The French Alps cable car that broke down this week offers amazing panoramic views of the Mont Blanc mountain range and I was there only two weeks ago.
The cable cars that broke down, stranding people overnight in sub zero conditions, connect the Aiguille du Midi peak in France, at 3,842m (12,605ft), to Pointe Helbronner in Italy, at 3,462m (11,358ft). Aguille du Midi is the highest cable car in Europe and is a must see attraction on a visit to Chamonix, which is on the French, Italian and Swiss border.
You have to ascend the main cable car of Aguille du Midi before you can board the connecting cable car into Italy. The cable car to Helbronner Point covers 5 km of glacier and you travel over crevasses that can be 70 metres deep, which is the height of a 23-storey building. Nearby you can see stunning mountain peaks that top 4000 metres including Mont Blanc itself at 4810 metres.
I took these photos of the cable car that broke down, on my recent trip to the French Alps.
I have just been on the Aiguille Du Midi cable car and it is, without doubt, one of the most amazing experiences you can have. The cable car is in two parts followed by a lift built inside the rock to take you to the summit of Aiguille Du Midi at 12,602 feet. This is an article written about my experience of ascending this incredible mountain that gives you clear views of Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Europe.
Where is Aiguille Du Midi
You can access the cable car to Aiguille Du Midi from the French town of Chamonix. Chamonix is located in a glacial valley and 10,000 years ago Chamonix was under 1,000m of ice. It was only in 1867 that the whole valley became accessible and tourists started arriving to see the wonders of the magnificent mountain scenery. The Aiguille Du Midi cable car is located in the town centre of Chamonix. Just look for the cables going up the mountain!
About the Aiguille Du Midi cable car
It was an Italian engineer, Dino Lora Totino that came up with the idea in 1949 to build the cable car and 6 years later his vision was completed. The second section of the cable car ascends 1471m and travels at over 43km an hour at a near vertical angle. The cable car can take 600 people an hour to the top. Take warm clothing because at the top, even in summer, the temperature may only be -10C. I went to the top in a pair of shorts and in the sun I was ok but out of the sun it was freezing!
At 3842m the air is thinner than at sea level. Be aware that you will be breathless and might feel light headed at times due to the reduced oxygen at this height. I checked my oxygen saturation level at the top and it was 85%. It should normally be at least 95%.
How much does it cost on the Aiguille Du Midi cable car?
The adult price for a return trip on the Aiguille Du Midi cable car costs 58.50 Euros per person. A family package ticket for a family of 4 costs 174.50 Euros. For slightly more you can get a ticket that gets you on the amazing Train du Montenvers to the Mer de Glace. It might seem expensive but this is a once in a lifetime experience.
The train line is 5km long and has a change in altitude of 871 metres. This train takes you to the famous Mer de Glace where you can walk inside the largest glacier in Europe. You can witness for yourself how global warming has affected the glacier because the glacier has shrunk dramatically in only a few years.
The price of the ticket includes free access to step into the void, a glass room with a glass floor with 1,000 metres of air under your feet!
Tip! Check out the Aiguille Du Midi webcams to see what the weather is like at the top. If you can’t see anything at the top you might want to wait until the weather improves.
Read more about the Aiguille Du Midi on the official website here
What’s it like at the top of Aiguille Du Midi?
At this height the views are incredible. You can see down into the Chamonix valley as well as having amazing views of mountain scenery, including the highest peak in Europe, Mont Blanc. The photos I took below go a little way to giving you an idea what it’s like at the top. Not until you go to the top yourself will you fully appreciate this wonder of the world.