Rising high above France’s Chamonix Valley, majestic and imposing, is Mont Blanc, the tallest mountain in the Alps and the highest point in western Europe. The peak, whose name translates to “White Mountain,” lies along the borders of France, Italy, and Switzerland and is part of a mountain range that shares its name—the Mont Blanc massif—and consists of eleven major independent summits.
The mountain and its surrounding area is a popular tourist destination for skiiers, snowboarders, mountaineers, hikers, rock climbers, and sightseers. With its picturesque views, cozy resorts, and wide range of activities that includes skiing, snowboarding, hiking, rock climbing, ice climbing, showshoeing, sightseeing, mountaineering, and more, a Mont Blanc Holiday is the perfect getaway! Let’s take a look at some of what Mont Blanc has to offer.
The Mont Blanc area is known for its world class skiing for winter enthusiasts of all ages and ability levels. The Grand Montets area, situated between 1,235 and 3,300 meters above sea level, offers the opportunity to ski across three neighboring slopes, the Argentière glacier, Lognan, and the Pendant.
Other ski areas like the south-facing Brévent-Flégère Ski area borders a nature reserve and is perfect for skiiers of every level, and the gentle slopes of the Balme Vallorcine ski area are ideal for children trying their skis out for the first time. Between the months of December and April, other locales like the Planards, Vormaine, Tourchet, Savoy, and Poya ski areas offer a variety of options for children, families, and beginners.
Those who would like to utilize the Mont Blanc area as a classroom in their skiing education have their pick of fourteen schools in the Chamonix Valley, including the Aloha Ski School, Summit Ski School, Chamonix Sport Adventure, and Skibex Ski & Snowboard Instruction.
Extreme Mountain Sports
With several of the highest peaks in western Europe, Mont Blanc is one of the best places on the continent for extreme mountain sports like mountaineering, rock climing, and ice climbing.
Mont Blanc is known as the world capital of mountaineering for good reason, and offers high-mountain routes for winter sport enthusiasts of all fitness and ability levels. The Arête des Cosmiques route is a good introduction to mixed alpine climbing, while the route known as The Three Monts is more physically and technically demanding and should only be taken on by experienced mountaineers. The area is also home to over a dozen mountain guides, including Peakpowder Mountain Guides and Authentic Alpine Ventures.
Rock climbers of all experience levels who visit the Mont Blanc and Chamonix area can rejoice, as the prestigious north faces, stellar mountain routes, and boulders for beginners and amateurs are so well known, they attract climbers from all over the world. Those who prefer indoor climbing can do so at Mont Blanc Climbing, a climbing arena that features over 110 routes and 40 boulders, and Climbing Wall Centre R. Bozon, which offers an indoor climbing hall that has 800 holds.
If you’re more into climbing of the frozen variety, quality ice climbing can also be found on Mont Blanc’s frozen rivers and waterfalls for a short time (December through February) during the winter months.
For a unique and more peaceful activity that takes participants into the heart of nature, try Mont Blanc’s snowshoeing. This ancestral sport is perfect for those who wish to view the native wildlife, including Alpine marmots, bearded vultures, the goat-like chamois, and the Alpine ibex.
Hiring a guide is not only a great recommendation to heed to ensure your safety, it may also be necessary in order to reach more remote and difficult-to-reach areas.
One of the most kid-friendly activities that can be enjoyed in the Mont Blanc region is sledding, also known as sledging. Even adults looking to recapture memories of zipping down hills of snow will have a blast spending time at one of the region’s several sledging areas.
There, they can choose to ride a traditional paret sledge, a disc-shaped sledge, or a toboggan. These sledging areas are specially equipped and maintained to keep children of all ages, and children at heart, safe and sound as they enjoy the winter weather.
Ice Skating Rinks
Mont Blanc visitors who need a break from the outdoors, but still want to watch or engage in winter sport activities are in luck: the Chamonix area is home to its very own indoor ice skating rink. The Olympic rink, which is 60 x 30 meters in size and seats up to 1,700 spectators, is home to an ice hockey club that is over a hundred years old. The rink often hosts games between the Chamonix Hockey Club and rivals including Lyon, Anglet, Rouen, and Amiens.
There are also rinks and skating ponds, including an outdoor 26 meter x 56 meter skating rink, open at Mont Blanc-area locations including Vallorcine and Houches during the winter months.
Because the Mont Blanc area has tons of options for winter sport enthusiasts, and picking the right activities for you and your travel companions can be overwhelming. Luckily, there are experienced travel organisations that offer several options for thrill seekers, the risk averse, and everyone in-between.
Vacationers who are more interested in sights than thrills can take part in a “Walking Holiday,” a seven-day walking tour that begins in Argentiere in the Chamonix Valley and includes highlights such as a visit to the Alpine Museum, a cable car ride up to Aiguille du Midi, a walk along the ‘Grand Balcon Nord’ to the Mer de Glace, and a stop at the ancient farm of Chalets de Chailloux.
One of the more adventurous tours is the Climb Mont Blanc, a fun, but arduous, week-long tour during which participants will spend three days in the high mountains to acclimatize before a three-day ascent to the top of the mountain. The three days of ascending is followed by two days at the summit, also known as “the roof of Europe.” Highlights of this extreme tour include a stay at a chalet near Chamonix, traversing the Trient Glacier, and a cable car and train ride to Nid d’Aigle.
Other excursions offered include the Self-Guided Tour du Mont Blanc, Ultimate Tour du Mont Blanc, Mont Blanc to the Matterhorn, and Climb Mont Blanc and Grand Paradiso tours.
After spending a long day participating in outdoor winter activities in and around the mountain, take some time to unwind at some of Chamonix’s attractions, which include relaxing spas, nourishing wellness and fitness centers, first-class restaurants, dazzling casinos, cozy bars and tearooms, thumping discotheques, and unique shops.
With so many offerings at Mont Blanc, it’s no surprise that the area has been a popular wintertime destination for visitors from all over the world for years. The picturesque views of the Alps, the activities provided by the mountain itself, and the lively night life are particular enticing to first-timers who often become repeat returners. Whether you choose to spend your time skiing the slopes, pampering yourself, catching a hockey game, cutting a rug on the dance floor, indulging in five-star meals, or ascending to the summit, there is something for everyone at Mont Blanc.