By: Madeline Weinfield
It’s almost worth it to inconvenience yourself enough to make sure you arrive at Hôtel Les Grands Montets in the dead of night, just so your first glimpse of majestic Mont Blanc is in the first light of dawn. Situated snuggly in the village of Argentiere in the luxuriously rugged Chamonix Valley, Hôtel Les Grands Montets is a uniquely modern, classic French chalet in which to take in the glory that is this world-renowned playground of outdoor adventure. Made for winter and the ski pilgrims who flock here with the first snow, it is also an ideal point in which to base yourself in the summer when the valley is alive with cow bells and wild flowers and (almost) all the mountain passes are clear enough to pass.
Opened nearly twenty years ago by a family who fell in love with the Chamonix Valley—and it’s hard not to fall in love— Hôtel Les Grands Montets has a welcome, lived-in feeling that makes it an ideal home base for those looking to get lost for a few days in the Alps. Based in the upper region of the Valley, the hotel’s proximity to the Grands Montets ski area and easy distance from the heart of Chamonix is ideal for travelers looking for a truly authentic Alpine experience away from the glitz of the Chamonix’s center. With a terrace overlooking the Alps and plentiful seating around an enormous fireplace, it’s quiet, intimate, and inviting. Here you are truly in the mountains, with awe-inspiring views, a wide-open sky, and almost complete silence.
The rooms are designed in simple chalet style but swerve toward the luxurious with the addition of supple leather chairs, faux-fur throws, and of course, an array of l’Occitane products in the bathroom. Unpretentious and thoroughly comfortable, these rooms are designed to welcome you back after a long day in the mountains. Ask for a room with a balcony or terrace directly looking out on Mont Blanc and make taking in the incredibly pure mountain air in your bathrobe—even in the cold of the morning and evening—the main event.
An indoor pool is open all year long, and it’s hard to resist swimming with the snow piled outside the windows if you’re there in the winter. The spa offers massages, a sauna, and a steam room for those coming back with sore muscles after hiking or just looking to relax. End each day with a cocktail from the well-stocked bar enjoyed around the fireplace or from the warmth of the outdoor hot tub overlooking Mont Blanc.
Life Beyond the Hôtel
Just outside the hotel’s door in Argentiere you would be mistaken to not eat at La Crèmerie du Glacier, a mountain grotto famed beyond the valley for its fondue. Eating in the woods surrounded by the mountains is glorious, but at night it’s magical. Call in advance.
A regional train will bring you from Argentiere to the center of Chamonix as well as to the legendary Tour du Mont Blanc trail head (and many, many others).
Chamonix has put itself on the map as one of the greatest and most glittering resort towns of the world since its first winter season in 1906-07. The streets are lined with an appealing mix of high shopping and active wear—if you need a new ski pole and a Moncler jacket you’ll find it here.
How Do I Get There?
The wonder that is public transportation in Europe makes traveling from the bustle of Paris to deep in the Alps as simple as buying a ticket and settling in for 5-6 hours, preferably with a glass of wine and a book. Board the train at Paris’ Gare du Nord and ride through stretches of gorgeous French countryside as you climb further into the mountains arriving at Chamonix-Mont Blanc. From Chamonix catch the regional train (outfitted with glass walls and ceilings for Alpine viewing) to the village of Argentiere, just 8 km away. Hôtel Les Grands Montets is walking distance from the station.
About the author: Madeline Weinfield is the community editor of The Culture-ist. Follow her adventures on Instagram @madolionw.