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Hiking trail

Plan d’Aiguille to Chamonix via Montenvers

Hiking trail · Rhône-Alpes
Responsible for this content
Macs Adventure Verified partner  Explorers Choice 
  • Plan d'Aiguilles Cable Car Station
    / Plan d'Aiguilles Cable Car Station
    Photo: Augustijn vanGaalen, Macs Adventure
  • Right in front of the restaurant, take a left and follow the walking path to Montenvers.
    / Right in front of the restaurant, take a left and follow the walking path to Montenvers.
    Photo: Augustijn vanGaalen, Macs Adventure
  • The view up to Aiguilles du Midi, one of the absolute highlights of your trip.
    / The view up to Aiguilles du Midi, one of the absolute highlights of your trip.
    Photo: Augustijn vanGaalen, Macs Adventure
  • Views from the Plan d'Aiguilles
    / Views from the Plan d'Aiguilles
    Photo: Augustijn vanGaalen, Macs Adventure
  • The Montenvers train and cable car station.
    / The Montenvers train and cable car station.
    Photo: Augustijn vanGaalen, Macs Adventure
  • Montenvers Mer de Glace
    / Montenvers Mer de Glace
    Photo: Augustijn vanGaalen, Macs Adventure
  • / Cross the Traintrack here and you will see the walking sign slanted away from you.
    Photo: Augustijn vanGaalen, Macs Adventure
1500 2000 2500 3000 m km 2 4 6 8 10

This walk combines some of the most popular sights of the Mont Blanc region – the stunning views and breath-taking scenery at Aiguilles du Midi and the Mer de Glace, one of the biggest glaciers in Continental Europe – with fantastic walking in between.

easy
11.4 km
4:40 h
120 m
1377 m

Today is full of possibilities! Take the cable car from Chamonix to Plan d’Aiguille to start your walk. However, we thoroughly recommend that you take the cable car all the way to the top, to Aiguille du Midi, which towers above at a staggering 3,842 meters. This is certainly the highest point you will get all trip and will give you unparalleled views. When you’re finished, make your way back down to Plan d’Aiguille, which serves as an intermediate stop between top and bottom and start your relaxing walk back down to Chamonix. With only a small and relatively short climb, this day is one of mostly descents, taking you down into Montenvers, previously renowned for its Grand Hotel, which provided accommodation for some of the first mountaineers. Here you can take another cable car down to the Mer de Glace, one of the largest ice glaciers in Europe, before either taking the train back to Chamonix or choosing to walk back. Either way, today is a day of many sights, but one that allows you the flexibility to choose what you’re interested in.

Author’s recommendation

Aiguille du Midi is an absolute highlight of today, and indeed of the whole trip, so make sure to take some time to explore the many different features and views it has to offer - they are all fantastic! If you intend on taking the cable car all the way to the top,  it is very popular and queues can be long, so it's best to get up early in an attempt to beat the crowds and giving you plenty of time to complete the walk. 

outdooractive.com User
Author
Augustijn vanGaalen
Updated: March 08, 2019

Difficulty
easy
Technique
Stamina
Experience
Landscape
Highest point
2304 m
Lowest point
1037 m
Best time of year
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

Safety information

The most important thing to remember is that if you intend to go up to Aiguille du Midi, that you dress appropriately. This entails warm clothing, a hat, strong sunscreen, and anything else you may need. Also, please remember that because of the high altitude, it is possible to feel a little bit unwell. In this case, the only thing to do is to descend back to a lower altitude.

Equipment

Bring warm clothing if you intend to go to Aiguille du Midi, along with any other essentials you may need. Obviously a camera for capturing some of the views is also crucial!

Sturdy hiking boots will suffice for today's walk. Although it isn't too technical of a descent, you may be more comfortable with walking poles.

Tips, hints and links

Although there are opportunities for food at Aiguille du Midi, it will be more expensive and it might be slightly busier. We recommend bringing plenty of snacks so that you can always go your own pace and work around your own schedule. The tickets for a cable car ride to the top and back cost around 60 euros (June 2017) and for the Plan d’Aiguille it is about half, so make sure you bring plenty of cash or your card for paying with.

Points of Interest:

Aiguille du Midi

Description:

At 3842 m, Aiguille du Midi is the highest mountain peak that you will reach during this trip and is the closest you will get to the Mont Blanc.

Summary:

On a clear day, you will be able to see many different peaks from the various viewing areas and platforms, including of course the imposing Mont Blanc Summit. It is also possible to see other iconic peaks, like the Matterhorn. The complex boasts several restaurants, a museum (the highest museum in the world) and several panoramic viewing platforms, along with a newly built ‘Step into the Void’ feature. For more information about the Aiguille du Midi, make sure to check the weblink below.

Weblink:

https://www.chamonix.net/english/leisure/sightseeing/aiguille-du-midi

Mer de Glace

Description

The Mer de Glace (Sea of Ice), which is over 7 km long and 200 m deep, is the largest ice glacier in France, and one of the largest in Europe.

Summary

From Montenvers train station it is possible to take a short cable car ride down to the Mer de Glace. Near the Mer de Glace you will also be able to see the Ice Grotto, a man-made structure which is rebuilt every year. This is because the Glacier moves approximately 70 meters every year.

You may also be interested in visiting the Glacorium, which was built in 2012 and features several exhibitions explaining the formation of glaciers and how they form.

Weblink:

https://www.chamonix.net/english/leisure/sightseeing/mer-de-glace

 

 

 

This walk is included in the following itineraries: 

WFSCWMB

WFGRMC

Start

Plan d'Auiguille (2303 m)
Coordinates:
Geographic
45.901274, 6.885395
UTM
32T 335971 5085252

Destination

Chamonix Train Station

Turn-by-turn directions

0.00 km – As you exit the cable car at Plan d’Aiguilles, you will walk down a set of stairs. Walk STRAIGHT ON towards the restaurant. As you approach the restaurant you will see a walking path to your left.

0.05 km – TURN LEFT and follow sign for Montenvers Mer de Glace for about 300 meters.

0.35 km – You will reach a point next to a large boulder, almost parallel to one of the cable car pillars. TURN RIGHT here and you will see the path snake along the side of the cliff.

0.80 km – There is a path either side of you as you descend. TURN RIGHT and walk away from the cable car and follow this for about 1.3 km, keeping on the main path.

2.10 km – After some large boulders, you will come to a signpost. Continue STRAIGHT ON, following signs for Montenvers Mer de Glace.

3.40 km – You will reach a fork in the road with another signpost. BEAR RIGHT and take the upper path.

4.40 km – At ‘Le Signal’ signpost, continue STRAIGHT ON, following the path to Montenvers Mer de Glace.

4.70 km – Continue STRAIGHT ON, following the path down the mountain, ignoring a path on your right.

5.50 km – Ignore a small path on your left and continue STRAIGHT ON, following the main path.

5.50 km – You will come to a clearing. TURN RIGHT and take a wide walking path down to the main street in Montenvers.

5.50 km – If you wish to see the Mer de Glace, TURN RIGHT and walk beside the train track and under an overpass until you get to the station. Here you will be able to take the train back to Chamonix and get tickets for the Cable Car down to Glace de Mer. Make sure to check the times of both of these ahead of time to ensure that you have enough time for your whole itinerary.

5.50 km – If you are continuing your walk to Chamonix, TURN LEFT instead, following a sign for Chamonix.

5.60 km – At the fork in the road, BEAR RIGHT and then immediately TURN RIGHT down the walking path Le Viaduc, leading towards Chamonix.

5.70 km – Ignore path sloping up to your right and continue STRAIGHT ON, following the main path.

5.70 km – Ignore path leading down to railroad tracks and TURN LEFT with the main path.

5.90 km – Ignore a path that bears right, signposted as Chamonix par la Buvette. Continue STRAIGHT ON, following the main path that you are on.

6.20 km – TURN LEFT, following a sign for Chamonix par Cailler, ignoring smaller paths you may see.

7.00 km – TURN RIGHT as the path veers down the mountain, ignoring a smaller path on the right.

7.30 km – As you walk down the train tracks you will see a path on the opposite side. Be very careful when crossing and make sure there are no train approaching. Once you have crossed TURN RIGHT on the opposite side of the train tracks and follow the path as it leads downwards.

7.60 km – At the small restaurant, continue STRAIGHT ON past the house, following signs to Chamonix.

9.10 km – Cross the train tracks and BEAR LEFT on the path towards Chamonix.

9.20 km – TURN RIGHT, keeping on the main path, following the sign for Sentier.

9.40 km – As you come to a small intersection, TURN RIGHT on the stone track that leads down the mountain.

9.70 km – Continue on the same path as it BEARS LEFT.

10.20 km – At he fork in the road, BEAR LEFT, following signs for La Frasse and Les Mouilles.

10.50 km – Continue STRAIGHT ON, walking between various play areas and restaurants until you reach a carpark.

10.70 km – BEAR LEFT, walking down the car park, with the train tracks on your right, until you come to a busy road.

10.90 km - TURN RIGHT, crossing the train tracks and then TURN LEFT immediately hterafter, towards the Mer de Glace Train Station.

11.10 km – As you approach the Train Station, TURN RIGHT, following a large sign that says ‘Chamonix Centre Ville’ and ‘Gare SNCF’. This walkway will take you right to Chamonix Station.

11.40 km – Congratulations, you’re back in Chamonix, where it all began!

Public transport

Today, you will take the Aiguille du Midi cable car to the mid-way station, ‘Plan de l’Aiguille’ at 2,317m. The cable car is a very popular attraction and in the high season queues can be long, so we recommend an early start, particularly if you intend on taking the cable car all the way to the top before descending back to Plan de l’Aiguille to start your walk. This cable car is open year round and more details can be found here: https://www.chamonix.net/english/lift-systems/dates-times#aiguille-du-midi 

 

From the Plan de l’Aiguille, start today’s walk to Montenvers. Once you have finished exploring the Montenvers area, take the Montenvers train back to Chamonix. More info and operating times etc. can be found here: https://www.chamonix.com/montenvers-timetables-and-rates,181,en.html 

Arrival by train, car, foot or bike


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Difficulty
easy
Distance
11.4 km
Duration
4:40 h
Ascent
120 m
Descent
1377 m

Statistics

: h
 km
 m
 m
Highest point
 m
Lowest point
 m
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