© Franck Oddoux
Peak season in Chamonix and the town becomes the trail running capital of the world.
August is one of the busiest months in Chamonix, with many events on the calendar to suit visitors of every age and ability, but of course one of the biggest talking points in the Chamonix summer schedule is the famous trail running race - Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc. Just be sure you've booked your accommodation!
Easily one of the best known ultramarathons in the world, now boasting seven events in its calendar, this week long trail running festival and its participants, supporters and spectators literally overrun the town. You will soon find you are never far from a trail runner, a banging cowbell or someone shouting 'allez allez allez'.
To entertain the masses there are a whole host of events in Chamonix and they don't all include a gruelling running race.
Read on for a look at what we like to do in resort throughout August.
What's the weather like in Chamonix in August?
Whilst average August temperatures sit at a low of 11°C and a high of 22°C, we have seen temperatures can really vary in the mountains in summer with occasional storms that roll in and heatwaves that bring a searing heat. Plus the UTMB week always seems to attract some crazy weather of some sort to additionally challenge the runners.
What's on in Chamonix in August?
The Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc
The UTMB is perhaps the most famous trail running competition in the world. Each year, the elite of the trail running world find themselves in Chamonix alongside almost 8,000 runners keen to participate in one of the event's seven races. The longest is the PTL - La Petite Trotte à Leon - which is approximately 300km long with +30,000m altitude gain. It is a team event made up of two or three members, for safety, and the route is changed every year. The shortest event is a 15k YCC - Youth Chamonix Courmayeur. The main event is a race of 171km with around +10,000m altitude gain. Most of the 2,300 runners will endure 32 to 46 hours of running, and will run through two nights in order to complete the race that follows the Tour du Mont Blanc hiking path. Starting in Chamonix, the route takes competitors through Italy and Switzerland before returning to Chamonix where it all began many hours earlier.
Understandably this is one of the busiest weeks of the summer in Chamonix, as not only are there thousands of people here to run the races but plenty more have come to cheer them on - day and night. Restaurants and bars are packed, accommodation is at a premium, the town centre is a vibrant trail running hub and the streets along the route are lined with people cheering and taking photos. Some people camp out along the route to offer support and boost the runners' morale throughout the night. Not to be missed out!
Fête des Guides
An annual fundraiser, the Fête des Guides offers the chance to meet some of the valley's high mountain guides. Established in 1821, the Compagnie des Guides de Chamonix gathers over 150 certified mountain guides and leaders who provide mountain guiding services through the Mont Blanc massif and throughout the world. The week will see guides from all over the Chamonix Valley celebrate their trade and its long tradition in the area. Festivities include markets, live music, talks and activities for children in Argentière, Les Houches and Le Lavancher. The main celebration will take place in the centre of Chamonix with a traditional parade of guides and the blessing of the "Men, Ice Axes and Ropes", as well as a crafts market.
Things to do
Take to the skies
Paragliding, or parapenting as the French say, is a good way to escape the packed pavements and busy mountain trails and to head up, literally, into the sky with a tandem flight. There are lots of companies who offer the service and it's a good opportunity to take a bird's eye view of the town and surrounding valley from the peace and tranquility of the skies above it. For a 20-minute flight, take off is usually from the Brévent cable car mid-station.