Sunday’s family outing started somewhat late in the day, as Daddy MBFF had to go and vote in the mayoral elections! By the time that we had sorted out 🍏 our picnic lunch, it was already midday and by the time we ate the picnic lunch it was 14h! A true Spanish lunch hour; no wonder Mr 6 was so grumpy!
But the later lunch was worth it, as we had found the perfect picnic spot: by the 🐸 mare aux têtards & 🌈 playground in the 🌲 moraine woods of Argentière!
I had been wanting to hunt out this elusive playground (not so elusive if you live in Argentière!) for many, many years, but had never quite managed it. But then the other day, as I was having a huge clearout of papers, I came across a copy of 🗺 the parcours orientation for La Moraine in Argentière, printed out and ready to go, and I thought we could combine the activities: 💦 splashing about in the stream & finding 🐸 tadpoles and 🦎 newts, 🌲 playing in the woods, 🍏 a picnic lunch and some 🗺 orienteering!
Add to all of this some 🍓 wild strawberries and myrtilles, some 🧗♂️ scrambling on glacial rocks and a stop at the🥤 Crèmerie du Glacier – it was the perfect family outing! And one that I shall repeat this summer. We bumped into a friend who lives in Argentière at the 🐸 mare aux têtards, and she pointed out that you can take your picnic blanket and set up for the whole day right by the stream! If you live locally, it is the perfect spot for 🚵♂️ VTT bikes (there are some marked trails leaving from the woods)!
La Mare aux Têtards and playground
🐸 La Mare aux Têtards is actually more of 💦 a gently running stream, which children spend time damming . . . in the stiller parts, you may well spot 🐸 tadpoles and 🦎 newts during the late spring and early summer . . . Children delight in the water: wading, crossing the stream on logs and rock bridges, making dams . . .
There are several benches and 🍏 picnic tables in the shade . . .
There is so much fun to be had in the nature here, that the 🌈 playground is almost superfluous to the children’s needs . . . but it is nicely placed, with wooden structures for little ones too.
We found signs of cabane-making near the stream and there are rocks in the vicinity for scrambing . . .
And we decided to place the latest 🎨 MBFF Happy Rock . . .
Parcours Orientation: La Moraine d’Argentière
MBFF has already tried out a couple of the 🗺 Chamonix Valley parcours orientation, and we highly recommend this activitiy for some family fun in nature! It keeps you focused, it keeps little ones walking and exploring, you learn how to read 🗺 a map attentively, and it really is a lot of fun! Read about MBFF’s autumn orienteering at 💦 Lac des Chavants (Les Houches) here and Baby-Cham‘s (Chamonix nanny and babysitter service) experience in the 🌲 Bois du Bouchet (Chamonix) here;
Argentière’s 🗺 parcours orientation is located in the 🌲 Forêt Communale de la Moraine d’Argentière. What is a moraine? It is the debris of rocks and 🧗♂️ boulders left behind by the movement of a glacier . . . here in Argentière, you’ll find some 🧗♂️ erratic boulders left in the 🌲forest, perfect for a sit-down or some scrambling! Being in 🌲 the forest, this parcours in largely in the shade of larch trees, which makes it perfect for a hot day . . . there are also plentiful streams to keep you cool.
We found 🗺 the map-reading fairly easy on this parcours orientation, as the paths are clear and easy to follow . . . we managed to find 7/11 of the balises, and the final four we should be able to find easily on our next venture!
⇒ for more information and to download map, see here;
On our little excursion, there were lots of little nature extras, which added to the fun:
- 🦎 wildlife: 🐌 a snail, 🦎 a couple of newts, 🐸 some tadpoles, 🦋 butterflies, 🐝 bees and other insects;
- 🌸🌼 wild flowers;
- 🍓 wild strawberries and myrtilles . . . once my little one discovered wild berries in the forest, spotting them (and picking them and eating them!) became his priority, and the parcours orientation took a backseat!
- 💦 the Torrent de Lognan and lots of smaller 🏞 forest streams;
- 🌲 the beautiful forest;
- 🧗♂️ boulders . . .
Moraine d’Argentière boulders (les blocs de granit)
Where the glacier retreated here in Argentière, 🧗♂️ 2-5m high granite boulders remained in 🌲the larch (mélèze) forest . . . the boulders are erratic, some have superb shapes, some have been carved by graniteurs – we even found one that was perfect for a parcours freestyle and a couple that were perfect seats! This is a great spot for a family bouldering outing, about 15mins walk from the car park.
[ 🧗♂️ other places to boulder au Pays du Mont-Blanc: 🧗♂️ Médonnet, 🧗♂️ Col des Montets, 🧗♂️ Coupeau (Les Houches), 🧗♂️ Pierre à Orthaz (disclaimer: make sure that you have the correct equipment, and that you take due care and attention, especially with small children!) ]
La Crèmerie du Glacier
We still had a nother FIVE balises to find, but we were all getting weary and thirsty . . . and so we changed course, and headed across 🌉 the bridge to the 🥤 La Crèmerie du Glacier, a historic buvette in the Moraine d’Argentière . . .
The easiest access to the 🥤 La Crèmerie du Glacier is up the 4×4 road that leads to 🚁 the Hélicoptères de Chamonix from 🅿️ the Grands Montets car park, but we approached from the other side of the torrent, from the woods . . .
a little history – in 1926, Georges Ravanel was carving ❄️ ice from the Glacier d’Argentière, and then transporting it to sell on to hotels and restaurants in the valley. . . he decided to build 🏚 a little hut, which became a place for thirsty and hungry hikers to stop . . . the “little hut” grew and was passed down through the family, the menu was expanded and it began to open in wintertime too, and now it serves an extensive menu: 🥤 lemonade, 🧀 croûtes, 🥧 homemade tartes . . . / website / Google Maps;
address: 766 chemin de la Glacière / tel: +33 (0) 4 50 54 07 52;
Nearby walks and hikes
As well as 🐸 the mare aux têtards, 🌈 the playgroud, 🗺 parcours orientation or 🌲 a stroll in the woods, there are several tougher hikes available from the Moraine d’Argentière, depending on ability of your group;
🏔 Gorge du Glacier – you’ll see a sign post at the 🥤 Crèmerie du Glacier, you walk past the 🚁 Chamonix-Mont-Blanc Hélicoptères . . . and then it is a 20 minute hike . . .
🏔 Croix de Lognan and Argentière glacier panorama (2331m) – an uphill hike of 2h will take you to the ❄️ Glacier d’Argentière, via Lognan ( 🚠 Téléphérique des Grands Montets is unavailable at present; though you can take the 🚡 Télécabine du Plan Joran for now, and hike across – see here ). . . When the 🚠 Téléphérique des Grands Montets does start working again, then it is 1h30 uphill from the arrival station to ❄️ the panoramic views of the glacier. A hundred years ago, the ❄️ Glacier d’Argentière came all the way down to the temple in Argentière (1250m). For several years now, the terminal section of the glacier (at around 1600m) has become separated from the rest of the glacier, which sit at 1900m / alpinists will hike across the glacier to get to the Refuge d’Argentière / snacks and drinks at Refuge de Lognan (check opening hours / address: 25 chemin à Zian);
🏔 La Pierre à Bosson (1670m) – on the other side of the Torrent de Lognan, a trail leads up to the Pierre à Bosson, for views over the Glacier d’Argentière;
🏔 Petit & Grand Balcon Nord – the lower and higher forest options!
Chamonix Mont-Blanc Helicoptères
When Daddy MBFF’s cabinet d’architecture is working on a mountain refuge, the team sometimes heads up the mountain in a 🚁 helicopter from here. I remember heading here with my elder son aged 2, and he was fascinated watching the helicopter taking off and landing. It really is very impressive to watch! / 🚁 Chamonix-Mont-Blanc Hélicoptères, run by Pascal Brun, organises panoramic tourist flights, as well as delivering supplies to refuges (héliportage) / website;
address: 400 chemin de la Glacière, 74400, Argentière;
Where to eat nearby
The nearest spot to eat is the 🥤 Crèmerie du Glacier, but you are also near the centre of Argentière, which has plenty of options . . . here are some suggestions:
- 🥐 boulangeries: Boulangerie Al’Pain (takeaway and sit down café) and La Boulangerie le Fournil Chamoniard (takeaway);
- 🍰 Tête à Thé – a salon de thé in the centre of the village (address: 120 route du village, Argentière);
- 🍏 picnic supplies – Super U;
- 🥗 for lunch or dinner – La Yaute Café, (tapas, fajitas and more), Le Bistrot du Dahu, Le Stone Bar (🍕 pizza, pasta, salades, cake and cookies);
Where to park
The easiest place to park is at the 🅿️ Parking des Grands-Montets, which has lots and lots of space! Alternatively, you could park in town or at the train station.