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Chamonix - May or September?

Considering whether it would be better to stop in Chamonix in May or September? Essentially, in which of my 2017 French trips should it be included? One trip will be the first half of May, (April 30 to May 16). The second flight isn't booked yet but will most likely be in the last half of September (and/or early October). Primary purpose wouldn't be hiking (I'm not planning to pack suitable hiking shoes) but I would like to see the top. Will it all be open either time? Is there a time of year when it's more likely to be clear? Cable cars more likely to be closed for winds?

I think my answer is going to be September, my experience in mountains (Sierras, Rockies, Cascades) is after summer is better than earlier in the year. Since I've never been in this area, however, I thought I'd ask.


Posted by
634 posts

Can't speak for weather in May, but we were there around Sept. 23 last year. The day we arrived, it was cloudy and you really couldn't see much of the mountains. But the next day was stunning. We went to the top very early and it was COLD but not a problem to be outside if you had the right clothes. Everything had been blanketed in a fresh coat of snow and it was a view of a lifetime. We did not try to do the gondolas over the glacier (might have still been closed from the problems earlier in the month). But I also know that no other gondolas/lifts were open at that time, just Aguille du Midi.

Posted by
223 posts

Well, I've taken the téléphérique to Aiguille du Midi and on to Helbronner in Italy twice: in early June and in mid-September.

While anecdotal, on my visits the weather was better and the views were better in September. Granted, I'm a geologist so I was most interested in seeing the alpine glacial landforms (and this trip is like Disneyland for geologists interested in that), but I think even my long-suffering non-geologist wife would agree that September was the better time to visit.

Another benefit to September is that the excellent Hotel Oustalet is open then. It was on its seasonal closure when we were there in June.

Posted by
360 posts

We were there in early Sept last year and the weather was quite nice. It was about 38 at the top of the Anguille di Midi, but with the sun out and that high up, it was warm enough for that I wasn't even wearing my coat. We also took the Hellbronner lift over to Mont Blanc and thought it was amazing.