36 Hours in Chamonix – The New York Times

If you’re visiting in the new year, start your final day in Chamonix by taking the stomach-dropping cable car ride up to the top of the Aiguille du Midi, an icy, steep peak that hosts a cluster of buildings and walkways for visitors to explore (€61.50 round trip; closed for repairs until later this month). The cable car whisks you straight from the busy streets of Chamonix into one of the continent’s harshest and most beautiful landscapes. From the top of the lift, hardened mountaineers set off on expeditions to the summit of Mont Blanc and beyond. But no ice axes are required to tour the Aiguille du Midi complex where you can browse exhibits on the history of mountaineering and the geology of the Mont Blanc massif. Those feeling brave can walk through a glass-floored exhibit that dangles over a 3,000-foot drop.

Wander back through Chamonix’s bustling, pedestrian-only zone to Pie, an intimate spot that’s perfect for a quick, fresh lunch before you head out of town. Owned by the Paris-trained pastry chef Charles Guillaume and his wife Stéphanie, the restaurant features a rotating selection of tarts, both sweet and savory. Order the quiche of the day (€9.80), which comes with a lightly dressed salad, then enjoy a decadent hot chocolate embellished with chestnut cream (€5.90) for dessert.

Many hotels in Chamonix impose a three- or four-night minimum on stays during ski season, so be sure to call ahead. The Park Hotel Suisse and Spa, with its rooftop spa and cozy, chalet-inspired rooms, is one exception (double rooms starting from €309). Ask for a room with a view of Mont Blanc.

Apartment rentals are easy to find in Chamonix’s lively and walkable city center, where nightly rates for a one-bedroom range from €79 to about €160 on Airbnb.

For a quieter retreat, consider the Montenvers Refuge, accessible only by train in winter, where a bed in a 10-person dormitory starts at €85 per night, including dinner and breakfast. Private rooms are also available, starting from €250 per night for a double room, including dinner and breakfast for two.

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