We will be traveling from Padua, Italy to Chamonix, France the week of October 20, and need to be in Paris the evening of October 25. We were hoping to take the gondolas across Mt. Blanc, but see that section across the glacier is closed for the season. What would be a good itinerary to go from Padua and on to Chamonix. We would prefer to do this all by train, but not opposed to a car. We love architecture and food. I need to see the the Alps! Thanks in advance.
Jana, we ran into this in early October a couple of years ago. The smaller gondolas from France to Italy closed for the season in mid-September. Chamonix in early October was just beautiful. Three ways I can think of to do this. None are short trips. 1) Take the Trenitalia train from Padova to Milano Centrale. Then, you need to get to the Milan Autostazione Lampugnano where you pick up the bus from Milan to Chamonix. The bus trip looks like 5+ hours with a bus change in Courmayeur. You're probably looking at an 8hr trip on this one. 2) Train from Padova to Chamonix-Mt Blanc. 11hrs and 4-5 transportation changes. Here's a link to what I see on this train run. http://gyazo.com/eb2eae8637e769d797a2b37becf002ba 3) If you have time for a Swiss scenic train, take the train from Padova to Spiez and pick up the Golden Pass scenic train from Spiez to Montreux. As a special treat, sit in one of the VIP seats that are actually on top of the engine over the engineers. It's a great view coming down the mountain to Montreux. Train change at Zweisimmen. From Montreux, take the train to the Geneva Airport. Pick up the mini-bus from the Geneva airport to Chamonix-Mt Blanc. Bus departs every 45 minutes. Trip takes 90 minutes. Here's the link to that website. http://www.chamexpress.com/?gclid=CNSr_5Cl4K0CFQI1hwodqDYHCQ
Thanks for the confirming what I thought could get complicated. We may try this from Padua to Lyon and then see what the weather looks like to see if we want to make the effort to get to Chamonix. Or save it for another trip. I really wanted to to do the whole gondola thing from Italy to France, and since that's not an option this time of year, perhaps I need to put that on my bucket list. Thanks for the help.
If, like you say, you are not opposed to a car, you could visit several amazing things on the way! Milan is not my favorite city in Italy but the cathedral is worth a stop...amazing architecture and you can take the elevator to the top for a close look at the gargoyles and the city views. You also will go through Verona, which is so amazingly well-preserved and walkable. Extremely picturesque. Not to far from Chamonix, on the Italy side, is Aosta. We spent a day there this summer and it was not enough. Beautiful old town with very long shopping street and lovely Roman ruins. Lots of castles in the valley stretching to the east as well towards Torino. Definitely stay in Chamonix for a day or two if you can. It is spectacular. We have been back 3 times now and still want to go back for more. The hiking on the opposite side of the valley from Mont Blanc has my favorite views in the world. The town is charming and there is so much to do there. Haven't been there in the fall but I would imagine that it's just stunning!
Enjoy your trip!
Why not visit Turin in the process? Along with Trieste it's one of Italy's amazing, yet underrated, cities.
We spent 2 nights in Chamonix and loved it! Went up the Aiguille du Midi and our kids loved it. Happy Travels!