The belvederes accessible from Chamonix by cable car or mountain railway are famous. For information, contact Compagnie du Mont-Blanc, 35 pl. de la Mer de Glace (; tel. 04-50-53-22-75).

In town, you can board a cable car for the Aiguille du Midi and on to Italy—a harrowing full-day journey. The first stage, a 9-min. run to Plan des Aiguilles at an altitude of 2,263m (7,423 ft.), isn’t so alarming. But the second stage, to the Aiguille du Midi station at 3,781m (12,402 ft.), may make your heart leap, especially when the car rises 600m (1,968 ft.) between towers. At the summit, you’ll be about 100m (328 ft.) from Mont Blanc’s peak. You’ll have a commanding view of the aiguilles of Chamonix and Vallée Blanche, the largest glacier in Europe (15km/9.25 miles long and 6km/3.75 miles wide), and of the Jura and the French, Swiss, and Italian Alps.

There are more thrills in store when you Step into the Void (pictured above), a glass box that hovers thousands of meters over an open space. Then follow the Tube, a steel gallery that goes around the central peak of the Aiguille du Midi. You’ll find places to sit in front of huge windows to take in those views, and there’s also a cafeteria and the 3842m Restaurant. Visit Espace Vertical, the world’s highest mountaineering museum that pays tribute to all those daring souls who have scaled these mountains.

From Aiguille du Midi, expert skiers can access the Mer de Glace glacier and the Valleé Blanche, the longest ski run in the world, and certainly one of the most challenging.

You can end your journey at Aiguille du Midi and return to Chamonix; this excursion takes two to three hours (longer during busy periods). The cable cars operate year-round, subject to favorable weather: in summer daily from about 7am to 5pm, leaving every 15 to 20 min., and in winter daily 8:30am to 3:30pm. The round-trip from Chamonix to Aiguille du Midi is 75€ for adults and 63.80€ for children ages 5 to 14. It’s not recommended for children under 5, and those under 3 aren’t permitted

The final trip on the Panoramic Mont Blanc cable car to Pointe Helbronner, Italy—at 3,407m (11,175 ft.)—does not require a passport if you want to leave the station and descend to the village of Courmayeur. From there, you can go to nearby Entrèves to dine at La Maison de Filippo (tel. 01-65-86-97-97), a “chalet of gluttony.” The round-trip from Chamonix to Pointe Helbronner is 113€; the cable car operates from late May to late September only.

Another cableway takes you up to Le Brévent, at 2,485m (8,151 ft.). From here, you’ll have a first-rate view of Mont Blanc and the Aiguilles de Chamonix. The round-trip excursion takes about 1.5 hr. Cable cars operate year-round from 8am to 5pm. Summer departures are at least every 15 min. A round-trip costs 37€.

Another journey takes you to Le Montenvers (tel. 04-50-53-12-54), at 1,883m (6,176 ft.). Access is not by cable car, but on a rack and pinion railway known as the Train Montenvers–Mer de Glace. It departs from the Gare Montenvers–Mer de Glace, behind Chamonix’s Gare SNCF, near the center of town. At the end of the run, you’ll have a view of the 6.5km-long (4-mile) mer de glace (“sea of ice,” or glacier). Immediately east of the glacier, Aiguille du Dru is a rock climb notorious for its difficulty. The trip takes 1.5 hr., including a return by rail. Departures are 8am to 6pm in summer, until 4:30pm in the off season; service usually operates year-round. The round-trip fare is 38€.

You can also visit a cave, La Grotte de Glace, hollowed out of the mer de glace; it has 580 steps from the exit of the Montenevers-Mer de Glace gondola. It’s free to visit but opening times are weather dependent.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.