Cosmo Jazz Festival – 30th July to 4th August in Chamonix

The Cosmojazz kicks off in Chamonix !

For its forth edition, the Cosmo Jazz festival de Chamonix, has become the rendez-vous for inspired jazz musicians around the globe!

After the first concerts in Switzerland this week end, the festivities are back in the Chamonix Valley and it just gets better and better!

Discover for the first time in France, PIANO ROCHE VERTICAL, a Swiss pianist with his grand piano, suspended 10 metres above the ground!  Rendez- vous at 6 pm this evening, Place Balmat for a musical, acrobatical and poetical performance…

The week’s  programme is overwhelming with exceptional artists playing day and night!!!  The enchanting voice of Korean singer Youn Sun Nah, the Trilok Gurtu quartet, pianists Bojan Z et Shai Maestro,  saxophonist Jacques Schwarz-Barte with Jazz Racines Haiti,  English quartet  Get the Blessing with  Radiohead drummer… and so it goes on!

The Festival highlights are as follows: CONCERTS IN THE MOUNTAINS during the day,
APERO JAZZ  early evening, COSMO JAM from 9pm.

All concerts are free of charge !

The music from Cosmojazz, crosses borders, follows torrents and glacial rivers, sits on mountain passes, nestles in high valleys and will eventually weave its magic spell around Mont-Blanc.

Detailed programme on the  Cosmo Jazz web site and in the Chamonix Valley tourist offices.

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

A new speed record for Mont-Blanc

Kilian Jornet, champion in the domains of ski alpinism and ultra trail running, has just set a new record, on foot, for the ascension of Mont-Blanc (4.810 mètres). Last Thursday 11th July 2013, he made the round trip – Chamonix to the summit and back in 4 hours, 57 minutes and 40 seconds.

Kilian-Jornet_MDalmasso DCIM100GOPROKilian (25yrs) set off at 4H46 in the morning from the church in the centre of Chamonix (1.037 metres d’altitude), wearing nothing but shorts and trainers! It took him 3H30 to climb the 3.773 metres positive elevation leading to the summit of Mont-Blanc. A final sprint through Chamonix saw him back at the church at 9H43!

The young ski-alpinism champion, Mathéo Jacquemoud, 22 yrs, who was  also attempting the record (this time without skis) alongside  Kilian, had a fall on the way down and injured his thigh so was sadly unable to continue. See previous article about Mathéo.

“The snow conditions were good. This helped for the descent as we were able to slide on our backsides and run”, explained Kilian Jornet on his arrival in Chamonix. “It’s a pity Mathéo didn’t make it. We ran virtually the whole way together. I think the record belongs to both of us, even if Mathéo didn’t quite make it to church” added kilian.

Climbing Mont-Blanc is usually a question of 2 days, with a night in either the Gouter, Grands Mulets or Cosmiques huts, subject to the chosen route.
The Mont-Blanc record is the first phase of Kilian Jornet’s project Summits of My Life which involves 8 legendary climbs in record times, using light mountaineering and trail running techniques. This year, Kilian Jornet will attempt the ascension of Mount Elbrouz (5.642 mètres) in Russia in less than 3h23 min and then the Matterhorn (4.478 metres) from the Italian side in less than 3h14 min. The ultimate challenge in the series will be Mount Everest (8.848 metres), programmed for 2015. The existing record for the climb is 20 hours and 24 minutes. The project will be illustrated with a series of 4 films produced by Sébastien Montaz-Rosset.

In addition to being World Champion of Ski-Alpinism, Kilian Jornet has won the UTMB (Mont-Blanc Ultra Trail) 3 times (168 km et 9.600 metres positive elevation). That’s no mean feat!

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

Visit website 


Sheeps, goats and salt!

The mountains were alive with the sound of bells on Saturday 7th July when 1400 sheep and goats made their way up the Pierre à Ric to their summer grazing quarters above Argentière, in the Chamonix Valley.

150 volunteers of all ages were present to help carry up the salt that the animals will need for the duration of the summer. Those that could not walk up took the cable car from Argentière to Logan and joined the gathering for aperitifs, music and merriment.

See previous article