Once the group transfer has arrived your group leader will go through the weeks' walking programme. Time for a stroll around town before dinner.
We start our week with a 30-minute walk to the charming village of Les Praz where we hop aboard a cable car taking us high above the Chamonix Valley to La Flégère. Here we will be walking in the Aiguilles Rouge Nature Reserve with a good chance of spotting mountain ibex and marmots as we pass the peaceful Lac des Cheserys and climb steadily to the beautiful Lac Blanc. At 2,351m this stunning pale green lake lies under the shadow of Mont Blanc, and is one of the highest points of the week. After lunch, it’s a gentle descent (on a different path) back to La Flégère with stunning views throughout before taking the cable car back down to Chamonix. Maybe enjoy a dip in your hotel’s stunning rooftop pool before aperitifs on the terrace tonight?
A short scenic bus ride takes us to Le Tour, the highest hamlet in the valley, from where we gain further height by using the gondola. From here, it's a wonderfully colourful loop through archetypical alpine countryside and a tapestry of vivid wild flowers, alpine meadows and grazing cows with enormous clanging bells around their necks! The views from the Swiss border across to Mont Blanc and its gleaming white glaciers are truly unforgettable.
Today is free with lots of choice in and around Chamonix town. Perhaps take the teleferique up the distinctive granite spires of the Aiguille du Midi (3,824m), or take the Montenvers rack railway for unrivalled views of the Mer de Glace glacier. For a complete change of scene, you can pop over the Italian border into Courmayeur for a delicious pizza (local bus) or visit the lovely lakeside town of Annecy, with its multitude of watersports, lake cruisers and gentle walking trails (train).
We take a short and picturesque train ride to the pretty Savoie hamlet of Le Buet where today’s walk begins. We'll mostly be following winding forested trails as we climb gently up the Berard Valley and onto the Cascade du Berard waterfall. In early summer this will be full from the winter snow melt water. A refreshing if not chilly spot to dip walking feet. We continue onwards through meadows to the Chalet de Loriaz, a traditional mountain refuge serving homemade blueberry tart amongst other treats. The views are stunning and pan from Mont Blanc itself through to the Aiguilles Rouges national park with its multitude of jagged peaks and cliff faces (a home to many mountain Ibex) and then across to the Swiss alps. We return by a forest path to the valley bottom where we hop aboard the train back to Chamonix in time for a dip in the rooftop pool.
The local mountain train takes us first to the traditional alpine village and glacier of Argentière. From here, it’s a lovely walk to the sleepy hamlet of Tré-le-champ – the C18 gite serves great coffee and their homemade cakes are exceptional! From here we have superb views of Mont Blanc and the Aiguille du Midi to the south. We then follow the Petit Balcon Sud path as we descend the Chamonix Valley, taking in the tiny hamlets of Les Tines and Les Praz en route. There is an optional detour to the Chalet Floria – with over 4,000 plants, its panoramic terrace is one of the most bewitching spots in Chamonix and offers unbroken views of the stunning snow-capped peaks of the Mont Blanc chain. It’s an easy walk on forest paths back to Chamonix or Les Praz.
Today we head down the valley to the village of Les Houches where we ascend by Gondola to Prarion. A short walk takes us to a spectacular viewpoint with a 360 degree panorama view of the Chamonix valley and surrounding mountains. We are close to the foot of Mont Blanc itself and she looms above us with her huge swathes of glaciers glittering in the sun. Panning around we see the Massif des Aravis then the enormous vertical cliffs of the La chaine des Fiz. Further around again the Chamonix valley itself and the walks we have done during the week. Today’s walk continues on well graded paths and we head to the bottom of the Bionnassay glacier. On the scale of other glaciers in the valley the Bionnassay is quite small but witnessing such a beautiful natural feature formed over 100’s of years of snowy winters is a mesmerising sight as well as a pleasant spot to have lunch. A short walk brings us to the Bellevue cable car and our decent to the valley bottom.