Close to Argentière village are two popular and excellent ski stations: Balme-Vallorcine / Le Tour and Grands Montets . . .
Balme-Vallorcine / Le Tour
Balme-Vallorcine / Le Tour is especially family-friendly, with wide, open pistes and a great number of blue runs and La Vormaine is the splendid Beginner’s area, nestled in the village of Le Tour.
Beginner & Nursery Skiing at La Vormaine
La Vormaine is “the biggest of the small ski slopes“, catering for Beginners (with one Intermediate piste) in the Chamonix valley. Located in the village of Le Tour (1432m), next to the Charamillon bubble lift, it has great views of Mont-Blanc.
It is a good value ski area, as it allows families to opt for 4 hours (often enough with toddlers to entertain!) at a reasonable price.
La Vormaine comprises 4 button lifts:
- Vormaine 1;
- Vormaine 2;
- Vormaine 3;
- Téléski Minivor – which leads to a free fun space “espace ludique“;
There are 2 green runs, perfect for learning how to ski or snowboard; and a blue run for Intermediate skiers.
There is also Freestyle Area, where Beginners can test their moves for the first time.
The Jardin d’Enfant is run by ESF Argentière/Le Tour;
Snack Bar: there is a snack bar on site for you to refuel. Hot drinks are available, as well as hot dogs, sandwiches, crêpes . . .
171 chemin des Clusettes
Website: see here or www.montblancnaturalresort.com/fr/vormaine
Parking: there is FREE parking located near the ski area. One small car park is located right next to La Vormaine and the other larger car park is located by the Charamillon bubble lift. The bus from Chamonix is FREE for those with a ski pass.
Intermediate and Advanced skiers at Balme-Vallorcine/Le Tour
The ski station of Balme-Vallorcine / Le Tour offers wonderful skiing on alpine pastures, across a wide terrain of mainly gentle slopes. The access from two distincly different areas (Le Tour village’s Charamillon bubble lifts or Balme-Vallorcine bubble lifts), makes this ski area particularly attractive: on the Charamillon Le Tour side, you can enjoy the wide, open pistes facing the Chamonix Valley, while the Vallorcine side allows for fun skiing through the pine trees, on the border with Switzerland!
Timed Slalom: there is a timed slalom allowing you to film your descent and you can pick this up as you leave.
Restaurants: a particular favourite of MBFF is the Restaurant Alpage de Balme, nestled at the bottom of the Aiguillette drag-lift. There are also options to eat at the Charamillon télécabine arrival station and plenty of lovely picnic spots in the sun . . .
Le Balme-Vallorcine télécabines
Tel: +33 (0)4 50 53 22 75;
Website: see here for opening times, lift pass prices and pistes maps;
Les Grands Montets
Les Grands Montets is the ski station with the biggest reputation in the Chamonix Valley! Its altitude of 3300m and the fact that it faces north-northwest, means that you can be assured excellent snow conditions, even late into the season! If there is enough snow, it will open in late November/early December at the weekends and will remain open until early May!
There at two lifts from Argentière: the main cable car to Lognan, and the new gondola to the mid-station.
Beginner skiers at Les Chosalets
Les Chosalets beginners’ slope (1252m) is located just as you come into the Grands Montets car park. Access from Les Chosalets bus stop is a short uphill walk through the houses and up a narrow lane.
Les Chosalets has two draglifts and two pistes to try out, and due to its shady area, the ski area normally has good snow conditions.
Intermediate and Advanced skiers at Grands Montets
Being known for its steep slopes and excellent off-piste skiing, Grands Montets is not usually the first choice for families comprising mostly Beginner and Intermediate skiers. This said, in addition to Les Chosalets nursery slopes, there are plenty of blue pistes to be enjoyed once you have progressed to a certain level. The vast majority of the ski area is above the tree-line, with open pistes.
The very high ski area is actually located on a glacier, and this is accessed via a second cable car.
Do be aware that due to its north-northwest location, Les Grands Montets can be very cold in the morning and in December, January and February you might not see the sun until later in the afternoon; later in the season, the ski station sees a bit more sun. The advantage of this is that the snow conditions are often among the best in the valley and the closing date for Les Grands Montets is usually in early May!
The “home-run”, La Pierre à Ric, can be a fun way to head back to the car park, and a way to avoid taking the cable-car back home . . . but do be aware that it is quite long, and it can be very icy and bumpy in certain areas, so Beginners/tired skiers would be advised to avoid it!
Ecole de Ski Français (ESF) d’Argentière
To organise ski lessons for your family, including Piou Piou for littlies, see here for ESF Argentière.