Thursday, February 21, 2013

Skiing at Chamonix and a stop in Geneva, Switzerland

Our second big ski trip of our time in Europe had to be at Chamonix-Mont-Blanc (our first one was last year at Zermatt when we stayed in the igloo). We had been wanting to come to this ski resort for a while now, even talking about it while we were still in the U.S. Like Zermatt, it is consistently in the top 10 lists for ski resorts, not only in Europe but around the world. The town of Chamonix is a true mountain town, surrounded by the towering French Alps, and catering to winter sports enthusiasts. Lying in the shadow of Mont Blanc, the highest of the Alpine peaks, Chamonix is in the Rhone-Alpes region and is in a "corner" of Europe consisting of France, Italy, and Switzerland.

The mountains around the town

View of the mountains while skiing
Some of the town
We flew into Geneva, which is about an hour away from Chamonix. We drove into the center and decided to explore this international city for a few hours. Almost half of Geneva is made up of people from 147 different countries linking together businesses from around the world. Walking down the streets felt like walking on Rodeo Drive or 5th Avenue; Prada, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and the like, dominated the streets, as well as the prevalence of very high-priced watch brands such as Rolex and Cartier.

A pretty church

Looking out onto the park

A small street away from the action

We strolled along Lake Geneva, taking in the sight of the Jet d'Eau Fountain, Geneva's most famous landmark. It is one of the biggest fountains in the world and the largest in Europe. The spray of the fountain reaches about 460 feet and pumps out 132 gallons of water per second!

After Geneva, we drove the hour to Chamonix and checked into our hotel/lodge. We spent three glorious days of skiing in great conditions; it had just snowed the night before we arrived, and the sun was shining clearly in the sky for us to see. Miles of groomed trails and un-groomed fresh powder laid before us and we were presented with a variety of descents for us to choose from.

Jon on the t-bar 

Action shot

Jon on his way down
Through the trees
Each day we made our way to our favorite lunch spot in the middle of the mountain where we could laze in the outdoor loungers, sip our vin chaud and beer, and chow down on some local grub. On one of the days a local band played music while we ate and it could be heard up and down the mountain. Our two main activities of the trip combined into one- skiing and eating!

The mountain top band

Looking out to the mountains
Speaking of eating, we ate at some fantastic restaurants while there. If I could eat foie gras at every meal I would, and every time we're in France I order it like it's going out of style. Combine that with an undying love for cheese fondue and we were all set as far as food went. Each dinner was better than the next and we left each meal satisfied, but wanting more - it was so good!

Cheese fondue
Flaming creme brûlée 
This was our last trip to France while we are living in Europe so it was a little sad when we had to leave. We've returned to France four times in a year and a half and we wish we had time for just one more visit before we leave. The people are very friendly, the scenery is beautiful, and the food is sensational! Chamonix is a ski destination we will be returning to in the future... definitely! We could see ourselves renting a cabin with friends (any takers?), skiing some fantastic runs during the day, drinking delicious French wine, and dipping bread into a never ending pot of cheese fondue. Sounds perfect!

1 comment:

  1. These pics of Chamonix are absolutely gorgeous! As you know I am not a winter lover and I have never been skiing, but after seeing these incredible pics, maybe, just maybe, one day, I might give skiing a try! (no promises, just something to think about!!) The pics of the mountains and you guys skiing look like picture-postcards! I don't think I have ever seen snow look as beautiful as they are in these pictures! The snow looks so white, clean, fresh, and pure! It's amazing! One of my favorite pics here is the one of the trees with the mountains in the background! So beautiful and peaceful! And the cheese fondue looks so delicious and yummy!! (I'm sure the "Melting Pot" wishes it could make fondue as good as the one you ate in Chamonix!) And I have to say, I was a little sad when you said that this would be the last trip to France before you left to go back to the States. But then I know that you and Jon will be get back to Europe again in the near future!