Grands Montets

Grands Montets is justly among the most famous ski areas in the world.

Even though the fire of 2019 has put the top out of commission for the foreseeable future, it remains a fantastic area. If you have ski touring equipment or a splitboard, the top is still accessible. Go with a guide to join a group as the crevasses are huge, hidden and dangerous.

Mont Blanc from the top of the Bochard
Mont Blanc from the top of the Bochard
Grands Montets midstation
Grands Montets midstation before the fire

Though the top and the steep stuff is what it’s most famous for, there’s plenty of accessible fun here, including a terrain park and a beginner’s area, making it a surprisingly good destination for mixed ability groups and families. The Bochard and Herse lifts access the big sweeping red runs, where you can really let loose when it’s quiet.

Grands Montets snowboarding piste
Big fast piste days at the Grands Montets

 

Easy powder turns at Grands Montets
Easy powder turns at Grands Montets

The terrain park at Les Grands Montets is accessed by the Marmottons lift. If visibility is low, you can ride in the trees around the Pendant lift – there are some great natural halfpipes in this area.

In the trees at Grands Montets
In the trees at Grands Montets

The Top

Now unlikely to be accessible via lift until 2024 at the earliest, but still accessible by touring up there.

grands_eps

There are serious crevasses so either take a guide, or join a guided group. It’s also the start of some great touring routes.

Argentiere glacier
On the Argentiere glacier
Grands Montets - Snowboarders above the clouds
Snowboarders above the clouds

Grands Montets

Fresh tracks at Grands Montets
Fresh tracks at Grands Montets

Eating at les Grands Montets:

Les Grands Montets has the usual array of lift-company-owned choices at the main stations. Of these, Plan Joran is the best – they do good bruschettas though the serving system is a bit Kafkaesque. The Lognan station restaurant can be useful if you just need to grab a quick sandwich. However there are there also some much better  options!

The Cremerie Du Glacier +33 (0)4 50 54 07 52

Homespun and friendly with a warm stove, in the woods above the cable-car base. The Cremerie has a speciality of Croustades – delicious filling pizza style bread with loads of different toppings – good vegetarian ones too. My favourite is the truffled one, served with chestnuts and honey. You can ski there – look out for the small white sign on the right just before the flat end section of the Pierre a Ric home run, or follow the signs from the car park to drive there.

NB – They stop serving around 2pm, shut on Wednesday, and and reservations are highly recommended as it is very small and often fills up. Also opens in the evening.

Grands Montets - Cremerie du Glacier
Grands Montets – Cremerie du Glacier at night

Chalet Refuge de Lognan is a true Chamonix experience – accessed by the black “Pointe du Vue” run, its limited but tasty menu is served by an array of mountain-loving staff. In spring, you can eat on the terrace and appreciate the magnificent setting. Very popular, so book in advance for busy times (+33 6 88 56 03 54) or drop in at the beginning of the day to have a coffee and home-made cake, and reserve for later. Leave via the Variante Hotel red to rejoin the main run to the base.

It’s also nice to stop for a drink at one of the prettiest locations in the valley for a restaurant, the hut at the base of the Pendant lift. They do food as well, if you’re not in a hurry.

At the base of the Pendant lift
At the base of the Pendant lift

 

Apres-ski in Argentiere

The Savoy bar in Argentiere is a cheerful place to have a drink after a day at the Grands Montets – they do a fantastic latte with chestnut liqueur which I highly recommend, and often have relaxed live music. Head up to Argentiere and it’s on the left hand side of the main road.

Savoy Bar, Argentiere
Savoy Bar, Argentiere

The Savoy Bar in Argentiere, from their set on Flickr

I also like to drop in at local’s favourite Le Dahu, a little further up the hill, which does various small plates (e.g. 3 oysters or a small charcuterie selection) with a matching wine for a most civilised apres! The restaurant is very good value and does an excellent menu fixé.

La Yaute, on the left after the Grands Montets roundabout as you go back to the chalet, is also a popular apres spot and serves good food.