In the foothills of Mont Blanc, the tallest mountain in Western Europe, the alpine town of Chamonix attracts people from all over the world with its charming atmosphere and spectacular scenery. The town has one of the highest cable cars worldwide.
The climbing, walking, hiking and skiing are excellent and provide the most fun ways to combine adventure with sightseeing. However, pedestrians can enjoy many excursions as well.
While you can take in a stunning view of the mountains from anywhere, the lifts offer the best vantage point.
The Aiguille du Midi cable car starts at the valley floor and rises to over 12,000 feet. The views from the terraces at the highest station are breathtaking. Another way to see the mountains is the take the Montenvers train. This funicular railway rises from the valley floor all the way to the massive Mer de Glace glacier. However, many visitors find the best views of Mont Blanc are at the top of the Brevent cable car.
Mont Blanc Tramway
As the last mountain rack-rail train in France, the Mont Blanc Tramway is the highest railway in the Haute-Savoie area of France. The Compagnie du Mont-Blanc operates the line. This cog railway travels up from Le Fayet, between pastures, meadows and small alpine lakes, by Les Houches to the Nid d'Aigle, or Eagle's Nest.
The rail line has three antique trains, and each is painted a different color of red, blue and green. In addition, each car is named for a daughter of the original owner in 1957. The names Marie, Jeanneare and Anne are painted in gold on each car.
The original story in the 1950s recounts the tale of Pierre Noury, who had eight children. In 1957, the Tramway bought four new trains, and each was to be named after one of the four daughters. The fourth train never got delivered, so the fourth daughter, Marguerite, never got her namesake.
Things to Do and See in the Region
Visitors can participate in several activities in the Bellevue terminus:
- An old-world visit into the breathtaking nature on a mountain rack-rail train.
- Stroll along a pedestrian path that follows the Voza Pass.
- Take in panoramic views of the Chamonix and Contamines valleys and the Bionnassay glacier.
- Snowboarders and skiers have direct access to the Les Houches/Saint-Fervais ski area.
- Snowshoe enthusiasts and cross-country skiers can take the Bellevue cross-country ski plateau.
- Sledgers and snowshoers can go alongside the rail to the Voza Pass.
- Experienced climbers and hikers can access the Gouter and Tete Rousse refuges on the ascent of Mont-Blanc. The Nid d'Aigle route is climbed by mountaineers from all over the globe every year.
Generally, world-class mountain climbers enjoy the best views on their ascents up the grades. However, the cafÃ© at Summit 3842 has 360-degree vistas of the Italian, French and Swiss Alps, Mont Blanc and its neighboring peaks. Hikers can visit historic mountain huts on their travels through the wilderness in the summer, and skiers enjoy spectacular ski runs in the winter. Chamonix is a perfect place for outdoor enthusiasts every season of the year.