What is the Aiguille du Midi?
The Aiguille du Midi (Needle of the Midday) is a 3842m peak in the Mont Blanc massif of the French Alps that is accessible from the town of Chamonix via two cable cars - pretty damn cool!
According to Chamonix.net it is:
“… the highest mountain peak served by an aerial lift system.”
and it is:
“… the closest you can get to the summit of Mont-Blanc without hiking or climbing.”
For more information on the Aiguille du Midi Cable Car, timetables, tickets, pricing etc. please click here.
Why didn’t we go to the Aiguille du Midi last year (2018)?
When we were in Chamonix last year we missed our opportunity to visit the Aiguille du Midi. We decided to wait and visit the Aiguille du Midi after the UTMB 2018 craziness had ended and the real crowds had departed Chamonix. So, we did just that, we waited, but unfortunately for us, the cable car from the Plan de l’Aiguille du Midi to the Aiguille du Midi closed earlier than normal (it was being repaired and/or updated ahead of the Winter season) and so we missed our chance!
We did get to go to the half way point, the aforementioned Plan de l’Aiguille du Midi (2,317m) via cable car. From there we hiked the Grand Balcon Nord trail to Montenvers Mer de Glace. We then took the train from Montenvers back down to Chamonix. I loved that loop and must do a blog post about it… stay tuned!
Getting to the Aiguille du Midi the easy way - via Cable Car!
As you can imagine, this year we were adamant that we would visit the Aiguille du Midi and we checked and re-checked the cable car times and dates. Last week we checked the weather and saw we had a few forecasted “blue bird” days on the way and so this was our chance.
On one of these gorgeous clear bright mornings, we woke early and got to the ticket office at the base of the Aiguille du Midi just before 8am. We purchased two return Aiguille du Midi tickets (€63 per person). Tickets in hand we joined the queue for the cable car and made it on the 8.25am departure (first departure 8.10am so we got the second cable car to depart and it was full).
Waiting at the cable car base in Chamonix for the first cable car:
It took about 10 minutes to get to the Plan d’Aiguille du Midi where we hopped off and followed the crowd to hop on the next cable car that would bring us to the Aiguille du Midi.
Waiting at the Plan de l’Aiguille du Midi for the second cable car to the Aiguille du Midi:
The view really started to get so impressive from the second cable car, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and so you could see wayyyyy into in the distance, it was stunning. The next two photos were taken from inside the cable car so please excuse the quality but you can see some of the amazing view:
Once we got off the second the cable car at the Aiguille du Midi, we made our way to the Panoramic Mont-Blanc gondola ticket office, purchased tickets and headed on that straight away. You can read all about about this in our other blog Taking the Panoramic Mont-Blanc Gondola.
Exploring the Aiguille du Midi:
Once we came back from our Panoramic Gondola Trip we headed directly onto one of the panoramic terraces that was to our left as we came out of the gondola. You are provided with a map when you purchase your tickets for the cable car so this is what we were following. Check out the impressive view from the panoramic terrace (No.6 on the map) in these next photos:
This terrace led us to another terrace (Panoramic terrace No.7) that is connected to “Le Tube”. Le Tube is a 32 metre long steel gallery that enables you to make a full complete loop of the central peak at an altitude of over 3700 metres, meaning you don’t have to retrace your steps!
The top of the Aiguille du Midi:
You will then find yourself at the “Hypoxia Level” where there is information about hypoxia. Panoramic terrace No.12 is also there, more stunning views!
We then headed back inside and took the lift up to the top of the Aiguille. We only had to wait about 5 minutes for the lift so that was pretty good. Of course, from the top, you have the best views!
You can see down to one of the panoramic terraces and “Le Tube” where we had come from in the following two photos:
It was cool to be able to see 360’ around the area and the valley where we have done many hikes:
We chose not to do the “Step into the Void”, firstly as we felt it was more of a children’s activity and also the wait time was over one hour! Here is someone in “the void” and you can see some of the other panoramic terraces below them, at the bottom of the photo:
Once we had taken enough photos, we got the lift back down to the main area and checked out the “History Area” (information about the cable cars) and another area with information about climbing Mont Blanc.
We then took the cable car back to Plan de l’Aiguille du Midi and the next one back to Chamonix, they were both full but there was no queue. We were back home around 1pm.
We absolutely loved it! You definitely need a good clear day to really get the most of the views from above. The good weather also meant that it wasn’t that cold, considering the altitude, it was very pleasant and I think we were lucky as there wasn’t even a whisper of wind.
We would strongly advise that you go early in the morning to purchase your tickets like we did. This meant that by the time the cable car started operating we were already in the queue with our tickets (the ticket office opens earlier than the cable car). However, it is now “off-season” so buying tickets on the day was manageable. During peak season you are advised to book well in advance (especially for the Panoramic Mont-Blanc Gondola) and you are even provided with a boarding number for the cable cars! Going early also means that it is quieter when you get to the top and that you are back down in Chamonix around lunch time (if you want to be).
If you have limited time in Chamonix and/or it is your first visit to Chamonix I highly recommend that you visit the ticket office or it’s information centre at the Aiguille du Midi Chamonix base when you arrive in town as you will get up to date information.
Note: You could get off at the Plan de L’Aiguille du Midi on your way back down and go hiking. The most popular hike from there is the hike to Montenvers Mer de Glace after which you ride the train back to Chamonix. Check out the Mont Blanc Multi-pass if you think you would like this.
More Chamonix Blogs:
We hope you find this blog useful when you are next in Chamonix. If you want to keep reading all about Chamonix then you might enjoy some of our other Chamonix blogs:
- Taking the Panoramic Mont Blanc Gondola in Chamonix.
- Hiking to the Stunning Emosson Lake & Dam in Switzerland from Chamonix.
- A Short Hike to Chalet du Glacer des Bossons.
- Running & Hiking the Petit Balcon Sud Trail.
- Tips When Visiting Chamonix in Autumn.
- The Best of Chamonix.
- Back in Beautiful Chamonix.