When approaching Decathlon's Mountain Store, what strikes you beyond it's shear size (over 10'000m²) is the beauty of the location. Built with natural coloured wood and glass, the height of the building was kept low enough to benefit from the backdrop the Aravis mountain chain provides. That attention to the building's natural surroundings doesn't stop with the beauty of the mountain views; care & thought was given to maintaining (I'd even stretch that to say aiding) the local flore & fauna. The landscaping around the building obviously includes a sizeable parking lot but they have also greened the space and included sitting and picnic areas by the Arve river which is adjacent to the building. Rocking up to the Mountain Store is more reminiscent of approaching a natural park reserve Welcome Center than a commercial shopping mall!
The Mountain Store probably is what I've come across here in Europe that resemble the most to a "flagship" outdoors sport store as you'll find REI or MEC having in North America. The particularity of the Mountain Store is that the location actually houses both the company's design center (actually, the company's design headquarter) and a store specialising in offering mountain sport gear. Why is that interesting for us as clients? The proximity between designers and visitors means there are more opportunities for exchanges and discussions on ideas & needs which will influence design as well as properties of their products (Quechua, Simond and Wed'ze). This isn't just left to chance, as they regularly house exhibitions and workshops to create these exchanges. When we dropped in, they were hosting a Trocothon in their dedicated events space and this Saturday they are holding a roundtable debate on accidents in the mountains.
What about what's in the store?
Like most Decathlon's, a great majority of the products stocked at the Mountain Store are their own brand products though you will come across TSL snowshoes, Salomon trail shoes, Sea to Summit collapsible cup, etc. If you are looking for a particular item from a specific brand, I'd definitely check their website or call them before heading over to the store. However, their own brand products are cost efficient and an especially great option for growing kids that need to renew their gear every season. That's not to say adults should abstain but like anything else, knowing what properties are most important to you in a piece of gear will help you make the decision. I personally have invested in a top-end outer shell not from their brand but have been please by the performance of my insulating layer, one of their Quechua down jacket, and it's lower price tag.
Because the store is dedicated to all things mountain, you'll find hiking, climbing, mountain biking, camping, skiing, snowshoeing gear and more. If you can do it on a mountain, they probably have it! It also means they will stock a generous amount of out-of-season gear as long as it is mountain relevant. At the time of our visit their was still an extensive choice of camping gear even though the first snow was only a week away.
On site you'll also find a climbing block and slack-line, the regional tourist office and two restaurants (self-service or with table-service). It's totally worth grabbing a warm drink or a cold one -- depending on the day you pop in -- and enjoy the nature surrounding on their terrasse...
NOTE: I am in no way affiliate to Decathlon or the Mountain Store. This is an independent review. All pictures copyright of Charlaine Jannerfeldt.