I know... this page is about Montenvers and you're expecting a photo of the little red train or the glacier. I figured you've seen enough of those so here is a photo of what skiers first see of Montenvers.
For those adventuring down the Vallee Blanche, you will end up here. This is the end of the run for the Mer de Glace Glacier and from here skiers head to the station for the rack and pinion train back to Chamonix. Don't worry about the fare - it's included as part of the ski pass.
From around after lunch, there'll be a queue for the train returning to Chamonix as it fills with returning skiers.
Montenvers marks the end of the skiable 7 km Mer de Glace glacier and you can see in the photos it becomes a moraine field. Skiers have to take their skis off to negotiate their way around the rocks and ice to head towards the steel stair case, to a small 4 person telecabine, which then goes up to meet the train.
There are 398 steps to negotiate, so be sure to bring your cat tracks to not wear out your ski boot soles.
So, is it worth the visit?
Yes there is the fauna museum... and there is the crystal museum...and if you're looking for something to do with the kids, this is probably a good outing.
For old hands like us who've seen a lot of the world, there's got to be a little more to get us interested.
I thought the ice caves or ice grottos were a reasonably good attraction and it gave a focal point to "doing something" at the destination and a reason to climb the 398 stairs. See in the photo, the different holes for where the tunnels or entrances to the ice caves used to be. As the glacier moves, new tunnels have to be drilled.
This, though got my attention.
This is mother nature in action and you can see the erosion of the walls of the mountain range as the glacier's ground its way down the Alps. Clearly this is a result of thousands of years of the Mer de Glace scraping away as it heads downhill. The sides of the mountain are no longer gently sloping - they fall away sharply and vertically.
...and look here at the deep crevasse. This is what the skiing is like down the Valle Blanche then onto the Mer de Glace. It's so thick, 200 metres thick, we're told, that as it grinds its way over the uneven subterranean floor it cracks and heaves, creating enormous cracks like this.
This is the power of nature, certainly a force to be respected. The terrific thing about this visit, is you get to see this up close without needing to be a mountaineer. See the steel staircase - that's just part of the steep stairs to the entrance of the caves and you can inspect the amazing glacier
The large hotel which serves local Savoie cuisine isn't open over winter but the food at the coffee shop at the railway station is passable.
The train ride up is charming and I always appreciate mountain views.
All in all, I thought the afternoon worthwhile.