The Aiguille du Midi summer views are some of the best in Chamonix, France. Up here at the top of Europe you can see for miles in every direction. Even down.
Experiencing the Aiguille du Midi is a must on the list of awesome things to do in Chamonix and I doubt you’ll be able to find anyone who disagrees. In this Aiguille du Midi summer visitor’s guide I’ll clue you in on all the things you need to know before you go.
What does Aiguille du Midi mean?
To start, Aiguille is French for needle and is a term they use to describe a sharp peak in a mountain range. (The range in this case being the Mont Blanc massif.) Midi stands for mid-day. So, the Aiguille du Midi is so named because the sun appears over this peak’s summit at noon. Now that we’ve got your French lesson for the day out of the way, let’s move on.
What is the Aiguille du Midi in Chamonix?
The Aiguille du Midi technically refers to the mountain peak, but what you came here to read about is the Aiguille du Midi—the cable car that takes you up to one of the highest peaks in the Mont Blanc massif.
Yes, you can take a cable car all the way from Chamonix to the peak of this 12,605-foot mountain (3,482 m) and it is unforgettable. In fact, the Aiguille du Midi holds the record for the highest vertical ascent cable car in the world and riding it is an experience in and of itself.
If you’re in Chamonix preparing for your Tour du Mont Blanc, a trip up the Aiguille du Midi is perfect for getting an up-close view of your adventure’s namesake. If you’re in Chamonix at the end of your trek, a visit to the Aiguille du Midi is the perfect way to put your entire journey into perspective.
What is at the top of Aiguille du Midi?
Once at the top you’ll disembark the cable car and have free reign of the facilities. During your visit to the top of the Aiguille du Midi you can enjoy:
- Multiple viewing platforms with 360° panoramic views
- Up-close and unparalleled views of Mont Blanc itself —the tallest mountain in the Alps and all of Western Europe—without actually climbing it yourself
- Cafés, snack bars, and the restaurant Le 3842 (one of the highest restaurants in the world and open only in the summer)
- A gift shop
- Small museums where you can learn about mountaineering
- Free admission to Step Into the Void (more on that in minute)
- Some of the best photo ops in Chamonix
Step Into the Void
Included in your admission to the Aiguille du Midi is something called Step Into the Void. What they call the “highest attraction in Europe” is a small (hopefully very strongly reinforced) glass enclosure you can step into and seemingly float over the mountains with nothing below you. Glass walls, a glass ceiling, and a glass floor hold you out over the vast Alps with more than 3,000 feet (1,000 m) of free air below you.
It’s petrifying but it’s popular and it’s included in your admission so don’t chicken out now! However, you can expect long lines for this feature. If this is your biggest interest, head straight there after arriving at the top. If you would rather spend your allotted time at the top checking out the views, you may need to skip this.
How long does it take for an Aiguille du Midi summer visit?
Visiting the Aiguille du Midi will take a good chunk of a day but I can’t stress enough how worth it it is. The website will tell you a visit takes about 2-3 hours, but for me it took 5 hours start to finish. Here’s how my Aiguille du Midi summer experience went:
- Got in line at 10:00 am
- Got a scheduled admission for 11:50
- Made it to the top of Aiguille du Midi at 12:50
- Left the top at 2:20
- Started my descent on the cable car at 2:45
- Made it back to the ground in Chamonix at 3:10
Being that this is the #1 thing to do in Chamonix in the summer, it draws a lot of people. With lots of people comes slow-moving lines, “sheep-herding,” security checks, etc. Always allow for more time than what the attractions estimate.
The day I went, there were so many people that we were only allowed two hours at the top. (But we definitely could’ve stayed for three!) If this is the case during your visit, they will explain it all to you and they’ll give you a timed ticket for your return to Chamonix as well. I don’t think this is always the case, but it may be just for busier days.
How much does the Aiguille du Midi cost?
Admittedly, I kind of scoffed at the price at first since it would by far be the most expensive thing I would do during my time in Chamonix. However, I can now tell you it was totally worth it and I’d spend that money again in a heartbeat.
The 2020 Aiguille du Midi prices are as follows:
- Adult round-trip: 65 € ($73 US)
- Adult one-way: 50.50 € ($57 US)
- Child round-trip: 55.50 € ($62 US)
- Child one-way: 42.90 € ($48)
- Family pass: 201.60 € ($227 US)
Family pass = 2 adults + 2 children, and the 3rd, 4th, and 5th children are free
Child = 5-14 years, children under 5 are free but not encouraged, and children under 3 are absolutely not allowed at all.
The Mont Blanc Multipass
If you’re going to be spending more time in Chamonix than just for a visit to the Aiguille du Midi, consider purchasing the Mont Blanc Multipass.
This pass is available for any number of days between 1 and 21 and will save you significantly on your Chamonix sightseeing.
With the Mont Blanc Multipass you pay one discounted fee and get access to:
- Aiguille du Midi
- Montenvers to Mer de Glace train
- Tramway du Mont-Blanc
- A number of special Chamonix tourist areas like Brévent-Flégère, Les Houches, and more
- The Bossons chairlift
- Discounts on other tourist sights and attractions
An example of how much money you can save would be if you also want to take the Montenvers train to the Mer de Glace glacier (another of Chamonix’s most popular things to do). You can definitely fit this in on the same day that you visit Aiguille du Midi. (This is what I did.)
The adult cost for the Aiguille du Midi alone is 65 euros and another 34 euros for the Montenvers train. The cost of a 1-day Mont Blanc Multipass is 68 euros. That’s a savings of 31 euros on just this one day.
For all the prices of the Mont Blanc Multipass, check out their page here. You can purchase any number of days up to 21 and even purchase according to whether you’ll be using it on consecutive or nonconsecutive days.
Aiguille du Midi summer visiting tips
Being the most popular attraction in the town of Chamonix, the Aiguille du Midi summer experience is a busy one. But don’t let the crowds and lines deter you—experiencing the Aiguille du Midi is worth every bit of it. Here are a few tips you should know before your Aiguille du Midi summer visit:
Get there early
Especially in the summer, the Aiguille du Midi draws large crowds on nice days. Getting in line for tickets as early as possible will help ensure you get some of the earliest admission times. This is helpful because:
- This will give you the best chance of seeing more sights that same day (especially if you’ve purchased the Mont Blanc Multipass).
- The earlier you go, the fewer people there will be, ergo the faster your whole experience will be. Fewer people means shorter wait times.
- The later in the day it gets, the cloudier it gets. I had a wonderfully clear Aiguille du Midi summer experience, but shortly after I got back to Chamonix the clouds started rolling in. Earlier in the day equals better viewing weather. (On a clear day you can even see the Matterhorn in Switzerland!)
Note that you can purchase advanced tickets which is something I almost always recommend no matter the activity—but not in this case.
The majority of your enjoyment of the Aiguille du Midi will be based on the weather. And if you have booked advanced tickets on the Aiguille du Midi but wake up that morning to clouds and rain, you’re out of luck.
Instead, keep an open itinerary, check the forecast the night before, and get in line as early as possible on a sunny morning. During the busiest part of the summer (July 4th – August 23rd), the Aiguille du Midi is open as early at 6:30 am. For more times, check out their up-to-date timetables.
Prepare to wait
The way Aiguille du Midi tickets work is you wait in a ticket line where you’ll be given an assigned time up the Aiguille du Midi. So first you’ll wait in the ticket line (get there early!), then you’ll wait again for the boarding group you’re given.
Depending on how early you went and how crowded it is, this wait could be short or a few hours long. You’re allowed to leave and return but I still recommend staying relatively close by.
When your boarding group gets closer and closer (there’s a digital number board with increasing group numbers), you’ll wait in one area. Then you’ll move up and wait in another area. Then your group will get called and you’ll move up and wait in another area. You’ll be herded through a line and a security check, all the time waiting.
You’ll wait for a cable car, then another after the first stop. On the way down you’ll wait some more. Again, the earlier you go the less waiting you’ll have to do. I went in August which is the busiest time at the Aiguille du Midi.
Limit what you bring with you
There will be a security check before you’re allowed to board the cable car. You know the drill—no firearms, weapons, etc. And the cable cars are tight so leave big bags behind.
Rules on children
Children under 3 are strictly forbidden from the Aiguille du Midi. Children ages 4 and 5 are allowed but not recommended.
Prepare for cold
Even if it’s super warm down in Chamonix, the Aiguille du Midi is over 12,000 feet up and surrounded by snow and ice. At the top it’s cold and windy, even in the summer. However, in August it’s not brutally cold. I wore Chacos, thin pants, and a t-shirt under a fleece jacket and it was fine.
Take the amount of sunshine versus clouds and temperature at the top of Aiguille du Midi into consideration when choosing your Aiguille du Midi summer attire.
Prepare for altitude
At an altitude of more than 12,600 feet, the lack of oxygen at the top of Aiguille du Midi will have you feeling lightheaded, short of breath, and maybe even a little loopy. But that should be about the extent of it.
If you’ve never been at this high an altitude before, know that this is completely normal and even a fit person is going to feel the effect of high altitude. This will go away as soon as you’re back on solid Chamonix ground.
Since you’ll only be at this height for a couple of hours, you won’t have to worry about full-on altitude sickness—just a few giggly side effects.
Stepping into the void
If the Aiguille du Midi’s Step Into the Void feature is high on your alpine bucket list, be sure to head straight there upon arriving at the top.
This is a popular activity and the slow-moving lines can be long. And with a potential time limit at the top, you won’t want to save it for the last minute.
Plan de l’Aiguille
The cable car from Chamonix to Aiguille du Midi happens in two stages. In the middle you’ll switch cable cars at Plan de l’Aiguille. However, you’re also free to enjoy an extended stop at this level if you want.
At Plan de l’Aiguille you can:
- Enjoy lunch and refreshments at Refuge du Plan which is just a 5-minute walk
- Hike back down to Chamonix
- Hike over to the Montenvers site and Mer de Glace along the Balcon Nord trail
Personally, I skipped Plan de l’Aiguille so I could catch the Montenvers train but others have said it’s a beautiful and rewarding stop.
If you do plan to stop here, do so on your way back down so you can enjoy Aiguille du Midi earlier to take advantage of smaller crowds and nicer weather. Then on your way back you can take as much time as you want at Plan de l’Aiguille.
If you do decide to hike down from Plan de l’Aiguille after your trip to the top, the ticket you’ll want to buy the is the “Special Hiker” or “Spécial randonneur.” This discount ticket will get you from Chamonix to the top of Aiguille du Midi, then halfway back down to the Plan de l’Aiguille without having to pay the full round-trip price.
Pointe Helbronner add-on
In the summer there’s also the option of taking another cable car to another mountain peak from the top of Aiguille du Midi.
Between the months of June and September only, you can take a 4-person gondola from Aiguille du Midi over the Mont Blanc massif to Pointe Helbronner in Italy. This awe-inspiring 3-mile (5 km) journey on the Panoramic Mont Blanc cable car is the highest cable car in the world.
A one-way trip takes half an hour and is said to be one of the most beautiful and thrilling rides in the world. However, this gondola is extremely weather dependent and strong winds and/or poor visibility will shut it down.
Pointe Helbronner tickets
You can add-on a round-trip ticket from Aiguille du Midi to Pointe Helbronner on the Panoramic Mont Blanc cable car (around 32€) at the beginning when you buy your initial tickets and/or at the top if you decide to do this once you’re up there.
You can also buy a one ticket to Pointe Helbronner then take the Skyway Monte Bianco from Pointe Helbronner down into Courmayeur, Italy for another adventure. Whichever you decide, be sure to have your passport with you since you’ll be crossing a border.
If you know you want to do this and the weather looks pretty good, you can buy a round trip ticket from Chamonix > Aiguille du Midi > Pointe Helbronner > Aiguille du Midi > Chamonix from the get-go. This will cost around 97€. I didn’t get to do the Helbronner addition but from what I’ve read 97€ is a steal for this priceless experience. Check out more Pointe Helbronner prices and info here.
The Aiguille du Midi is accessible for visitors with disabilities. You can ride the cable cars all the way up to the top and access most of the viewing platforms. However the Panoramic Mont Blanc cable car ride to Pointe Helbronner is not wheelchair accessible.
For more on visiting Aiguille du Midi in a wheelchair, check out this full rundown from the Limping Cyclist.
What will your Aiguille du Midi summer journey look like?
Let me know below!
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