WHOO it has been a hot minute since I’ve updated here! Where has the summer gone, people? How are we POSSIBLY already in August?! Time flies when you get occupied I suppose–and occupied I have been, as for a bit over a month I picked up work at a local French restaurant (go figure) and was basically going from gym-home-shower-lunch-work-bed every day for a while. However, that restaurant has recently closed (luckily I was able to jump onto the rise of a new tex-mex joint in town and should be starting there sometime next week!) so I’ve got some momentary down time.
To business, then! This post is the first (presumably of two) about my very last vacation in France, in which I was determined to hit up what several people had described to me as one of the most gorgeous places in France, the skier’s/outdoor enthusiast’s haven–Chamonix.
Chamonix is a teeny little (admittedly touristy) town nestled up in the Alps at the foot of France’s tallest mountain, Mont Blanc, that runs along a valley connecting with a couple of other equally small skiing towns. The skiing here is renowned as some of the best in the world, and in the summer nature lovers can revel in hikes, camping, and many other activities. I happened to hit in the late spring, which meant that while the snow was not totally gone, skiing was limited to the higher, more complex passes that I am not capable of handling. It also meant, however, that snow was still blocking some of the higher-altitude hiking passes I was hoping to get to (no Lac Blanc for me ) and so perhaps I didn’t hit at the BEST time. However, there was still plenty to do!
Walking around town alone was just delightful–everything is fairly quaint and picturesque, and although I could never afford to shop (or heck, even restaurant-sample!) in most of the places there, I was just DROOLING over window after window of outdoor and athletic gear. Which such a focus on being active, outside, and appreciating nature, I felt right at home! I stayed at Chalet Inora, which was reasonably priced, provided breakfast, and was an easy 20-30 minute walk along the river from the train station where I arrived. (Not to mention the staff was super friendly and had a house doggy on hand for me to fuss over.)
As with my trip to Foix, my main goal on this trip was to get in some key nature time and see some gorgeous sights. I had briefly hoped to ski, but figured out that wasn’t going to happen early on. So I re-oriented my goals, and decided that I wanted to just do some hiking around and also go up the Aiguille du Midi and see the Mer de Glace–the latter two will be the subject of another post, because they are going to be picture heavy.
As for my hikes, I asked the girl running my hostel about some good places to check out that wouldn’t be snowed in still. As a competitive trail runner, she had the lowdown, and sent me on two different treks on either side of the valley–one that led to a charming waterfall, and another that led up to the charming Chalet La Floria, a little chalet hikers and backpackers can stay in as they traverse the valley. (I believe it was empty at the time of my passing through.)
The first hike to the waterfall sort of ran backwards from my accommodations towards Mont Blanc at a lower altitude. It was by and large a forested walk, with certain snippets of trail covered in a bit of snow and debris from winter damage, but nothing that I couldn’t pop over within a few minutes. It was relaxing and not overly-taxing. The waterfall at the end led to a bit of a small river canyon with crystal-clear waters and a few children playing about–had I been a kid, I would have ADORED camping there.
However, I have to say I preferred the hike up to Chalet La Floria, because the views were from the opposite side of the valley. That is to say, instead of hiking around the bottoms of the gorgeous mountains, I was looking at them the entire way. It also just so happened to be sunny and beautiful that day, which always helps! The Chalet itself is a cute bright yellow little house and was unoccupied at the time of my passing…I think? In any case, although I wanted to continue and connect to other trails that would have led me into the other towns of the valley, some tired legs decided I would go down to the river and walk back along it to my place of residence, which proved to be a beautiful, peaceful stroll. It’s just such a gorgeous valley, I really can’t express it in words or even my photos. It’s somewhere I would definitely go back to visit both in winter and summer, despite my usual desire to go new places!
As a matter of fact…I rather do think I shall try to go back someday. I want to visit Lac Blanc, go hiking (or perhaps paragliding above the mountains!) and, if I ever have enough money (because I checked and it is DEFINITELY pricey) someday I would love love LOVE to summit Mont Blanc itself. Imagine the selfies I could take up there, team! 😀
Stay tuned for Chamonix, Part two: The Picture Overload.