On my day off while walking Mont Blanc in Chamonix, we travelled from France to Italy in a cable car – The best cable car ride in the world. But if that wasn’t impressive enough I also had my first ever experience in an ice cave beneath the Mer de Glace (glacier).
The railway to the glacier was built in the early 1990’s and has the cutest little antiquated red carriages and takes 30-minutes to get up the valley. It’s easy to find and is next to the main railway station in Chamonix.
The Montenvers train station overlooks the glacier and is poised on a rocky ridge at an altitude of nearly 2,000 metres. As with most glaciers in the world it has recessed so it’s now necessary to take a small cable car and then walk 460 steps to reach the ice.
Today, the Mer de Glace measures seven kilometres long and 200 metres deep and moves 70 metres a year so each summer a new ice cave needs to be dug.
Walking though the blue tinged ice into the cave I had an eerie feeling. The thought of being under a glacier with all that weight on my shoulders, watching the water tricking in made me nervous. Although it was beautifully lit with ice sculptures carved into its wall, it doesn’t seem right to mess with such a magnificent structure the planet has created.
The glacier and the ice caves are the main attraction at Montenvers but allow yourself several hours as there is more to see. The historic hotel, Grand Hotel du Montenvers is well worth a visit for lunch on the terrace, with views of Les Drus (3,754 metres) and Grandes Jorasses (4,205 metres). There is also a small museum in the hotel.
It is also possible to stay overnight which I can only imagine would be a unique experience having the glacier to yourself once the last little red trains for the day had descended back into Chamonix.