Category Archives: New Services

A new downhill biking trail in Les Houches

As mountain biking becomes ever more popular, the Chamonix Valley has responded to the demand with a new downhill trail which opened on 20th July 2013. The descent departs from the summit of the Prarion Gondola lift in LES HOUCHES:

4 km blue run, 640 metres altitude difference, an exceptional natural environment and variants for expert bikers.


Other dedicated downhill trails at BALME-LE TOUR

Bikers and beauty queens rub shoulders!

Bikers and beauty queens rub shoulders!

  • LES MARMOTTES : Length 2450 m Altitude difference 363 m (Green run)
  • LES CHEVREUILS : Length 2540 m Altitude difference 348 m (Blue run)The day pass for bikers costs 17€ and offers unlimited upward lift use.For more information visit the lift company web site

Cross Country biking trails in the Chamonix Valley
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The Chamonix Mont-Blanc Valley offers 20 waymarked cross country trails for all levels of ability. There are trails suitable for family outings, trails that allow you to discover the villages and hamlets of the valley, trails that will take you to superb viewpoints…

On certain trails you may be cohabiting with hikers – please always give them priority! Respect pedestrians, cows, sheep, goats, mountain flowers etc… and have fun.

Transport within the Chamonix Valley is free of charge. Certain buses and trains are equipped for bike transfer. Please check timetables with one of the Chamonix Valley  tourist offices or visit our website. Please also ask the tourist offices to the Mountain Biking trail map.

Don’t forget that you can also hire electric bikes from the tourist offices. See previous article.

Sunshine and Spas – cool tips for hot days!

Chamonix, mountain sports capital, can also be conducive to relaxation! ! Check out these special offers: Pools, Spas, open air Jacuzzis, fine dining and tea time treats!

LUNCH AND SPA

The following establishments propose a gourmet lunch which includes access to their Spa facilities: pool, hammam, sauna, jacuzzi.

Deep Nature Spa et Restaurant l’A -  Hotel les Aiglons, Chamonix

DeepNatureSoinsavecPierreLunch on the terrace with views of Mont-Blanc and access to the Spa and superb outdoor pool

Luncheon = choice of starter and main course or main course and dessert: 22.50 €   (55.50€ to include a 25 minute massage)

Reservations: +33(0)450 559 093  Spa open from 10h to 20h

Spa Serenity – Parkhotel Suisse, Chamonix

JacuzziEnjoy lunch in the traditional Parkhotel restaurant and discover the roof top Serenity Spa and terrace in the very heart of Chamonix with 360° views!

Luncheon = Starter and main course 20€ , with dessert 23€ Reservations: +33(0)450 530 758

Caudalie Spa and Crystal Restaurant – Les Granges d’en Haut, Les Houches

IMG_7221Enjoying an exceptional location above the village of Les Houches,  the Crystal restaurant and the Caudalie Spa and pool are most definitely worth the trip!

Luncheon = starter, main course and dessert: 35€

Reservations:  +33(0)450 546 536

LUNCH TIME POOL SNACKS AND TEA TIME TREATS – a few suggestions

Charamillon mountain restaurant – Balme mid stationIMG_0901IMG_0894

Take the gondola lift up from Le Tour (45 minutes on foot if you walk up), and don’t forget your bikini or trunks!

Enjoy a 20 minute exclusive jacuzzi, a smoothie of your choice and a pancake, for  unbeatable value: 6.90€ (towel provided)

Reservations not necessary – Jean (John)  is the charming host at Charamillon.

Hotel Excelsior swimming pool – Les Tines hotelexcelsior

Take advantage of this delightful pool which enjoys an enviable location in the hamlet of Les Tines (3 km north of Chamonix)

The Excelsior pool side offer includes: Pool entry, a soda or a beer, a snack (sandwich, hot-dog or croque-monsieur) and an ice-cream. Adults: 13€  Children 5 to 12 yrs: 9€

Chamonix Swimming Pool – Centre Sportif Richard Bozon IMG_9340

For a municipal swimming pool and Spa, this must take some beating! Olympic size oudoor pool with Mont-Blanc views, 2 indoor pools with reserved children’s area, outdoor paddling pool and fun play area, large covered slide, lakeside lawns with snack bar… and a Spa which includes sauna, hammam, jacuzzi…

Entrance to Spa and Pool: 12.50€ open daily from 10h to 19h

Hameau Albert 1er – Spa, pool, terrace and tea time – Chamonix Hameau Albert1er 012gouter.nicolas tosi

If you have a sweet tooth, this is the place for you!

The traditional farmhouse restaurant of the Maison Carrier is reputed for its “vrai”!An alpine pudding trolley that has to be seen (an savoured) to be believed! Tea time on the terrace is served between 15h and 18h. Self-serve buffet: 12.50€

The gardens of the Hameau Albert 1er are also open to the public for refreshments. Access to the swimming pool is reserved for guests of the Spa “Le Bachal”.

Reservations:  +33(0)450 530 509

Creameries in the Chamonix Valley – Gentle walks, steeped in history!

A selection of traditional refreshment chalets, locally known as creameries, all within 1 hours walking distance – ideal for family outings.
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Copyright Ballu/ Sylvain Coutterand

Copyright Ballu/ Sylvain Coutterand

 Many of these alpine cafés date back to the 19th century and without exception, they share a rich history of tradition in unique locations. Many were formerly associated with mountain pastures when the refreshments came straight from the milking parlor – hence the name “creamery”.  All chalets are open daily from mid June to mid September and some for longer. Certain chalets will also open for small parties on request in the evening. A detailed walking map is available for purchase at the tourist offices of the Valley.

IMG_0212Chalet du Glacier des Bossons – 1425m

The Chalet du Glacier offers an exceptional view over the seracs of the Bossons glacier (the longest ice-fall in Europe with 3500m vertical drop).  It can be reached on foot from the village of Les Bossons, or via the chair lift which offers a bucolic ride over lush pastures and traditional chalets.

The Chalet du Glacier is probably the oldest of the Valley as it dates from 1824. It has been moved and modified numerous times, subject to the ebb and flow of the glacier and enjoys its current location since 1955. In 1870, visitors flocked to discover the very first ice grotto, hewed out of the side of the Bossons glacier.  Whilst the ice cave no longer exists, visitors can discover a thematic trail dedicated to the history of the glacier. Bossons GC

The chalet also exhibits remnants of historic plane crashes on Mont-Blanc, including the undercarriage of the Indian Constellation “Malabar Princess”!

Access: 45 minutes from Les Bossons Village or 10 minutes from the top of the chair lift.
Tel. +33(0)4 50 53 03 89

Stitched PanoramaLa Buvette du Cerro – 1358m

Located on the right bank of the Bossons glaciers (left hand side looking up from les Bossons) the Cerro chalet offers a dramatic, plunging view over the glacial moraine to the valley below. Like its twin counterpart, the chalet du glacier, the Cerro dates back to the 1800’s. B11-13For nigh on a century, it played an important role for visitors traversing the glacier with their guide via the “ sentier du glacier supérieur” or the “sentier du Pavillon des Pyramides”.

The chalet is open daily, but also evenings from Wednesday to Sunday – the sunsets from the terrace are superb. Alexandrine’s specialties include a sweet farcon (made with apples, brioche and secret ingredients), a duo of frogs legs, snail crumble and for the more traditional… home made tarts etc.

Access: 1 hr from les Bossons or 15 min from the car park on the right before the Mont-Blanc tunnel. Tel. +33(0)6 50 41 71 40

The Cascade du Dard – 1233m

photo Monica Dalmasso

photo Monica Dalmasso

The chalet sits in a tranquil position, shaded by giant conifers, just below the access to the Mont-Blanc tunnel. Beyond the chalet in a delightful clearing is the Dard torrent and waterfall. The site has been appreciated for many generations. The initial pavilion was built in 1834 by the Favret brothers, who served tea and cakes to the first tourists!

The chalet’s specialty is “le Farcon”, a delicious slow cooked potato, bacon and prune dish, typical of the region. Open every day and Tuesday evenings in July and August with guitarist and singing .

Access: 45 minutes from the Grepon car park in Chamonix or 10 minutes from the car park just below the Mont-Blanc tunnel. Tel. +33(0)6 30 87 95 89

La Floria – 1350m

A superb belvedere, overlooking the villages of Les Praz and les Bois, an incredible display of flowers adorning the chalet and its terrace, and an incomparable panorama of the Mont-Blanc Massif – the Floria is a hidden gem, just 45 minutes from Chamonix!ETE34-La Floria_05

The chalet is situated on the edge of a well worn trail that hitherto was the cow path to the alpine pastures of the Flégère. It was built by a certain Simond in 1914 and offered a pleasant watering hole for its users. After the war, the chalet was considerably improved by Roger Demarchi, guardian of this temple of contemplation for 47 years!

The chalet is now run by the Mermouds, who take a pride in the chalet’s appearance… I think it would be fair to say that they have green fingers! They also serve delicious homemade blueberry tarts and many local specialties.

Access: 45 minutes from either Chamonix or Les Praz

 

Le Refuge du Chapeau – 1576m

Perched high above the Mer de Glace, the chalet du Chapeau  experienced a succession of golden ages! Initially when illustrious visitors  traversed the “sea of ice” on guided excursions from  the Montenvers; later when the Chapeau became a popular watering hole en route for the Couvercle  hut; and subsequently when it became a stop off point for skiers descending the Valley Blanche.B16-08

With the decline of the Mer de Glace, the  glacier now lies 150m below the chalet and it is hard to imagine that any of these options could have been possible! Nevertheless the Chapeau offers exceptional views across to the Aiguilles du Rochefort and the Grandes Jorasses and to the lakes of the glacial moraine far below.

The actual chalet was rebuilt in 1955 by Luc Couttet and the present guardian is his grandson Thierry. 2013-07-20 le chapeauA pupil of some of the best chefs in the Savoy, Thierry is most definitely a foodie and his sweet pastries are well worth the walk!

Access: 1 hour from the top of Le Lavancher village. Tel. +33(0)6 10 77 59 10

La Crémerie du Glacier -  1350m

Situated in a clearing in the woods, behind the village of Argentière, the Crémerie is just a short walk from the old village.  On the way to the Crémerie you may discover is a delightful play area for children, with stream, 2 ponds, wooden slides, climbing frames etc.photo_crem_de_nos_jours

The original chalet was built by Georges Ravanel in 1926, when extracting ice from the glaciers to supply the hotel industry was a thriving activity. It later became a tea shop for thirsty hikers and has been in the Ravanel family ever since.

Claudy Ravanel, one of George’s grandsons, has developed the restaurant and the establishment is a very popular pit stop for skiers in winter too. The Ravanel “croutes” (numerous varieties of cheese on toast) have developed an international reputation!

Access: 20 minutes from the Grands Montets car park or from the old village of Argentière.
Tel. +33(0)4 50 54 07 52

Cascade de Berard – 1456m

 Located at the northern end of the Chamonix valley, just above the hamlet of le Buet, the Berard chalet and waterfall are a delight to behold! A gentle walk through lush pastures, passing through the hamlet of La Poya with its traditional stone dwellings, will bring you to the entrance of the Berard valley.  The chalet sits on the edge of an impressive waterfall and is reached by a wooden bridge which crosses the lively torrent. index

 According to legend, in 1873, the counterfeiter who went by the name of Farinet (a sort of local Robin Hood who shared his false money with the poor) hid out in a cave concealed behind the waterfall to escape the “gendarmes” (police forces).

Access: 30 minutes from the Buet car park.

Tel. +33(0)6 11 42 37 42

The UCPA holiday centre restored to glory!

Les Glaciers 12/07/2013

The UCPA Les Glaciers holiday centre, located in the village of Argentière will re-open on 22nd July 2013 after extensive renovations which will have lasted 14 months. Only the 19th Century façades of the original building have been conserved, the interior has been completely gutted and rebuilt for a total cost of 11 million euros.

Numériser 2 Numériser 1The hotel les Glaciers was built in the late 1800’s and extended when the train arrived in Argentière in 1906. It then became the Hotel Glaciers and Terminus and was one of Argentière’s leading hotels. It was purchased by the UCPA (National Union of Outdoor Sport’s Centres) in the 1970’s. The building has now been restored to its former glory but with modern comforts. The end result is stunning!

11/06/13 South facade

The renovations were necessary in order to fulfill safety and hygiene requirements and to improve the general facilities. The new building includes a superb restaurant, bar, leisure and conference rooms, a fitness area, an indoor climbing wall and a sauna.

The building is able to accommodate up to 300 young people, aged between 14 and 39 years, for various sporting activities.  The UCPA is operated by a staff of 60 persons, which includes 30 guides and instructors and 6 monitors who look after the juniors.

Summer activities include mountaineering, rock climbing, multi sports, hiking, MTB Biking, Trail running and even dancing! Activities in winter include Ski and Snowboard, off-piste, ski touring, cross-country skiing and snow shoeing.

Perspective from the park boise_DSC8872 compresse

The UCPA les Glaciers enjoys a prime location in the centre of Argentière, adjacent to the local railway station. Within the grounds are an outdoor pool, a Volley ball court and a wooded park area.

Adjacent perspective of the grounds.

New UCPA activity this summer : Trail running school

Trail running - Marathon

The label Vallée du Trail was initiated by the Chamonix Mont-Blanc Valley in the spring of 2012. A logical evolution for a destination which attracts ultra marathon runners from all over the world. Trailers can now make use of 18 superb waymarked routes of varying lengths and positive elevation, reserved specifically for their use.

As a partner of the “Vallée de Trail” the UCPA offers a number of all-inclusive trail running courses, from beginners to coaching for the big races. New this year is the possibility to train with the UCPA throughout the summer without booking accommodation. Various formulas are available from age 12 years upwards.

UCPA Argentière
170 rue Charlet Straton – Argentière – 74400 Chamonix
Tél. : 04 50 54 07 11
Courriel: argentiere@ucpa.asso.fr

Visit website 

 

The new Gouter Hut

Latest news from Mont-Blanc!

Credit photo: P Tournaire

Credit photo: P Tournaire

Credit photo: Groupe H

Credit photo: Groupe H

The new Gouter Hut gets the green light!  The departmental commission for security met on 11th June 2013 and were unanimous in their decision to open the 7 million euro “hut” to the public. The mayor of St-Gervais is expected to sign the minesterial decree in the next few days, after which the Gouter will be able to welcome its first climbers.

Located at 3,835 metres on the classic route to climb Mont-Blanc, this futuristic ovoid construction is an awesome sight. The the  hut is designed to function with solar  panels, biomass energy using innovating technologies. It fulfils the HQE environmental criteria and sets a benchmark for high mountain building technology.

With a capacity of 120 beds, it will ultimately replace the existing refuge hut, which must be dismantled within a year of the new hut’s opening.

An estimated 10,000 people overnight in the hut over the summer season, whilst they attempt to climb western Europe’s highest mountain. This is not without its risks and consequences and for the first time this summer, there will be a degree of monitoring by mountain police on both the Gouter (normal) and 3 Monts route to increase safety awareness and to ensure that climbers respect this protected natural site.

Reservations for the hut are on-line only. Visit the web site for more information