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Trip List by Meleze74

Five Favourite Walks in Chamonix

30 May 2009  These are walks that I do again and again, in all seasons, and never tire of.
4.5 of 5 bubbles based on 7 votes

A selection of my favourite walks in the Chamonix valley, with something for all abilities.

  • Category: Best of
  • Traveler type: Sightseeing, Active/Outdoors, Never been before
  • Appeals to: Couples/romantics, Honeymooners, Singles, Families with teenagers, Large groups, Students, Active/adventure, Pet owners
  • Seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall
  • 1. Grand Balcon Nord (the Vallot walk). Mountain views framed with pines and larches

    If you only do one walk in Chamonix, this is a good choice. High valley walk from Plan de l'Aigulle (midstation of the Aiguille du Midi) to Montenvers railway station, slight downhill with spectacular views at every twist and turn of the path, as you dip in and out of the treeline. You often see marmots at the Chamonix end.
    I personally prefer to walk the other direction, with a little height gain, as you have Mont Blanc in front of you, but it's beautiful in either direction. Strong walkers can combine it with the Rochers des Mottets (below) or even walk back down from the Plan de l'Aiguille, though I don't particularly reccomend this, it's scenic for the first section only, long, and tough on the knees - sticks are an absolute must.
    The Forbes Signal variant on the other hand, which is clearly signed from the path, takes a little longer and involves more uphill, but it's well worth it.
    If you get the lift at one end and the train at the other, it's possible to buy a return ticket that works on both - ask for this when you buy the ticket at either the Montenvers or Aiguille du Midi station, and explain what you want to do.
    If you haven't been up the Aiguille du Midi you can combine it with this walk for a really spectacular trip - it will be a full day so start early if you plan to do this.

  • 2. Montenvers via the Rochers des Mottets - explore the woods and vistas of the valley sides

    Start from either Chamonix or Les Praz - head for the Petit Balcon Nord and look for the signs to Montenvers via the Rochers des Mottets. Two or three hour long ascent through varied and beautiful terrain - pine woods, glacier-gouged rock and high alpine flowers. Just after midway, there's a lovely little cafe in a gorgeous setting. The last part beside the Mer de Glace takes you up to Montenvers, where you can descend on the railway or combine it with the Grand Balcon Nord (above)

  • 3. Vallorcine to Col des Montets on the Chemin des Diligences - easy and pretty through meadows and beside streams.

    Very easy walk, suitable for everyone, ideal for families. From the Vallorcine train station, follow the old coaching road (once, this would have been part of the Grand Tour, as followed by Byron, Shelley and other Victorian Romantics) It runs through the alpage (high meadows) where there are often cattle with cowbells munching the flowers, and along the side of a stream. It's clearly signed to Col des Montets, where you have a wonderful view over the valley, and there's a nature trail and chalet with information displays on the animals and plants of the area. You can continue to explore from here, or return the same way. Don't forget to note the train times. Incidentally the station restaurant at Vallorcine is excellent, or you can picnic in the meadows.

  • 4. Lac Blanc - High alpine walk to beautiful pale green mountain lake

    This is an amazing walk above the treeline, leading to a wonderful mountain lake, which remains ice-covered well into summer. You can walk up from Flegere (less technical but more uphill) or across from the Index (less uphill but can be more difficult - large rocks, late snow etc). Either way, it's one of the most famous walks in the Alps for the jaw-dropping panorama over the Mer de Glace and Mont Blanc. Can get hot, since it's not shaded, so best done in the morning.

  • 5. Eat in a riot of flowers at Chalet Floria

    Easy ascent to flower-covered terrace with panoramic valley views. Start at Les Praz - there is a trail that leads up from the Moulin des Artistes, near the Peugeot garage, or another from the Golf club or Flegere base. Alternatively, from Chamonix, head up the south side of the valley until you hit the Petit Balcon Sud and then continue along it until you see the signs for Chalet Floria. About 45 minutes uphill walk, shaded, with very pretty views. You can continue the walk up to Flegere, which is well worth doing, and combine it with Lac Blanc (above) if you have a full day.

  • 6. Safety

    Please note that you should always be properly equipped for walking. Weather can change very quickly in the mountains, and be aware that some paths can be quite exposed. The advice from the high mountain office in Chamonix (link above) is a good place to start - they can also provide you with information of the state of the paths - for instance, snow can linger on the high ones right into July. If you're walking alone, you can register with them for safety
    They are very helpful and can be contacted via phone or email.

    You can buy an excellent map for about 4 euros from the tourist office and various other places, which is well worth getting.