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France: Chamonix Hiking Adventure

September 7 - 12, 2023

“Mont Blanc is the monarch of mountains; They crown’d him long ago. On a throne of rocks, in a robe of clouds. With a diadem of snow.”

LORD BYRON

Chamonix in France is one of the most famous mountain towns in the world. It is nestled below the Alps with 15,777 foot Mont Blanc – highest peak in Europe – towering above. It was the host of the first-ever Winter Olympics, back in 1924. It hosts serious mountaineers in both winter and summer who attempt to scale the mountain and pleasure seekers for skiing in winter and hiking in summer.

Chamonix is also a fantastic town to hang out and soak up Alpine culture. It boasts dozens of restaurants, bars, galleries, and shops. There is a strong current of French culture but the clientele are international. In fact, the Italian border is only a short drive away via a tunnel under the Alps and our main access airport is Geneva. After a day hiking in the mountains, Chamonix is the perfect place to unwind and soak up a European vibe.

We will hike each day of the tour and provide multiple route options. Almost all our routes make use of a gondola, cable car, or cog train. This allows us to offer you harder routes (hiking up and down the mountains), moderate routes (taking a lift one way), or easier routes (with an assist both up and down, while hiking across the hillsides). The routes include alpine lakes, alpine glaciers, and – always – incredible views of the Alps. Our lunches are usually on the mountain, either via sandwiches we have purchased to eat on the trail or at one of the many on-mountain chalets in the region.

Please be aware that even with gondola assists, hiking in the alps involves some ups and down and lots of negotiating over rocks. The hiking is moderate, with options for more strenuous routes.

Chamonix hiking

Private Tour Info

Choose your own date and book this trip for your own group of eight or more.

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Details

  • Dates: September 7 - 12, 2023
  • Cost Per Person: $3,100
  • Single Supplement: $800
  • Private Tour Minimum: 8
  • Activities: Hiking
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Guides: TBD

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Trip Highlights

  • Experience the stunning scenery of the Alps and Europe's highest peak, Mont Blanc
  • Take cable cars and gondolas up into the mountains as the start of breathtaking hikes past glaciers and alpine lakes
  • Relax at lunches at alpine refuges and chalets, high in the mountains with views across the Alps.
  • Enjoy the pleasures of Chamonix from our centrally-located hotel near shopping, bars, and fun
  • Dine at traditional French restaurants as well as a local Italian favorite and one with Swedish flavors

The daily itinerary for this tour will be adjusted based on the weather and, for private groups, can be adapted to interest and ability levels. Each day we will offer two hiking options. However, it is easy to provide shorter or longer options by using or avoiding optional assists via gondola, chair lift, and mountain trains.

Day 1: We meet at 1:00 PM in our hotel in downtown Chamonix, allowing you to arrive that morning or the day before. After introductions and an overview of the tour, we had out for a casual walk on the Chamonix River Trail, giving us both an overview of the town and beautiful views of the mountains on all sides. This evening, we'll enjoy an aperitif on the terrace of our hotel, followed by a typical meal with local Savoy cuisine. Distances: 7 or 10 KM

Day 2:  After breakfast in our hotel, we are off early to catch the Auigille du Midi cable car. Taking us up to the top of this peak that is probably the second-most-famous in the region after Mont Blanc, thanks to each height and jagged features, we'll have time to wander around the multiple large viewing platforms on both the Italian and French sides of the border at the height of 3,842 meters (12,605 feet). The panorama from the cable car and the top is amazing: with lakes, glaciers, knife-edge arretes, and snow fields to no end. We'll then head back to the midway station where you can pick up a French baguette sandwich and start our hike on the Grand Balcon Nord, a hike across the face of the mountain that ends with a view of the Mer de Glace glacier and a cog train back down to the valley floor. This evening we'll walk to dinner at le Monchu, an elegant restaurant with a covered terrace that features wood-fired cooking. Distances: 9 or 14 KM

Day 3:  Today we catch an early train a short distance up the valley to reach the La Flegere cable car that will bring us to a hike on the opposite side of the valley: Grand Balcon Sud. The hike is similar to but across the valley from the previous day. After walking across the hillside, we'll reach the Plan Praz cable car where you'll have the option to take the cable car to the Brevent refuge high on the mountain or walk an extra three kilometers up in high alpine terrain to the top. This evening we'll walk to dinner at Casa Valerio, a very authentic Italian restaurant (as it should be since we are so close to Italy.) Distances: 7 or 10 KM

Day 4: Today we take the same train up valley from Chamonix and again hike on the usually sun-drenched south-facing side of the valley. Our destination for today is the famous Lac Blanc, an incredibly beautiful lake with views of the Mont Blanc range in its reflection. We'll take a cable car up the mountain and then you can choose to walk up to the lake or take a chairlift higher up and walk across the mountain. At the lake, we'll spend time to wander around and take in the views before hiking back. Dinner tonight is at MBC Microbrewery, a fun local hangout for craft beers and pub-style food. Distances: 7, 8, or 11 KM

Day 5: Our morning starts with another early-morning train ride, this time down the Chamonix valley to the town of les Houches. We'll walk from the train station through the town to the Bellevue cable car. There, you can choose to jump on the cog wheel Tramway du Mont Blanc to the Le Nid d'Aigle peak and chalet. Or you can take the hard option and walk up the mountain side, including several sections with ladders bolted into the rock to get past steep areas. Either way, at the top you can choose to eat lunch in the refuge and walk to the nearby glacier for an up-close view of one of nature's masterpieces. Via mountain tram, cable car, and train we'll make our way back to Chamonix. This evening we'll enjoy a final happy hour and then dinner at Bizes, one of the hippest and highest quality restaurants in town, run by Swedish chef Sanna Jansson. Distances: 4 or 9 KM

Day 6: This morning we eat our final breakfast together and then say our goodbyes, allowing you to continue your onward journey home, in France, or elsewhere.

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Trip Accommodations

NIGHT 1-5 >> HOTEL ALPINA / CHAMONIX  Located in the heart of the town, this four-star hotel is perfect for a five-night stay in one of the world's most famous mountain towns. The hotel offers a spa, steam room, sauna, jacuzzi, fitness room, bar, and top-floor restaurant. Plus, it is only steps from area restaurants, cafes, and shops.

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Arrival & Departure

Chamonix is a 1:15 drive or a three-hour train ride from the International Airport in Geneva. We will provide you with information on local shuttles prior to the tour. We'll meet in the afternoon of the first day, allowing you to arrive that morning on an overnight flight or extend your trip a day by arriving early to adjust to the time zone. On the final day, many of you will depart for the airport early to catch a flight home, so we'll say our goodbyes the evening before.

What's Included
  • One or two professional Zephyr guides.
  • Our trip prices are based on double occupancy. You have the option to pay the single supplement to get your own room if you don’t want a roommate. If you are coming on a trip solo, we will find you a roommate of the same gender.
  • Breakfasts and dinners are included.
  • All your transportation is included once you meet your guides on the first day.
  • NOT INCLUDED: Beverages, desserts, some lunches, gratuities to your guides, personal expenses and travel to and from the destination.
Changes to Your Itinerary

While everything under “What is Included” will remain the same, the actual restaurants, hotels, and activities listed in our itineraries are subject to modifications. Changes that are out of our control are common – a restaurant closes or loses its awesome chef, a winery changes its visiting hours, a hotel gets remodeled, a road or trail undergoes construction. You are entrusting us to create an outstanding vacation for you and so it is possible we may take the liberty of making necessary changes (even at the last minute, during the guides’ scout trip) to the itinerary that will improve your overall trip experience. If there is any one experience that is going to make or break your trip, please discuss this with us in advance! We will attempt to keep our website itinerary as current as possible and communicate any major changes with you in the weeks prior to the tour.

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