Sherpa Ambassador, Nathan Peterson - @petenathanson, recently visited the French Alps and shared his insight and expertise on how to best spend 48 hours in Chamonix, if you’re short on time. All photos courtesy of Nathan.
Chamonix is a remote mountain town in the heart of the French Alps, and undoubtedly one of the more popular mountain towns in Europe, but for good reason. Its accessibility to world class skiing, hiking and biking is second to none. If you had the time, this beautiful place would offer enough to keep you busy for months.
However, if you’re like me, you likely won’t have the time, let alone money to spend a quarter of the year in the Alps. Don’t sweat it! I’ve got some tips and tricks to get the most out of your summer visit to Chamonix, in only 48 hours.
Morning: Coffee & Breakfast @ la Jonction Cafe
Catch the first ride up to Aiguille du Midi via cable car. Transfer cable cars at the midway point to reach the top of Aiguille du Midi (12,605’) for panoramic views of the Chamonix Valley and Mont Blanc range.
What to Bring:
Afternoon: Lunch at the Bar des Glaciers
After a short 20 minute train ride on the Chemin de fer du Montenvers, walk the taxing staircase down to Mer de Glace — France’s largest glacier. Once at the bottom, follow the trail to walk into the glacier.
What to Bring:
- Water bottle (these stairs are no joke)
- Sherpa Jannu pant (nice and flexy for all of those steps you’ll be taking)
Evening: Beverages @ South Bar and Dinner @ Le Bartavel, an affordable and reliable Italian restaurant in the center of town (try the pizza). Then enjoy the evening strolling around town taking in the sights.
Morning: Sunrise hike to Lac Blanc
Hike from Argentière trailhead (allow for 2ish hours). Watch the sunrise from Lac Blanc, and enjoy the morning light scorch the valley from Lacs des Chéserys.
What to Bring:
- Water bottle
- Swim shorts
Afternoon: Explore the Town
Wander around the town center and shop local stores. Make a stop at a local market and craft your own lunch.
Evening: Dinner and drinks @ the hostel
Enjoy the sunset over l’Arve and grab ingredients from the market to bring back to the hostel for dinner.
The Chamonix Lodge was the best possible accommodation for our stay in the valley. A hostel-style lodge, newly renovated and primed for travelers of all ages. The common areas feature full range kitchens, dining areas and a backyard with a hot tub, hammocks and climbing board. Its located near several markets, and is only a 20 minute walk from the center of town. All of this for roughly $35 a night.
- View: The view of the valley from the mid point at Plan de l’Aiguille
- Song you heard there: Promise by Ben Howard
- Local grub: Local produce, meats & cheeses from local markets
- Sherpa gear on the trip: Kailash Jacket, Jannu Pant & Monjo Trucker Hat
- Driving to Chamonix works great, but since it's so small and often busy, find a place on the outside of town to park and walk in
- Since it’s in the mountains, weather is variable and can change at any time