The Aiguille du Midi is a 3842m mountain peak in the Mont Blanc Massif and if you want to get up close and personal to Mont Blanc and have a glimpse of the heavens, this is the place.
To get there you have to get the cable car from Chamonix which will mean about a half an hour drive from Saint Gervais. The cable car in itself is an experience and when it opened in the 1950s, it was the highest in the world. It still has the record for the highest vertical ascent (from 1035m to 3842m) so brace yourself. From Chamonix, it goes via the Plan de l’Aiguille (2,317m) and then (without any support pillar) it swings across Les Pelerins glacier before going up to the Aiguille du Midi (3778m). It’s the first leg of a heady experience.
A trip to Aiguille du Midi is not for the faint hearted. It’s an extraordinary place where two great wonders meet: nature, in all its rawest glory and engineering, in all its brilliance. You walk from the cable car via a small bridge to a platform wrapped round the tip (or the needle – aiguille) of the mountain peak, right up in the heavens. And there you have it, the world at your feet. Or at least views across the mountain tops and to Mont Blanc less than a mile away, and on a clear day, to the Matterhorn in the distance.
But remember… it’s cold up there, even in the summer, so go well prepared.
Step into the void
You’ll also find the “Step into the Void” skywalk at the Aiguille du Midi, which opened in 2013. In short, it’s a glass room dangling at 3,842 m and with a 1,000-m drop. From it, if you dare open your eyes, you can see the three countries of: France, Switzerland and Italy as well as dramatic glaciers. Not for those who don’t like heights but another amazing feat of engineering and apparently, the highest attraction in Europe.
Pop over to Italy
Once you’ve recovered from the void, in the summer you can catch the highest cable car in the world, from France to Italy. It’s 5km from the Aiguille du Midi to Point Helbronner in Italy and then there’s a cable car, that takes you to the nearest Italian village, La Palud.
Well why not. After all, exploring the mountains doesn’t have to be all about skiing and mountaineering.
When I went, a round trip to Aiguille from Chamonix was €60 which may seem steep – and let’s face it, it is! For a round trip to Italy, prices start at €89.00 but it’s probably the cheapest way to go by air! (prices subject to change)