A Day on Top: from the Aiguille du Midi to the Mer de Glace

23 June, 2020 | Reccy Guide

You would like to see the Mont Blanc and the Alpine wonders from closer-up, but you don’t have the skills or time to embark on a climbing expedition? A day tour from Chamonix combining the Aiguille du Midi, Montenvers and the Mer de Glace might be for you. 

The Aiguille du Midi

Your day will start by riding the Aiguille du Midi cable car right from the center of Chamonix, taking you in 20 minutes from 1,035m to 3,842m of altitude. From the terrace, you will be able to admire a 360 degrees view of the Alps. The beauty of the French, Swiss and Italian sides of the mountain range will unfold before your eyes, including the magical Mont Blanc. Hopefully, skies will be clear and you can have a clear view of the highest mountain of Western Europe and its surroundings. If you look closely, maybe you will be able to see your fellow adventurers reaching the top! 


On top of Aiguille du Midi: step into the void

After having enjoyed the views, and if you are feeling brave, you can decide to literally Step into The Void by walking on top of a glass cage standing over a 1,000m precipice. In addition to an incredible perspective on the valley below, architectural enthusiasts will be in awe of its technical prowess. If you are visiting between June and September, also take the time to take the panoramic Mont Blanc gondola ride over the Glacier du Geant to the Pointe Helbronner, in Italy. After a couple of hours spent looking over some of the most beautiful landscape you will ever see, you will head back down to Chamonix.


Once back in Chamonix, you will take the train towards the station of Montenvers, at 1913m high. While the station itself offers incredible views over some of the most iconic peaks of the Chamonix region, the main attraction here is the train itself. The Montenvers Railway started operating in 1908 as one of the very first tourist attractions of the region and was meant to replace the mules bringing tourists up to the Sea of Ice. While it was at first opposed by locals, afraid that the railway would be a disaster for mule drivers and guides, the red train became over the years a symbol of the Chamonix valley and still is to this day. 

At the station, have a traditional Alpine lunch at the restaurant Grand Hotel du Montenvers, a figure amongst local establishments as it offers authentic and quality Savoyard cuisine, as well as unrivaled lunch views over the Drus and the Grandes Jorasses.

Mer de Glace – man made ice grotto (cave)

Mer de Glace

After lunch, you will head towards the Mer de Glace, or Sea of Ice, by taking the Montenvers railway for one last stop as well as a 5-minute cable car ride. Shaped by the merger of two massive glaciers, the Mer de Glace reaches 7 km long and 200m thick and is France’s biggest glacier. First discovered in 1741 by two Englishmen, the glacier was then surrounded by superstitions and locals believed it to be the home of demons. Nowadays, the fantasies have left a beautiful viewpoint over the Sea.

After having admired the Mer de Glace from the top, it is time to explore it from underneath by entering its man-made ice grotto. This cave is a great addition to your visit and is accessible via stairs from the cable car. It has been carved to represent the life of mountain folks in the early 19th century; and as it is cut into the living glacier, it has to be re-sculpted every year. If you have a scientific mind and would like to learn more about the science behind glaciers, you can also visit the Glacorium. This exhibition center will teach you all about how glaciers form and their history in an interactive way, so children are welcome.

This day tour can be booked via a tour operator, but you can also do all these activities separately – in which case you will need to buy tickets for each one of them. If you booked a tour, entrance tickets should be included in the price. The whole tour will last around 8 hours, so this is a very full program and you will be happy to come back to Chamonix at the end of the day. However, the memories of the snow-capped Mont Blanc, of the warm and filling alpine lunch, and of a majestic sea made of ice, will be with you forever.

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