1. Mer de Glace & Montenvers railway
The Mer de Glace (sea of ice) is one of the largest glaciers in Europe spanning 7 kilometres in length.
It’s accessible by taking the Montenvers railway – the little red train. The little red train is an old rack and pinion railway track first constructed in 1909. It departs from Chamonix village and reaches the Mer de Glace at Montenvers (1,913 meters) in about 20 minutes.
After taking in the panoramic views you can then visit the “Grotte de Glace” (Ice Cave) which is a 15-minute walk away.
This incredible 100-meter-long cave gives visitors an inside view of a glacier. The ice caves go deep into the glacier itself and contain impressive ice carvings. New caves have to be carved out each spring as the glacial ice moves and you can see the progression of the glacier by all the previous entrances that remain cut into the ice.
You can also visit the Glaciorium, a small museum about glaciers, and the Temple of Nature that shows innovative educational nature films.
Numerous hiking trails start from Montenvers, including the Grand Balcon Nord hillside walking trail.
Alternatively you can hike back to Chamonix village by Les Planards and Les Bois villages.
2. Nature Reserve – Le Parc de Merlet
The Park de Merlet is situated at 1,563 metres, 600 metres above the village of Les Houches. It’s a nature reserve perched on a large plateau with magnificent views of the Mont Blanc Massif.
Le Parc de Merlet is a great place to spend time spotting local animals in their natural environment and walking through the beautiful alpine surroundings. There are 21 hectares of pasture, rock outcrops and pine forest and over 80 different mountain animals living in their natural habitat.
Of the 8 wild species living in the Animal Park, 7 are indigenous: the Ibex (Bouquetin in French), the Chamois, the Mouflon, the Fallow Deer, the Sika Deer, the Roe Deer and the Marmot.
Top Tip – Arrive early when the animals have just been fed or to make an evening visit when they are coming out to play!
Presentations and Activities
During the summer, several presentations take place throughout the day:
In summer the Park is open from May 1 to September 30.
3. Climbing – indoor & outdoor
Chamonix is famous for climbing. It is the perfect place for experienced climbers and a safe place to introduce families and kids to an exhilarating mountain sport.
The popular natural crags at Les Gaillands offer lots of routes for all different levels. Children can join one of the small climbing school groups (3-5 people) to learn the basics with an instructor, or take private tuition to develop their technique. All equipment is included and guides are all highly qualified.
Chamonix also has incredible indoor facilities. There is a bouldering wall in the Centre Sportif Richard Bozon (which also has an aqua park, indoor pool, gym and ice rink!). Entry costs 4 euros and it’s a great place to meet other local families and climbers of all nationalities. After you can always stay for a swim or the aqua park!
Opening times: 2pm – 8pm (6 days) and 2pm – 9pm (Fridays).
For more info, call: +33 4 50 53 23 70 or just click here
4. Rafting and White Water Sports
Rafting, Canyoning, Kayaking and Hydrospeeding are all popular activities for families in Chamonix.
Travel the river on a boat, normally seating 8, you are guided down rapids and through gorges, soaking up amazing views and spotting local wildlife on the way. There are different routes for different levels, from gentle to adrenaline so you can choose your very own river experience.
Hydrospeeding is like white-water rafting but with a board instead of a raft! It is the closest you can get to the river, holding onto a personal flotation device, with fins to navigate, you negotiate the river, getting a frog’s eye-view!
Is a different type of hike, one where you follow a river’s natural course. Canyoning takes you down ravines into areas most people never get to see from natural flumes to abseiling down thundering waterfalls, scrambling over rocks and sliding down natural chutes without worrying about getting soaked, dirty or hurt.
Hiking & Horse riding
Whether on foot or on horseback, Chamonix is an area to be discovered. There are gentle hikes and walks all around the local area, taking in mountain lakes, breathtaking views of the Mont Blanc, discovering the natural flora and forna.
Too many to mention, to incredible not to discover, here are just a few ideas to get you started.
Details for the equestrian centre can be found here:
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