Highest mountain in Western Europe
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The Mont Blanc in France is an imposing mountain, with its 4.808,73 it’s the highest in the Alps, and in western Europe. It’s an icon visible from far and wide, for example when you’re walking or skiing in the area. But you can also climb it, of course.
The Mont Blanc is an inspiring mountain. It may not be the most beautiful, but you’ve got have seen it at least once in your life. You can see it from several countries in Europe, including Italy. In France a good place to see it is Chamonix, and in Italy Courmayeur is a good spot.
The first people to reach its peak were two Chamonix locals, and since then hundreds have attempted the climb, most of whom were successful. There is really something special about this mountain, something that will never go away. These are the best things to see and do at the Mont Blanc.
Once upon a time this was the highest cable cart in the world. This gondola will take you from Chamonix to 3.777 metres altitude, where you can take the famous walkway to another lift, which will take you to the peak at 3.842. There is a stunning 360-view here of the surrounding mountains and of course the Mont Blanc. Do try to go on a clear day, the Mont Blanc is often covered in clouds, so you wouldn’t get to see it.
The Mont Blanc massif is a perfect place for walking. It’s to the west of the Alps and around 50 by 15 kilometres in size. It covers France, Italy and Switzerland. There are three large valleys here: the Vallée d’Arve to the west, the Val Veni (where Courmayeur is) to the east, and Val Ferret. You can take hikes here that take a few hours, or walks that take several days. For example, there is the famous Tour du Mont Blanc, which takes 10 to 14 days and crosses straight through the Mont Blanc massif.
Another famous walk is the Petit Tour du Mont Blanc, which takes four days and goes from Houches to Courmayeur, or vice versa. This is a good option if you’re not an experienced hiker. Visit the tourist information centre to find out more about walking options when you’re there.
The wind picks you up, and you glide through one of the most beautiful landscapes in Europe. You pass over mountains and villages while your instructor shows you how to use the wind to your advantage. If you ever considered paragliding before, this is a perfect place to do so. The best time for photos is in the early morning or late in the afternoon when the light is best. You can take to the sky in several places, including Chamonix.
Mont Dolent is not very famous, but it is right on the border of these three countries, and its peak is 3.820 metres high. It is located right next to the Mont Blanc and it quite a manageable climb for experienced climbers. There are several routes to the top, and you will be rewarded with a unique view of the Mont Blanc.
Is it a train or a tram? The Mont Blanc Tramway is the best transport if you just want to see the beautiful landscape around the Mont Blanc. It runs between Le Fayet and Glacier de Bionnassay (Nid d’Aigle) which is at 2.372 metre. It takes an hour and covers exactly 12.4 kilometres.
It’s one of the hardest sports in the Alps. Using picks and crampons, you ascent up a frozen waterfall. You’ll start at a forward angle and make your way up, and can even end up climbing up overhanging pieces of ice if you’re very good. There are courses with experienced instructors that will teach you how to do this, which range from half a day to several days. They have high-quality equipment, so that should you slip, you’re caught safely.
Experts say that the waterfalls on the Italian side are more beautiful than the ones on the French side, but the ones in Trient in Switzerland are also worth it.
The wind in your hair, braking when needed, and of course steering in the right direction. That’s how you’ll go down the mountain, and also up it! You can do this on an e-bike (electronic bike) so you don’t have to use up all your effort to go back up the mountain.
The little mountain roads are perfect for leisurely discovering the countryside, and you can stop to take photos or have a picnic whenever you want. It’s a great activity that doesn’t require a lot of effort. You can hire e-bikes at different tourist offices around the area.
You have to lean back a little, because the dog is so enthusiastic! Running with your dog is very popular at the hills of the Mont Blanc. is a variant to dog sledding: a mega-strong husky is tethered to a harness around your waist and starts walking. You can walk along (which isn’t always easy at the start), or even run. And especially uphill, the dog will pull you along. It’s a unique experience, especially if you like dogs.
The Mont Blanc is a fun challenge to experienced climbers, it’s not particularly difficult and you can do it in two days. But you do have to be in good shape, and be a skilled climber. Most climbers do it with a guide.
There are several routes, the western one is the most popular. Use the Tramway du Mont Blanc to get you up the first part, after which you can follow a good trail to Tête Rousse hut at 3.187 metres. There is another hut called Gouter at 3.765m. You can find more information about climbing the Mont Blanc online.
You can’t actually ski or snowboard down the actual Mont Blanc, but the Evasion Mont Blanc ski area is right at its foot. This 420-kilometre area comprises Saint-Gervais/Saint-Nicolas de Véroce, Megève/Combloux, as well as Les Contamines Montjoie and Les Houches. This last one is closest to the Mont Blanc, geographically speaking. But from all of the resorts you get a fantastic view of the Mont Blanc, and that’s a great perk to add to your winter holiday!
La Mer de Glace means ‘sea of ice’, and is one of the highlights of the region. This glacier is around 7 kilometres in size and located on the north side of the Mont Blanc, towards Chamonix. It is the second-largest glacier in the Alps, after the Aletsch Glacier in Switzerland. On average the glacier is about 200 metres deep, and moves around 120 metres a year. You can reach the glacier by train: take the track and pinion railway called Chemin de fer du Montenvers.
You can visit the Mont Blanc any time of year. If you’d like to climb it you can best do this in the warmer months of June, July and August, though it can be hot and dry in August. It can be busy then too. June and September are the best times as it’s less busy and still warm.
If winter sports are more your thing you should go between November and March, and waterfall climbing starts in December once the waterfalls have frozen over properly.
Walking, cycling and many other activities can also be done in spring and autumn when the weather is mild.