Experience the French Alps

A couple weeks ago, we tagged along with a couple friends to Chamonix, France. Nestled in the Chamonix Mont-Blanc valley of the French Alps, Chamonix is the perfect location to experience the mountains up close and find spectacular views all summer long.

Since we went in early May, the trips to the peak of Mont Blanc were still closed because of the snow, but we were able to still enjoy a majority of the with sights with the partial pass.

For 33€, you get a ticket for the railway up Montenvers, which offers panoramic views of the valley, access to a viewing platform of the glacier, an ice cave, a crystal exhibit, and more! (A full roundtrip pass at 63€ which gives you access to the highest viewing platform, the rest of the lifts, and hiking paths throughout the area). The train takes about twenty minutes and drops you off at a 1913m (6275ft) altitude where you’ll view the Mer de Glace glacier.

A panoramic view of the glacier. You can sometimes here rubble and avalanches from the surrounding mountains. On a clear day, you can see the peak of Mont-Blanc.

From the viewing platform, you can take a cable car down into the glacier, which lets you off at a set of stairs to the heart of the glacier.

During the warmer months, you can walk down to the glacier. You can also take a cable car halfway and take the remaining 480 stairs to the cave.

There are 480 steps and the weather can be unpredictable, so definitely take note if you are traveling with kids or less-mobile companions. Along the walk down, keep an eye out for the plaques that mark how deep the glacier was in past years.

The Ice Cave is recarved each year since the glacier moves around 70m annually.

At the bottom of the stairs, we entered the Ice Cave (Grotte de Glace). Carved out of the living glacier each year, the cave is a unique experience annually. This year it was lined with lighting, historical pictures of the glacier, and even an ice chair. We thought it was neat how you could see through the layers of ice and how it needs to be recut since it moves around 70m (230ft) per year!

Feeling like an Ice Queen in the Grotte de Glace in the shadow of Mont-Blanc.

The town Chamonix itself is full of souvenir shops and restaurants serving traditional French and Swiss French fare. The prices are going to be high (15€ for a single person fondue, 2€ for a postcard) so be prepared! (But we recommend not skipping the fondue 🧀).

We drove there (and thus got to enjoy the views of the peaks and waterfalls from the highway!), but there are also bus routes and trains available from the major surrounding cities (such as Geneva, Switzerland). Overall, if you are traveling through Europe between May and September and want an authentic Alp experience, we definitely recommend it!