Over the years I must have spent weeks sat in tents and bars while the majestic landscape that towers over Chamonix disappears from view. In fairness the weather in Chamonix can be beautiful for days or even weeks on end - this is no Scotland where you can expect rain at any moment! That said for all the tourists and luxuries that you find on the valley floor it's easy to forget that you're high in the mountains. When it 'clags in' and the climbing and hiking is off limits what do you do?
The last two summers this has become an even more pressing dilemma with a young family in tow. Our cramped camper van gets a bit much by 10am on a rainy day and we simply have to head out. So here are some ideas...
Head to the pool complex
Chamonix's pool is hard to beat and with indoor and outdoor options there is something for everyone. Our kids even enjoyed going outside to use the slides despite the rain. Inside is a 25m training pool and if you want to get a good distance swim in the outdoor 50m pool it is rarely that busy. In better weather there are plenty of grass areas where you can picnic, sit back and watch the parapentes skim overhead. You can easily spend a couple of hours here and combinE that with lunch in town and you have a pretty good day.
Go to the Amusement park (Parc de Loisirs)
This is based near the station and the highlight is the superb and very quick(!) luge. Younger children can go down with an adult. They won't open the luge in heavy rain but there's a good cafe on site and plenty to keep children occupied with trampolines and climbing frames.
Chamonix Zoo (Parc de Merlet)
This really is a hidden gem. You will need to drive high up the north side of the valley above Les Houches. Once there you walk the last few minutes before entering the beautiful park with stunning views across the valley. You are almost opposite the Glacier des Bossons and you will be able to spot the cable car heading to Aiguille du Midi. Even in bad weather this is an atmospheric place and through the gaps in the cloud the views can be even more enticing. Younger children will love the half hour trail where you can spot marmots, chamois and the rarer mouflon. Then enjoy a coffee on the terrace.