At the end of September, we went with our family for the first time to Chamonix, which is only 2h30 from Lyon. Discovering the Chamonix Mont-Blanc valley for the first weekend of autumn, on the occasion of our non wedding anniversary, did us all three a world of good.
Savoie Mont-Blanc is a nature destination to discover out of season, when it is not too crowded and the weather is good.
We didn’t get to discover all the beautiful nature spots around Chamonix, but it made us want to come back.
With a child under 5 years old, who is not really a fan of hiking, we preferred activities and visits that did not require a lot of walking !
I was very disappointed not to be able to go up to the Aiguille du Midi to see the Mont-Blanc and the panorama of the Alps, as the cable car was closed due to repairs.
So we will have to come back but this time Noah will have to pay, as he will be 5 years old. The prices are very high since it is necessary to count 61,50€ per adult for a round trip and 51,30€ per child for a round trip. Quite a budget, but to be done at least once in a lifetime!
What to visit in and around Chamonix with children?
The ice sea
During this nature weekend, we discovered the ice sea from the Montenvers panorama. It is the largest glacier still existing in France and the third largest in the Alps.
The station to take the cogwheel train, managed by the Compagnie du Mont-Blanc, up to Montenvers is behind the Chamonix Mont-Blanc train station
I was afraid it would be very cold, I had looked at the weather forecast and I think it was forecast to be between 3 and 5 degrees at Montenvers, which is at an altitude of 1,913 metres. So we took warm clothes but in the end it was quite mild up there, we even took off the jumpers. Better to be more covered than not enough..
Once we arrived at the Montenvers station, we took the gondolas down to the sea of ice. You have to go down a staircase of several hundred steps to visit the ice cave, which is cut into the glacier every year.
We hesitated because Noah, even if he is full of energy, is often reluctant to walk…
Finally, as we passed families with children smaller than Noah, we thought that it would be no problem to climb the 400 or so steps.
We were wrong to believe that it would be easy, when we arrived at the entrance of the ice cave, Noah started to make a scene when I put his scarf and his hat on him… A monumental crisis that lasted more than 30 minutes… all because he didn’t like it or because it was itchy, in fact, it’s often enough to have a pretext. He must have had a little hypoglycemia… or been tired, I don’t know!
I started to lose my patience, his father took over, finally he went back up without a grumble, after having gone to see the ice cave with him.
Apart from Noah’s crisis which marked me, what obviously struck me the most was the appalling observation of the melting of the glacier. As you go down the stairs, and see the signs of the years indicating the level of the sea of ice, you realise the catastrophic and vertiginous melting of the glacier, in only a few decades. The staircase you descend is actually a measure of the melting of the ice, it is quite impressive and poignant…
When my son is my age, the glacier will have shrunk again, maybe even disappeared when he is old, if nothing is done about global warming?
Every year, the Mont Blanc glaciers lose 1% of their thickness.
At the time, in 1909, when the cog railway was inaugurated and arrived at the Montenvers station, people arrived directly on the sea of ice… The ice level has dropped by about 100 metres since 1909, the melting really started in 1983, the year I was born…
Prices for the Chamonix-Montenvers cog railway + cable car + ice cave
- Return adult ticket : 33,50€ (€)
- Return ticket for children (5 to 14 years old) & seniors (65 years old and over) : 28,50€
- Family package 2 adults “parents or grandparents” + young people from the same family: 103,90€
First 2 paying, 3rd, 4th, 5th free Maximum
- Free for children under 5 years old
The Diosaz gorges
It is a 20 minute drive from Chamonix to Servoz to the Diosaz Gorge trail, which is open from June to September.
We were lucky as we were almost alone on the day we discovered this beautiful, wild and natural place.
The path is well laid out, so it’s easy for children to walk, but you need good shoes to walk a total of 2.5 km (outward and return) and be careful with children…
At the end of the path, at the Soufflet bridge, you will be able to admire the natural bridge, if you look carefully on the photo, you will see a large rock wedged between the walls.
The flow of the Diosaz depends on the weather and the dam upstream
- Adult admission: €6.50
- Children (5 to 12 years old): €5.50
- Free for children under 5 years old
I fell in love with this nugget of the Alps, which can be discovered thanks to Achille Cazin, who made it possible to visit this marvel of nature in 1875
The green lake
The green lake which is located in Passy, bears its name well, the colour of the water is magnificent, the place has something magical about it, you can see the reflection of the fir trees and you can see the Mont-Blanc.
The place is superb but when we went there, there were some noisy adults, who unfortunately took away from the peace and the enchantment of the place… It’s a pity because it’s a place that could be rejuvenating !
Walking around the lake is pleasant but some passages are stony (no possibility to roll a pushchair, opt for a baby carrier instead).
The Praz paradise
Le paradis des Praz is a children’s playground in the middle of the forest, next to a small river, behind the Praz de Chamonix golf course. It is a very pleasant and peaceful place to spend some time with your family.
The children will be delighted to play adventure on the little wooden bridges over the river and the bravest will choose the slickline!
Open from May to September.
Where to sleep in Chamonix?
The town is full of hotels and seasonal accommodation, for my part, I booked 2 nights at the Rocky pop Hotel, which is a kid-friendly hotel, with an eclectic decor: geek, vintage, modern and mountainous!
Noah was delighted to pose with R2-D2 and C-3PO, play table football and an arcade game straight out of the 80s and discover our room with a mezzanine bed.
Located close to the city centre, at the foot of the Mont Blanc massif, the hotel offers rooms sleeping 4.
We ate at the restaurant one evening and the kids’ burger is as big as the adults’! I chose a pizza, which was delicious.
Next to the bar and restaurant, there is a children’s play area, unlimited coffee and bottled water are available to hotel guests.
Outside there is a small playground for the little ones. For adults, who can enjoy a drink on the terrace, there is a petanque court, table football and a ping pong table. A perfect address for a family stay in Chamonix.
We went for a walk in Chamonix at the end of the day, the town centre is quite pedestrianised so it’s a nice place to have a quiet stroll, especially with children. From the cobbled streets, you can see the Bossons glacier going down into the valley, it’s quite impressive!
I hope that my article will give you the opportunity to discover the Chamonix Mont-Blanc valley, in spring, summer, autumn or winter! An ideal nature destination for couples or families, less than 3 hours from Lyon.