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Mer de Glace Chamonix - A dreamy journey in glacial blue

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Mer de Glace Chamonix - A dreamy journey in glacial blue

Our trip was connected to the fulfillment of one of Mitko's big dreams, namely to participate in the most prestigious race for runners UTMB. 100 km awaited him. through the high, steep and unfamiliar Alps, and I was in for the thrill, excitement and tracking of his location on the race site.

We stayed at Les Houches ski resort (unpronounceable name for me) which is about 6km away. from Chamonix, France. A fairy-tale place with houses that you fall in love with at first sight - big, in alpine style, a lot of wood, a little cement and fabulous details that make the houses an open-air museum, you walk around them and want to go through every street so as not to miss not a single detail.

On race day we got up very early. I went out in my pajamas to see off Mitko, who started on the path of his dream.

It was the end of August, a pleasant temperature, but it was about to rain. A friend of Mitko's, also a participant, had come with a very merry company, which I joined that day. Ellie, or "the teacher" as they joked about her because she is very organized and thinks about every detail of the trips, had planned for us to go to the Mer de Glace, Chamonix glacier.

Mer de Glace or as it is translated the Sea of Ice, is the largest glacier in France, 7 km long and is one of the biggest attractions in the Chamonix Valley. To get to the glacier, you need to take a train whose starting station is in the center of Chamonix.

We reached the center of Chamonix by bus, line 01. It was very convenient that the hotel reception gave us public transport tickets which were valid for the whole period of our stay. As soon as we got off, we headed to the tourist train station, which would take us up from Chamonix (1035 m) to Montenvers (1913 m). The Mer de Glace train timetable is one per hour and runs from 10am to 4.30pm.

There is an information board at the Chamonix train station indicating that access to the glacier is after climbing 500 steps.

The Montenvers train price is 37 EUR. The journey takes only 20 minutes and covers about 5 km. with a steep ascent of 878 m. Midway the train crosses a single track and before entering this section stops to allow the train descending from above to pass. The carriages have windows that open to let in the fresh mountain air as the train moves through the forest and tunnels.

The ride itself is nice with beautiful views – sit on the left side going up and the right side coming down back to Chamonix.

Montenvers upper station is located on a panoramic platform with a view of the Mer de Glace and many peaks. It is immediately noticeable how much the glacier has shrunk. By 1820 it was seen from Chamonix. Since then it has gradually receded, leaving a view of large gray moraines in its wake.

From the panoramic platform of the station to the 500 stairs that lead to the glacier itself can be reached by cable car. The journey with it is very short.

The stairs themselves look like a lot, but it takes about 10-15 minutes to go down them. The walking platform is metal and latticed. When you walk along them, take your time, enjoy the panorama and notice the years written on the rocks, which indicate how far the glacier reached in the respective year.

And here we are at the entrance of the glacier, which welcomes us with a shade of blue that I have not seen anywhere else. A deep blue that is not found in the sea or the sky. A cold breeze and ice tunnels reveal themselves in its depth.

The tunnels lead to the incredible ice sculptures with ambient lighting - polar bear, tables, throne, bar and chairs. In the glacier itself, the path is covered with a mat to prevent visitors from slipping.

There are no restriction strips or signs and you are free to take fabulous photos.

An interesting fact is that no matter how impossible it may seem to you, there is life in the ice. Tardigrades, also known as water bears, are one of the most durable animals on Earth. Large individuals, as well as their eggs, can withstand temperatures down to -30 degrees for years. You can't see them, but you know they're there in the Ice Castle.


It doesn't take long to tour the Ice Cave, but it's really worth it, after all, how many people can boast that they've been inside a glacier. Even climbing the 500 stairs in reverse is worth many times over.

The surface of the glacier shrinks by about 30 cm every year and maybe one day it will disappear completely, so I am grateful to be immersed in this magical blue world.

What else to see:

  • Glaciorium  – an interactive museum that tells the story of Mer de Glass with films, sound effects and educational presentations. The museum is small and located right next to Montenvers Station. It is freely open and there is no entrance fee.
  • The peak Signal Forbes 2200 m high. with a wonderful panoramic view. It is about a 55 minute walk at a leisurely pace from Montenvers station. It is interesting that along the path you can see plants with signs on them, on which their names are written.
  • Hotel & restaurant Montenvers, where you can eat and relax in nature.


  • Note that every year the Ice Cave closes in October for maintenance and the making of new ice sculptures.
  • Stairs make the attraction inaccessible to people with limited mobility.
  • The metal platform on the stairs can be dangerous for your dog if you decide to visit the site with him.
  • The altitude is not suitable for babies under 12 months of age.
  • Montenvers train does not run when it is windy.
(Important) This story was experienced and retold by Vilia.

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