Looking for something a little different to do in Europe? A different mode of transport, perhaps?
If you’re anything like us, you’re probably always looking for a new adventure, something a little unusual.
So if you want to make a James Bond style entrance between countries then we’ve got just the adventure for you.
Glacier Express to Chamonix
This trip starts in the usual way with a train ride on the Glacier Express into Chamonix, but it’s no ordinary train. Think large glass windows to make the most of those stunning views through the European Alps. And if you’re lucky, the driver may just let you up in the cabin to see what’s ahead.
Picture Perfect Chamonix
Once you’ve arrived in Chamonix you’ll no doubt want to have a look around – the town is picture-book perfect and easy enough to get around on foot in a day. But don’t just stick to the town, there are dozens of walks you can do in the surrounding mountains, and if you’re not really a walker, cablecars will help you get to the top in no time to make the most of those views.
Where to Stay
We stayed just outside the town centre at Chalet Les Frenes in Les Bossons. The Bed and Breakfast/hostel is nestled at the foot of Mont Blanc and has amazing vistas up to the Alps. There is also an outdoor hot tub with views across the mountain range so make sure you take your bathers.
Hiking to Lac Blanc
We walked up the stunning La Flagere and took the four hour walk to Lac Blanc, up to 2352 metres – yep, it’s all up hill. But the views are worth it and if you’re lucky, you might even see some wildlife along the way. We saw two ibex, meandering around the lake.
The walk took us up into the snow line and provided stunning views across the French Alps. The views across to the Mont Blanc mountain range are awe-inspiring, even covered with cloud.
Crossing International Borders
But what does this have to do with James Bond? I hear you asking.
You’ll need to set aside a day or two for this adventure, and pack lightly! You really don’t want to be lugging around a whole lot of stuff, after all that’s very un-James Bond like behavior.
We can’t stress enough how much we loved this experience – traveling from France to Italy via cablecar. That’s right, you’re going to cross international borders from your own little pod swinging across the top of Europe.
The Cablecar Ride
You’ll be doing a bit of cablecar hopping here, so bear with us. First up, from the Chamonix city center head up to Aiguille Du Midi at 3842m. From here you’ll have amazing views over the mountain ranges, and into Chamonix below. The views are awe-inspiring, dramatic mountains all around.
But it’s the trip from Aiguille Du Midi across to Helbronner in Italy that will really take your breath away. The journey lasts about half an hour – including regular stops so that you can adequately photograph the surrounding mountains – oh and so passengers can get on and off.
From here, on a clear day, you’ll be able to see the Mer De Glace, Mont Blanc - the highest mountain in Europe - and the Swiss, French and Italian alps.
You’ll see brave souls wandering across the barren landscape, and the crevices and rock faces they’ll have to tackle.
The cable cars themselves travel in threes, with two people in each car, it’s an eerie feeling to be in such a quiet car suspended between the mountains swinging across the top of Europe.
Helbronner – officially on the border of France and Italy – sits at 3462 metres.
You could take a cable car back, but we’d recommend staying overnight in Italy and checking out the Italian Alps.
From Hellbronner you’ll need to take another cable car down through Rifugio Torino at 3335 metres, Pavillon Du Mont Frety, at 2173 m and into La Palud at 1370m.
Stay in either La Palud or the larger, nearby, Courmayeur. We stayed in La Palud, but ate in Courmayeur. Both are pretty, but there’s more choice of hotels and restaurants in Courmayeur.
We had the biggest pizza we’ve ever had in Courmayeur at the Pizzeria Ristorante Du Tunnel.
And you’ll probably want to have a martini with dinner… shaken not stirred!
Travel tip shared by AllAbroadAU