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Entrance to the ice gotto
In Montenvers it is possible to get closer to the glacier, going down about 300 metres with a gondola. It is also possible to go into the innards of the Mer de Glace, thanks to a man-excavated grotto in the ice. This cave has to be re-excavated every year, because it’s in the nature of glaciers that they slowly move down.
If you want to go into the ice grotto, when you get out of the gondola you must go down a stairway of 350 steps. Which of course you must climb to get back after visiting the cave.
Inside the cave there are ice sculptures that represent pieces of furniture. There are no problems with walking on the ice, because the ground of the cave is carpeted.
The gondola ticket costs EUR 10, but a combination ticket of train and gondola is EUR 21.
There are several glaciers in the massif of the Mont Blanc, but none of them is a s big as the Mer de Glace (Sea of Ice), which is the biggest glacier in France, with a surface area of 40 square Km. At its centre the ice is 120 metres thick.
The way to get a close view of this glacier is by catching a little train to Montenvers, where there are panoramic terraces (and a restaurant and a café as well). The view from here is wonderful beyond description.
While in Montenvers it is interesting to visit also the Crystal Gallery and the Alpine Fauna Musem. Entrance to both is free.
The train to Montenvers has its own station in Chamonix (Gare de Montenvers) a short way from the SNCF station. The return ticket costs EUR 17. If you want to add a gondola trip to get closer to the glacier (see next tip) the combination ticket costs EUR 21.
Walking is the excercise doctors recommend to everybody, at every age. In the Chamonix valley one can forget this and walk just for the pleasure of going through a beautiful environment surrounded by spectacular mountains. So even if you are not fit enough for uphill walks, or if you must avoid high altitude, you will find a number of nice paths through woods and grassy areas that allow you to enjoy the mountains at an altitude of about 1000 metres with virtually no ascents or descents.
One of the possible routes goes along the river Arve to the village of Les Praz. It is about 3 Km. When you arrive in Les Praz you can get back to Chamonix (by bus or train if you are tired) or you can go on walking, up to the village of Les Tines. This path goes through beautiful woods.
Another possible route follows the Arveyron river, up to the hamlet of Les Bois.
These are just two examples, because there are more options.
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