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Frozen Series – 6. Chamonix

I know this would have been more interesting if I’d talk about skiing but we weren’t ski-ready when we went here and we were only on a day trip from Geneva. But I must say, I didn’t know I would say this about France, but next to Geneva, this is quite a budget destination. And a waaaay more fun at that.

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Lunching on top of Europe at the Brevent platform with an almost 360° view of the alps. I didn’t even have to filter this photo. The avalanche of blue and white powdery ice forms quite a scenery.

While going around complaining about how unjustly expensive everything is in Geneva, my girlfriend and I figured that maybe escaping it would be a lot more fun. And it is. Just an hour of bus ride from Geneva is the ski village of Chamonix, the valley foot of the tallest peak in Europe, the Mont Blanc. And the first coffee we had, we really enjoyed it because aside from being thawed to normal body temperature we’re back to typical western Europe price range.

There is, of course, no better way to enjoy the city than ski; we spent half a day deciding whether to ski or not because we are both noobs until we ran out of time. So like weird tourists making our way through the crowds clad in full ski gear, we stuck out like sore thumbs. But who cares, we’re here for the view.

So there’s a lot of ski terrains with different levels of difficulty. You can find more details about them here. But even if you don’t ski, you can enjoy access to these places with platforms and panoramic views that would make you feel like you’re on top of the world. And indeed you are, at least of the European part of it.

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The Mer de Glace glaciers, aptly named because it looked like a sea of ice. The view was taken aboard the historic train.

We bought the 67€ Chamonix ski pass which gives you unlimited access to all the lifts and ski tracks in the village. It may look a bit expensive but considering the cost of round trip tickets to some of the areas, it is well worth the price. You’ll probably need just a back-and-forth and a half to break even. Here’s where the pass and around 8 hours took us:

Brevent: This ski area is probably our favorite simply because of the view. It comes in two levels; one at around 2km and another at 2.5km. At these heights, you can already have a view of the vast expanse of the alps, the Chamonix valley and the shimmering peak of Mont Blanc. There are also restaurants on the viewing platforms.

Aiguille du Midi: This tower is the closest you can get to Mont Blanc. Right at 3.8km, it does feel like you’re flying. Or having vertigo. In this peak, there’s a mini-museum and all touristic pleasantries like a glass chamber hanging out of the cliff which gives you the thrill of floating above the mountains. It’s quite a romantic spot actually but you can only stay there for like 10 seconds because of the queue.

Mer de Glace: We really had to squeeze this one in to cap our day trip. This glacier is quite stunning and to get there, one has to ride the historic train which is always a treat. The train tracks also run along the mountainside and the wagons have extra-wide windows. And with the winter-wonderland backdrop, it seems like you are watching a moving canvas. We did not have time to explore the glacier area but I heard that the ice caves nearby are also worth a visit.

And that was our daytrip to Chamonix from Geneva which is probably one of the best travel decisions we made. Next time, we really have to muster the courage to grab onto one of those ski gears but it’s better, of course, to devote a few days for that. In any case, there are still plenty of ways to enjoy the mountains even for the less athletic.

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