We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Chamonix trip report June 2009

Which Chamonix hotels are on sale?
dd/mm/yyyy dd/mm/yyyy
See hotels
Fulton, New York
Level Contributor
241 posts
25 reviews
Save Topic
Chamonix trip report June 2009

Back from France for about 2 weeks now, and just getting around to post. Thank you to all who provided information about the area, what a gem! And since I didn't find too many trip reports on the area, I wanted to provide some info on our trip for others to use in their planning.

We spent four full days in Chamonix, and could have stayed for a week more and still not seen everything we wanted to. Arrive on June 16 to Geneva, picked up our car, and drove to Chamonix. We didn't have time to use the car to explore the area, so spending money on the additional drive was a waste. But did feel better about having the GPS - bring your own if you have one, but worth the rental. The drive is short and breathtaking. You will need money for the tolls, under 10 euros. Both sides take Swiss/Euros. I won't go into the details about the problems we had with our ATM card, but suffice it to say, make sure you have a back up credit card, and at least some cash in your own currency to change a bit if you are in a pinch. There is an AMEX change both in the arrivals hall.

We rented our apartment from JK Chamonix, small 1 bedroom with sofabed. Good for 2 adults and 1-2 children, but not a lot of storage space. We had our 8 yo daughter with us, so she didn't take up too much room! A quick 5-10 minute walk into town you will find groceries, pharmacy and plenty of restaurants, shops and bakeries to keep you busy. We traveled in mid June, so it was not crowded at all, and only found one restaurant closed until July.

We hiked most days - first stopped by the Office du Tourisme and they gave us some nice maps to use. Did the Gailland walk the first day, took the free bus back to Chamonix, although it wasn't that far. Day two was the Aiguille du Midi, which took most of the day. We bought the Mont Blanc multipass, which is available at all of the major lift locations. The views were breathtaking, highly recommended, and I am not a lover of heights! We also did the Lac Bleu hike at the Plan du Aiguille which was wonderful. Bring your picnic to eat here, lovely views and nice spots to sit and just look around. We also hiked down to the Mer de Glace, but it was closed at the time so we couldn't go into the Ice Cave. And then took the lift to Planpraz and le Brevent, unfortunately it was cloudy so we couldn't see much, but wanted to make the most of our multipass.

We tried to get to Le Planards where they have the summer luge - but it didn't open until July, which was our only major disappointment of our time in Chamonix. The rest of Le Planards is good for the under 8 crowd. This park is located across the street from the Montenvers train station that brings you to the Mer de Glace.

Food - our favorites were Valentino's in town and Le Boccalatte just outside of town near our apartment. Everyone had a kids menu available, which was mostly chicken nuggets, fries, and ice cream for dessert. Some places had pasta or steak as choices, but my daughter sure got her fill of ice cream! 90% of locals spoke some English, but if you tried to speak French, we found they appreciated it and our minimal high school French came back very quickly! Many wonderful cheese, bread, chocolate shops around.

Helpful hints:

-If you have kids with you be sure to carry some extra snacks/croissant with you during your hikes, they can be more strenuous than you think. We brought our Nintendo DS with us, but you'll need a European Nintendo charging adapter to charge it - it doesn't accept the 220v. Also, there is a McDonald's in town, just in case!

-We brought our hydration pack with us, and filled it the night before to make it really cold. Went through the entire bag during our hikes, esp with the altitude. And it also had enough room in it to hold other items as a day pack. We also brought empty water bottles, but mostly used the hydration pack.

-We also brought the Rick Steves picnic set, but only ended up using it once. You could pack a few plastic forks, etc. if you think you'll picnic a lot, otherwise don't bother.

-Pack light, but smart. It was warmer than usual while we were there, so I was glad we took a few tank tops with us. Layering is great, and bring a rainjacket and umbrella, it rained one full day we were there.

-There is a full service laundery in Chamonix Sud called Cham Laverie. We dropped off our stuff, came back several hours later, and everything was neatly folded for us, for about 11euro. Well worth it!

I'm sure there is much more, but feel free to email me with any questions. Loved Chamonix and hope to get back someday!

Michigan
Destination Expert
for Saint Joseph
Level Contributor
981 posts
36 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Chamonix trip report June 2009

Thanks for your great report. Wr will be there in Sept for 4 nights and I am trying to decide how to make the most of our short time there. Weather will make a difference I lnow. I hope to buy a multi day pass too. Did you see or hear about the Arbre Adventure place? Ziplines etc. I wonder if it is worth the time? I also want to do the day trip drive thru the Mont Blanc tunnel to Aosta Italy and then over the St Bernard pass -- then back to Chamonix.

Thanks for the restaurant tips!

Boston
Level Contributor
923 posts
1 review
Save Reply
2. Re: Chamonix trip report June 2009

Thanks for the great trip report. We were there skiing in April and I said I would like to retun to go hiking. A very nice place.

pragaras
9 posts
Save Reply
3. Re: Chamonix trip report June 2009

TravDreamer, the exact trip (Mont Blanc, Aosta, St.Bernard) we did this spring from Geneva. I found, that St.Bernards pass was even more impressive and Aosta very nice small city with lovely walking street and ruins of Roman amphitheatre

Michigan
Destination Expert
for Saint Joseph
Level Contributor
981 posts
36 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Chamonix trip report June 2009

We are looking forward to our trip and now even more for that day trip drive. Hope we have some good weather!

Bonn, Germany
Level Contributor
18 posts
9 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Chamonix trip report June 2009

Thanks for the info, especially regarding the multipass. We'll be there July 25 - Aug 1 with our 13 year old. We have a cabin in Les Tines, a few km east of Chamonix.

My question: Does anyone know of a good supermarket with a parking lot east of Chamonix? On a day trip last weekend we saw plenty of Casino's and other grocery stores in town, but we don't want to pay to park the car in order to shop there. I know there's a good store in Les Houches, but that's the wrong side of Chaomnix from our cabin.

London
Level Contributor
601 posts
31 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Chamonix trip report June 2009

Les Tines is very pretty!

You don't have to pay to park near the Super-U in Chamonix, it has its own parking lot. Take the back road through town (on the opposite side of the valley to the motorway) and you'll see the sign for "supermarche parking" You need to validate your ticket at the machine in the supermarket. Otherwise, Argentiere is quite close, and it's free to park outside there.

Your nearest shop will probably be the minimarket at Les Praz which is handy for essentials.

hope this helps!

Bonn, Germany
Level Contributor
18 posts
9 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Chamonix trip report June 2009

Hi TravDreamer - We did the Arbor Adventure in mid-July. I'd never done anything of the sort, and thought the 20 Euro fee was pretty dear -- but I was expecting a few stations and half hour of fun. However, there are over 50 stations! It took us 3.5 hours! True, we did occasionally need to wait for our group to catch up, or for a station to clear, but not that often. I can't imagine it would be possible for fast adults to do it in less than 90 minutes. Of course, you can always skip (or repeat) a set of stations (there are 7 or 8 sets total). The sets are marked by difficultly (blue, red, black, I think); black was indeed challenging.

We'll probably do it again when we're back next week. My only complaint is that they could be more attentive in the upkeep and maintenance. Also, there are a couple of zip line landing sites that are unnecessarily dangerous, with landing pads either absent or not situated properly.

By the way, there is also a much shorter circuit for smaller children.

Michigan
Destination Expert
for Saint Joseph
Level Contributor
981 posts
36 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Chamonix trip report June 2009

WDF2 -- thanks for the info on Arbe Adventure. Yikes!! 3 1/2 hrs??? That is good to know -- because I don't know if we will have that much time to devote to this. We have done zip lines before and loved them. Is that mostly what is is? Any climbing or things that involve upper body strength? Those things I would be less good at.

Bonn, Germany
Level Contributor
18 posts
9 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Chamonix trip report June 2009

TravDreamer: I think you'll find what you want at Arbe Adventure. To generalize, the "easier" sections are those that don't require too much climbing and/or upper body work. So the very first section, for example, has a angled wooden ladder that you climb up to the zip line. Somewhat later, there is a "black" section where you have to climb a rope ladder straight up about 25ft. But as I said, you can pick and choose, and repeat, traffic allowing. There's also a new section that isn't marked as part of the 50+ stations that consist only of 3 or 4 zip lines after a short climb.

I do recommend the last section of the normal course. There you have a short climb up a cargo net, then walk across a line where you can either use a wire or free-hanging stirups. At the end you have a long and high (but how high you can't tell due to the foliage) walk across a plank bridge, and for the grand finale a very long zip line.

If you have questions about it, you can walk the paths under the parcours and check it out before you decide to pay.

Michigan
Destination Expert
for Saint Joseph
Level Contributor
981 posts
36 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Chamonix trip report June 2009

Thanks WDF2 for the great description of the Arbre Adventure. Sounds like lots of fun. I see that you can get a discount of 2euros off the 20euro price if you have a Chamonix visitor card. I am going to try and get a hold of one of those!