One of the best things to do in Chamonix, France is to ride the cable car to Aiguille du Midi. Once here, visit the viewpoints and exhibits at the mountain station, or continue the journey by riding the Panoramic Mont-Blanc to Italy.
We have ridden cable cars to many mountain peaks in Europe and this is one of the best.
From Aiguille du Midi, you get one of the best views of Mont Blanc. This is about as close as you can get to Mont Blanc without actually climbing it.
Once at Aiguille du Midi, you also have the option to ride the Panoramic Mont-Blanc to Pointe Helbronner, Italy which is a very unique journey. On this cable car ride, you drift past Mont Blanc and over a long field of glaciers, crossing the border into Italy. It’s one of the most spectacular cable car rides we have taken and we highly recommend it.
In this guide, we cover how to visit Aiguille du Midi, what to expect on cable car rides, when to go, and whether or not the Panoramic Mont-Blanc is worth it (spoiler alert…it is!!).
Let’s get started.
I do my best to keep the hours of operation and pricing up to date on this article, however, these can change at any time. I recommend getting updated hours and pricing for your dates of travel. The link to the official websites is provided throughout this article.
Table of Contents
Interesting Facts about Aiguille du Midi
“Aiguille du Midi” translates to “Needle of the Midday.” It gets its name because when viewed from a church in Chamonix, the sun passes over the mountain peak at noon.
Aiguille du Midi is a mountain peak in the Mont Blanc massif. It is 3,842 meters (12,605 feet) tall.
When the cable car was first constructed in 1955, it held the record for the highest cable car in the world for about 20 years. The Merida Cable Car in Venezuela (4,765 meters/15,633 feet) is the highest cable car in the world and Matterhorn Glacier Paradise in Zermatt, Switzerland (3,883 meters/12,740 feet) is the highest cable car in Europe.
At the time of the most recent update, the Aiguille du Midi cable car still holds the record for the highest vertical ascent for a cable car in the world, traveling from 1,035 meters (3,396 feet) to 3,842 meters (12,605 feet).
There are numerous mountaineering routes that start at Aiguille du Midi, and if you are riding the cable cars early in the morning, you might be sharing the ride with a few mountaineers. In the winter months, this area becomes a popular skiing destination.
From Aiguille du Midi, you can ride the Panoramic Mont-Blanc cable car to Pointe Helbronner in Italy. This 30 minute one-way journey is one of the most breathtaking gondola rides in the world, as you glide over glaciers and gaze up at Mont Blanc.
PRO TRAVEL TIP: Aiguille du Midi is not open all year. It closes from early November to late December for maintenance. Get updated dates on the official website.
How to Visit Aiguille du Midi
Next, we cover everything you need to know about how to visit Aiguille du Midi, from ticket prices, how to get to there, and what you can do once you are there.
Map of the cable car route. The blue line is the cable car from Chamonix to Aiguille du Midi. The red line is the Panoramic Mont-Blanc cable car.
How to Get to Aiguille du Midi
The bottom cable car station is located near the town center of Chamonix, France. On Google Maps, it is called Aiguille du Midi. It is a 10-minute walk from the Chamonix-Mont-Blanc train station and a 10-minute walk from the city center.
If you will have a car, there are several public parking lots near the bottom station. There will be a parking fee.
To get to Aiguille du Midi you will ride two cable cars. The cable cars are well timed and it takes about 20 minutes to travel from Chamonix to Aiguille du Midi.
Starting in Chamonix (1,035 meters/3,400 feet), the first cable car takes you to Plan de l’Aiguille (2,299 meters/7,542 feet). From Plan de l’Aiguille, ride the second cable car to Aiguille du Midi (3,842 meters/12,605 feet).
How Much Does it Cost to Visit Aiguille du Midi?
Tickets to Aiguille du Midi are expensive.
Round trip tickets from Chamonix cost 75€ per person. These can be purchased online in advance or from the ticket office at the bottom station in Chamonix. You can get a cheaper price than this if you purchase your ticket online in advance. It’s possible to get a price of 55€ if you book your tickets online a month in advance or more. The downside to this is you will not have the weather forecast, so there’s a chance that you could be booking your tickets on a rainy or cloudy day. The website says tickets cannot be refunded, so once you make the purchase, you are locked in to that day.
If you plan to ride the Panoramic Mont-Blanc, this is even more pricey, costing an additional 38€ per person (for a total price of 113€). This ticket cannot be purchased online in advance. You will purchase it from the cash desk once you get to Aiguille du Midi.
When we did this, they did accept credit cards to pay for the Panoramic Mont-Blanc tickets. However, the credit card machine was not working so we had to pay in cash. So, make sure you have enough euros to cover the ticket price if this is something you want to do.
While in Chamonix, we purchased the Mont Blanc Multipass, which covers the long list of cable cars, gondolas, and chairlifts in and around Chamonix, as well as the train from Fayet to Vallorcine. If you plan to spend several days in Chamonix and ride the cable cars, this pass is well worth it. Note: it does not include the Panoramic Mont-Blanc.
For more information on the Multipass, such as pricing and what exactly is covered, visit the official website.
PRO TRAVEL TIP: If you purchase the Mont Blanc Multipass, you will also have to reserve a time slot for Aiguille du Midi. We had a tough time trying to do this on the website so we made our reservation directly at the ticket booth at the bottom station for the Aiguille du Midi cable car in Chamonix.
When Should You Purchase Your Tickets?
Riding the Aiguille du Midi cable car is one of the most popular things to do in Chamonix and the morning tickets can sell out in advance. In general, morning is the best time to visit Aiguille du Midi, because as it gets later in the day, Mont Blanc can become covered in clouds.
Check the forecast a few days in advance of your visit. Pick the day with the clearest weather and make your reservation for this day. Sometime between 7 am and 8:30 am is best. Our tickets were for 8:20 am but it was really getting crowded at this point.
In the summer, the cable car starts running around 6:10 am and closes at around 4 pm. There are reduced hours the remainder of the year.
From our hotel (Le Cristal de Jade) we had a view of the bottom station. Later in the afternoon, around 2 pm, very few people were making the trip up to Aiguille du Midi, so if you want to go later in the day when crowds are lower, this could be a good time to go (just gaze up at Mont Blanc and make sure the skies are clear…you can see Mont Blanc from all over Chamonix). You will not have time to ride the Panoramic Mont-Blanc skyway, so keep that in mind.
Riding the Aiguille du Midi Cable Cars
Chamonix (1,035 meters/3,400 feet) to Plan de l’Aiguille (2,299 meters/7,542 feet)
Your journey starts in Chamonix at the Aiguille du Midi bottom station. On your ticket you will have a boarding time and boarding group. This is the time that you are allowed to enter the station to board the cable car. Because of the time it takes to enter the station and show your ticket, your cable car ride will actually be 10 to 15 minutes after your reserved time.
Aiguille du Midi bottom station in Chamonix
We showed up about 15 minutes early. On the building is a digital sign with a boarding group number. When your number is shown, walk to the entrance, show your ticket, and you will then enter the station. Once inside, you wait for the next cable car to arrive (cable cars runs every 10 to 15 minutes).
From Chamonix, it takes about 5 minutes to get to Plan de L’Aguille.
Plan de l’Aiguille (2,299 meters/7,542 feet) to Aiguille du Midi (3,842 meters/12,605 feet)
This is where the experience really starts to become something special. Once in Plan de L’Aiguille, you will transfer to the next cable car. On the roughly 5-minute ride to Aiguille du Midi, you will gaze across the Mont Blanc massif and get a closer view of Glacier des Bossons flowing down Mont Blanc.
Mont Blanc from the cable car.
Once at Aiguille du Midi, you will step out into the much chillier mountain air. From here, some of the best views of the French Alps await.
Things to Do at Aiguille du Midi
Below is a photo of the Aiguille du Midi map. This gives you an overall view of where things are located.
Photo of the Aiguille du Midi map.
Outdoor Viewing Terraces
Once you exit the cable car, you will step outside into the brisk mountain air. You will be standing on a lower terrace. From here, take in the view.
Don’t cross the bridge just yet. Climb the series of staircases to the upper terraces (number 16 and 17 on the Aiguille du Midi map). From here, you have panoramic views of the area, making this viewpoint one of the best things to do while at Aiguille du Midi.
The bridge. On top of the peak is Terrace 3842.
View from the bridge.
As you climb the stairs there are several great photo spots like this one.
The upper terrace
View of Mont Blanc from the upper terrace.
Inside of the same building as the Aiguille du Midi cable is the History Area, which has information on the construction of the cable car.
A wide bridge connects the mountain station with a complex of buildings and exhibits at Aiguille du Midi. It snowed the night before our visit and the bridge was very slick, so be careful here.
The bridge, the terraces, and the Aiguille du Midi mountain station.
Panoramic Mont Blanc Cash Desk
The ticket booth for the Panoramic Mont-Blanc cable car sits on the opposite side of the bridge. If you have plans to ride this gondola, this is the place to purchase your ticket.
There is no time slot for riding the gondola. Once you have your ticket, you will get in line and wait for the next available gondola. The earlier you go, the shorter the line and the better the weather.
Once you cross the bridge, you will enter a network of tunnels, elevators, platforms, and tubes to get to all of the various exhibits and viewpoints. There will be signs pointing to the various things to do on Aiguille du Midi.
Espace Vertical (the Vertical Area) contains the Museum of Alpinism which is the highest museum ever built and has information on mountaineering and Mont Blanc.
Ride the Elevator to Terrace 3842
To get to Terrace 3842, which is the highest you can go on Aiguille du Midi, ride the elevator (Ascenseur). This tiny elevator only holds a few people so you might have a short wait in line.
At Terrace 3842, you are standing at 3,842 meters (12,605 feet). From this point, you have 360° views of the French Alps, making this one of the best things to do at Aiguille du Midi. On a clear day, it is possible to see the Matterhorn and Monte Rosa. You also get another spectacular view of Mont Blanc and the Mont Blanc massif.
Mont Blanc from Terrace 3842
Step Into the Void!
Step inside this glass box and gaze down, if you dare. This is one of the most thrilling experiences on Aiguille du Midi. It is located on Terrace 3842 and does not have an additional cost, but it does have a long line. When we were here, wait times were 30 minutes so we skipped it.
Step into the Void!
Espace Mont Blanc
This small room has windows that look out to Mont Blanc. If you are visiting when it is very cold, from this room you can get a great view of the mountain peak and stay warm at the same time.
Note: There are bathrooms here.
This small exhibit has information about what happens to the human body when it is exposed to high altitudes and lower oxygen levels.
From this exhibit, you can walk up to another outdoor terrace (#12 on the map), and it is well worth it. From here you can see The Tube and the next set of platforms to visit at Aiguille du Midi.
The view from the terrace on top of Hypoxia Level.
Another view of Mont Blanc
Hypoxia Level Terrace
Le Tube, also called The Pipe, is a 32-meter-long steel tube than leads out to several more outdoor terraces.
More Outdoor Terraces
Le Tube leads you to several smaller outdoor terraces. From here, you can gaze up at the Aiguille du Midi peak and Le Tube. We also liked watching the string of Mont-Blanc Panoramic gondolas arriving and leaving the station.
View from the terrace. You can see the three Panoramic Mont-Blanc cable cars arriving at the station.
Panoramic Mont-Blanc Station
The terraces then lead to the departure station for the Panoramic Mont-Blanc gondolas. If you have a ticket, you can get in line here. If you decide you want to do this and don’t have a ticket, you will have to walk back to the cash desk.
Panoramic Mont-Blanc Station
Dining at Aiguille du Midi
Restaurant Le 3842 is a fine dining experience where you can have lunch with a view.
There is also cafeteria (Terrasse Rebuffat) where you can order food and take it to a table and have lunch.
4D Immersive Cinema
This cinema is located in Chamonix, at the bottom station of the Aiguille du Midi cable car. It shows a 12-minute 4D film called “Bird of the Summits” and there is an additional fee.
Ideal Route through Aiguille du Midi
To visit everything we list above in an order that avoids backtracking, this is what we recommend:
1. Upper Terraces
2. The Bridge
3. Cash desk for Panoramic Mont-Blanc
4. Espace Vertical
5. Terrace 3842 and Step into the Void
6. Espace Mont Blanc
7. Hypoxia Level
8. Le Tube
9. Outdoor Terraces
10. Panoramic Mont-Blanc
Panoramic Mont-Blanc is a cable car that runs from Aiguille du Midi, France to Pointe Helbronner, Italy. This 5-km one-way journey takes about 30 minutes.
Groups of 3 small gondolas travel together, each one holding a maximum of four people.
This is an incredible cable car ride. Not only do you get to see Mont Blanc from several different angles, but you will also travel over glaciers, see their crevasses and seracs, and get amazing views of the French Alps. It is a much different view that what you get at Aiguille du Midi.
This experience has a huge ticket price but it is one of the most unique cable car rides we have had.
Here are photos from the Panoramic Mont-Blanc cable car ride.
The Panoramic Mont-Blanc cable cars and Aiguille du Midi.
Mer de Glace
Another view of Mer de Glace
The view from Panoramic Mont-Blanc of Mer de Glace and Aiguille du Midi (just before reaching Pointe Helbronner).
Once at Pointe Helbronner, you are now standing in Italy. There are outdoor and indoor viewing terraces to visit as well as restaurants, a gift shop, and bathrooms. We spent about 45 minutes here, taking photos and enjoying the view. There is a glass floor viewing terrace here as well but it is not as thrilling as Step into the Void at Aiguille du Midi.
View from Pointe Helbronner
Pointe Helbronner Viewing Terraces
By the time we got in line for the next return cable car to Aiguille du Midi, the line had grown and we had about a 30-minute wait in line. This was at 10:45 am in mid-July.
PRO TRAVEL TIP: Make sure you bring your passport because you will be crossing a border. There are signs before you get on the Panoramic Mont-Blanc cable car to make sure you have your passport. However, our passports were never checked.
Once finished the Panoramic Mont-Blanc cable car ride, take the series of cable cars back to Chamonix.
How Much Time Do You Need at Aiguille du Midi?
If you only want to visit Aiguille du Midi, then you need about 2 to 3 hours. This includes the time to ride the cable cars out and back and time to visit the terraces and exhibits.
If you want to add on the Panoramic Mont-Blanc cable car, add on another 2 to 3 hours. This includes the time to ride the cable cars in both directions (about 30 minutes each way), time at the terraces (30 minutes), and contingency time if you have to wait in line (30 to 45 minutes). Note: the later in the day you are here, the longer the line to return to Aiguille du Midi.
Helpful Tips for Visiting Aiguille du Midi
Visit Aiguille du Midi on a clear day. Watch the weather and pick the clearest day to visit Aiguille du Midi. If it’s a cloudy day, you might as well stay in bed and pull the covers over your head, because you’ll get the same view. Check the weather forecast here.
The weather is generally clearer in the morning. Clouds tend to move in later in the day.
Want to see the view at Aiguille du Midi? Click here for a live view from the webcam.
Purchase your tickets in advance. On a clear day, tickets can sell out, especially for the morning cable cars. Purchase your tickets 1 to 2 days in advance.
Bring hats, gloves, and lots of layers, even in the summer. Wear sunscreen and don’t forget your sunglasses!
The view of Chamonix from Aiguille du Midi.
Adding on Plan de l’Aguille
Plan de l’Aguille is the transfer station between Chamonix and Aiguille du Midi. As you travel back to Chamonix, you can get off here and have lunch at the mountain hut, Buvette de Plan de l’Aguille. The view of Mont Blanc is also very nice from here.
From this station, you can also hike the Grand Balcon Nord Trail to Refuge du Montenvers. This trail offers sweeping views over the valley and a view of Mer de Glace. To get back to Chamonix, ride the train from Gare du Montenvers to Chamonix. This hike is 6.8 km (4.2) miles one-way and takes 2 to 4 hours.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to get to the top of Aiguille du Midi?
It takes 20 minutes to ride the series of cable cars from Chamonix, France to Aiguille du Midi. Once here, you can spend an hour visiting the viewpoints and small exhibits at the mountain station. You also have the option to ride the Panoramic Mont-Blanc cable car to Italy. For the full experience, it takes a half of day, or about 4 to 5 hours, to visit Aiguille du Midi.
Is Aiguille du Midi worth it?
From Aiguille du Midi, you have panoramic views of the French Alps. On a clear day, you can see the Matterhorn and Monte Rosa, as well as up-close views of Mont Blanc. Aiguille du Midi is worth it and we think it is one of the best things to do while in Chamonix. Adding on the Panoramic Mont-Blanc cable car is an added bonus.
What is the best time of day to visit Aiguille du Midi?
The best time to visit Aiguille du Midi is in the morning. The weather is generally clearer in the morning and later in the day, clouds can form around Mont Blanc and Aiguille du Midi.
Should I purchase my tickets in advance?
Yes. This is one of the most popular things to do in Chamonix so you should purchase your tickets a few days in advance.
Is Panoramic Mont-Blanc worth it?
This cable car ride has a huge ticket price but it is one of the most unique cable car rides in the world. For 5 km, the cable car glides past Mont Blanc and over numerous glaciers. On this ride, not only do you get stunning views of the French and Italian Alps, but you also get a bird’s eye view of the crevasses on the glaciers. It’s one of our favorite cable car rides in Europe.
More Great Cable Car Rides in Europe
If You Like this Experience…
Here are more thrilling cable car rides to the highest peaks in Europe:
If you have any questions about how to visit Aiguille du Midi or the Panoramic Mont-Blanc cable car, or if you want to share your experience, let us know in the comment section below.
More Information for Your Trip to France
CHAMONIX: Get started with our guide to the Best Things to Do in Chamonix. Learn how to hike to Lac Blanc, how to hike the Grand Balcon Nord trail, and how to hike to spectacular viewpoints of the Argentiere Glacier.
WALKER’S HAUTE ROUTE: The Walker’s Haute Route is a spectacular multi-day trek from Chamonix, France to Zermatt, Switzerland. Learn more about this amazing journey our our Guide to the Walker’s Haute Route.
HOW TO VISIT PARIS: Start with our article Best Things to Do in Paris for ideas of what to do in Paris. Plan your time in the city with our 2 Day Paris Itinerary and 3 Day Paris Itinerary. We also have a Paris Hotel Guide, advice on visiting Paris with kids, a Paris Food Guide, and advice for visiting Paris at Easter.
THE ALPS: In the Swiss Alps, learn about the best things to do in Zermatt, Switzerland and how to plan a trip to the amazing Bernese Oberland. In Italy, hike the best trails in the Dolomites.
TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY: For more information about the camera gear we carry, check out our Travel Photography Gear Guide. And tips and tricks for taking great photos in our article How to Take Better Photos while Traveling.
Read all of our articles about France in our France Travel Guide.
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