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One of the top tourist attractions in Chamonix consists of a ride up the Montenvers Cog Railway (€33.50 round trip) and a hike down to the Grotte de Glace—an ice cave carved into the Mer de Glace glacier.
The cave is re-sculpted every year.
Inside, you’ll find scenes depicting "the life of mountain people in the early 19th century,” according to [Chamonix.com](https://www.chamonix.com/montenvers-mer-de-glace,81,en.html). The hike mapped here descends a path from the end of the cog railway all the way to the ice cave.
However, the hike can be shortened by taking a gondola part of the way down and up.
The gondola is included in the roundtrip train ticket.
The terminus of the gondola was placed in the late 1980s, near where the glacier stopped at that point in time.
However, the glacier has receded substantially since that time.
Currently, there are about 480 steps down from the end of the gondola to the entrance to the cave.
Every year, more steps are added as the glacier continues to recede.
As you hike down to the glacier, look for the signs on the rock walls showing where the previous entrances to the ice cave were located. Touring the inside of the ice cave is a surreal experience! The glacier ice is bright blue, and in the walls of the tunnels, you can observe air bubbles, rocks, and other debris trapped in the ice from hundreds of years ago.
Back up at the top of the gondola, you can enjoy a variety of other tourist attractions, including the new Glaciorium exhibition center that explains the creation and evolution of glaciers in detail.