Chamonix is opening in preparation for the summer, and we at Chamonix Homes are ready to welcome you back to this beautiful alpine valley. There is so much to do in the summertime in the mountains, and you don’t need to be a mountaineer or trail runner to enjoy what is on offer.
The Aiguille du Midi lift resumed operating on the 19th May, in time for skiers and alpinists to make the most of all the late season snow we have been receiving, and of course for sight-seeing opportunities to marvel at the spectacle of the high mountains.
The rest of the lifts in the valley are all due to open throughout May and June in time for a summer of exploring the beautiful mountains of this valley.
This is your Chamonix Homes guide on what to do when you come to visit the Chamonix valley in the summertime.
The landscape of the Chamonix valley is hard to comprehend, as a first-time visitor one of the best ways to access the mountains and take in the spectacle is by the Montenvers Railway which dates back to 1909, and pay a visit to the Mer de Glace – the largest glacier in France at 7.5 km long and 200 metres deep but, when all its tributary glaciers are taken into account, it can be regarded as the longest and largest glacier in France, and the second longest in the Alps.
Explore the science and history of glaciers in the Glaciorium, a small, but excellent, museum that offers an alarming perspective on the planet’s warming climate. Visitors can enter the belly of the glacier itself by touring the Mer de Glace ice cave, which is re-sculpted every year.
Chamonix town itself is a great place to spend an hour or two meandering through the busy streets, with plenty of options for outdoors sports gear to get you into the mountains, and lots of outdoor dining for taking a meal or an apéro, whether that be traditional French cuisine, fast food or delicious cakes from one of the many pâtissiers with some afternoon tea or a glass of wine. Stop by one of the bookstores in the town centre, to stock up on route maps, hiking guides and mountaineering literature in French, English and other languages.
The other must do attraction in Chamonix is to take the stomach-dropping cable car ride up to the top of the Aiguille du Midi, an icy, steep peak that hosts a cluster of buildings and walkways for visitors to explore. The cable car whisks you straight from the busy streets of Chamonix into one of the continent’s harshest and most beautiful landscapes. From the top of the lift, hardened mountaineers set off on expeditions to the summit of Mont Blanc and beyond. But no ice axes are required to tour the Aiguille du Midi complex where you can browse exhibits on the history of mountaineering and the geology of the Mont Blanc massif. Those feeling brave can walk through a glass-floored exhibit, Step into the Void, that dangles over a 1,500m drop.
Chamonix hosts many cultural events throughout the summer and 2021 is no exception.
Our favourite at Chamonix Homes is the CosmoJazz Festival, which takes place from the 24th to 31st July, daily.
The CosmoJazz festival started in 2010 and is the most spectacular musical event in Chamonix Mont Blanc with free concerts taking place throughout the valley at altitude, at carefully selected natural amphitheatres in the high mountains, as well as in the Couttet Park in the centre of town and finishing at the Maison d’Artistes, late into the night.
Concerts at altitude take place during the day on sites chosen by the festival for the majestic backdrops and the exceptional panoramas that they offer to anyone wanting to contemplate the meaning of life. The concerts are integrated as naturally as possible and the artists who perform there are programmed according to the place and the music that each natural context inspires, fuelled by the desire to share with you a feeling of elevation in the air of the Alps and music.
There is a weekly Saturday market in Chamonix, which we feel counts as a cultural event! It’s a great way of finding local produce from the surrounding area and into Italy and Swizterland too. Whether you are after local cheeses, honeys and preserves or fresh pasta from Italy, you can find it all in the market, as well as some great opportunities for watching the world pass by.
Chamonix Film Festival from 8th to 13th June 2021. For all mountain lovers and adventure seekers, Chamonix must be the perfect location for an international mountain film festival. A festival featuring the best films of the year, selected by a committee of specialists and judged by a jury of personalities from the world of mountaineering.
The festival evenings will start with meetings organised at PlanB, the festival base camp. Festival evenings will kick off with events at our festival basecamp, hotel PlanB. Talks, presentations, master classes, or meet friends for an apéro before the film screenings. Each evening, the film screenings will take place in the three theatres of the Vox cinema, from 8pm to midnight.
The 23rd Baroque Festival, A series of exceptional concerts held in the different towns and villages of the Mont Blanc region, discover Baroque art, and participate in events and activities, from 09th to 19th July 2021.
Chamonix is world renowned for its hiking, the standout tours being the Tour du Mont Blanc and the hikers Haute Route starting in Chamonix and finishing in Zermatt. Besides these iconic routes there are many hundreds of kilometres of hiking trails throughout the valley and the neighbouring regions with something for everyone.
There are lift accessed balcony routes allowing you to leave the hard work of climbing up and descending to the more adventurous, or you can find valley floor trails for an afternoon of exploring or why not plan full day or multi day routes throughout the valley and beyond. There are plenty of maps and guidebooks available in the shops in town, or to maximise your time, why not consider hiring a hiking guide.
Mountaineering is not an exclusive sport and there are high-mountain routes to suit all levels of fitness and ability. One of our favourite routes which is considered a hike by some is Mont Buet at just over 3,000m which takes you up the stunning Berard valley in the Aiguilles Rouges nature reserve. But there is no doubt it is a tough ascent even if it isn’t that technical!
Taking it up a step or two you have the Petit Flambeau, a small rocky outcrop on the Géant Glacier on the Italian side of the massive glacial expanse opposite the Aiguille du Midi. Our favourite as an introduction to mountaineering for the more adventurous that should only be done with a guide if you are inexperienced, is the Cosmiques Arête, which can easily be accessed from the Aiguille du Midi lift.
There is something for everyone in Chamonix from the introductory mountaineering routes to some of the hardest routes in the world.
Ask any of the professional athletes living in the Chamonix valley where the best place to trail run in the world is and they will inevitably tell you it is the place they have decided to call home. Chamonix boasts some of the most accessible technical terrain you can encounter anywhere and is home to the world famous Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc, as well as many other tough ultra-races throughout the summer.
For those of you that prefer to run for the connection with nature and the solitude you only need head out of Chamonix and a short distance from the lift systems and even in the middle of summer you can find yourself alone on the trails for long stretches. And with the excellent network of mountain huts throughout the valley and beyond you can choose to do a few days or a week or more of trail running, journeying from hut to hut each day.
Paragliding is not just for the experts; in the Chamonix valley you have the option to fly tandem, and you need no experience whatsoever. There are many companies offering tandem flights with fully qualified pilots, after a simple briefing and a few steps you are airborne. For more information check out what our partners Evolution 2 Chamonix can offer you.
These iconic events are throughout the summer with the first at the end of June and the last one the end of September, and you don’t need to be a trail runner to enjoy the races, as nearly all the events start and finish in the centre of Chamonix, and bring a real festival feeling to the town during the summer. Our favourite race at Chamonix Homes has to be the Trail des Aiguilles Rouges and two of our staff are entering this year.
Arcteryx Alpine Academy, Chamonix
For this 10th edition, held from the 1st to 4th July, the schedule will be a hybrid format of clinics and activations in the Chamonix valley, in parallel with a digital line-up of films and speakers – all brought to you by a team of world-leading mountain guides and athletes. To view the full program schedule please visit the Arcteryx Alpine Academy website.