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DESPERATE for info re: Chamonix in July!!!!!!!

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posts: 191
reviews: 6
DESPERATE for info re: Chamonix in July!!!!!!!

We are in need of a RELIABLE transfer service from Geneva Airport to Chamonix village in July. What happened to Alpy Bus in the summer? Does anyone know?? I really do not want to pay 40E with ATS as that is $100USD one way for the 2 of us!!! The increase in airfare from London and then on to Paris also has become very disappointing.

Has anyone stayed at Hotel Aiglons? Is the location OK or should we stay closer to the village of Chamonix? Is Chamonix Sud user friendly as far as getting around to places in Chamonix village in the summer time? Does Le Mulet operate throughout the village in July/August?

We are older adults and plan on hikes but don't want to walk 2-3 miles to get to lifts to take us to hikes!!!!!!

Please info and suggestions desperately needed. THANKS.

Destination Expert
for Chamonix
posts: 575
reviews: 31
1. Re: DESPERATE for info re: Chamonix in July!!!!!!!

So many questions! :)

Alpybus does run in summer. I have heard that they are not the most reliable - however they are very cheap.

So if you do decide to go with them make sure that you are not arriving too late to get the train in case of problems.

www.sbb.ch to check train times.

Don't be put off by the apparent difficulty of getting the train, it's not ideal but as a backup it's fine - it's much simpler than it sounds. The staff at the airport train station speak english and are very helpful. The train is much cheaper than the bus - about 15 euros as I remember - the bus is about 40. It takes a lot longer, though it's a lovely journey.

Also remember that the transfer services move thousands of people with no trouble at all. Problems are relatively rare - but obviously are extremely frustrating when they do occur. It's happened to me, so I always have a backup plan now (generally the train)

Remember being very central isn't everything because it can get quite noisy in the town.

The Aiglons location is fine, it's practically central, though I haven't stayed there. I think that, like the rest of Chamonix Sud, it's a bit more modern than the main town. I also think it's due to be refurbished soon so it might not be in quite the best state at the moment. It's got a pool though, which not many places have in Chamonix, so it depends what you're after really. Personally I'd go for something with a bit more atmosphere like maybe the Hotel l'Arve or the Faucigny.

Chamonix Sud starts about 5 mins walk from the main town square so no problems there.

Chamonix is quite a lively place, so if you were after more tranquillity, you could stay in Les Praz de Chamonix, a satellite village, very pretty, handy for the Flegere Lift. Not so hot on nightlife though it does have some very good restaurants and the Eden is my favourite hotel AND restaurant in Chamonix. Or there's a lovely little hotel called the Prairie that only opens in summer - I've never been in but it's very pretty, or a nice b and b called the Kosciusko.

All these places are on here, I think, or just google for more info, they've all got sites except the Prairie.

Le Mulet will be running in July and August, as will the buses between the villages and the trains. Your hotel will give you a card to use the buses and trains free. I really like the trains - it's a good idea to take a timetable on your walks though, so you can time your descent and then have a coffee/beer before catching the train back. Otherwise the buses are fine, and more frequent.

You won't have to walk far to get to the lifts, there is plenty of transportation to and from. The tourist office sells some good hiking guides.

Hope this is helpful :)

posts: 191
reviews: 6
2. Re: DESPERATE for info re: Chamonix in July!!!!!!!

Firebug-THANK YOU for your detailed response!! I am now looking forward to a great night's sleep tonight to dream about Chamonix!!!!

London, England
posts: 2
reviews: 3
3. Re: DESPERATE for info re: Chamonix in July!!!!!!!

hallo Chamonix Hikers. You are making a great choice to go to Cham. I know it well and spend much time in the valley summer and winter so thought, seeing your posting, i would just send you some tips. You will have already discovered how expensive everything is - Cham is more like Paris in that regard.

I agree with the previous response you have had re Alpybus. And the train - which goes all the way along the north side of lake Geneva, down the Rhone valley to Martigny and then the little 'Mont Blanc Express' trundles up and over - but - this is the (lovely) scenic route and takes ages. It also has several changes and the last leg into Cham from Martigny has to be completed while the trains are running so no late arrivals. Swiss railways and sncf websites have times.

There is also a 'Chamonix Bus' which is more frequent in winter but I think it still runs from Geneva airport to Chamonix in summer and may compare pricewise though its not frequent and depends upon you timings.

I guess you are flying to GVA, you could always consider the good train from Gare de Lyon (I think - if not, Austerlitz) to Geneva. 4 hrs max. French trains are great and good value.

The train (local, above) is worth knowing about however, should you wish to walk at other destinations in the valley as it stops at lots of places. you can check this out at the very helpful tourist office in town, near the church. There are local buses too, so between the two you should manage fine. Get timetables from tourist office / station in Cham.

I think(not sure) from memory that your hotel is in Chamonix sud which is not a place of beauty. (architecturally 1970's - unappealing and functional; a large number of appartments were built to accomodate the budget market. This is still important, but Cham has definitely moved upmarket in recent years - it even sports a Chanel in the town now, to the horror of many die hard 'mountain types' but there great equiptment stores too ) Still, you will be out all day and it should not matter that you are not in a scenic chalet. You have doubtless booked by now but check out others for future ref and I recommend Hotel Aiguille du Midi, just to the west of town. Delightful family run place. There are a few B&B's too.

Picnics are easy to fix. there are several supermarkets in town for meats fruit and veges, and cheeses, along with specialist shops for meats and cheeses, and also a couple of bakeries which stay open all day - remember that almost everything closes at twelve for a couple of hours then staying open until 7pm.

Eating out is pricey. however here are a few slightly better priced places.,La bergerie down from the station is traditional mountain and you can eat a typical fondue or grills reasonably here. For good food, at a reasonable price for a treat, especially if you pick your choices, have say 2 courses only, Le Bistro, (actually a Michelin 1 star ) in rather unpreposessing ground floor of Le Morgane, a hotel between R. Ravanel Rouge and the Aiguille du Midi lift station. Le Pannier aux quatre Saisons is also good, again in unprepossesing small arcade on r. Ravanel Rouge.

Up the mountains, some of the chalet/cafes will be open. Obviously these carry a premium in terms of cost but are worth it for a view or a coffee on a walk. The 'hotel' at Montenvers, the 19th Century rail head at the Mer de Glace is a great old stone building and has a good table if it works in with your walks ( you should take the phone number with you if you have mobiles and book ahead). A very well trod and very easy first day walk, which orientates you and incurrs virtually no change in level is 'The grand balcon Nord - running from the mid station of the Aiguille du Midi cable to Montenvers - about 2 hours - this is NOT remote or intrepid but gives you a view NORTH to Brevent, Flegere and down to the valley floor. Take advantage of looking at the Hotel Montenvers if you are there, even if you only have a coffee. its a wonderful old building, a friend of mine grew up there. It sometimes has exhibitions, and if so it gives you the chance to see the charming rooms which look out over the many melt streams pouring down to the Arve, the river which runs through Cham. This spot was renowned in the 19th century as a key attraction, the Romantics (English in particular) made it a 'must' (Grand Tour) and there is a little stone hut just above which is a sort of shrine to the many writers and artists who visited (Temple de la Nature). Their names are inscribed on the walls inside. Until recently there was a splendid museum there too, only one room but magical in this setting. Now everything is in the Museum in Chamonix, which I highly recommend, epecially if you get bad weather. To the locals, Montenvers is nothing short of a tourist 'hole' and there is of course reason to this. No longer reached on mule back, a train trundles up and down all day disgorging visitors who, for the most part, buy tatty gifts eat ice creams and go back down. Move a little away (hence the walk I mentioned) and you will not be alone but you will have a better sense of the place. It does have historical importance, even if it is something of an embarrasment to many. Just above it, Signal Forbes' is the point where the scientist Forbes worked out the movement of glaciers, which met with incredulous responses - Ruskin even helped Forbes place markers to help his observations. Eventually, he was proved right.

Its important to know that the glacier has retreated a great deal since his work took place and the grey scalped sides of the glacial path is, in summer, rather forbidding. In the early 19th Century farmers put leather boots on the cows and crossed the glacier below the Montenvers.... no longer possible!

There are several walks which you could tackle which involve a night in a refuge, some which form part of the the 'tour de Mont Blanc'. I suggest you also think about a walk up the beautiful Berard Valley, in Vallorcine which you reach by train. You can picnic by the river, or stay the night in the refuge (Pierre a Berard) and go on the next day - check all this with the tourist office to find out options of where you might go to. Check out the great crepes at little buvette on the way up/down, where there is a big placard explaining the history of Farinet, a forger who made money and gave it to the poor - the cave behind the buvette is allegedly where he hid. There is a spectacular (- all things are relative!) waterfall here too.

Another lovely refuge, tthis time the west end of the valley, would be to take a very early lift out of Les Houches, and walk to the Chalets de Miage, either staying there or going on to Contamines, where you can get a bus at 4.30 and get back to Le Fayet, and catch the train back to Chamonix. The walk on this suggestion is day one of the tour de Mont Blanc and you have to start early! there are options as to the route, one more strenuous than the other ( col de Tricot - steep descent to Miage).

A walk up to the Refuge Loriaz above Vallorcine is also easy - you have choices from here. Not in the least comfortable for the night but fun in communal sort of way! its a lovely spot.

There are so many wonderful walks, I hope you have time to get stuck in and find some special adventures. Worth getting away from town, bowling along good paths and enjoying the views. Invest in good map and pick the brains of the tourist office. I hope they are helpful. There are also good books in the several bookshops which have local walks listed, and diagramatic maps.

If you have already thought about walks, you can quiz me for info.

I hope this inspires you and that you have a wonderful time in this special place.


posts: 191
reviews: 6
4. Re: DESPERATE for info re: Chamonix in July!!!!!!!

TOMROB: Thank You for info. I will definately try to change hotel ,tho' it is getting close to arrival time at Chamonix.

5. Re: DESPERATE for info re: Chamonix in July!!!!!!!

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