by Vivian Holding
A panoramic helicopter flight over Mont Blanc and a luxury spa weekend in Chamonix turned out to be the perfect birthday present for my husband and has made us see the ski resort in a new light.
It started with the usual question ‘what on earth am I going to buy him for his birthday?’. Interesting experience or weekend away (somewhere not too far from Geneva?). Chamonix sans skiing? What on earth could we do there? I wondered.
Helicopter flight over Mont Blanc
After some research I found the perfect adventure – a panoramic helicopter flight over Mont Blanc. This 20-minute flight offers the most incredible views of the Mont Blanc massif and if, like me, it’s your first time in a helicopter, plenty of time to get over any initial panic!
Our flights were booked through Chamonix Mont-Blanc Helico, based in Argentiére, at the top of the Chamonix Mont Blanc valley, a 10-minute drive from the centre of town. It’s not possible to book a definite date (unless last minute), as the weather is so changeable (and who wants to see Mont Blanc in the fog?). Contact them with the number of passengers (maximum of six), a choice of available dates and a telephone number. Then sit back and wait for the call telling you when the conditions are right.
Luxury hotel at a reasonable price
We got the call two weekends later, so I had to find a hotel fast. I had heard about the Hotel Héliopic through a friend (there’s that grapevine again). Relatively newly built and next door to the Aiguille du Midi cable car, the hotel offers simple scandi-styled rooms, many with incredible views of Mont Blanc. The hotel boasts a cool bar area and relaxing seating area, a library, restaurant and the most amazing LUXE spa and pool. As it was near the end of ski season, prices were very reasonable for our standard double room.
With dinner booked at local restaurant La Télécabine, we were all set.
We made our way up a dirt track to the helicopter base, set in a wooded area of Argentière. After the initial registration, we were ready for our experience – we jumped aboard, headphones on and up we went. The pilot was a knowledgeable guide and pointed out the different peaks by name. We passed over the Mer de Glace, as well as the peak of Mont Blanc at 4,810m. The views were out of this world as we skimmed close to the mountainside, through jagged mountains and over skiers and mountain climbers – scattered around the most extraordinary places on the mountainside! After our 20 minutes (which felt far longer), we ended our tour feeling exhilarated!
A warm reception
Our room was beautiful, decorated in cool grey tones, with lots of natural materials (wood, woollen throws and cushions) and, from the balcony, an amazing view of Mont Blanc.
We spent the following few hours in their NUXE spa and pool, which covers 500m2 – complete with an ice cave, hammam, sauna, Jacuzzi, cold water dunk pool, tepidarium, pool and chill area (with hanging wicker chairs). Heaven on earth…
Dinner at La Télécabine
You can’t help but be impressed by the red egg-shaped cable car suspended above the entrance. Somewhere between modern and traditional mountain style, the restaurant offers several dinner menus, varying from 27 euros to 39 euros, or à la carte. Our 39 euros menu included starters of crayfish cappuccino with saffron shellfish and whole artichoke with a Caesar vinaigrette. Our main course were confit of lamb with citrus fruits and honey and cod served with a cassolette of pasta with cêpes. We shared lemon tart for dessert. Everything was delicious and fresh. Our only disappointment? Not having booked the cable car inside the restaurant, a cosy-looking experience. If you’re dining à deux, be sure to ask if it’s available when you book.
Chamonix Mont Blanc Helico – Helicopter flight over Mont Blanc
400 chemin de la Glacière, Argentière. Telephone: 0033 450 54 13 82.
50 place de l’Aiguille du Midi, 74400 Chamonix. Telephone: 0033 450 54 55 56.
27 rue de la Tour, 74400 Chamonix. Telephone: 0033 450 47 04 66.