Tucked in the heart of the French Alps in Chamonix-Mont Blanc, the Aiguille du Midi cable car offers a unique and exciting way to explore this beautiful region in south-eastern France. Chamonix-Mont Blanc is easily accessible from Lyon and Paris via high-speed train. Once arrived, visitors are greeted with panoramic views of the French Alps and of Chamonix-Mont Blanc. At the summit, feel free to leisurely peruse exhibitions about the region and about alpine sports, walk along the boardwalk, ski or dine. The cable car provides access to countless activities that appeal to all tastes!
Preparing for the ascent
Situated in the Rhone-Alps region of France, near the borders of Switzerland and Italy, the aiguille is a sharp, needle-like projection of the Alps and is the highest point in Chamonix. Here visitors will also find Europe’s highest elevated radio tower.
The ascent is divided into two sections. The first section connects the town of Chamonix-Mont Blanc with the Plan de l’Aiguille. The journey between the base and the Plan takes between six and eight minutes. Given the rapidity and the steepness, you’ll have the impression of being on a roller coaster. Best to hold on the railings or the other members of your party! The cable cars feature windows on all sides, so it’s impossible to miss the incredible views of the town’s chalets and of the snowy Alps.
Once at the Plan de l’Aiguille station, visitors have a few options. One option is to immediately continue the ascent to the summit of the Aiguille du Midi (3842 meters). A car change is required. Follow the signs at the station or ask a staff member to direct you.
A second option is to descend, grab a drink, a snack or some souvenirs at the small Plan de l’Aiguille Bar. After, either continue your ascent or explore the hiking trails and the Blue Lake. Trails are well-marked and fairly flat. Some snow is visible year-round, but trails remain accessible from April through October. Most loops take between 20 to 30 minutes, depending hiking speed.
More than just beautiful views at the summit
Once at the summit station, visitors are greeted with several expositions. “L’espace vertical” (The Vertical Space) is situated in a cave-like room and describes mountain climbing in the Alps with videos and informational displays. Climbing equipment such as crampons, ice axes and skis, utilized by some of the world’s most renowned alpinists, is on display.
A new attraction, opened in December 2013 and renovated in Spring 2015, “Le Pas dans le Vide” (A Step in the Void), is very popular. Le Pas is a glass box that extends from the main building and allows visitors to gaze at the mountains 1000 meters under their feet through the glass floor. Due to the popularity of this attraction, visitors must depart from Chamonix before 9.00 am to ensure a place.
Visitors are also invited to take a walk on the outdoor boardwalk to fully experience the grandeur of the mountains. There, find informational panels detailing the area’s topography. Be aware that the summit is very cold and windy and the boardwalks are slippery. Make sure you have appropriate winter clothing and reliable walking shoes if you decide to go outside.
In the winter, the truly brave can ascend with their skis or snowshoes and discover the area’s off-piste skiing. A popular route for intermediate and advanced skiers is “La Vallée Blance” (the White Valley), a 20 kilometer route that descends 2700m. As if this were tempting not enough, the valley is the largest glaciated area in the Alps! The summer offers visitors the opportunity to hike, run or mountain bike. Trails are well-marked and maps are available. If you’re looking for more guidance, contact the Chamonix tourist board to learn about hiring a guide or taking lessons.
Enjoy a meal amongst the mountains
If you’re cold from exploring outside or if you want to want to experience a gourmet meal at 3,842 meters, the cafes and restaurants at Aiguille du Midi can provide what you’re looking for!
For a quick warm- up snack, head to the Summit 3842 Snack Bar where house-made soups, sandwiches and baked goods are plentiful. For a taste of the region, try the tartiflette, a popular local dish made with potatoes, ham and reblochon cheese. Or, for the true gourmands, a blazing-hot fondue. Grab a seat by the window and appreciate the view throughout the meal.
To dine in style, head to Le 3842 Restaurant. Le 3842 provides a cozy sit-down dining experience and is one of Europe’s highest restaurants. The menu features Italian items as well as local dishes from the region. Ingredients are locally sourced and seasonal when possible and specials are proposed every day.
Whether you’re a novice nature-lover, a world-class skier or simply appreciate a great view, the Aiguille du Midi cable car is a must-do when visiting Chamonix-Mont Blanc. Any activity you choose, whether walking, skiing, dining, is complimented with breath-taking views of the Alps.
For access, take the Le téléphérique de l'aiguille du Midi (Aiguille du Midi cable car). It is easily accessible on foot for those staying in Chamonix. Cars operate year-round, with departures every 15 to 30 minutes (based on busyness). Hours vary based on seasons and French school holidays. Be aware that cars do not operate between November 3 and December 19. Tickets can be purchased at the base station up to a week in advance of your visit. The online ticketing system is currently under repair. To reach the summit of the Aiguille du Midi, a roundtrip adult ticket costs 57 euros (approximately 63 USD).
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