Argentiere Destination Guide
Grand Montets Awaits!
Home to the world-famous Les Grands Montets ski area, Argentiere is the beating heart of the Chamonix Valley. What's more, with the various bars and restaurants of Argentiere, you've got plenty of opportunity to party as hard as you ski!
Argentiere in winter
Sitting 8km further up the valley from Chamonix at 1250m means that Argentiere is just that little bit closer to the sky, which is why it can often be raining when you're looking out of the window of your transfer bus until you drive through the para-avalanche tunnel just after Les Tines...and suddenly it's great big fat pizza flakes everywhere!
Argentiere is made up of the main drag with all the commerces, the very quaint old village behind and, just on the other side of the river, the legend that is the Grand Montet ski area. Make no mistake, there's no easy cruising here and yes, when you look at the piste map there are very few lifts, but they do give you access to wealth of off-piste terrain, which is what this ski area is all about.
Beginners aren't completely forgotten though. Evolution 2 ski school has the Panda Club and there's the Jardin de Neige run by ESF Argentiere. A short transfer by car, bus or even on foot brings you to Les Chosalets, a hidden gem with a handful of drag lifts making it ideals for families and beginners of all ages.
But back to Les Grands Montets. With skiing from 1252 to 3300m and north facing, it's the most snow-sure area of the valley. The main snow front is Lognan at 1972m where you can bask in the sunshine on the large terraces and watch skiers and snowboarders zooming about all over the place.
Freestyle fans will love the snow park next to the Marmottons piste with modules of all sizes and a boarder cross section too. If you have a Mont Blanc Unlimited lift pass (the more expensive one that gives you access to everything in the valley), make sure you head up on the 'top' cable car.
Be aware that although there are two black pistes up here, they are un-pisted and traverse glacial terrain, so you need to be a confident skier to come back down on the snow, but you can always take the lift back down after taking in the thinner air and the spectacular views of the glacier and the Aiguille Verte peak at 4122m right in front of you. There's even a little cafe perched up there too for a warming hot choc or something stronger!
Grands Montets best ski spots!
As we said, those lucky enough to have booked their Geneva Airport transfer straight to Argentiere will be the first ones on the slopes of Grand Montets. Here's our little list of favourite off-piste ski spots for those aching to ride the powder. Remember, off piste is dangerous so get equipped and stay safe!
- Tabe gullies - ideal for a first little foray powder turns, you can do a recce as you take the lift up. Short but often very sweet
- The 'magic' or 'dream' forest - where the powder hounds go on a bad vis day, using Retour Pendant to bring you back up
- Triangle de la Herse - accessed either by cutting under the lift line at the top of Bochard or tracking off to skier's right after the first big left hand bend of the Bochard piste, this whole area is one big paradise after a good snowfall and brings you back onto the track back to Lognan, or you can continue down onto the home run Pierre a Ric
- Combe da la Pendant - heading skier's left after the first ridge of the Bochard piste brings you into the big, wide expanse of a bowl. It gets tracked out really quickly but can be a true delight. The gnarlier skiers head down all the way to Lavancher village, but you really need to know where you're going for this as there are lots of rock faces and couloirs
- La Herse - this high speed chair delivers you to a point where you can access to successive snow-filled bowls on skier's right that run alongside the impressive rock face.
For seriously extreme skiing, there's the likes of the Pas de Chèvre and the Rectiligne Couloir from the top of Grands Montets (which bring you out at the Mer de Glace so you'll need to transfer back to Argentiere if you've parked your car at Grands Montets!). These involve rappels and steep gullies, so a guide is a must.
Ski tourers will love the likes of the Col du Passon across the Argentiere glacier and up, the Tour Noir and the Chardonnet to name but three of the possible routes.