My first trip to Chamonix Mont-Blanc was in October. I had the chance to see a different face of the area, where people could easily walk on the streets and the mountain full of colorful flowers instead of snow. I liked this mode a lot because I am not really good with cold.
Located close to the intersection point of France, Italy and Switzerland, Chamonix Mont-Blanc is located at the foot of the Mont Blanc mountain, and in the Rhône-Alpes region of France. The name of the town is mentioned as Chamonix only in the daily speech, which I will use in the rest of the article.
With a height of 1,035 meters and a population of 8,906, this small and very lively town is a worldwide center for mountain sports. You can’t go skiing in October, but people from all over the world come here for climbing and hiking, enjoying the mountains and the wonderful fresh air. It is in Chamonix that I learn there is a sport called Alpinism which includes rock, snow and even glacier climbing in four different categories. I am advised a hiking route with low level of difficulty and get my share of Alpinism.
After the walk, we come to the center where also our hotel is located. Since Chamonix is an international mountain sports center, there are small shops of all sports brands you can think of. In addition to these sports shops, there are cafes, restaurants and bars in the center. Since we’re hungry, we’re starting to look for a nice place to have lunch. We decide on a restaurant where we can taste local delicacies. We are very lucky because the weather is sunny and we can sit outside with a lovely mountain view. We order “Raclette” which is the famous flavor of the region. The cheese wheel comes with a heater so we can scrape the melted cheese and eat it with potatoes, delicatessen and pickles. After enough time of enjoying ourselves like cats in the sun, we walk around the center on foot. We try Mont-Blanc ice cream in a cute ice cream shop. There are pieces of meringue and chestnut in the delicious milk ice cream like the dessert with the same name.
We go to our hotel to get some rest. The place we chose to stay is a small mountain hotel called Le Whymper. Immaculate, plain and attentive; would love to stay there again if I visit Chamonix again. The lounge with fireplace in the common area of the hotel is very pleasant. There is also a small terrace and a hot-water jacuzzi which they fill and open in the afternoons.
In the evening we go out; the streets are very lively again. We have a drink in a delightful bar and go to the restaurant where we have made dinner reservations. Le Chaudron, a French word meaning cauldron is a tiny local restaurant. You can watch your food getting prepared in the open kitchen. We enjoy a delicious meal consisting of local food and wine, including snails.
Early on the second day, we go to the cable car to go up to the famous Mont-Blanc – meaning “white mountain”. Mont-Blanc is the highest mountain in Europe with a height of 4,792 meters, decorated with an ice cap that does not melt even in summer and reaches a thickness of 28 meters. It was good to go early in the morning because we were able to get our ticket without waiting in a queue.
The cable car consists of a cabin in the photo. The doors open at the departure time and as many people as the cabin can take get in a very cramped way. The price of a two ways ride is not cheap at all; 63 euros per person. But they made it so beautiful that it is definitely worth it. I recommend you to spend 2-3 hours because there is so much to see above! First of all, we make a very steep climb with the cable car and watch the wonderful view.
After climbing for a while, the cable car stops and we get out. This is the intermediate station; we go out to the terrace to witness the greatness of nature closely. In addition to being the highest mountain in Europe, Mont-Blanc is unfortunately the deadliest at the same time. I wondered why and here is what I got: Although there are mountains which are much harder to climb, more people lose their lives at Mont-Blanc because firstly due to the fact that Mont-Blanc is thought to be a long mountain hike and does not require special training or equipment. Secondly people find themselves on the hill with a cable car that easily takes them to the top of the mountain and then try to walk where accidents happen. There is an exhibition where we see photographic descriptions of the different climbing techniques and the equipment used.
Here we go again! In the second stage, the steepness increases and the ropeway is now climbing almost a ninety degree slope to the top. Mont-Blanc has a magnificent beauty but at the same time the wildness looks scary. We reach the “Aiguille du Midi” which is at an altitude of 3,842 meters. When I walk up to the terrace here, I’m stuck where I am at first, because the wind and hum are incredibly loud. Then I go slowly to the railings to watch the enchanting and mighty Mont-Blanc. I can’t breathe from the cold and the scenery I’ve seen!
Then we go back inside and go through the tunnels entering the cabin which is made entirely of glass. Before you step in here, special slippers are worn to avoid scratching the glass floor. I once look down with the corner of my eye and pose without giving a second look. A painter sitting in the corner catches my attention. As we walk through the corridors carved into the mountain, we watch a wonderful video that tells the story of Mont-Blanc. The difficulty of building the ropeway can even be understood from the giant screws that knock on the mountain to carry the ropeway!
We unwillingly return to the cable car to go back down. This time we descend slowly, enjoying the view from above. The station for breaks positioned on the mountain looks amazing!
We feel our hunger with the effect of wonderful mountain air. We go directly to Cool Cats, the place I discovered when going around yesterday with its alternative hot dogs and delightful tables outside. We enjoy a delicious lunch while enjoying the sun. We close the day by eating the famous Mont-Blanc cake of the region at Josephine Cafe.
I leave Chamonix Mont-Blanc as a very happy traveler; being thankful for its wonderful mountain air, colorful nature, lively streets, exquisite food and of course the fascinating mountain climbing.