We are thinking about a holiday in September in Chamonix.
Ever since we watched the "No going back" series on Channel 4, where it featured a couple from the UK moving there, we have thought we would love to go. We were going to do a "package" and costed a 4* hotel with Inghams, which totalled just short of £1200 for the 2 of us on a half board basis.
I then started researching DIY and we could get Easy Jet flights ABZ to LTN then to GVA for £170 for the 2 of us!!! Now all we need is accommodation and transfers. I have researched transfers and we could get these for just over £100 for the 2 of us.
My question is when does the summer season finish in Chamonix? For example Inghams brochure, the last dates for flying out are about 8th Sept, we were thinking of going more mid to late Sept but would not want to go when nothing is happening.
If anybody has been this time of year or has any info on DIY would love to hear from you.
It is a very short season-we went August and we had a lovely hot week-but my daughter went a few years later and weather was pretty dreadful.
If you do get there-and not too far away-make a point of going to Les Linderlais-it's half way up the Avoriaz mountain.
It's a goat village-straight out of Heidi-absolutely fantastic!
They really do eat anything and everything-including my son's cap!
Thanks for your info. It really does sound idyllic.
We have now booked Chamonix, staying at Les Balcons Du Savoy and booked our flights with BA as they were only £40 more expensive that Easyjet, plus the flight times were much better.
We may even hire a car when we get there which will give us a great opportunity to explore round and about.
Avoriaz is at the top of a mountain. One day we woke up and couldn't see the mountain opposite-possibly Mont Blanc-not sure. As we were so high up we were in a cloud.
We drove down the mountain-ans it was c brilliant and red hot sunshine.
It is so picturesque -you really don't know where to look first. In Avoriaz-other mountains just peaked all around us and many eons ago a glacier must have carved its way through them for the main road to Thonon and Lake Geneva snaked round huge outcrops of rock-very dramatiic.
Cor-I wish I was coming.
I devoured the Heidi books when I was little and this holiday just brought them to life.
The tour guide told us at the time that the summer had been quite dreadful, but that the week we went had been the sunniest and warmest for some time
Think we will have to hire a car and explore this beautiful area. Off to Switzerland next month as well so really looking forward to that too!
I do remember the town being a little crazy in the evenings, due no doubt to people being on an adrenalin high after bagging the big one.
OH just said that Chamonix will be packed in July (height of the French holiday season) and parking a car will be a nightmare.
Thanks for the info. We're going on the 4th of July which is just before the start of 'les grandes vacances' so it's classed as mid season - hopefully it won't be too crowded. We won't be hiring a car though as we're going with Inghams - will have to make sure we're up early to catch the trains, buses and lifts though!
OH has just told me that the snow isn't settling on the lower slopes so you won't need to take your skis. The only positive thing is that the weather is so changeable at the moment that it could be really lovely by the time you go. Keep your fingers crossed.
After getting snow on our trip to Selva last year, I shall be well prepared for Chamonix - already got the fleeces and waterproofs out! The temperature seems to be picking up a bit now so hopefully we'll get good weather when we get there.
We spent 7 nights in Chamonix in July 2012. Here follows an account of our trip:
We flew out from Heathrow Terminal 5 to Geneva with British Airways and had no problems at all with either the outbound or return flight or 1 hour minibus transfer to Chamonix. We werenâ€™t given an in-flight meal in either direction but we were given a drink and a snack.
The Weather (http://www.chamonix-meteo.com)
The forecasts had shown quite a bit of rain in the week before we travelled so we were prepared for some wet weather. In the end, we only had a small amount of rain on 2 days with the remaining time split between sun and cloud. As you might expect at altitude, the weather changed very rapidly so it is always worth taking warm layers and a waterproof jacket with you just in case. In general, temperatures were warmer than we expected, ranging from 20-30c in Chamonix and reaching a low of 0c at the top of the Aiguille du Midi.
Chalet Hotel Sapiniere
After previously having had a great holiday in a Thomson Chalet, we were keen to see if an Inghams Chalet would be as good. We had always wanted to go to Chamonix so the Sapiniere looked ideal. Some of the reviews we saw had said that the dÃ©cor etc was a bit tired but at £500 each for flights, accommodation and nearly all meals and drinks â€“ we werenâ€™t expecting the Ritz! To be honest, after a week there, I donâ€™t know how anyone could dislike this place â€“ the food is amazing, the views of Mont Blanc are stunning and the staff couldnâ€™t have been more helpful. We were very sad to leave! From looking at other reviews, there seem to be many different opinions on whether itâ€™s worth paying for a balcony/Mont Blanc View. It comes down to personal preference really â€“ we were in room 40 in the new wing and were very glad we had paid the extra as we had a sunny balcony and a fully uninterrupted view of the mountains. It was also useful having the lift if only for moving our cases around. As for the food, weâ€™ve eaten less well in 5 star hotels so credit must go to the kitchen staff for all their hard work. We normally never go back to the same place twice but I think the Sapiniere may have changed our minds!
Usually we find that the rep welcome meetings are all about selling excursions and nothing else so it was a refreshing change to find that the Inghams rep, Joy, spent most of the time talking about what there was to do and see in the area. It was also useful that we could buy our Mont Blanc Multipass and Hellbronner tickets direct from her (she would even have refunded the Hellbronner ones if we hadnâ€™t used then). We already knew that we wanted to go on as many of the lifts as possible so went for the 6 day multipass which wasnâ€™t cheap at 115 euros each but pretty much covered all our sightseeing for the week. We were also given a free guest card by the hotel which gave unlimited use of the buses and trains in the valley. We managed to cover a lot of ground in our week â€“ hereâ€™s some info on what we did:
- Aiguille du Midi & Helbronner â€“ before we went, we were a bit confused as to the best way to ensure that we went up on a clear day without having to queue for hours. Joy, the rep, advised us to just turn up as early as we could on the day we wanted to go but we thought that it might be more sensible to make a reservation (free with the Multipass). In the end, we had a reservation for the Monday morning but ended up going the previous Saturday morning as the weather looked perfect. We only ended up having to queue for about 30 mins so this was definitely the right decision. Make no mistake, the Aiguille is very high up and if you have anything more than mild vertigo then you may find it too much. I felt dizzy and panicky the whole 3 hrs that we were up there but it was definitely worth it for the views. There was a massive queue for the elevator to the very top so we didnâ€™t do that but there were no queues at all for Helbronner so we had a cabin all to ourselves â€“ this is definitely well worth the extra 25 euros as the scenery is amazing. There is lots to see up there so make sure you take your time exploring â€“ we particularly enjoyed the climbing museum and the various different views of the mountains and climbers. Wrap up warm!
- Montenvers â€“ we actually ended up doing this twice â€“ the first time we went up it was misty and overcast so you couldnâ€™t see much but the glacier looked really eerie and there were no queues for the Ice Cave so it was a good time to visit. We also went up on a sunny day so we could get a better view of the overall area. Make sure you visit the new Glaciorium exhibition (just behind the hotel) as this is really good and the Ice Cave is excellent too.
- BrÃ©vent & FlÃ©gÃ¨re â€“ There are lovely views of Mont Blanc and surrounding valleys from the top of BrÃ©ven. We took the lift back down to the mid-station at Planpraz and then followed the signs for FlÃ©gÃ¨re â€“ this took a couple of hours and was mainly an easy route with a couple of short steep/exposed sections. Iâ€™m sure most experienced walkers would have no trouble with it though. There is not much at the top of FlÃ©gÃ¨re -Index but going up the chair lift was fun. There are frequent buses from Les Praz to Chamonix or you can walk back in about an hour. The restaurant opposite the bus stops does really nice pizza.
- Vallorcine/Balme â€“ we took the rail replacement bus to Vallorcine, then walked to Charamillon over the Col des Posettes. We then took the chairlift up to Col de Balme and walked up to the Swiss Border. Sadly it was blowing a gale and raining up there so we quickly turned back and headed back to Le Tour.
- Grands-Montets â€“ like the Aiguille du Midi, you need a clear and preferably still day to go up the top. It is nearly as high as the Aiguille so can get very cold so make sure you take lots of layers, a warm hat and some gloves. I actually enjoyed this more that the Aiguille as there was hardly anyone us there so you had more time to take in your surroundings.
- Bellevue/Prarion/Tramway du Mont Blanc â€“ we really liked it up here as the scenery was very pretty and there was hardly anyone around. If we were to go back, I would go to the top of Prarion first, then walk down to the Tramway stop at Col De Voza, take the Tramway up to the terminus and then walk back to Bellevue.
- Gorges de la Diosaz â€“ A good place to go to on a drizzly day as the steep gorge sides seem to keep a lot of the rain off you â€“ allow at least 2 hrs including the walk from the train station.
- Alpine Museum â€“ not the best museum weâ€™ve ever been too but a good rainy day option. The labelling is mainly in French but they do have translations.
- Espace Tairraz â€“ this currently houses the Crystal Museum and a Mountain Climbing exhibition. We found the Crystal Museum a bit boring but the Mountain Climbing exhibition was excellent with lots of interactive features for both adults and children. Highly recommended!
- Transport â€“ we made good use of our guest cards and travelled up and down the valley all week on the local buses, train and rail replacement buses. In general, we found the train routes were much quieter â€“ the buses could get absolutely rammed at the start and end of the day. We also found the free â€˜Muletâ€™ shuttle bus in Chamonix to be very useful.
- Lâ€™Ã©tape â€“ Monday is the chalet staffâ€™s day off so you have the opportunity to try out one of the local restaurants. We wanted to go to a typical local restaurant, rather than a tourist trap so Joy suggested Lâ€™Ã©tape which is just round the corner from the hotel. The food was excellent and very well priced so we would recommend it.
There really is so much to do in the area that a week isnâ€™t enough to fit it all in. We absolutely loved Chamonix and didnâ€™t want to go home â€“ weâ€™ll definitely go back one day!
Inghams Excursion Prices as at July 2012
- Discover Vallorcine Guided Walk â€“ 20 euros
- Three Countries Tour â€“ 62 euros
- Hidden Chamonix Guided Walk â€“ 15 euros
- A Day in Annecy â€“ 49 euros
- Also available â€“ paragliding, white water rafting, canyoning, glacier walks, mountain biking, guided walks, hydrospeed, rock climbing
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