Autumn is a wonderful time to be in Chamonix – lively but not too crowded, the weather is generally good and the colours and the light are beautiful!
The main Chamonix site has good general info on what is going on in the town, and Chamonix.net has a good overview of lift opening and closing dates.
NB the main Chamonix site is very good for activities, lift info and weather. I don’t recommend it at all for bars and restaurants! We have a folder of better suggestions at the chalet:)
Early snow can make high walks dangerous. Always have good boots and poles and always check in with the Office de La Haute Montagne if thinking of doing a high walk. Areas which are pleasant in summer can be highly dangerous – only a small amount of snow can make them slippery, and conditions can change overnight.
Although people don’t often think of Chamonix as a place for Autumn colours, in fact much of the valley is larch rather than pine and they turn a spectacular golden colour. The colours start at the higher altitudes around mid-September, arriving in the valley during October.
Weather and temperature
For some reason, most temperature graphs for Chamonix take their temperatures from the Aiguille Du Midi, causing a lot of confusion.
Here’s one that is more accurate. Even this one is a little confusing. I think the low average minimum temperature is due to the wide fluctuation throughout the day, and must be taken from very early mornings. 10°C would be most unusual during the day in July! The maximum temps look about right to me.
Like all mountains, Mont Blanc is a weathermaker, and conditions can change very quickly, so these are just general guidelines.
In general, September is still warm and pleasant, with a ‘late summer’ feeling. There can be occasional snow at mid mountain level but it doesn’t stay.
October has a classic Autumn feel with crisper mornings and evenings.
The first snow in the valley is usually around the start of November, but it doesn’t usually settle until the beginning of December.
However every year is different, and due to the very wide altitude range, it’s usually possible to go higher and feel that Autumn is further on, or lower to feel more summery. For instance the colours can start at Le Tour (about 2200m) in mid September, whilst you can swim in the lake at Passy!
Autumn at the chalet and in the garden
On the valley floor
Chamonix town in Autumn
The town is generally still quite lively in early Autumn, especially if the weather is good, getting quieter in the second half of November after the half term holidays at Toussaint.
Although most lifts close, there is almost always some form of uplift operating throughout Autumn until early November.
Take the Montenvers train to see beautiful Autumn colours, with golden larch and red myrtilles. Walk up to Forbes Signal for an amazing view, then down the other side, then back along the last section of the Grand Balcon Nord to return to the train station. Or if the Aiguille Du Midi is running, you can do the whole of the Grand Balcon Nord – check dates as this is not always possible.
You can also walk up or down via the Rochers Des Mottets from the chalet.
Monte Bianco Skyway
The new rotating cable car takes you in comfort to the beautiful architecture of the top station. You can take an elevator and walk down a tunnel to the Torino hut for a more traditional mountain refuge ambiance. Both the hut and the top station serve excellent food. Dogs are also accepted on the Skyway!
Val Ferret is a lovely place. From near the Italian end of the Mont Blanc Tunnel, you drive up to the end (or just as far as you like) and enjoy lovely walks.
Walks that don’t need lifts
Even if all lifts are close there are plenty of great options.
A beautiful walk which can be done as a short walk of around 1.5 hours out and back, from the hamlet of Le Lavancher. Or go direct from the chalet via the Sources d’Arveyron for longer walk an extra lookout over the gorge (about 2.5 to 4 hrs out and back). Details and directions here.
A straightforward 45 minute ascent, visible from the chalet – start from beside ‘Rabbit On The Roof” ski makers in Les Praz, on the side of the valley facing us (quickest way, about an hour from the chalet), or from near the “Paradis des Praz” just past the Golf Club. Can be made into a nice loop by combining these two routes. A beautiful view from the cafe, normally opens until early November, mainly according to the weather. If not bring a flask and sandwiches!
Details and route here.
This is a great place to walk in Autumn – there are various lovely out-and back walks that can be done from the Col des Montets, which is beautiful in itself. You can happily stroll around here, through a little nature trails up to the Aiguillette d’Argentiere or by a pretty steam on the ‘Chemin des Diligences’ to Vallorcine. Or take one of the three longer walks below: Le Berard, Les Granges or Loriaz.
Col des Montets
You go through here on the drive to Vallorcine, and it’s well worth a stop.
A few hundred metres from the col, in the direction of Chamonix, you’ll see a parking place where you can access the Aiguillette des Posettes. A fantastic walk, about four hours as a round trip. The sign for the path is visible at the bottom of this picture.
20 minutes walk from Le Buet is the very charming buvette over a waterfall. Below it, a steel walkway takes you directly beneath the cascade – spectacular. Carry on past the buvette into the nature reserve, a very pretty walk by the river which opens out into a beautiful valley with a big colony of ibex. NB Dogs are tolerated in this section of the nature reserve but must be on leads. The cascade is very dangerous for them and also the ibex too so please do respect this. Map and more info and pics here.
A picture perfect hamlet, accessed from Le Couteray just above Le Buet. Details here.
For the fit (or hire E-bikes! It is a long but straightforward trail), the trail continues above Les Granges to Loriaz. Details here.
An enormous ascent – start early, it is a full day – of amazing beauty.
Autumn is the best time for this wonderful walk. Route overview and details here.
A very big walk in Autumn but stunningly beautiful.
Lac Vert / Plaine Joux
Drive up to this lovely spot with classic views! Details here
Lac Emosson (Switzerland)
Drive up past the Swiss border (obligatory to stop for Rivella, chocolate and Swiss wine!) and take the road signed to Lac Emosson. Plenty of parking at the top. Lots of walks up here including a remarkable fossilised beach with dinosaur footprints. If you want to do the walk to the footprints, get a good map as it’s quite a walk, 4/5 hours round trip. But just to walk over the spectacular dam and around the lake is lovely too, the turquoise water is spectacular against the golden leaves.
Electric mountain bikes can be hired for the day and make it pleasant to ride up big but relatively easy ascents like Le Tour, Loriaz or the Rochers des Mottets. Or just enjoy and explore the valley floor 🙂
Paragliding in Autumn
Tandem paragliding is one of the most spectacular experiences the valley has to offer! Call Sean at Fly-Chamonix for details.
A perfect time to enjoy a day at the spa! More details here.
We look forward to seeing you in Chamonix in Autumn!