Chamonix for the family – summer

05 May 2018

Often viewed as ‘big mountain’ or ‘home of the extreme’ Chamonix is sometimes overlooked as a family destination.  In reality there are very few resorts in the world that can compete with what Chamonix offers families, year round. We take a look at just a few of the family treats available right now for visiting families.


Mer de Glace & Montenvers railway

The Mer de Glace (sea of ice) is one of the largest glaciers in Europe spanning 7 kilometres in length.It's accessible by taking the Montenvers railway - the little red train. The little red train is an old rack and pinion railway track first constructed in 1909. It departs from Chamonix village and reaches the Mer de Glace at Montenvers (1,913 meters) in about 20 minutes.After taking in the panoramic views you can then visit the "Grotte de Glace" (Ice Cave) which is a 15-minute walk away.This incredible 100-meter-long cave gives visitors an inside view of a glacier. The ice caves go deep into the glacier itself and contain impressive ice carvings. New caves have to be carved out each spring as the glacial ice moves and you can see the progression of the glacier by all the previous entrances that remain cut into the ice.You can also visit the Glaciorium, a small museum about glaciers, and the Temple of Nature that shows innovative educational nature films.Numerous hiking trails start from Montenvers, including the Grand Balcon Nord hillside walking trail.Alternatively you can  hike back to Chamonix village by Les Planards and Les Bois villages.


Nature Reserve - Le Parc de Merlet 

The Park de Merlet is situated at 1,563 metres, 600 metres above the village of Les Houches.  It’s a nature reserve perched on a large plateau with magnificent views  of the Mont Blanc Massif. Le Parc de Merlet is a great place to spend time spotting local animals in their natural environment and walking through the beautiful alpine surroundings. There are 21 hectares of pasture, rock outcrops and pine forest and over 80 different mountain animals living in their natural habitat. Of the 8 wild species living in the Animal Park, 7 are indigenous: the Ibex (Bouquetin in French), the Chamois, the Mouflon, the Fallow Deer, the Sika Deer, the Roe Deer and the Marmot.

Top Tip - Arrive early when the animals have just been fed or to make an evening visit when they are coming out to play!

Presentations and Activities
During the summer, several presentations take place throughout the day:
- An exhibition about the history of the Merlet Animal Park
- A video projection about Alpine flora
- Antlers and Horns: Learn all about the antler cycle and determine the age, sex and health of animals by observing their horns and antlers
- Description of the local landscape: Observe the alpine seasons, their fauna and flora and learn about the urbanisation process of the Chamonix valley
- “The Age of Wood”: An Exhibition of chalets and other timber buildings from the previous century
- Projection of the movie: “4 Seasons”

There is also a snack-bar with a terrace.
In summer the Park is open from May 1 to September 30



Climbing - indoor & outdoor

Chamonix is famous for climbing. It is the perfect place for experienced climbers and a safe place to introduce families and kids to an exhilarating mountain sport. The popular natural crags at Les Gaillands offer lots of routes for all different levels. Children can join one of the small climbing school groups (3-5 people) to learn the basics with an instructor, or take private tuition to develop their technique. All equipment is included and guides are all highly qualified.

Chamonix also has incredible indoor facilities. There is a bouldering wall in the Centre Sportif Richard Bozon (which also has an aqua park, indoor pool, gym and ice rink!). Entry costs 4 euros and it's a great place to meet other local families and climbers of all nationalities. After you can always stay for a swim or the aqua park!

Opening times: 2pm - 8pm (6 days) and 2pm - 9pm (Fridays).
For more info, call: +33 4 50 53 23 70 or just click here



Rafting and White Water Sports

Rafting, Canyoning, Kayaking and Hydrospeeding are all popular activities for families in Chamonix.

Rafting – Travel the river on a boat, normally seating 8, you are guided down rapids and through gorges, soaking up amazing views and spotting local wildlife on the way. There are different routes for different levels, from gentle to adrenaline so you can choose your very own river experience.

Hydrospeeding – Hydrospeeding is like white-water rafting but with a board instead of a raft! It is the closest you can get to the river, holding onto a personal flotation device, with fins to navigate, you negotiate the river, getting a frog’s eye-view!

Canyoning – Is a different type of hike, one where you follow a river’s natural course. Canyoning takes you down ravines into areas most people never get to see from natural flumes to abseiling down thundering waterfalls, scrambling over rocks and sliding down natural chutes without worrying about getting soaked, dirty or hurt


Hiking & Horse riding

Whether on foot or on horseback, Chamonix is an area to be discovered. There are gentle hikes and walks all around the local area, taking in mountain lakes, breathtaking views of the Mont Blanc, discovering the natural flora and forna. Too many to mention, toO incredible not to discover, here are just a few ideas to get you started.

  • Aiguille Rouge Nature Reserve (the Lakes:  Lac Blanc, Lac Cornu, Lac Noir),
  • Le Grand Balcon:  offering unobstructed views of Mont Blanc massif
  • Petit Balcon Sud up to Chalet Floria for a bite to eat or drink for an easy walk

Details for the equestrian centre can be found here:
Centre Équestre du Mont Blanc – Equestrian Centre Mont Blanc
Route des Granges, chemin du Paradis
74310 Les Houches – Vallée de Chamonix
+33 (0)6 13 08 33 58.
+33 (0)6 13 08 14 80.



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