there is no time-limit. All necessary equipment is provided.
There are further adventure parks at Les Tines and Lac de Gaillands.
If climbing up sheer rock on the end of a piece of rope sounds a bit scary then Via Ferrata climbing offers an element of security that still allows beginners to enjoy the achievement of having scaled a mountain! This form of climbing was invented by Italian soldiers in the Dolomites who used it to enable them to scale vertiginous faces easily and quickly. These days it is a popular sport that makes the thrill of mountain climbing more accessible to children, beginners and those who want a bit more security when they climb. Following marked routes through the mountains you are helped along by steps, bridges and ladders whilst being roped up for extra safety. Suitable for adults and children over the age of 8; guides can be arranged on request.
The Mer de Glace is easily accessible from Chamonix town centre. Take the Montenvers train and, from the station, descend the ladders down on to the Mer de Glace following the signs marked ‘Le Refuge’. Cross the glacier heading for the white square painted on the opposite rock face, from here you will find a well-marked Via Ferrata route that consists of around 30 ladders and, if climbed to the end, finishes at the Refuge de Couvercle. One way should take around 4-5 hours, there is a shorter return route through Les Egralets that takes a further 3 hours.
Further afield, there is also a Via Ferrata route above Passy. The route sits under the Aiguille de Varan on a cliff face and climbs up 180 metres over a length of 400 emtres. Access to the spot from car park takes 20 minutes and then the average time to complete the Via Ferrata takes 1 hour 30.
Walking & Hiking
As the snow disappears after winter, the valley gradually reveals its 600kms (400 miles) of well-maintained, signposted hiking trails. Whether you prefer gentle walking along the valley floor or making a day of it, scaling some of the high altitude routes, Chamonix has something for you to enjoy.
There's so much to choose from that the only difficulty comes in picking a route to do! Fortunately, the Chamonix Valley possess one of the most complete, well sign-posted and well maintained network of mountain footpaths in the Haute Savoie region. Walking here can be as easy or as technical as you want it to be. Below are some of our tried and tested suggestions for walks and hikes in the area. Check out our walking and hiking guide for more information.
Also see: Walking Routes in Chamonix
If you haven't experienced white water rafting before then this is a definite 'must try' on your list of activities to do! There are a number of trained guides in resort who will let you experience some of the best white water rafting available in the Alps. From the middle of May until September, the mountain rivers flow furiously as they are fed from the melt waters running off the glaciers high above the town. There are various options available from a three hour adrenaline rush to a full days excursion - this activity is guaranteed not to disappoint.
The beautiful mountain scenery lends itself to relaxing yoga classes under the sun, while more energetic sessions can prepare your legs for trail running or hiking. There are various companies and spas offering a wide range of yoga lessons in the valley during the summer.