Montenvers Mer De Glace


The Montenvers is a cogwheel mountain train that reaches the french largest glacier "Mer de Glace".

It takes about twenty minutes to climb the 1,000 metres up to the Montenvers-Mer de Glace attraction. Simply hop on board the famous little red railway train. Time will stand still, and you’ll enjoy this vintage method of transport. The track climbs the mountainside running through the forest, tunnels cut through the rock and over viaducts. You enter the realm of the high mountains, and round the last bend you'll feel the magic : you've arrived at your destination at the foot of the famous Mer de Glace glacier, at an altitude of 1,913m.

The Montenvers rack railway starts from Chamonix and, in 25 minutes and in total safety, climbs to an altitude of 1913 metres where it reaches the bottom of the Mer de Glace (7km long, 200 m thick). This historic site marked the start of Alpine tourism in the 19th century and offers a panoramic view of famous peaks such as Les Drus (3754m) and the Grandes Jorasses (4208m).


  • 5141 m Length of track
  • 152 m Viaduc
  • 11 à 22 % Variation of the incline
  • Glaciorium
  • Crystal Gallery
  • Access to the ice caves (by cable car and 430 steps)


Little story...

1741 : the Englishmen Windham and Pocock are the first to visit the famous “ice-boxes” of the Chamonix Valley, they return alive to describe for the very first time what they named the Mer de Glace.
1805 : Chateaubriand, Alexandre Dumas draw inspiration from it and write eulogistic descriptions : “You are in the Arctic Ocean, beyond Greenland or New Zealand, on a polar sea…”
1880 : the Grand Hotel du Montenvers is open. This is the era when visitors are brought up to the site, at an altitude of 1,913 m, by mule or sedan chair.
1892 : the project to build a railway up to Montenvers is launched. It provokes fierce opposition amongst the people of Chamonix.
1905 : work begins.
1908 : the line opens as far as “Caillet”.
1909 : the steam train reaches its terminus, the Montenvers station, setting a new record of 55 minutes.
1946 : a new tourist attraction sees the light of day; a cave is excavated and laid out at the very heart of the glacier.
1954 : a world first for a rack railway - the line is electrified.
1960 : the gondola down to the Mer de Glace from Montenvers is installed.
1988 : the first gondola is replaced.
1993 : the line is opened in winter for the first time, thanks to the building of avalanche defences that make the line safe.

The biggest glacier in France