Argentière

Chamonix Mont-Blanc, Haute-Savoie, French Alps

One big, bad mountain in the Chamonix valley, close to Swiss & Italian borders.

Quick access from Chamonix by shuttle buses and train (free to Carte d’Hôtes holders).

Driving from the UK is straightforward via Geneva, with a non-autoroute option from Lyon via Chambéry and Albertville. Straightforward transfers from flights into Geneva and Lyon.

The Ski Area

  • Playground for competent skiers.
  • Legendary off-piste descent from 3275m altitude.

Confident all-mountain skiers are lured here by the siren call of the legendary Grands Montets, a high-altitude playground of black- and red-graded descents from 3275m all the way down to the village (1252m). For many years lift access was via the Lognan gondola up to 1972m or the Plan Joran chairlift to 1924m. Getting up to the mid-point of the mountain became easier when the latter was replaced by the 10-person Plan Joran gondola, which now drops skiers at 2138m. Their arrival point at or slightly above the Lognan area is beside the only intermediate terrain you’ll find here. The runs are quite limited but are high on scenic value, and some tend to be quieter than the big-draw areas higher up the mountain.

Heading higher means taking a gondola from Lognan to 2765m, to ski a bracing red-graded piste back to the base of the lift or take a longer black which snakes its way down to Combe de la Pendant (1857m). They might not sound like much, but the black has a pleasing sense of wild, remoteness and also drops you at a mountain restaurant.

Departing from Lognan is a high-speed chairlift heading up to 2581m. Take this and you get to ski a quite long red or a choice of two blacks, one of which feeds neatly onto the return red to the village.

The main attraction, though, is the second-stage cable-car ride up to 3275m. Be prepared for long queues at most times of the day, and for a long climb down icy stairways from the top station to the launch point. The views are sensational, and so is the marked and patrolled ski terrain – steep, deep and ungroomed, which is why it’s graded black. The other off-piste opportunities are among the best in the Alps, although the presence of crevasses (not all of them obvious) in areas on the glacier means that your best skiing companion is a qualified local guide.

Resort Information

Altitude : 1235m - 3300m
Argentière
Pistes Total:
28 km
Chart showing ski piste difficulty at Argentiere, as percentages.
5 Blue
4 Red
6 Black
Ski Resort Lifts : 8
4 Chairlifts
2 Gondolas
2 Cable Cars
Chamonix Mont-Blanc
Pistes Total:
>170 km
Piste grading/difficulty for Chamonix Valley ski areas
11 Green
33 Blue
32 Red
13 Black
Ski Domain Lifts: 63
2 Magic Carpets
18 Draglifts
23 Chairlifts
8 Télémix Gondola/Chairlift
8 Cable Cars
3 Funicular

Green Credentials...

  • The Chamonix Valley has been awarded the Flocon Vert label for its environmental actions.
  • Since February 2009, all the villages in the Chamonix-Mont-Blanc Valley have been engaged in a voluntary initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapting the area to climate change. The Climate and Energy Area Plan has a total of 184 actions and was set up in consultation with major stakeholders in the Valley.
  • Free public transport by bus and train throughout the Valley with a Carte d'Hôte pass.
  • Travel by fast TGV train to St Gervais les Bains - le Fayet then take the Mont Blanc Express which serves all the villages in the Chamonix Valley.

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The Ski Village

  • Year-round community with all services.
  • Accessible via rail to its' own station.

While it won't suit everyone, we have a soft spot for Argentière. After the scale and sophistication of Chamonix it all feels somehow much more down-to-earth, particularly in the historic heart of the village, which is largely invisible to through traffic. What is immediately obvious, though, is the look and feel of a year-round working community which just happens to have a world-class ski area on its doorstep. This explains why among the usual ski shops and outdoor wear boutiques you’ll also find snug, friendly bars and a good-sized supermarket, and why it feels so laid-back once all the skiers are way up there on the mountain.

Which isn’t to say that it’s escaped the attention of those hankering to invest in mountain property. It’s no accident that just a few steps from a stylishly-transformed set of apartments by Savoyard developer MGM Constructeur you’ll now find a chic-looking restaurant targeting an upmarket clientèle. Take a stroll around the streets of the old town and you’ll find further signs that we’re not alone in thinking that this would be one of the more attractive locations for a Chamonix valley hideaway.

It’s accessible, too, and has its own Gare SNCF served all year round by the Mont-Blanc Express rail services between Saint-Gervais and Martigny (across the Franco-Swiss border).

Staying There

Value for Money Accommodation Dining Out Nightlife Village Charm

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Overview of skiers on walkway above Les Grands Montets

Why go skiing in Argentière ?

North-facing terrain (and a glacier) means that snow quality holds up well, so it could be a good bet if you’re considering a late-season visit. Be aware, though, that Argentiere’s reputation as a destination for advanced skiers is well founded – not least since the classic terrain is generally left unpisted.

If that’s not you then it’s best regarded as an interesting day visit during your wider discovery of what the valley and combined lift pass have to offer.

That said, if you’re a beginner in a mixed-ability group then there’s a dedicated debutant/ski-school area, along with a handful of intermediate runs by way of a next-stage evolution. The problem comes once you outgrow those, at which point you’re straight into steep red- and black-graded territory with nothing to ease you in gently and build your confidence.

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Skiing There

Beginners / Families Intermediates Advanced / Expert Mountain Scenery
1 Snowparks


Cross-Country Skiing


14.5km Cross-Country and Nordic Ski Trails

icon-smileyYes please...

  • Great destination for expert skiers who love a challenge.
  • New debutant areas make this a more beginner friendly ski area.
  • Lively village with great atmosphere.

icon-frowneyYes but...

  • Not much skiing here for intermediates though there are great blue and red graded runs at nearby La Balme.
  • Ski buses to and from Chamonix get crowded so avoid busiest times.

icon-winkingOur Tips

  • Head up to Grands Montets. Even if you don't ski down the views are amazing.

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Practical Information

Le Cristal

Le Cristal d’Argentière is a 4* residence which is located right in the centre of the resort of Argentiere, 50m from the tiny train station and the shuttle bus stop to the ski lifts and Chamonix. The Grands Montets cable car, the ski school and kindergarten are just 300m away.

Enquiries and bookings:
Peak Retreats
023 9283 9310
reservations@peakretreats.co.uk


Make sure you collect your Guest Card from your host accommodation. This will entitle you to free travel on the buses and trains between Vallorcine to Servoz (if you want to go to St Gervais or Martigny in Switzerland you'll have to pay a little extra). Visit Chamonix to ascend to the Aiguille du Midi (book in advance at busy periods) or take the train to the Mer de Glace (glacier). There's also great shopping, and plenty of bars and restaurants to enjoy here.

Throughout the Chamonix Valley there are other activities you can try including snowshoe walks, cross-country skiing, dog-sledding, ice-climbing and fat-biking. For details of these and other activities, there's a good guide on Chamonet.com


Tête à thé

120 route du village, 74400 Argentière
Tel:+33 9 53 15 28 39

Vegetarian café serving light meals and refreshments. Vegan options available.


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After a quick and easy reservation everything will be waiting for you when you get to your destination.

You get to choose the shop and there’s a BEST-PRICE GUARANTEE.

Make BIG savings by booking online today!

Getting there

From the A40 Autoroute Blanche signs to Chamonix. You'll need chains or winter tyres especially if you are heading beyond Chamonix in the direction of Argentière and Vallorcine.

For Dover-Calais ferry travel, other cross-channel routes, offers and bookings visit P&O Ferries

By air
The nearest airport is Geneva (88km) which can be accessed by bus or taxi. See SAT MONT BLANC which provide links between Geneva and Chamonix.

By train
This couldn't be easier - travel by TGV direct from Paris to Saint Gervais, then change to the Mont-Blanc Express for stations throughout the Chamonix Valley to Martigny, just over the Swiss border.

Book your TGV fast train from Paris or Eurostar's direct ski train to the French Alps with .


Cheap flights to the Alps

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Airport Transfers

Ski-Lifts offer the widest range of airport transfers to ski resorts in France, from economy shared transfers for budget-conscious travellers, right through to luxury limousines. They also offer coach transfers for larger groups.

Insight: Argentière

Skiers walking to Grands Montets ski-lift entrance.

Insight: Argentière

When you first set eyes on Argentière there are few clues as to how it came to be known to serious skiers the world over. The answer is largely out of sight from down on the valley floor, but down at the ski lift access point it’s les Grands-Montets which get top billing. There’s long been a choice of first-stage lift access, as the 53 year-old Lognon cable car simply couldn’t cope unaided during peak periods. Last time we were here the second part of the double-act was a 4-seater high-speed chairlift, but in 2014 this was replaced by the 10-person Plan Joran gondola, an altogether more civilised affair which now continues past the 60-place cable-car’s 1965m top station and instead drops skiers at 2138m. We take the gondola.

Even by Chamonix standards it’s quite a ride, the final near-vertical docking at the ice-encrusted top station leaving you in no doubt that keeping the cable car open at all is no easy task.

Grands Montets snowboarder arrives at restaurant, Argentière, Chamonix Valley, French Alps

The mid-mountain restaurant complex is a good meeting point.


Grand Montets cable car, Argentiere, Chamonix Valley, French Alps

The Grands Montets cable car ascends to 3300m

Argentière & Les Grands Montets

After a windchill-free haul we step out of the cabin and survey the scene around us: immediately below is the Croix de Lognon mid-mountain complex which in 1997 added restaurant facilities to the lift stations, beyond which the broad, snow-covered valley falls away impressively. To our right second stage gondola and cable-car lifts head further up the mountain, currently still out of sight from our vantage point, while before us are some groomed intermediate pistes – a couple of blues and a red, offering a leisurely cruise down to join the second-stage lifts.

First, though, we decide to warm up our legs by exploring the pisted runs, so cruise down to the foot of the Marmottons two-seater fixed chairlift, which since 1973 has provided a slightly pedestrian haul up to 2197m. Not that most of its passengers will be in much of a hurry, since the area which it serves is designed to offer the kind of relaxed, undemanding skiing which lets you take in the full majesty of the surrounding landscapes. So we do just that, dropping down to 1902m to take the Tabé 4-seater, before heading round to the Combe de Pendant – a longer scenic blue-graded cruise (whose lowest section is often mogulled) down to the Retour Pendant 3-seater fixed chairlift (1857m).

The gentler side of Argentière

Now it’s decision time: if you’re looking for relatively relaxing terrain take the slow Marmottons chairlift back to the Plan Joran gondola top station for some easy runs among fine scenery, with more of the same on offer through the treeline in the Pendant sector via the Tabé chairlift. This gentler side of Argentière is something you seldom hear about, but it’s enough to broaden the appeal of what is otherwise pretty hardcore skiing. Taking the Bochard gondola to 2767m gives a foretaste of things higher up, with a choice of a steep Red-graded piste back to Lognan or a Black which will take you over to Combe de la Pendant .


Grands Montets cable car, Argentiere, Chamonix Valley, French Alps

The ascent in the cable car offers sensational views.


One of the few pisted slopes, Grands Montets, Argentiere, Chamonix Valley, French Alps

One of the few pisted slopes of the Grand Montets.

Visit the panoramic viewpoint

Most skiers, though, will join the frequently long queues for the second-stage Grands Montets cable car, for which you’ll generally need considerable reserves of patience (and at peak times you might decide simply not to bother). When you do finally shuffle onto the cable car, though, you get the feeling that you’re about to head to somewhere which is likely to be well worth the wait. Even by Chamonix standards it’s quite a ride, the final near-vertical docking at the ice-encrusted top station leaving you in no doubt that keeping the cable car open at all is no easy task. On the roof of the building is a panoramic viewpoint which is worth visiting before your descent, since it reveals the full drama of the sensational location.

Do the full vertical drop

Now all you have to do is negotiate the icy steps down to the snow-covered glacier, decide whether you’re going to take the longer or shorter route down (on Pylônes or Point de Vue— each of which is graded Black) and let the skis run. Either way the scenery is like nowhere else, and when you finally reach Lognan you can either take a break (we did) or continue on Pierre à Ric for a Red-graded cruise back to the village. It’s an entertaining run, and made more so by the icy patches which will test your edge-control in the frequent shaded sections.MountainPassions heart icon