L’Aiguille du Midi
When I booked my hostel, one of the things I noticed that it advertised was its close location to L’Aiguille du Midi (The Needle of Mid-day). After some research I found out it is a summit/museum/lookout point right across from Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Europe. One of roommates at the hostel had went there the previous day and she told me I had to go, especially because it was going to be sunny that day and the weather was going to get worse later on.
I decided to go in the morning after I had breakfast, and arrived around 10:30. Much to my delight, I found out that the trip up to the mountain was included in my ski pass package, so I did not have to pay the 60 euros it normally costs. To reach the top of the mountain, I had to take two gondolas. The first gondola ride was the longer of the two and the most fun because the view going up was incredible and it rocked a little bit each time it went over the cable catchers (the little wheels attached to the support poles) for a few seconds. That might sound scary to some, but if you like theme park rides and airplane turbulence, it’s a little thrilling like that.
Before going on the second gondola, I spent 10 minutes at the first lookout. The cold didn’t bother me that much, but the altitude made my heart beat faster! Before I left, I had to sit down and have a little snack in the café because the altitude also made me tired from walking around. There was also a museum with facts about the mountain, climbing equipment, and how altitude affects the body. The view from the highest point I had access to was breathtaking, litterally and figuratively. What I also found impressive was the group of skiers who were going with guides to ski hors-piste down the mountain! Imagine how much courage and skill it takes to pursue the dangerous and challenging descent…
La Mer de Glace
By the time I got down to the city center at the main bus stop it was around 2:00 PM. I figured it was too late in the day to go skiing because I would have had to go back to the hostel and get my skis, then take the bus back to a ski station, then take a gondola up to the trails, and by the time I would have gotten there I would have only had at most an hour to ski. So, I decided to take my roommate’s other recommendation and go to the glacier La Mer de Glace (The Sea of Ice).
Luckily, this was included with my ski pass as well! To get to the glacier, I had to take a cute little red train. Before taking pictures of the glacier, I decided to see La Grotte de Glace (The Ice Cave) before it was too late in the day. To get to the cave I had to take a gondola down, then take a lot of stairs.
The cave was small, but impressive. Apparently it is different every year because it has to be re-sculpted. At the end of the cave their were sculptures of a fireplace, a desk, and couch you could interact with. I spent about five minutes there, then I had to endure climbing back up the 400 something steps back to the top. After that I saw a small exposition about gemstones, then took some pictures of the glacier.
Before heading back to the hostel I walked around the city some more and bought some snacks for later. That night there was a concert at the hostel by a French rock and blues band. I was tired, so I did not stay there for the whole thing. I was also supposed to leave the next day to go to Lyon for a day before heading back home. When my roommate got back from the concert she asked what I was going to do tomorrow and I told her I was leaving. She said that I should stay longer because it takes at least three days to know a place and skiing would be more fun than walking around a city. I had already reserved a train ticket and a hostel for the next day, but I was kind of sad I only got to go skiing for half of one day. She said the weather wasn’t going to be as nice the next few days, but it was still possible to ski. Even though I would be spending more money, I decided to stay in Chamonix for two more days because I didn’t know when the next time I would have the chance to go skiing in the Alps.
Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think and I hope you come back to read about my adventures skiing in the rain and fog!
À toute à l’heure,