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What to do in Geneva and Chamonix

For both our Haute Route and Tour du Mont Blanc Hiking trips, Geneva is the closest airport to our starting town of Chamonix. We recommend arriving a day or two before the tour to combat the effects of jetlag and to do some independent exploration of the incredibly Swiss city of Geneva or the lovely French town of Chamonix.

Geneva

Geneva’s Old Town is best explored on foot as there are many boutique shops to browse, as well as places to eat. For exploring outer neighborhoods and sites, there is an excellent bus system. A great resource for additional information on the city, what to do, and restaurants is geneve.com.

old town

Dominated by St. Peter’s Cathedral, Geneva’s historic Old Town is the largest in Switzerland. Climb the 157 steps for a unique panoramic view from the top of the clock tower, then immerse yourself in Genevan history and explore the winding streets that surround it.

patek philippe museum

Home to the prestigious creations of the Geneva-based firm of master watchmakers founded in 1839, you’ll find an extraordinary display of watches, musical automata, and portrait miniatures from the 16th to the 19th century.

palais des nations (UN)

Built between 1929 and 1936, the Palais des Nations houses the European headquarters of the United Nations and is the largest UN center after New York. The Palais opens its doors daily and provides fascinating guided tours.

bodmer foundation library & Museum

An extraordinary permanent collection of papyri, medieval manuscripts, authors’ autographs, pre-1500s printings, first editions, art editions, archaeological documents and drawings, including two Egyptian Books of the Dead, manuscripts of Dante, and original editions of Shakespeare.

globe of science & innovation

Measuring 88 feet high and 131 feet across, CERN’s Globe is an unprecedented visual landmark. The ‘Universe of Particles’ exhibition on the ground floor takes visitors on an immersive journey into the world of particles up to the Big Bang.

mont-SALÈVE

Within just a few bus stops of the city center and 5 minutes in a cable car, you will be on top of Geneva’s mountain, with magnificent views of Geneva and its surroundings. You can also hike here.

steamboat cruise

Enjoy a lunch or dinner cruise on the biggest lake in Western Europe on a restored, Belle Époque steamers. Take a seat on one of these historic and elegant vessels and take in the spectacular views.

chocolate

As you can imagine, there are several artisan chocolate shops in Geneva. Ask your concierge what his or her favorite is, but you should probably sample several places, to find your favorite!

Chamonix

Chamonix’s center is small and easily walkable. Take some time to carefully browse the cheese and craft shops of Chamonix, as well as to sip a café and people watch in this busting mountaineering town. For exploring more of the Chamonix Valley, there is a clean and reliable bus system. It is easy to use and information can be found at the Office du Tourisme, or you can certainly check with your hotel concierge as to the best way to get to your destination. A great resource for additional information on the town and valley is chamonix.com.

alpine museum

Check out the exhibits displaying the fascinating history of Chamonix’s mountaineers, including the first woman to summit Mont Blanc!

office du haute montagne

Here, you’ll find a relief map of the Mont Blanc range and other very interesting information of these domineering mountains.

aguille du midi cable car

This is an incredible trip up a cable car to a platform at 12,600 feet, where on a clear day, you can view Mont Blanc up close and even see mountaineers on their ascent! You can also visit the cafe, gift shop, and small museum at the top. Hiking to the mid-point is also an option.

cloche & sonnettes

Learn how the classic cow bells are made, and buy one for yourself! This business has been in the same family for multiple generations—located just outside of town past the Aiguille du Midi.

mer de glace ice caves

The Montenvers Train is a beautiful ride up to the Mer de Glace glacier, where you can descend into the “Grotto” ice cave. You may also see the Glacorium (Glacier Museum) and Grand Hotel du Montevers, with a restaurant and intriguing museum of the area’s history.

mountain biking

Explore the region on bike—on easy river side trails or more challenging hilly dirt trails. Several local shops rent bikes.

local markets

In the summer, there is a market every day of the week somewhere in the valley featuring fresh produce, local cheese, and crafts. Go to Chamonix.net for more information.

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