Chamonix’s hardcore reputation as “the Alps on steroids” hangs on the spectacular peaks that surround.
But it’s also France, so just because you’re tackling the Vallée Blanche—the classic guided day-long tour that involves some first hairy steps on a fixed rope followed by 22 km of off-piste intermediate/advanced cruising through speech-defying, serac-dappled snowscapes—doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy the creature comforts of good food, wine and soft linens at the end of it all.
The freshly restored Grand Hotel du Montenvers—now the Terminal Neige Montenvers—is offering one of the most romantically rustic nights in the Alps. When the hotel was built 140 years ago, the spectacular Mer de Glace glacier was metres away from the front door. A century of melt has pulled the bathtub plug so drastically that after your day playing on the Vallée Blanche, a 15-minute stair-climb as well as a steep gondola are required just to make it back up out of the hole to 1,900m, where le Terminal and a cog railway await your journey back to Chamonix.
But what’s with the rush back to town? With 20 rooms, suites and dormitories jazzed up in funky graffiti, vintage industrial lighting and retro fabrics, and a choice of dining awaiting, there’s nothing like the Alpine silence that comes with the last train’s departure. hmontenvers.terminal-neige.com