Chamonix – In the cradle of French Alps

IMG_6428If the heart asks me where I would want to be again, in a flutter I would answer – Chamonix. The vistas overlooking the Mt Blanc would release the floodgates of artistic excellence of even a pedestrian poet. Such is the grandeur of the Alps that as they traverse through the lengths of Austria and Switzerland and make their way into France, they seem to have run through their crests and troughs, but, just as the proverbial candle flame, they seem to have reserved their best for the last – in the hearts of Chamonix.

We arrived in Geneva on a cool summer’s day in June from Lucerne, having spent a week being enchanted by the spectacular backdrops of the Swiss Alps from the mighty Pilatus to the Jungfraü. What else could the French Alps possibly offer, we wondered.

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Chamonix Village

Chamonix is a lovely ski resort cum village situated in the southern part of France, not very far from Switzerland. For the ones looking for options to transfer to Chamonix from Geneva, there are several. One could rent a car, opt for privately owned buses or traverse through serpentine tracks via train. After much negotiations, we ended up taking the series of trains assuming it to be the most friendly on our pockets.

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Mt Blanc express

Non-existent railway stations, windy waits and delayed trains did not deter our resolve to be in Chamonix that day. At the end of it all, we had actually spent more time and money than we would have, had we taken a car. Memories, however, are built as a consequence of the unplanned. Train connections were not easy and we had to change at least three trains, although I could not complain about the breathtaking scenes from the train. We reached the village well into the day and made our way to the ticket counter for the cable cars to take us to the summit of Mt Blanc. We decided to purchase tickets despite warnings of clouds at the summit which would render the view at the top to be useless.

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Blankets of snow
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The Aiguille du Midi stands tall
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Not easy!

 

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Mt Blanc

The Aiguille du midi cable car prides itself in being the longest one without the support of any pillars, for a length of 3 kilometers. Evidently, if one can get the best location in the cable car, one can view the mountains in their entirety, which is exactly what we managed to get on the cloudy afternoon. As we continued to ascend, as luck would have it, the clouds slowly but surely began to disappear and the bright sun began to shine and shine it did as its majestic rays reflected off the pristine white snow and then I witnessed it – the most exquisite slice of nature in front of me. The panorama of the vast expanse of  snow-capped mountain peaks would be gravely insulted if I were to describe them in words. If Jungfraü was sheer beauty, Mt Blanc was pure magic – magic woven with blankets of snow arching to cover the rocky mountains. And then high up there it showed itself – the Aiguille du Midi to catch glimpses of whose tip I had to fight the piercing sun rays. We also saw quite a few mountain climbers making their way to the top. I even couldn’t help sharing my enthusiasm with a climber who had just made it to the top sharing a hi-fi with her.

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Cable cars making their descent…I certainly didn’t want to descend!

We conclude our time at the peak by visiting the charming souvenir store at the top and descend. The last leg of this trip was a short train ride to the “Mer de Glace” or the sea of ice. A good half an hour of descent took us to the glacier. the glacier is basically an exhibit in different lighting conditions. It was nice to walk through a glacier which approximately took us not more than 15 minutes. Slowly we made our way up and finally took our series of trains back to Geneva. Though the trains were tedious, it made for a fantastic experience and the best part was having some portions of the trip where we had the whole coach for ourselves. Thus concluded our delightful day in Chamonix in the cradle of the French Alps. If there is anything I regret, it is not allocating two days for my time in Chamonix which would have given me the chance to go through the famed tunnel all the way to Italy.

 

 

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