Mylene is back, this time with a wonderful article on the majestic white mountain, Mont Blanc. After reading this, we don’t blame you if you put Mont Blanc on your bucket list, just as we have.
Her first contribution to Traveling Titas & Co. was her article about the largest glacier in France, Mer de Glace. Read it here.
POSTED BY MYLENE GONZAGA
When you step off the Chamonix-Mont Blanc railway station or peek out the window of your vehicle as it approaches the town, your gaze is immediately drawn to Mont Blanc (White Mountain). The majesty of it just dominates the scene! At roughly 4,810 meters high, it is the highest peak in Western Europe.
Our 20 minute cable car ride was a dizzying experience but was thankfully balanced off by the spectacular view, which made the trip easier on our nerves. After all it still holds the record as the highest vertical ascent cable car in the world.
If you are lucky enough to be among the first ones in line, zoom towards any window as soon as you step inside the cable car. During peak times, you will be crammed inside like a can of sardines.
The cable car, or as the locals call it, “Telepherique”, brought us up to Aiguille du Midi, which literally translates to “Needle of the Mid-day”. Others prefer to call it “Needle of the South” as the mountain lies south of Chamonix.
From its height of 3,777 meters at the upper station, the Aiguille du Midi and its laid-out terraces offer a stunning view of all the French, Swiss and Italian Alps. An elevator brings you to the summit terrace at 3,842m, where you will have the best vantage point of viewing Mont Blanc and all its glory. Nothing can make you feel quite so small in the grand scheme of things, by being surrounded by this vast and stunning view. Aiguille du Midi mountain peak is the closest you can get to the summit of Mont Blanc without actually scaling it.
For the utter fearless (my group does not belong to that category) there is…THE VOID. It is a 2.50 meter glass cage jutting out over a 1000 meter vertical overhang. It truly is a remarkable feat of engineering. Definitely not for the faint hearted!
Once in the Aiguille du Midi complex, there is a short walk to the elevator to access the top platform. The elevator is small and number of visitors on the top platform is regulated, so that there is no overcrowding. This queue can take 20-30mins in high season. Access to the The Void is free, as it is included in the price of the Chamonix – Aiguille du Midi cable car ride.
For those who can develop an appetite from too much excitement over the magnificent view (my group belongs to this), the restaurant, aptly named “3842m” is near the viewing deck. It offers French cuisine in a most unique setting. For the shoppers (guess which group belongs to this too), there is a souvenir shop just below which can be accessed by a stairway within the restaurant.
However, much as I recommend this tour for families, I strongly advise against bringing kids below 7 years old and senior citizens who are no longer mobile. It was going towards summer when we went up, but as this is a high mountain, the weather was still snowy and downright chilly. Some areas were somewhat icy and slippery, so do be cautious. To better plan your trip, allot 2-3 hours on Aiguille du Midi. Check the weather prior to going up. Ensure you have warm clothing and good shoes, as it gets cold very quickly at 3842m altitude. Don’t forget to bring your sunglasses and camera.
That being said, there is nothing else to do but find a good spot and take in the grandeur of Mont Blanc…
The nearest airport to Chamonix is Geneva Cointrin International, 88 kilometres (55 miles) in distance.
Join a day tour from Geneva (www.keytours.ch/en). Bus leaves at 8:30am from the Geneva Bus Station. It takes about 1.5 hours to get to Chamonix with one bathroom stop along the way. Tour includes lunch in the village, tickets to the cable car ride up Aiguille du Midi and tickets for the cog-wheel train to Mer de Glace, the Ice Cave, and the Glaciorium.
From nearby cities and regions in Switzerland, the train system is the fastest and most convenient option (www.sbb.ch/en).
Photo credits chamonix.com and France Post