To access the Mer de Glace and the Ice Cave in Chamonix, take the little train of the Montenvers. The Montenvers train leaves from Chamonix town center (Gare du Montenvers). Here are the 2014-15 opening and closing times and dates for the Montenvers train. See also their prices and rates.
The Montenvers Railway
The Montenvers Railway was the first custom built tourist attraction in the valley. It started operating in 1908. The funicular railway departs from Chamonix and makes its way up the sides of the Aiguilles de Chamonix to an altitude of 1,913m.
The station at Montenvers has a cafe and a restaurant from where there are spectacular views of some of the most prestigious peaks in Chamonix: Les Drus (3,754m), Les Grands Jorasses (4,205m) and the Aiguille du Grepon (3,482m). The station is poised on a rocky ridge overlooking the Mer de Glace glacier.
Take the cable car from the station on to the glacier to visit the Ice Grotto (see below). View the animal museum and an exhibition of beautiful mountain crystals found in the region.
In summer there are great alpine walks to the Plan de l'Aiguille and the valley floor.
Attractions at the Mer de Glace
The Ice Grotto/Cave
A small cable-car allows visitors to descend from the train station onto the Mer de Glace glacier where they can enter a man made ice grotto. The ice grotto is cut into the living glacier.
Ice sculptures and caves are inside, under the glacier. The Gallery of Crystals features a collection of the finest crystal specimens in the Mont Blanc massif. The grotto has to be dug out every summer since the glacier moves about 70m every year. In the winter the Grotto is replaced by a small ice museum.
Access is via 430 steps on both the outward and return walk from the top of the glacier gondola lift.
Established in 2012 on the site of Montenvers Mer de Glace and open daily during the summer (early June to late September), the Glaciorium features an entire exhibition dedicated to glaciology, with interactive and educational presentations all about glaciers, how they form, their history. It also answers questions related to climate and the environment. A glacier is a climate indicator. It is also the memory of the planet and life on Earth.
The museum also explores the culture built around the glaciers, how they will change in the future and more.
The Montenvers Hotel
This legendary restaurant possesses an authentic menu and offers quality cuisine. At midday, enjoy the terrace with its view of the Drus and the Grandes Jorasses. A place to relax and have lunch with views across to Les Drus. And not forgetting the hotel museum (free), featuring a collection of period photographs and objects, plus a model railway exhibition. Daily talk by a glaciologist explaining the landscape.
Evenings by reservation only, for groups, conferences, weddings, private parties (return train trip & meal).
Themed trails at Montenvers: explaining about the history of the site and the building of the cog railway.