One of the most famous sights in the Chamonix Valley is the Mer de Glace (Sea of Ice), the longest glacier in France at 7 km long and 200 m deep.
Take the funicular train of the Montenvers from Chamonix town center to reach the Mer de Glace and the Ice Cave in Chamonix (Gare du Montenvers).
The oldest tourist destination in Chamonix is the Montenvers railway. Since 1908, the scarlet, toy-like train has been transporting tourists to what is undoubtedly Europe’s most breathtaking alpine vistas. The train leaves Chamonix every 30 minutes and travels 20 minutes via tunnels and forests to reach Montenvers-Mer de Glace at the height of 1913 meters (6276 ft).
Dates of access to the Mer de Glace may vary depending on the weather and season. Check accordingly from the Chamonix Valley official website.
As this train becomes packed and frequently has no seats, try to arrive at the Montenvers railway station early to get your tickets. Sit to the left to see the beautiful mountain panorama through the pine trees if you can.
Keep in mind that as you ascend to a high altitude, the temperature may fluctuate even from the Chamonix starting location, so make sure you wrap up warm. Also, wear good walking shoes.
Mer de Glace Visitor Attractions
The Ice Cave
Visitors may access the Mer de Glace glacier and an artificial ice cave by a short cable car ride from the railway station. The ice cave is dug into the glacier.
Due to the glacier’s annual movement of around 70m, the cave must be excavated every summer.
Be prepared to walk both ways 550 steps.
There are ice caverns and sculptures inside the glacier. The best crystal specimens in the Mont Blanc massif are displayed in the Gallery of Crystals.
As you descend the stairs, you can observe climate change. There are occasionally markers that show the glacier’s elevation from prior years. Unfortunately, it brings home how rapidly the glacier is melting.
The Glaciorium, which opened in 2012 on the Montenvers Mer de Glace site and is open every day from early June to late September, houses an entire museum devoted to glaciology and engaging educational presentations on the origins, development, and history of glaciers. It also provides information on environmental and climate-related queries.
The museum also examines glacier-related culture and how it may evolve in the future.
The restaurant Grand Hotel du Montenvers
Traditional mountain food is served in a rustic environment in the restaurant of Grand Hotel du Montenvers, which has both indoor and outdoor seating. Both skiers and non-skiers may have a delicious meal here.
The menu offers a good assortment of charcuterie—cold meats—from the Savoyard, Swiss, and Valdotain regions.