110 years since the inauguration of the Montenvers


This upcoming weekend, the Montenvers railway will celebrate its 110th anniversary.

The little cogwheel train, which reaches up to 1913 m or 6276 ft altitude, has over one century of magical existence.

Montenvers Train to Mer de Glace
The train and hotel of Montenvers, by Sylenius, licensed under CC-BY 3.0, photo source @wikimedia.org

110 years of the Montenvers train

This weekend, the Montenvers will celebrate its 110th anniversary. 

Not the site as such, which has been around for much longer, but the Montenvers train.

The little cogwheel train started operating in 1909 and it was the first custom-built tourist attraction in the Chamonix valley. 

The Montenvers train takes you from Chamonix all the way to the balconies overlooking the Mer de glace.

The trip, which only takes around 20 minutes, takes you through beautiful and unique landscapes, all the way to the gates of the frozen and mineral life of the mountains.

To Mer de glace via mules

The little red train arrived for the first time on the Montenvers terrace in 1909, a trip which took 55 minutes and constituted a record, considering that since then, people who wanted to access the Mer de glace needed to ride on mules via the mule track laid in 1820.

Moreover, by 1885, the site received an impressive number of 12,000 people, led by 380 guides and muleteers, annually, which constituted a strong reason for the railways to be built.

Therefore, the project was launched in 1892 and the construction works began in 1905. There were not few those who voted or spoked against it, especially the Chamoniards, as they did not want to see the use of guides and muleteers disappear, nor did they want to denature the valley.

But the works continued and in 1908 the train reached the place called Caillet.

First track electrified railway

Over the past century, the Montenvers train did not change much. 

In 1955, it became the first rack railway in the world whose line was electrified.

In 1993, avalanche barriers have been built along the line to secure the route and for the first time, the line was open during wintertime.

Le Dauphine

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