The Mont-Blanc Express has been knocking people out with its views for a hundred years, and is now a modern and comfortable service with huge picture windows so you can appreciate the jaw-dropping scenery.
Start in Chamonix with a look around the museums – the Alpine museum is a wonderful building with some lovely pictures of the mountains, and the Crystal museum has dazzling displays. The attached Espace Tairraz has regular exhibitions too.
There are also a couple of photography galleries on the street leading to the station which are well worth a visit, especially Mario Colonel – and check at the Tourist Office in case there are any interesting temporary ones at the hotels. Cafe Comptoir in Vallorcine also hosts regular exhibitions and is close to the train station.
Once through the Swiss frontier the line winds through the Alpine woods, stopping at idyllic pine-surrounded stations along the way to Martigny, where there are several excellent galleries including the Fondation Giannada, a private collection in an amazing 70’s building and and Galerie Laforet (no connection!) Martigny is also the home of the wonderfully eccentric St. Bernard Dog Museum – the train ride and the dogs together make a great day out for kids, though unfortunately you can’t touch them – and a Roman amphitheatre. For train times, check http://www.sbb.ch before you set off as some timescales can leave you with a bit of a wait at the frontier. Martigny prides itself on a rich cultural life – visit www.martigny.ch for details of current exhibitions – so here’s a few recent events to give you an idea…(All posters © their respective galleries)
Seven days in Chamonix for non-skiers
Day 1: Getting your bearings
Day 2: Savoyarde Gastronomy
Day 3: Snow Safari
Day 4: Spa day and fabulousness
Day 5: Slow track to culture
Day 6: Explore the Alps
Day 7: Mont Blanc