Chamonix rainy days are not ideal but it can happen! Here are some ideas.
First, check where the nearest good weather is. Meteobleu has a very useful map which shows the nearest good weather – in case the URL has changed, it’s under Outdoor and Sports > Where2Go.
Walks that can be done in the rain
The high walks can be very dangerous in bad weather but if you just really want to stretch your legs, there a a few options that can be good in the rain. The Cascade de Berard is in a gorge, so it’s not really about the views, and the gantry to walk under the waterfall is spectacular when it’s in full flow. It’s easiest to start from the parking 500m before Chalet Skiroc, or you can also go from Le Buet train station.
The Cascade du Dard is another lovely waterfall can be reached in about five minutes from near the Mont Blanc Tunnel.
If La Floria can be seen (small building halfway up the mountain on the opposite side of the valley) it can be a nice objective.
You can also explore the valley floor – the riverside walks on both side of the valley are charming in any weather. On this side of the valley, you can turn left out of the entrance and head up by the river to Les Bois village. For a bigger walk, head up to the overlook at Sources d’Arveyron.
Or you can cross the valley to pick up the path to Paradis des Praz behind the golf club – a very pretty flat path by the stream, to the village of Les Tines. La Cabane is reliably open if you feel in need of hot chocolate or lunch, or Le Petite Social for a coffee.
Leave the country
Not as extreme as it might sound. Italy is only half an hour away, through the Mont Blanc tunnel, and the two sides of the mountain often have completely opposite weather. Courmayeur is well worth a day anyway – wonderful Italian food, beautiful scenery, great ice cream and coffee…it’s a very pretty, lively town.
The two main valleys (Val Ferret and Val Veny) have walks to suit everybody. The valley floors are very flat and ideal for families – some are even suitable for pushchairs and there are steeper and more challenging paths further up.
Really fantastic spa at Pre-St-Didier – part of the same group as the Chamonix spa, fabulous facilities in a wonderful old building.
Depending on the direction the bad weather is coming from, Switzerland can also be a good plan – More ideas for day trips here. Don’t forget your passports!
Spa & swimming
Sample Chamonix’s spas for a luxurious experience…QC Terme Mont Blanc is a great way to spend a day or evening. More about the spas
The excellent and friendly Studio Rusc has regular ceramics classes.
Gym & Yoga
There are plenty of opportunities for these in the valley – The Clinique du Sport have a good timetable of classes.
Cinema Vox has three screens showing a variety of movies from Hollywood blockbusters to more offbeat choices including mountain movies. Movies are often shown in English or with English subtitles – check the listings for times and languages. They often put on extra showings if the weather’s bad.
If you came here to climb, there is a very good climbing wall in Les Houches, Mont Blanc Escalade, which also offers lessons if you’d like to learn.
There are some good galleries in Chamonix and many hotels and cafes have regular exhibitions – the Cafe Comptoir in Vallorcine is a good one to check. The Espace Tairraz often has good exhibitions, as well as a spectacular collection of crystals. The Alpine Museum is an interesting place to pass an hour or so too. The big gallery in the area is in Martigny, which has a small but outstandingly good collection of modern art, is accessible by car or train, and may well have better weather too – it’s got a great sculpture garden and as an eccentric bonus, a collection of vintage cars. Practical info on the Martigny site and more of my suggestions for art and culture here.