Never trust a Frenchman. Or, at least, a French shuttle transfer driver who promises to take you to Chamonix and then disappears, leaving you and six other people stranded in a Swiss airport. Our flights were delayed, but that didn’t give him any excuse to leave us stranded without any explanation. It was pretty close to a miracle that the one lady knew a guy in Chamonix who was willing to make the one hour drive to Geneva airport to pick us up. At double the normal price though: €50 per person, but at two o’ clock on that Sunday morning I was willing to pay a pretty penny to get my ass to Chamonix as quickly as possible.
That was the not-so-nice part of my holiday. The rest of the holiday was absolutely, breathtakingly, gloriously awesome!! Yes, it was that good. I woke up to the most beautiful view outside our hostel – the snow-capped French Alps:
After a 2 hour private skiing lesson I considered myself to be in sufficient shape to tackle the slopes on my own. Boy, was I in for a surprise! I quickly discovered entirely new ways of falling while having two long planks strapped to your feet. Though I could feel my proficiency increase every day, it was only at the end of the week that I realized that skiing will have to become a yearly ritual for me. Who knew you could have so much fun travelling over snow down a hill at high speed?!
Our first lunch on the mountain was traditional cheese fondue (delicious!):
It was only fitting that dinner the first evening would be in a pizza place, with Brasserie du Mont Blanc Blonde beers to wash it down. We were right next to Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps, after all.
The next morning we were once again off to Le Tour, a ski area on the edge of Chamonix valley. From the gondola lift at Le Tour the view looks something like this:
View from Le Tour gondola lift
On Tuesday we decided to take a little break from falling down, by taking the Montenvers train to the Mer de Glace glacier. After a 20 minute train ride on one of only two remaining rack and pinion railways in France, you reach an altitude of 1913m, the foot of Mer de Glace:
By taking the gondola lift down to the glacier, and a further 350 steps down, you get to an ice cave:
Interestingly enough there is a plaque at the top of the staircase indicating the height of the glacier in 1980. Which means that in the past 30 years since the glacier moved 350 steps down in the vertical direction. Oh, and there are people skiing on top the glacier, off-piste, requiring a tour guide, a climbing harness (to get on top of the glacier) and carrying your own ski equipment up and down those stairs.
After the climb back to the top it was time for some welcoming OBS (specially imported from good ol’ SA) and fun with snow angels:
On Wednesday it was back to the slopes, and we decided to try the piste at Flégère. Lunch was had on top of the mountain, and with a view like this I promise you – a burger and fries have never tasted this good:
That evening we had raclette for dinner – a very tasty dish consisting of melted cheese, cold cuts of meat, potatos, gherkins, pickled onions and tomatoes:
Just so that you don’t think all we did was to try out all the local delicious food, I’ll put up a few videos of my skiing successes and failures in another post. I’ll leave you with a photo taken from the top of the beginner’s slope at Le Tour:
Beginners' piste at Le Tour
I‘ll also put up some more photos on Facebook and link to them here.
UPDATE: I’ve uploaded the photos.