Hiking in Chamonix is a real joy – whether it’s gentle strolls on the valley floor, the sparkling air and cool pine woods of the valley sides, or the dramatic and beautiful high alpine walks.
Wherever you are, the soaring peaks and glaciers above and the wild profusion of flowers below make an unforgettable frame for the dazzling snow-capped summit of Mont Blanc.
The chalet’s position in the heart of the valley gives a huge variety of walks to start right from your door.
Here are just a few favourites to get you started. This page is purely for information and inspiration – accurate maps are widely available online. There are walking guides at the chalet which you are welcome to borrow, with more detail as well as safety information. We also have a page on mountain walking safety here with suggested equipment list and photos.
Chamonix Alpine classics
One of the most famous hikes in the Alps, a classic but straightforward high alpine walk through magnificent surroundings to a stunning pale green lake reflecting Mont Blanc. Lovely chalet at the lake serving lunch and drinks. You go from the Flegere lift, 700m from the chalet, then take the Index lift up again. Walk back down to the Flegere mid station for different views. Check walk conditions by asking at Flegere before setting off, as there can be dangerous snowpack on the path well into July.
It can get very hot and crowded! Early mornings are best. Walk up behind the lake for beautiful views and quieter picnic spots
The Grands Balcons
If you only have time for one or two walks in Chamonix, these would be my top choices. I find it impossible to choose a favourite between them, both are stunningly beautiful.
The Grand Balcon Sud and Grand Balcon Nord take you along the natural balconies which run along the sides of the valley at around 2000m. The lifts whisk you up to the starting points, and from there it’s 2-3 hours walking time through astounding scenery covered with flowers, whilst the jagged spires of the peaks with their pale turquoise glaciers set off the deep blue sky. Allow longer for a relaxing time with lunch stops etc – you may want to take a lot of pictures! For a full day out you can combine the Balcon Nord with the Aiguille du Midi, or the Balcon Sud with Lac Blanc.
It’s worth noting that the Nord is more expensive than the Sud due to the ticket price of Montenvers and the Midi. However if you buy a one day MBU pass, you can go up Montenvers, walk to the Plan de l’Aiguille, and go up the Aiguille du Midi itself for a spectacular finish to the day, making the whole day much better value. In this way you also avoid the queue for the Midi as you can get straight on it at the mid station. You do need to set off early to do this though!
The Nord is a better choice for very hot days as it does have some shade, whereas the Sud has virtually none.
Grand Balcon Sud
Start from the Flegere mid station (the Flegere lift is 700m from the chalet) and walk towards Mont Blanc. You can descend into Chamonix via the lift from Planpraz (Brevent midstation) or finish up by taking the Brevent lift to the summit of Brevent for a spectacular panorama.
Grand Balcon Nord
Start at Montenvers and walk towards Plan de l’Aiguille, the views are much better in this direction. Walking via Forbes Signal adds 45 minutes of ascent but it’s really well worth it for the views.
Stunningly beautiful view of the whole valley – quite a bit of ascent but within the range of a reasonably fit hiker.
Sometimes you don’t want to have a full day epic, but would just like a short and easy walk to some nice views.
Les Bois circuit
Starting from the chalet, almost level and suitable for pushchairs, this circuit takes you through the delightful hamlet of Les Bois, with its appealing chalets and gardens. Stop off here at the captivating Hotel La Prairie for drinks and crêpes beneath the shady pergolas, before winding on through the woods to Les Tines. If it’s open, peep into the tiny church here, to admire the beautifully painted interior before crossing the bridge at the old sawmills and strolling back beside the river as the sun filters through the pines. About an hour, though you can extend or cut short as you like.
About an hour’s walk starting from the door. The terrace of Chalet Floria is a lovely place to look over the valley. You can see the flag above the restaurant from the chalet.
Le Chapeau is a 45 minute walk up from Le Lavancher (about 10-15 minute’s drive, park around Chalets de Philippe). A wonderful place for lunch, coffee and cake, or a magical candlelit dinner on reservation.
A little summit with a big view. It’s about half an hour’s walk along a spectacular ridge from the top of the Prarion lift in Les Houches. As it’s not that high, there are trees almost to the top, and the shade makes it a good choice for a hot day. There’s a ‘table d’orientation’ at the top where the surrounding peaks are marked – it’s a nice place for a picnic also.
There’s a choice of ways back to the lift – the longer way is a right turn which takes you away from the ridge and into the meadows of Les Houches, also very pretty. Easily extendable by exploring around the beautiful rolling plateau. I don’t recommend the walk back down to Les Houches from the Prarion. Let the lift take you down and enjoy a nice lunch or apero in Les Houches – Kitsch’inn or Le Solerey are both good, but there’s lots of choice.
Pointe de Vue
A short walk of about 45 minutes from the top of Argentiere’s Plan Joran lift. Spectacular close up view of the glacier!
If you’re fit and acclimatised, here are some of my favourite challenging walks.
Colossal and uniquely spectacular, between 1200m and 1600m ascent depending where you start, about 4 hours up and 3 hours down, plus at least an hour at the top. So it’s a commitment and an early start! Very much worth the effort but don’t plan too much for the next day. Details and GPS here.
A good sized 900m ascent up and down, but straightforward. Can be done on bikes or e-bikes also. Nice hut at the top serving good food.
Tete de Prapator
Only for those wanting to do some serious climbing! 900m ascent direct from the chalet, via the Chapeau (see above). Descent via the Plan Joran lift to Argentiere. Very steep and precipitous above Le Chapeau, with a short ladder section. Can be done in reverse of course! in which case it’s downhill all the way, with a nice lunch stop at Le Chapeau but still a steep and technical descent.