Les Houches is a typical mountain village with a lovely church and old wooden Savoyard farmhouses around. There are a number of local bars and good restaurants for quiet evenings out and buses run in and out of Chamonix all day.
Les Houches’ friendly relaxed atmosphere provides a great base for families. Les Houches is also ideal for those wishing to explore the rest of the legendary valley. World-renowned sites such as the stunning Aiguille du Midi, Mer de Glace (Sea of Ice) can be easily accessed from Chamonix and its many cable cars, the scenic Montenvers train or the picturesque Mont-Blanc tramway.
Whether you are a beginner, an experienced hiker or somewhere in between, the Valley offers 430km of well-maintained and equipped hiking trails to suit all abilities.
About its location
The Chamonix valley is situated in the north-westerly part of the Alps, just 15 km from the Swiss border via the Col des Montets and 15 m from Italy via the famous Mont-Blanc tunnel. This valley, comprising Servoz, Les Houches, Chamonix and Vallorcine, also contains Mont Blanc, Western Europe’s highest peak at 4,810.45m.
Some recommendations for visits in the Chamonix Valley this summer
- Chamonix: The world capital of mountaineering is only a few miles from Les Houches. Very cosmopolitan it boasts first-rate leisure facilities and a huge range of shops and restaurants
- L’Aiguille du Midi is reached by cable car from Chamonix. The views from Europe’s highest cable car station (3842m) are literally breathtaking. From there you can walk back to the famous ‘Mer de Glace’ with ease and catch Montenvers train back to town
Top summer activities to experience in Les Houches and Chamonix Valley
Please note Peak Retreats do not book any activities and most activities are payable. For more information about pricing and availability, please contact the Les Houches Tourist Office on 0033 450 555 062 or visit www.leshouches.com
Merlot Wildlife Park in Les Houches
Situated at 1500m, in front of the Mont Blanc, the animal park of Merlet is a magnificent 50 acres park where ibex, chamois, marmots, stags, deers, hinds and llamas move around in freedom!
Mont Blanc Forest in Les Houches
2185 Route de Coupeau
74310 Les Houches
Travel from tree to tree, in a magnificent forest situated in front of the Mont Blanc massif. Sky-high thrills in complete safety: take zip-wires, rope bridges, tunnels, rope ladders and skywalks...
For adults: 7 circuits of various levels and 75 aerial challenges from tree to tree on a trail covering 3 hectares.
Introduction and accompaniment by a professional instructor for the 5 first activities. Technical equipment provided.
Minimum height 1m35 (4 ft 5).
For children: different circuits by height range including:
- Indiana Parc: 75 obstacles from tree to tree from 1.35m
- Indiana Kid: Secure in a splendid forest facing the Mont-Blanc child route (from 105 cm to 135 cm)
- Small Kid: From 105 cm. The route is completely secure
MultiPass Mont Blanc
You can book your Multipasses online including mountain biking here - https://www.montblancnaturalresort.com/en/nos-forfaits-ete
Aiguille du Midi
From the centre of Chamonix, a 20 minutes ride in the Aiguille du Midi cable car takes you to the gateway to the high Alps. From its height of 3,777m, the Aiguille du Midi and its laid-out terraces offer a 360° view of all the French, Swiss and Italian Alps. A lift brings you to the summit terrace at 3,842m, where you will have a clear view of Mont Blanc.
Step into the Void
Since 2013, the more fearless will take a step onto a 2.50m glass cage out over a 1000m precipice.
A long steel gallery of 32m to make the full rotation of the central peak of the Aiguille du Midi.
A cafeteria and a souvenir shop are open all year round. In the summer, the "3842m" restaurant invites you to taste Savoie culinary specialities in a unique setting.
Panoramic Mont Blanc gondola
Once at the top, do not miss the gondola lift ride over the Glacier du Géant to the Pointe Helbronner in Italy. It is open from June to September.
Plan de l'Aiguille
The cable car ride between Chamonix and Aiguille du Midi is in two stages. At the intermediate stop, at a height of 2,310m, the Plan de l'Aiguille is the departure point for the Balcon Nord hike to the Montenvers site. Food and refreshments are available at lunch-time at the Refuge du Plan, 5 minutes’ walk away.
- Wear warm clothing, sunglasses and sunscreen
- Tour is forbidden for children under 3 years and not recommended under 5 years old
- Time of outward journey: 20 mins in 2 cable cars climbing 2700m, with a stop on the way at the Plan de l’Aiguille
- Duration of visit: including the journey, allow an average of 2 to 3hrs
Montenvers - Mer de Glace
Departing from Chamonix, this famous rack and pinion railway brings you to the Montenvers site at 1913m. An imposing panorama of the Mer de Glace glacier, the Drus and the Grands Jorasses. Stay in the hotel Refuge du Montenvers for a really special experience.
The tour of the “Grotte de glace” takes visitors into the very heart of the glacier. Re-sculpted every year, it describes the life of mountain people in the early 19th century. It can be accessed via a footpath taking 20 minutes or by gondola lift. Note: there are about 480 steps from the arrival of the gondola lift to the entrance to the cave.
Here the creation and evolution of the glaciers over the centuries are explained in detail in the exhibition centre.
The Temple of Nature
An innovative optical theatre takes visitors on a trip into the past where they will meet the likes of Forbes (the Scottish geologist), Chateaubriand, Louis Pasteur and Agutte the artist.
Note: the complete tour (including the cave and travelling time) takes an average of 2 to 3 hours. The time required for the tour may be doubled during peak periods.
Hill walks include the hike from Montenvers to Plan de l'Aiguille via the Grand Balcon Nord hill-walking trail, and also the return descent down to Chamonix via Les Planards or Les Bois village.
There are 3 choices - either a Savoyard or traditional meal at the Restaurant du Refuge du Montenvers, or a lunch in the bistro with a view at Panoramique Mer de Glace or finally a quick snack at the Glacier Bar.
Chamonix Valley hiking and lakes
The valley offers 350km of superbly maintained hiking trails, with 170 different itineraries offering walks adapted to all. You don’t have to be a great walker to go and see the region’s loveliest lakes. The Mont Blanc area has numerous lakes at altitudes between 2,000 and 2,500m which are attractive destinations for hillwalking.
Chemin des Villages walk
Follow the Chemin Vert in Les Houches to join Chamonix via the north side. You can then come back by following the sentier de l'Arve on the south side of the valley. This trail for walkers and cyclists covers almost 2km and includes a footbridge across the Bourgeat torrent. From Taconnaz, you can join another trail for a longer walk to Les Bossons and towards Les Gaillands, then the edge of Chamonix.
Chamonix Valley Mountain biking
From the bottom of the Valley on waymarked routes to paths for experienced riders that are sometimes demanding and steep. Sites more particularly dedicated to downhill mountain-biking can be accessed by the ski lifts in Le Tour – Col de Balme, Le Brévent, Lognan, Bellevue and Le Prarion areas.
Chamonix's granite attracts climbers from all over the world. Superb mountain routes, prestigious north faces or more accessible rock faces and boulders for amateur climbers and beginners.
There is also an indoor climbing wall at the Richard Bozon sports centre: 180 m2 climbing surface, 800 holds, height 3,60m.
Chamonix Leisure Park
The Chamonix Amusement Park is an ideal place to spend a great day out with the family. For starters, there is the Chamonix Luge Alpine Coaster, a real Roller Coaster in the mountain! But there are also slides, toboggans, trampolines, a playground…Not forgetting the electric motorcycles, indoor and outdoor play areas, giant swing, flying boat, looping machine, a Tyrolean rope, 2 water pistols and more! All games and activities for children aged from just 3-year-old. The 4 seat chairlifts of Les Planards will bring you up to 4,000 ft!
You can enjoy lunch and snacks at the bar restaurant or bring your own and relax at one of the picnic spots.
From Sallanches Mont-Blanc aerodrome or Megève altiport, take off onboard a high-performance two-seater glider alongside an experienced instructor pilot. Take height and discover the panoramas of the Northern Alps, the Mont-Blanc massif by gliding silently and safely in the sky.
Restaurants and bars in Les Houches
3 Bars-restaurants in the village of Les Houches including traditional Savoyard and Indian Cuisine.
Restaurants and bars in Chamonix (4km away)
Chamonix hosts a wide selection of typical cafes and tempting pastry shops along with around 20 bars, over 80 restaurants, 100 shops and a number of clubs.
Chamonix has very lively nightlife should you wish to endulge in this...
Les Houches amenities
ATM, doctor, chemist, dentist, post office, sports equipment shops, local market every Monday morning (only in season), laundrette, hairdresser, supermarkets, tabac, petrol station.
Chamonix amenities (4km away)
Chamonix’s pedestrian streets have a large choice of shops, with fabulous shop windows including some of the most prestigious brands. There are sports shops but also fashion, jewellery, bags, interior decoration, antiques, books telling the most extravagant stories of mountaineering... as well as the famous local produce for your evening meals!
You can also try your luck in the world famous Casino!
By Road (self drive options pre-bookable with Peak Retreats):
Driving distance from Calais to Les Houches 552 miles or 7hrs30. Arrival directly from the A40.
By Rail (pre-bookable with Peak Retreats):
The TGV station at St Gervais/Le Fayet is 17km from Les Houches. Connecting TGV trains to Annecy and Geneva.
By Plane (not pre-bookable):
Geneva Airport is 93km from Les Houches (1 hour)
Chambery Airport is 125km from Les Houches (1 ½ hours)
Turin Airport is 176km from Les Houches (2 hours)
Grenoble Airport is 212km from Les Houches (2 hours)
Lyon Saint-Exupery is 213km from Les Houches (2 hours)
Regular bus transfers from GVA to Les Houches via SAT bus.
Chamonix Airport Transfer or Car Hire (pre-bookable with Peak Retreats):
Call our reservations team for details on 0844 576 0170 or email email@example.com for a quote and availability.
Getting around Les Houches and Chamonix Valley
Mont Blanc Express - The SNCF line serves all the villages from Saint Gervais-le Fayet to Martigny (Switzerland), passing through Servoz, Les Houches, Chamonix and Vallorcine. One train approximately every hour. The SNCF line from Servoz to Vallorcine is free of charge for holders of the Carte d’Hôte pass, which is given to you on your arrival by your accommodation host.
Chamonix Bus - Regular urban transport serves all the Valley and it is free from Servoz to Le Tour for holders of the Carte d’Hôte pass.
Chamonix Valley Events Summer 2018
Marathon du Mont Blanc - 28th June-1st July 2018
A trail event gathering 8 races. Several distances are offered to riders from all over the world to participate in family or friends. Under the name Marathon du Mont-Blanc, the 8 races are organized: 80km from Mont-Blanc, 42km from Mont-Blanc, 23km from Mont-Blanc, KM Vertical du Mont-Blanc, Star Race, Young Race Marathon, Blanc and Mini cross of Mont Blanc (800m to 3km reserved for children according to their age categories).
For 4 days, the Chamonix Valley will vibrate with the rhythm of the races, 30 000 people will be present on Chamonix to attend or participate in this event, and everything is done to welcome runners, accompanying people and spectators in the best conditions.
UTMB - 27th August-2nd September 2018
Unique in its kind, this event crosses 3 countries on foot (France, Italy and Switzerland), covers 166 kilometres and 9,400 metres climb in one fell swoop.