Rather than bore you with our *exact* weekend itinerary - because let's be honest, you don't need to know what we did from morning til night (and believe me, you really don't want to know all the details), I thought it would make most sense to lay out the best of the best things to do while in Chamonix over a summer weekend. I've intentionally not gone too detailed here as I think the best spots are THE BEST SPOTS and you should take our word for it and focus on those (for example, we went back to Cool Cats 4x over the weekend, so yeah - you can say we're regulars). In my humble opinion, you truly cannot go wrong with any of the below.
GETTING TO CHAMONIX
Land, and walk immediately to the Mountain Dropoffs desk. (Make a reservation ahead of time, and put in your itinerary on their website, and they will figure out all the details for you - you just need to show up).
They're the best outfitter in town and their drivers are usually awesome and fun to talk to. I've met new adventure friends on the one hour shuttle every time I've ever taken it and subsequently planned trips around the world with them (hi Scott!) - you're always destined to have a good time with Mountain Dropoffs.
WHERE TO STAY
I've stayed at a few hotels in Chamonix, all with good experiences/great amenities:
- Higher End: Hotel Mont Blanc (I stayed there and wrote about it in the fall)
- Middle: Chalet Whymper Chamonix
- Affordable: Langley Hotel Gustavia
- Lac Blanc: Wake up early and either walk or shuttle to the Flegere lift. Take the cable car up and hike to Lac Blanc (half day activity)
- Mer de Glace: Take the Aguille du Midi cable car halfway up to Plan d'Aguille, and hike over to Lac Bleu & Mer de Glace. Stop at the hut for photos, a beer, some souvenirs & take the train back to Chamonix (half day activity)
- Arête des Cosmiques: Hire a guide for the day to take you out trekking from the top of l'Aguille du Midi. As for premium adventure companies, I cannot recommend Adventure Base enough. We went on the day's adventure with Fabio from Adventure Base. After spending time with him, he is in my humble opinion one of the best, most experienced guides in Chamonix & has become a personal friend. Adventure Base as an organization is great, as you can contact them with your desired activity for the day like we did, and they will line you up with an available guide. We wanted to do a half day trip alpine ridge, and AB did not disappoint!
POST HIKE EATS
- Cool Cats Chamonix: something tells me you also want to look as cool as Chaniel and get this 'cool' picture for the gram. But besides the photo opp, their artisanal hot dogs, indulgent nachos and fries are the perfect post-hike refuel. You will not regret it. I think about their pulled pork nachos every day.
- Chambre Neuf: after a few days of french fries, nachos and hot dogs, my body was screaming for some nutrition... get the salmon salad and a charcuterie plate and you won't be disappointed.
- Elevation 1904: American food... beers, burgers, burritos. Cannot go wrong.
BEST WATERING HOLES
- Micro Brasserie de Chamonix: good selection of locally brewed beers which are great, though I recommend against the food there, as it is rather uninspiring
- Berlucoquet Wine Bar: amazing curated wines and the sweetest couple own the place (and have for over a decade), perfect place to spend a rainy evening
- The Pub: the best place to catch a game, knock back a few Heinekens, and take in some live music
We didn't do a lot of eating out at fancy restaurants but from prior experience, I can recommend:
- Restaurant Cap Horn: truly a nice night out with white tablecloths and a dressier scene, though they have a sushi menu too for the more price conscious
- Munchie: Sushi, Asian food, with a creative twist. Lots of options and a moderately priced menu. A nice scene.
- Atmosphere: pricier, white table cloth, but worth every penny. A nice ambiance, with classic and well-prepared European cuisine.
- We went to Buck's every day for breakfast. Their smoked salmon bagel, quiche and coffees kept us going all week long, and it was right on the way to the Aiguille du Midi tram station. Easy for breakfast and for grabbing a sandwich to-go. A two-for-one stop.