Chamonix France at Mont Blanc was the third and final leg of our 10 day European anniversary trip, and it was beautiful!
We started in Bellagio, Lake Como, Italy, then headed to Grindelwald, Switzerland, then Chamonix Mont Blanc with a day trip to Annecy, France. And finally to Geneva, Switzerland.
BTW, we were determined to stay under $5,500 all-in for flights, hotels, food, drink and excursions, and I’m happy to report that we did!
One way to travel for less is to sign up for a Chase Sapphire reward card and use the rewards to travel for free or at a discount. I highly recommend the Chase Sapphire card, which has covered the cost of our larger trips since we got the card in 2019. We use it for almost every purchase possible and just make sure to pay it off in full each month.
Getting to Chamonix France
We took trains from Grindelwald, Switzerland Station > Interlaken Ost, Switzerland Station > Martigny, France Station > and finally made it to Chamonix, France Station. The train tickets totaled $180 for both of us and took about 5 hours.
We enjoyed the views from the train – in my opinion the train views were the best on the trains from Lake Como, Italy to Grindelwald.
At the Martigny, France Station we grabbed some food to eat en route, and ended up arriving in Chamonix around 4 pm.
Where we stayed in Chamonix France
Our hotel, Hôtel Le Refuge des Aiglons was a five minute walk from the train station and had a really large and fun lobby area, restaurant, pool, hot tub, and deck with Mont Blanc views. Hotel guests gathered in the lobby area most evenings, which was fun.
Our hotel room was pretty small, but we didn’t plan on spending much time in the room, so no worries there. And even better – It was super affordable ($100-ish a night).
It wasn’t as nice as the hotel we stayed at in Grindelwald (Bergwelt Grindelwald), but was perfect for our needs.
After we got settled in, we headed down to the hotel bar for a happy hour drink, and then headed to a restaurant/bar next door, Jekyl.
The vibe in there was a little odd (music, lighting, decor, etc), but the food and drink were good and very affordable. We opted to split some wings and Chimichurri steak and each had a salad. The bill was only about $30, which was amazing compared to the Switzerland trip prices.
We ended the night with one final beer at a cool restaurant and bar called Little Boxes. It was located right across the street from our hotel and had a great food and drink menu plus very friendly staff
Our first full day in Chamonix France
The next morning we both slept in, then hit the hotel breakfast buffet, which was pretty good. I was happy to have my croissant option again. 🙂
The weather in Chamonix was pretty much the same as Grindelwald, which made me happy. The afternoons were perfectly sunny, yet cool temperatures which averaged about 60 degrees (mid September).
After breakfast we walked a few minutes into town to get a lay of the land. The main drag of restaurants and shops was really cute and had so many options. Of course I took a ton of photos. 🙂
Below are some photos from that quick walk:
Next up we headed on our adventure to the The Aiguille du Midi
The Aiguille du Midi is a 3,842-metre-tall mountain in the Mont Blanc massif in the French Alps. It’s a very popular tourist destination, and can be accessed by cable car from Chamonix, taking visitors close to the top of Mont Blanc.
Ted, a huge mountain buff, was very excited for this part of the trip – even though we did a similar thing in Grindelwald, Switzerland at Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe. It was cool to experience both mountains, and thankfully the Aiguille du Midi one was much more affordable at $140 for both of us (vs. the $400 at Jungfraujoch).
We took the first gondola up to the lower area where we did a 15 minute hike to a pretty little mountain lake.
The we took the next gondola that takes you to the very top. Gondolas run every 15 minutes so it’s pretty easy to catch them at any point.
From there we took an elevator up as high as you can go where there was a restaurant, shops, and exhibits that you can walk through.
People can wait in line and stand in a clear box above the mountains too, which we would have done if the wait weren’t 30+ minutes. The clear box can be seen in this photo.
After our excursion, we headed back to the hotel to chill for a bit and plan our evening.
For dinner, we decided to hop into multiple places for a little bit of food and a drink. We wanted to try a few different places, so this worked great for us.
First we stopped in a restaurant and craft beer bar called Big Mountain Brewing Co. We split some nachos and ordered some beer, which was tasty and affordable.
Next, we walked around for a bit and decided to stop in for one glass of wine at Cha Cha Cha, a wine bar offering a ton of different options.
From there we walked even further to explore other areas of Chamonix, and I took a lot of golden hour photos – not surprising, ha!
After our walk we were ready to eat again, so decided on a quick sushi restaurant called Yumidori. Ted got pieces and I went with a dragon roll, which was great!
We stopped in one more restaurant bar L’Hydromel, which had great music, the nicest staff, and amazing cocktails. After one drink we headed back to the hotel to get some sleep for our day trip to Annecy, France the next day.
Day three in Chamonix France – A day trip to Annecy France
For our final day in Chamonix we chose to book a nice bus to Annecy, France, which would take an hour. Annecy looked unreal and stunning in all of my research, and I just had to go.
Ted booked our tickets for $20 total, and we boarded the bus after breakfast and arrived at noon. Our hotel was right across the street from the Chamonix bus station, which was so helpful.
Annecy is a town in southeastern France, where Lake Annecy feeds into the Thiou River. It is known for its Vieille Ville (old town), with cobbled streets, winding canals and pastel-colored houses. Totally my vibe!!
Annecy was even prettier than I expected and we had the best afternoon there. Below are some highlight photos.
We walked through the main area full of shops and restaurants first, then around the most beautiful lake I’ve ever seen (Lake Annecy) flanked by a giant park.
The water was crystal clear with the prettiest blue green hue, and there were people kayaking, boating, and relaxing everywhere. It was the working lunch hour on a Thursday, so many people were eating takeaway lunches by the lake.
Lunch in Annecy France
After an hour of walking, we headed back to the old town to grab some lunch at Le Chalet. We both had the most amazing salads and a glass of wine, and enjoyed people watching from the patio along the water.
When we were finished eating, we headed back to the lake to look into boat rental prices. We were pleasantly surprised to learn that there were lots of options, and renting a motor boat would only cost us 1€/minute. Ted quickly got a boat rented and we headed out across the lake with ted at the helm.
We ended up having the boat for 53 minutes, so only had to pay 53€! What a great deal. In America we’d have to spend much more money, spend time signing wavers, paying deposits, etc. But in Annecy you are out on the water in less than 2 minutes.
It was the most amazing and stunning boat ride I’ve ever been on! While we were in Bellagio – Lake Como, Italy we had hoped to rent a boat, but we never got the chance. I think this worked out even better!
After our boat excursion we walked around town a bit before heading to the bus station for our 5:00 pm bus back to Chamonix.
We returned to the hotel around 6pm that evening and went back to the Little Boxes restaurant for a casual dinner. And then we went back to the hotel to pack our travel backpacks.
We loved our time in Chamonix France, and are so glad we visited! It was time to head to Geneva Switzerland for one day.
The next morning we headed to the bus station to catch our $20 bus to Geneva, where we were flying home from. We spent an afternoon walking 9 miles through Geneva, and I’ll be doing a blog post on that soon!