Close to Argentière village are two popular and excellent ski stations:
- Balme-Vallorcine / Le Tour;
- 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, that runs through the trees (and with a few fun turns and jumps!), 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, and through the trees, 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! / *good to know: when there are long lines at Le Tour, it is often worth heading over to Balme-Vallorcine (if you arrive by car!), where there is often less of a wait!* . . . you can also take the train from Chamonix to Vallorcine for FREE with a carte d’hôte or residents’ permit.
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;
*AUTUMN 2018* – a devastating fire destroyed the Lognan arrival station, meaning that the main cable-car will not be running for a while (both Argentière to Lognan and Lognan to Grands Montets summit) . . . but Les Grands Montets station will still be open for the winter 2018 / 2019, with access via the Plan Joran gondola (10 pax), then you need to ski down to the Lognan plateau for access to the Le Bochard and La Herse lifts.
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 (currently shut due to autumn fire);
- the new Plan Joran gondola;
*NEW for 2018* – the old 2 pax Marmottons chairlift has been replaced with a new 6 pax chairlift.
Piste information: 18 pistes (blacks: 6 / reds: 4 / blues: 5 / greens: 1;
BOARDERCROSS – this is at the top of the Marmottons and Tabé chairlifts, and here you can practise some of your moves.
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 and 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 (not running currently, due to the fire damage at Lognan).
The home-run at Grands Montets, La Pierre à Ric is a red piste . . . it can be a fun way to head back to the car park, and a way to avoid taking the gondola at Plan Joran back home . . . but do be aware that it is quite long, and it can be very icy and bumpy in certain areas, so Beginners or tired skiers would be advised to avoid it!
*good to know: 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!*
Beginner skiers at Les Chosalets
Les Chosalets beginners’ and nursery slope (1252m) is located just as you come into the Grands-Montets car park / access from Les Chosalets bus stop – it 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.
*2018 UPDATE* – a food truck and snow-tubing available! / see FB page for more details;
Ecole de Ski Français (ESF) d’Argentière
To organise ski lessons for your family, including Piou Piou for little ones, see here for ESF Argentière.