Home to the first winter olympic games, Chamonix lies under the highest point in Europe; Mont Blanc at 15,781 ft. It is also only 15km from both the Swiss and Italy borders.
Chamonix today is not only an important tourist destination, but it is also a strategic transportation link with Italy via the Mont- Blanc tunnel.
Group Meal at Le Caleche Restaurant William was treating us to a traditional cheese fondue served with bread or raclette that is served with meat and potatoes. This was a cheezy meal! The raclette is a half wheel of raclette cheese that is melted under a hot plate and scrapped onto your plate. Someone started a small fire because the plate was to close, and Red Lobster doesn't even let you have a candle anymore! Mom didn't really like this meal because she isn't a big cheese fan, but I thought it was fabulous. Even the starter salad came with cheese and dry sausage. To settle our stomachs we had an apple tart with cinnamon ice cream. Again, the food was amazing.
Hotel Richemond I'm going to be honest and say that this was probably our worst hotel room. I cannot judge anyone else's, and do not criticize the hotel itself. But our room was very old and the beds had zero structure left. I almost fell off the far side of the bed climbing into it. I love charm and antique furniture but I think these mattresses haven't been changed in 20 yrs. It was a little shady but certainly did not affect our enjoyment of Chamonix. Plus, the location of the hotel cannot be beat and breakfast was excellent. Because of this, I wouldn't hesitate to stay here again.
Waiting because this car is stuck here for 20 minutes...
I couldn't wait for our free day in Chamonix. All I wanted to do was get to the top, turn around and enjoy the scenery. Some of us also wanted to do a short hike so we had to get up a little earlier. Mom was definitely not getting up early and wasn't going to do the hike anyway, so she slept in and then ventured up the mountain on her own. She was the only person who took the gondola over to Italy and back. She had a really good day. I was so proud of her to have done it on her own.
The cable car departs the centre of Chamonix and first stops at Plan de l'Aiguille, then you switch and go even higher to Aiguille du Midi. From there you can take a 137 ft elevator ride to the very top platform at 12,602 ft. or you can stay on Aiguille du Midi and get a panoramic view of Italy, Switzerland and France - all at once. Some hikers were even putting on their gear and walking out the side of the mountain. I was little short winded and sometimes scared of the heights...especially in the cable cars. But not as scared as Matt.
What if it gets stuck when I am on it?
Well, we took the gondola back down to Plan de l'Aiguille. We had a quick lunch and got ready for our enjoyable hike across the mountain. We are to reach the Montenvers Mer de Glace in about 2 hours and take the train down. William says it's doable with tennis shoes. "No problem," we thought.
What the heck did we get ourselves into?? We powered across that mountain and made it in 3 hours - some took 4 hours and some missed the train all together. We ran out of water, had no food and were scared to trip and fall off the mountain. I'm not kidding - at some points I didn't think anything but a goat should be walking on the path. We called this our 'Goat Trail Hike'.
But, was it fun? Yes. Were the views beyond this world? Yes. Were we tired? You better believe it! Would I do it again? Without question.
After Alena, April and I made it to the end, we were in need of some fluids. We then caught the train and wondered around town. I was looking for some new sunglasses and April helped me pick them out. Brand names are much cheaper in Europe. Hey - I think this was the first time I got to shop! We also had gelato...it was as good as I remembered. We then window shopped along the beautiful cobblestone streets of Chamonix before heading back to the hotel. Mom saw me walking up and knew that I was sore. Remember that I had foot surgery...well now I can't even get my foot into my sandal. It was so swollen and sore. But I couldn't complain, four people had to climb the rest of the way down in the dark; Ann rolled her ankle and tore something...it was crazy times.
On our last night in Chamonix, a group of us were looking for a nice meal and went right next door to Le Panier des 4 Saisons (saved the feet). I thought it was such a nice restaurant and we dined with Dan and Carolyn for the first time. New conversations, great food and more wine! I had an unforgettably creamy goat-cheese ravioli, followed by the lavishly presented and grilled-to-perfection fillet of beef, and topped off by my first chocolate souffle. I think everyone enjoyed their meal, but we were very tired so after supper, I couldn't wait to go to sleep.
I think there was a landslide, what happened to the trail?
Looks a little dangerous...