Mont Blanc is probably the best-known mountain in the Chamonix valley, but the Mont Blanc massif has many peaks with a dramatic look over the valley. The Aiguille d’Argentière is one of the lesser known peaks at the less-crowded end of the valley offering great trails for active travelers.
About the Aiguille d’Argentière
The Aiguille d’Argentière is a 3902-meters high peak in the Mont Blanc massif near Chamonix. The peak is located near the village of Argentière at the end of the Chamonix valley in the Haute Savoie, France. It was first ascended by Edward Whymper, A. Reilly, M. Croz, M. Payot and H. Charlet on July 15th, 1864. Nowadays, the glacier milieu is regarded as the easiest route to the summit of Aiguille d’Argentière. For this reason it’s a popular ski mountaineering route. Only the last 200 meters to the summit are a bittechnical. Climbs often start from the Grand Montets Hut or the Argentière Hut.
Accommodations around the Aiguille d’Argentière
The valley of Chamonix is one of the hotspots in the French Alps. The Mont Blanc massif is home to several hiking trails, offering splendid views to day hikers and diehards. If you are looking for fine hotel, these are worth checking out:
Boutique Hotel Le Morgane, combines the refinement of a 4-star hotel with the lively air of Chamonix. The style and idea of the Morgane emerge from the customary Alpine inns.
Hôtel de L’Arve lies in a stunning setting amidst Brévent, Mont Blanc and the Aiguilles de Chamonix in the heart of town. Peace and quiet guaranteed as the hotel stands at the end of a cul-de-sac near the Arve River by footpaths for relaxing strolls or more challenging steep hikes up to the mountain peaks.
Hôtel Mont-Blanc is the must address to visit in the valley of Chamonix. Every morning, the hotel offers the pleasure of waking up facing the most beautiful peak, the Mont Blanc. After the exhilaration of the summits, you can dive into the outdoor heated pool all year long. Unless if you prefer to relax in the 250m2 spa by Clarins’. Round off the day with a gourmet break at Matafan, where every dish on the seasonal menu invites you to partake in a moment of sharing and conviviality.
While most people spend their holiday in sometimes over-crowded Chamonix, Argentière some 10 kilometers further is the closest village to the Aiguille d’Argentière. This small village may not have the same reputation as Chamonix, but it still is a popular ski resort in winter and a great base for hikers in the summer season. It is located close to the Swiss border and the cable cars leading to the nearby mountain ranges facilitate access to more difficult trails. There are some nice hotels in Chamonix as well as a campsite with views of Mont Blanc.
The Argentière Refuge is located at an impressive altitude of 2771 meters. It offers views of the full Mont Blanc range, including its highest peak. It accommodates 91 people, and rooms cost 30 euros per night or 65 euros (half board). The refuge is often used for long distance hiking and the skitouring trails between Argentière and Zermatt, also known as the Haute Route. The refuge is open in the summer and from February to May, the latter period offering beds toskitouring visitors.
Albert Premier Refuge
The slightly larger Albert Premier Refuge (140 beds) is situated besides the Le Tour glacier. It is a great goal for a short day hike, or a nice stopover to the glacier or the neighbouring peaks of Aiguille du Tour, Aiguille d’Argentière, Les Drus and the Aiguilles Rouges. The refuge is only manned in the summer season but is open year-round. It is owned by the CAF, the Club Alpin France. Getting to the hut is easy by taking the Charamillon gondola from Le Tour and the Col de Balme chairlift. This helps you gain a lot of altitude in a short amount of time and reduces the hiking time to 1h30minutes. Those who want to go on a longer hike, can follow the trails to Col de Balme underneath the cable car as (strenuous, add 3 hours).
Col de Balme refuge
The Col de Balme refuge (2191m) is a mountain hut located on the border between France and Switzerland. Due to its location on the col, you will be granted views of France as well as Switzerland. Col de Balme is a popular stop for hikers attempting the Tour de Mont Blanc or Walkers Haute Route, and provides refreshments to day hikers as well. Getting there is easy with the aid of the Charamillon gondola and the Col de Balme chairlift (5 minutes) or with a strenuous uphill hike (3 hours).
Hiking around the Aiguille d’Argentière
The Chamonix valley has lured tourists and active travelers ever since Mont Blanc was ascended and the mountaineering sport was born. There are numerous of trails in the region just waiting to be explored. All of them are rewarding and challenging at times, but no matter what, hiking in the Mont Blanc region is an experience to treasure.
Tour de Mont Blanc
The Tour de Mont Blanc is a 10-day trek around the Mont Blanc massif crossing three countries: France, Switzerland and Italy. Since it’s regarded as the most beautiful trek in Europe, the number of hikers can get high during the peak season. While most people start their hike in neighbouring Chamonix, the village of Argentière is an often-used stop.
Walkers Haute Route
The Walkers Haute Route is a contestant for the best hike in the Alps. This two-week trek from Chamonix to Zermatt leads you along the most impressive peaks from the Mont Blanc massif to the notorious Matterhorn along 4000 meter peaks such as Grand Combin, Weisshorn and the Dom. This trail originates from the Haute Route skitouring route and is often done in April. Despite the fact that the official start is in Chamonix, a lot of hikers skip the prelude to Argentière and start their adventure on the latter one.
Aiguilles des Posettes
This short 5.8-kilometer hike has great rewards. From the Tre le Champs carpark, you can follow your way up to “Aiguilette via la crète”. It is rough and strenuous trail gaining 750m of ascent, but there is a real summit as a goal. Besides having reached an alpine summit, the views over the Chamonix valley are breathtaking. On clear days it’s possible to get a panoramic view all the way to the Jungfrau region. You have the option to hike the same way down or use the Vallorcine gondola; however, this option will require a car shuttle.
Grand Balcon Sud
This 13.6-kilometer trail leads you through the Reserve Naturelle des Aiguille Rouges. Despite the strenuous start of the trail, the hike is relatively easy and flat. You will get views over the entire valley and have plenty of opportunities to spot an ibex. To enlarge your chances, head off early in the morning! Descending back to the valley floor can be done by taking the Flegere lift down.
The nearby glacier d’Argentière is an impressive sight. This trail starting from the car park in Argentière is not an easy one as it leads all the way up to the glacier, locating a little over 2700 meters. The route starts by following the trail to Refuge de Lognan, where refreshments are available. If the hike is a bit too challenging, there are plenty of viewpoints more easily reachable as well that offer spectactular views of the seracs of the glacier.
Petit Balcon Nord
This hiking trail beneath Chamonix and Le Tour is situated some 200 meters above the valley floor. However, the lack ofelevation differences along the way make it a trail doable for everyone. Bus services in between Chamonix, Argentière and Le Tour make it easy to return to the starting point. Most of the trail leads to the forested flanks of the Aiguille rouges.
The other side of the valley offers splendid views of Aguille du Midi and Mont Blanc. The hike to Lac Noir (2540m) is not an easy one, but has great rewards. From Col Cornu, you head towards Col de Gliere via a marked path. To complete the trail, it requires about 2h30minutes from PlanPraz. The lake is a beautiful but not crowded picnic setting since it’s often partially covered in snow and ice.
Things to do around the Aiguille d’Argentière
The Chamonix valley is a hotspot for thrillseeking adventurers. Challenging peaks are the playground for experienced mountaineers while the air streams offer great conditions for paragliders. Active travelers will feel at home here, but for those looking for an effortless day in the valley, there are a few options. The Aguille du Midi in Chamonix has a cable car leading all the way to its 3842-meters high summit. It offers not only great views of Mont Blanc, but it also has a museum as well about the history of the Aguille and its tall neighbor. The small train to Montenenvers is a great alternative. It leads from the Chamonix station to Montenvers, at the base of the Mer de Glace glacier.
Hiking with kids near Aiguille d’Argentière
Hiking with children near the Aiguille d’Argentière or in the French Alps may seem difficult due to the altitude differences, however there quite a few trails suitable for families. Fortunately, cable cars will help you gain most of the elevation without much effort. For this reason, the Lac Bleu hike is well worth mentioning, since it only requires 15 minutes to reach from the cable car station. Whether you want to add more kilometers / hiking hours is up to you.
Lac Blanc is a 2-hour easy hike from the Flegere lift station. The nearby Lac Blanc hut offers facilities and refreshments well earned. Another option is the the hike along the Petit Balcon Sud, a relatively flat trail high above the valley floor.