Chamonix Out of Season
23rd October 2019
Chamonix - mountains, mountains and more mountains! Every angle in Chamonix is a photo opportunity. It's mid October and the summer season has come to end and the winter season is looming. This left us in the kind of in between phase meaning it's super quiet but everywhere is still open, it has less of a tourist atmosphere and more of a local vibe. But this certainly didn't leave us short of things to do.
We stayed in a campsite at the foot of Mont Blanc, 10 minutes outside of the centre of Chamonix called Camping des Duex Glaciers, and this was the only campsite in Chamonix that appeared to be open this time of the year. It was a little pricey at €18 per night, however this included electricity hook-up, wifi, showers and an on-site restaurant - so all in all not bad value for money. Chamonix is the first place we have encountered in France so far that has been quite difficult to find parking for campervans which in the end meant we had to stay at the campsite for 5 days, which was not easy on out bank accounts, but when coming to a place like this it's worth spending the extra money if it meant we could stay in such a stunning place for a little bit longer.
As previously mentioned in my other blog posts, we are travelling on a major budget and came to an agreement that we would priorities our money more for travel and less on eating out a restaurants and shopping in the French boutiques, however, if we were to ever come across somewhere that offered an experience that we could just not refuse, we would do it no matter what the cost. So the first thing we did was hop onto a cable car which took us 3,842m into the air to the summit of Aiguille du Midi. For €63 each for a round-trip ticket we were taken to what felt like another planet. This is a must-do experience and is definitely not for those afraid of heights! The summit boasts absolutely stunning panoramic views of the Alps, and it't not just the French Alps you're seeing up there! With Switzerland and Italy just next door, you're looking at three different countries at once! How amazing is that!
The cable car journey is around 20 minutes one way, with a stop half way up where you change to another cable car at Plan de l'Aiguille. Here you are able to walk around and visit the wooden chalet cafe and sit at the picnic benches. From there the next cable car then carries you to the summit. We were just in time to catch the final cable car of the day at around 3pm. This unfortunately left us wit a lot less time at the half way point and the summit, so I would highly recommend going as early as possible to spend as much time up there as you like. Nonetheless, this experience was truly spectacular and I would highly recommend splurging on this. It was surreal!
After being back on the ground and feeling slightly light-headed from the altitude change, we thought it was the perfect time to enjoy a nice refreshing Mont Blanc beer in the sun. So we walked just 5 minutes away to a little square that had a few restaurants and bars and sat ourselves down. The beer was very refreshing, the price however, not so much... €13 for two beers! So if you haven't gathered yet, Chamonix is quite the pricey one! So if you are planning on coming here on a budget, make sure you do your research on exactly what you want to see and do here and keep the in mind before you come here!
One thing to do in Chamonix, that is slightly easier on the bank account, is having a wander through the gorgeous town centre! There whole town is so picturesque but it's hard not to be when it has the French Alps as a back drop, let's just say its not quite your average town centre! Even as the temperature was starting to drop in Chamonix, there were still so many restaurants and bars with outdoor seating, and the town was full of shoppers and people enjoying the sun while drinking wine. The atmosphere was wonderful and again, because of the time of year it was no where near as busy as I imagine it being in the height of summer or as the ski season begins. We spent about 2 hours just wandering and taking pictures at ever angle and visiting a few souvenir shops to buy keepsakes. We then treated ourself (as if we hadn't done that enough) to a few drinks at the prettiest restaurant named Josephine.
That evening we finally found a good spot to wild camp for our last night in Chamonix. Just a three minute drive away from the town centre we were able to get a good nights sleep ready for our final day. As we were about to head towards the Mont Blanc tunnel to head to our next location we decided to stop off just before and visit Cascade Du Dard, which translates to Dark Waterfall. Just a short 200m walk from the car park and we were there! It was quiet with only a few other people there who came and went within 15 minutes, we were left with it all to ourselves. It was a very overcast day when we went so the fog created a beautiful moody atmosphere - a perfect end to our time here in Chamonix.