There might not be a beach in Chamonix but you can walk along the peaks to mountain lakes like the Lac Blanc. For most people, it doesn't get warm enough to swim, but it's a great spot to dip your toes in the water and cool off mid-way through your walk. And it's crowning glory? It's got one of the best views of the Mont Blanc – bring your camera to snap a picture of the mountain itself, or its reflection in the glassy water of the lake.
For a low-key evening why not take a stroll through Chamonix's centre on the lookout for dessert? If it's early evening, we recommend Patisserie Richard before closing time, where you can pick up beautifully crafted (and delicious) chocolates, fresh pastries, cakes, macarons and ice creams too. Chamon'ice is another popular pick for ice cream, serving up all the classics as well as sorbets and chocolate-based scoops based on some of our favourite choccy bars.
Make the most of the long summer evenings and sip on your favourite tipple after dinner at the sophisticated Le Janssen Cocktail Club in La Folie Douce Hotel. Inside, the décor's industrial meets alpine, with a well-designed mix of comfy sofas and concrete and steel details. But for an evening of wine tasting you'll want to go to Cha Cha Cha, and Buonissimo's the place for you if you want to get a bite to eat too. Look out for their deals on wine and sharing platters, full of tasty cold cuts, breads and cheeses.
There's plenty of choice when it comes to restaurants in Chamonix – there are over 170 dotted throughout the town and across the mountain. With options for every budget, atmosphere and taste, it's easy to find somewhere to go.
Family-run for five generations, the Albert Premier restaurant was awarded a Michelin star in 1999, and is one of the best restaurants in Chamonix. With caviar, malt-whiskey soufflé and even smoked pigeon on the menu, you're in for a tip-top dining experience here. Try the 9-course tasting menu "The Call of the Summits" for an extra special evening meal.
Perched high up on the Mont Blanc, the Restaurant du Montenvers is part of the Grand Hotel, which dates all the way back to 1880. Stop by for a meal of classic French favourites, including Savoyard hotpot, snail cassoulet and fondues made with cheese from the artisan Boujon Cheese Factory in Thonon-les-Bains. The best seats are out on the sunny terrace with a top-tier view of the Dru peaks, but even from inside you'll have a great view of the French Alps – nothing beats it.
Stroll past the colourful buildings of Chamonix's town centre, with views of the mountains just behind. There are shops, cafés and restaurants on every corner, so there's plenty of places to pause for a pitstop and enjoy a coffee or beer in the sun. And there are statues commemorating famous mountaineers who have contributed to Chamonix's history through their attempts to scale the Mont Blanc massif. Look out for the statue tribute to Horace Bénédict de Saussure, a Genevan alpine explorer and mountaineer who was the first person to climb Mont Blanc.
Take a 20-minute train ride up to the Mer de Glace (sea of ice) glacier on the bright red Montenvers cog railway. From the top, there's a great view of the glacier, the Grandes Jorasses mountain and the Leschaux glacier too, and it's a great spot to snap a few pics. Stop for a bite to eat at one of the restaurants, or head into the Ice Cave for a tour to see right inside the glacier. It's dug out every year as the glacier moves by around 70m each year and inside there are ice sculptures, caves and the Gallery of Crystals – a collection of some of Mont Blanc's finest. The Glaciorium is another must-do whilst you're up here. It's a glaciology exhibition and museum, where you can learn more about glaciers in general, and the history of the Mer de Glace.
There's a good bus system in Chamonix, and they're free with your summer card too, so it's easy to get out and about. The V1 line connects Chamonix with Les Houches, and the V2 line will take you to Le Col de Montets, and both services run throughout the day.
There are a number of Chamonix's lifts open during the summer to take you up to the peaks. From town, take the Plan de L'Aiguille and Aiguille du Midi cable cars up to the Aiguille du Midi peak, where you'll get views over the French, Swiss and Italian Alps. The Plan Praz and Brévent lifts will take you up the mountain on the opposite side of the Chamonix valley, and there's the Flégère and Grands Montents 1 lifts further down the valley towards Le Tour too.
Chamonix's a great destination for walkers – whether it's along the peaks, beside the river or through the valley there's plenty to explore. You can start in the town or take a cable car up the mountain to get to your starting point, and whichever trail you choose to follow you're guaranteed a fantastic view.
The walking trail to the pretty Lac Blanc is one of the most popular routes in Chamonix, and it's not hard to see why. It's an easy to moderate walk on the mountaintop, with two options for your starting point, and when you reach the lake you're greeted with a view of the iconic Mont Blanc peak. Take the Flégère cable car from Chamonix's town centre and when you reach the top, you can either take the L'index chair up to the starting point, or walk up. From the top of the chair, turn right and follow the the signed trail (red paint marks) towards Lac Blanc. It's a rocky path, so you'll need some sturdy shoes, and as you're pretty high up here it's not uncommon for snow to still be on the ground even in the summer, so make sure you bring an extra layer. There's a great view for the whole trail with the Mont Blanc massif to your right and the Aiguilles Rouges to your left, and there's wildlife like ibex, eagles and marmots in the area too, so keep your cameras at the ready. And the best view is at the lake itself, where the Mont Blanc is reflected in the still water.
This walk will take you from Chamonix town centre up to the pretty Cascade du Dard waterfall, near the Mont Blanc tunnel. It's a 6.6km trail that follows a winding path through the forest, and there are some great photo opps along the way. When you reach the 20m waterfall you're at an altitude of 1,233m, and there's a great view over the Aiguilles Rouge mountains, the Les Bossons glacier and, of course, the Mont Blanc peak too. Before you head back down into town, stop for a drink or a bite to eat at the Cascade du Dard café. There are lots of homemade dishes on the menu including French classics like fondue, and light bites like salads, crêpes and omelettes, and the terrace is the perfect place to enjoy lunch al fresco.
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