Failing that, we’re mixing it up at the moment, hiking one day, skiing the next. It’s easy to be relaxed when we’re here for the whole season and not for a week when the pressure is on. Try to relax a little and be flexible with your activities. Chamonix, as oppose to some other resorts, has plenty of other activities to keep the kids busy. It might not be the ski break you were hoping for, but don’t let it ruin your holiday.Here are 5 other ways to keep the kids happy this week.
1. Go up the Aiguille du Midi
The Aiguille du Midi is a 3842 metre high peak that can be accessed by a cable car directly from Chamonix (The aiguille is the golden needle you can spot glinting in the sunshine from the town). It’s the nearest you can get to Mont Blanc without hiking or climbing any further and boasts the highest vertical ascent in the world (2087m). With spectacular views of Chamonix valley, Mont Blanc and it’s surrounding peaks it’s a must do on a clear sunny day. With numerous panoramic viewing platforms, a restaurant and a museum there’s a lot to see up there. A fantastic new addition is the ‘touching the void’ glass box. Stand thousands of metres in mid air and look down if you dare! Other highlights are walking through the ice tunnel to the ‘arête’, the hairy ridge line climbers take to climb Mont Blanc or skiers/snowboarders take to do the famous off piste ski run, the Valley Blanche. A family ticket isn’t cheap at 186 euros for a family of 4 but it does include the ‘touching the void’ glass box and quite frankly is a must do in Chamonix on a gorgeously clear day.
Tip: wrap up warm, even if the sun’s out – it’s really chilly up there and the kid will get cold quickly if under dressed.
2. Go for a swim at the ‘piscine’ or skate at the ‘patinoire’
Being an winter olympics town, Chamonix has fantastic winter sports facilities. The 25m indoor swimming pool also has a kids pool, a brilliant 130m slide and a hammam & sauna. Adults 6.20E, kids 4.60e (under 6’s free!). The pool only opens in the afternoons so check opening times here before rocking up. In the Summer it’s also got a fab 50m outdoor pool.The ice rink (patinoire) is another great place to take the kids, however check opening times as it’s limited to around 3-4 hours in the afternoon. Adults 6.40E, kids 4.80E. There’s often ice hockey games on an evening which is pretty cool to take the kids to check out.
If you’re staying in a chalet you should be able to get a guest card (carte d’hote) which gives you discount at both the swimming pool and ice skating rink as well as free public transport (the train is well worth the ride to Vallorcine). If you’re in private accommodation, you can get a carte d’hote from the Marie (town hall) for 10 euros valid for 7 days.
3. Take the Montenvers train to the Mer du Glace
The Montenver train is a cute red funicular mountain train that takes you on a breathtaking route around the mountain up to the Mer de Glace glacier. The largest glacier in France, the Mer de Glace (Sea of Ice) is a whopping 7km long and 200 metres deep. At the end of the train journey, there’s a small cable car up to an ice grotto (cave) carved out under the glacier with fabulous ice sculptures. The grotto is carved out each year as the glacier moves an incredible 70 metres every year. There’s also a restaurant up there and a fascinating exhibition of glaciology. The views are stunning with epic vistas of the main peaks of the valley – the Dru, the Grand Jorasses and the Aiguille de Grepon. It’s a great people watching spot – not only do mountaineerers set off on expeditions from here, it’s also the end point of the most famous off piste ski run in the world – the Valley Blanche. Skiiers and snowboarders set off from the Aiguille du Midi and negotiate their way, with a guide, through the ice fields & crevasses before finally catching the Montenvers train down.Put it on your to do list whilst in Chamonix. The kids will love the ice grotto (note: there are over 400 steps after the cable car to the grotto). A family ticket (2 adults + 2 children) costs 93 euros (extra children 15.50 euros each). The train leaves every 30 minutes from the Montenvers train station.
5. Take a tour of Chamonix with Dr Zhivago & eat ‘gaufres’