Montenvers Mer de Glace & Train (Chamonix)

Another great attraction in ūüŹĒ¬†Chamonix on many families’¬†list is the ūüöā¬†Montenvers train journey up to the Mer de Glace glacier. ¬†The¬†famous little vintage red coggle train will take you on a relaxing 20 minute journey up the mountainside, through ūüĆ≤¬†forests and tunnels cut through the rock, and up to the glacier at 1,913 m (an ascent of about 1000m). Children from the age of 12 months are allowed aboard.

Montenvers train courtesy of ©

Montenvers Departure Station

The ūüöȬ†departure station for the Montenvers train is just behind the Gare SNCF, and there is an ūüöā¬†old locomotive for children to play on as they wait.

¬ę L√©gendaire Montenvers ¬Ľ – fresco by Collectif Chamshake

In September 2017¬†–¬†next to the Montenvers departure station – ūü鮬†a¬†fresco¬†was completed . . . it was conceived and painted by Sow (of the Collectif Chamshake) and her two helpers, Dj√© and Andrien. On an exterior wall of what was an old warehouse, the mural tells the story of the discovery of the Montenvers Glacier and the development of the coggle train, as well as depicting two important alpinists (Bonatti and Rebuffat) and a lady tourist from the 19th century, travelling up to the glacier by mule.

Légendaire Montenvers © David Machet

Watch a video showing the progress of ¬ę L√©gendaire Montenvers ¬Ľ here:

Activities at Montenvers Arrival Station

There are beautiful views from the arrival station, though a view upon the glacier is also a stark reminder to us of global warming.

View from the top
View from the arrival station ©

Once at the arrival station, there are plenty of activities to keep the whole family entertained:

  • ūüĖľ¬†Glaciorium ¬†an interactive and educational space highlighting the formation of the Mer de Glace, its history and its future evolution;
  • ‚ĚĄÔłŹ¬†Ice Grotto a 30 mins walk via a trail, or a 5 mins gondola ride (with 400 steps), takes you¬†into the heart of¬†the Mer de Glace glacier!
  • ūüé≠¬†Temple of Nature an optical theatre, with rear projection on glass, here stories are told by the scientists and artists who loved this nature spot;
Ice Grotto courtesy of ©
Ice Grotto courtesy of ©

NB – do check opening hours of all of these attractions, as there are seasonal changes!

Terminal Neige: Refuge du Montenvers

The newly renovated ‚ėēÔłŹ¬†Terminal Neige: Refuge du Montenvers ¬† ¬†¬†(belonging to the Maisons et Hotels Sibuet label)¬†was originally built in the 1880s and was then called the Grand H√ītel du Montenvers¬†– its purpose was to accommodate the first travellers and mountaineers who came to visit the legendary Mer de Glace glacier. The grand old hotel has been stylishly refurbished, retaining its original charm. You can stop for ūü•É¬†warm or cool drink or snack in the caf√© / restaurant, or you can even spend the ūüõƬ†night in the hotel! ¬†For more information about the hotel, rooms, restaurants and events, see here.

Terminal Neige: Refuge du Montenvers ©

ūü饬†Les Trains de No√™l du Montenvers¬†ūü饬†

On the two weekends beforeūüéĄChristmas, special Christmas trains are organised . . . with activities for children and presents from ūüéÖ¬†Santa up at the arrival station (included in the price of the train journey).

Hikes from Montenvers

One trail from Montenvers leads along the Grand Balcon Nord to the Plan du Midi, from where you can take the cable-car back down to Chamonix.

There are also several trails leading back down to Les Praz or Chamonix. The gentlest of these is the trail via the lovely ‚ėēÔłŹ¬†Buvette des Mottets, where you can stop for a homemade tart! (this buvette also offers a ‚Äú¬†nuit dans une bulle¬†‚ÄĚ over the summer months – three transparent tents suspended from the trees).

If visiting in ‚ĚĄÔłŹ¬†wintertime, then there are some well sign-posted snow-shoe circuits that leave from the Montenvers arrival station.

Practical information
ūüöȬ†address of departure station:
35, place de la Mer de Glace,
74400, Chamonix
tel: +33 (0)4 50 53 22 75
website: for train time-table & current prices and here for Terminal     Neige: Refuge du Montenvers

ūüöó¬†parking: free parking opposite, at the Parking des Planards;

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