Four weeks in Chamonix and I’ve survived belly-flopping face-down into the snow (unwitnessed – small mercy), breaking a pair of skis (apparently pretty hard to do at my ‘level’), four hour-long hikes and learning to cook. Those are some of the lows (not really).
The highs are a no-brainer. The daily intake of scenery is nothing short of spectacular. From snow-drenched forests and lake-side views clearer than glass, to breath-taking glaciers heaped in ice-like lava and heavenly amounts of cheese and wine (raclette, fondue, fondue, raclette), this is a place to spend a while.
Below are a few snaps of the pretty little town that goes by the name of Chamonix. A town which is bigger than I’d imagined, where St Bernard dogs drink out of fountains and vin chaud is consumed like water. I can see why the Romantics came here to feel better.
1. Chamonix Centre
The quaint little valley town is flanked by the Alps, billowing and calm all to once.
A stretch of the main shopping street which typifies Chamonix rural-chic. As one of the more prestigious ski resorts, it’s no surprise it’s on the pricier end of the scale…
The ultimate Christmas location… Chamonix by night.
La Calèche, a well-known restaurant in Chamonix centre, is one of three excellent restaurants owned by a local entrepreneur. Lined with wood and pictures a-plenty, it’s a super cosy place to while away an evening.
2. The Sky Line
The views from Brevent, one of the most popular skiing areas in the valley.
First day back on the slopes after ‘the accident’.
Trees, trees and more trees, this is the perfect place for nature-lovers and tree huggers.
3. The Glacier
The view of Glacier des Bossons and its icy, pale turquoise covering. Not a bad way to start your day.
The view of Chamonix from above, nestled between the Alps.
4. Para-Gliding and Rock-Climbing
Hiking down the mountain after my ‘accident’, I stumbled across these para-gliders setting sail across the pistes. Although things could only get better after ‘Incident Whiplash’, this was definitely the high-point of the day.
Rock-climbing in Gaillands between Chamonix Centre and Les Houches. Cold on the hands but super fun.
5. The River
The River L’Avre runs the length of Chamonix. Not a bad view from home and lovely to wake up to the rushing sounds of nature.
6. The Lake
The stunning Lake Gaillands with its mirror-like reflection of the mountains is hard to beat for wow factor.
7. The Forest
The Gaillands Forest nestles behind the lake and is a beautiful place for a run.
8. Hiking A-Plenty
Innocuous this may look, but this was the scene of a four hour hike that may have involved more than a literal stumbling block… The moral of the tale… don’t forget to use your poles properly… and be prepared to feel unfit even if you count yourself ‘sporty’ (I blame the altitude…)
Interesting fact – hiking is, apparently, a wonderful form of couples’ therapy (presumably the making up part makes up for the arguments which ensue on the way up)!
A little friend I found on the easier hike near Les Bossons. Surrounded by snow-covered trees, this really is Christmas Heaven. Like something from Narnia, I half expected elf-like animals to hop out from the undergrowth. Scenery like this is the perfect distraction from exercise!
9. The Slopes
In the bubble on the way up Brevent to the safety of the blues slopes. Never trust a man who tells you to go on a black run on day one… Bad idea…
One of the chair lifts on Brevent where blue slopes abound – perfect for experts in clumsiness such as myself.
The skis I managed not to break…
And last but not least….
10. Apres Ski O’Clock
Tick tock tick tock – vin chaud o’clock. Whatever the hour, with bars a-plenty slope-side, elevensies and afternoon ‘tea’ abound!
Some delicious treats from a local bakery… A dangerous place to pass with an empty stomach…