Europe,  France,  TDM,  Travel Journal

Chamonix – Mont Blanc (France): a summer at the foot of the Mont-Blanc

Since I learned that my red blood cells were at their best after 3 months in altitude in Bolivia and Peru, I decided to live in the mountains at least once a year. And since JB wants to try climbing Mont Blanc again, we decided to spend two weeks in Chamonix Mont-Blanc. JB will make the ascent with his friend Etienne, his brother Vincent and his cousin Diane (stories of their exploits here, here and here), I will stay at the “base camp”.

Paris => ChamonixThe

train trip is long with 2 changes. Everybody is in charge of hiking and mountain stuff. But at the end, the landscapes are superb.

The village of Chamonix Mont-BlancWe

stay in a F3, managed by an agency offering seasonal rentals. Here, everything is rented by the week, so we decide to stay 2 full weeks (800€/week), while the others stay with us only 10 days.

As soon as I arrived in Chamonix Mont-Blanc, I was impressed by the number of people dressed as backpackers. Hmm, it’s rather the other way around: backpackers are dressed as if they were hiking 😀 Everyone is hyper sporty, hyper well equipped. Here, impossible to find a Zara store, on the other hand, we see “rare” stores like Icebreaker, Patagonia, Columbia…

It does me a lot of good because apart from Au Vieux Campeur, Decathlon and Intersport, I don’t know many stores selling clothes compatible with the round-the-world tour, and strolling in the stores of Chamonix (I only have that to do anyway), makes me realize that there are a lot of clothes that can be worn everyday (without hiking), whose material is compatible with frequent travelers. It suits me very well, especially since I’m now a digital nomad and don’t want my backpacker look anymore.

It’s when JB and I are chatting in front of a merino wool sweater at Icebreaker that we tell ourselves that it’s time to leave here, it’s too tempting 😀

Coming to Chamonix for shopping is also the case for whole families from the Middle East. But for them, they go straight to the luxury boutiques. Since Chamonix is a popular destination for them at home, and they aren’t too keen on hiking, they spend the day shopping instead. That was the case with the Japanese… they used to come en masse, and then they started to get equipped, to hike and now we meet them in the mountain huts. But the Japanese remain very vigilant with regard to the sun. If the European hikers sometimes do not use sun cream, the Japanese cover themselves from head to toe, especially in the high mountains.

A lot of people come here to hike, but also… to try the ascent of the Mont-Blanc. Unfortunately, the success rate is 50%, largely due to the weather. Moreover, out of the two attempts (in 2014 and 2018), JB was not able to attempt this mythical summit both times because of the weather.

The Payot refugeI

think we can easily spend an hour there. It’s the ideal place to buy delicatessen, cheese… and gifts for relatives. I discovered for example the sausage saw and even the sausage guillotine.


are expensive here, the average price is around 20€/dish.

But thanks to its proximity to Italy, there are real Italian restaurants in the area. It’s homemade and it’s delicious, like at Pizzeria des Moulins, La Pasta

For real raclette and fondue, run to La Calèche. The decoration is really nice, chalet atmosphere

For a drink with friends, La Terrasse is a place I recommend. I go there especially for breakfast. Sip my hot chocolate while watching the Mont Blanc and a huge ice cream parlour, what a delight!

Entre ciel et terreMy

greatest discovery in Chamonix is this beauty salon Entre ciel et Terre run by Valérie Jacquet. Her treatments link aesthetics to energetics. So during the two weeks in Chamonix, I was able to test her Kobido facial treatment (work on facial muscles & fluidify the energetic circulation), acupuncture, aromatherapy. She also travels a lot and brings back the best products and learns the best care techniques in the world.

Every time I leave his office, I’m “glowy” inside and out. In addition, the fresh mountain air is very good for me, and I’ve started reading again, and continue to work on myself. The trip around the world had therapeutic effects on me, which was very unhappy. And now I’m trying to be even more fulfilled, but by sharing the good things, at my own level, via my blog, or through the slightest interaction with people.

On this blog, there are 2-3 articles with negative connotations: I wasn’t well, or the city didn’t inspire me, so the tone of the article was negative. These are the only articles where I received very negative comments, even insults. I think negativity calls for negativity. Of course, I’m not going to change the content of these articles to please everyone. But I understand, when someone wants to visit a city, he probably saved a lot of money for it, and then he comes across my article criticizing that city, which invalidates his choice. I also sometimes seek validation from others, from complete strangers. It isn’t uncommon for me to decide to buy a product based on reviews. Then once the product is bought, I continue to read the reviews to confirm my choice: I bought it at the right price, ah yes he liked the same product etc.. I still have to work on my ego, the road is still long, but not impossible.

My 20 minutes hikeBecause

I’m not good at sports, I still took the chairlift (18€ round trip) to get to the top of the vertical kilometer and walk a bit. JB and his friends climbed it on foot the first days, it’s not called “vertical kilometer” for nothing.

This is where paragliders (for a flight between 15 and 25 minutes) in tandem leave from. The view is really worth it.

A gondola lift later (14,5€ round trip), we arrive at 2500m at the top of the Brévent. The view is breathtaking. We see a lot of waterfalls, we see very very well the top of the Mont Blanc (a little rounded) and some hiking trails, which traces a zigzag on the side of the mountain.

There is a restaurant terrace, supported by 3-4 metal things, overlooking the cliff. The view alone makes me dizzy. I also saw some brave people climbing vertical rocks. Respect!

My breathing is much worse and I’m starting to get a headache. I can’t stand altitude very well (see the incident in Chile). And yet, we are only at 2500m and it’s already been 10 days since I’ve been acclimatized to 1000m. The Mont Blanc, it will never be for me I think 😀

Meanwhile, a helicopter lands just across the street to rescue a woman.

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