The mountains were calling

In the words of John Muir: the mountains were calling, and I had to go. Last week, Colin and I returned to my new favorite place in France – the Alps – this time with his brother and brother’s girlfriend, who were the first in a long string of visitors we have coming this fall. We went to Chamonix.

It’s remarkable what a difference one month makes in the alpine meadows. On our last visit (to the Lac d’Anterne, one valley over from Chamonix), the meadows were lush and fairly brimming with wildflowers. This time, they were browner and drier and flowers were scarce. Chamonix is also infinitely more touristy than the area around Lac d’Anterne, but it does have two major advantages:

  1. The views of Mont Blanc are unparalleled; and
  2. Along with all those tourists come… ski lifts. Which means you don’t actually have to hike up the mountains—you can take a lift to the ridge line then hike back down, thus maximizing time spent gazing at Mont Blanc and minimizing time spent crying over sore legs.

So that’s what we did. We took a lift to Plan Praz, hiked a little farther up to Brevent, then followed the ridge to the Bel Lachat refuge for lunch. Cheese, charcuterie, blueberry tart, and cold beer never tastes as good as it does in the mountains! (Which is saying something, since those things are all delicious to begin with.)

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Almost as beautiful as Mont Blanc itself were the hundreds of paragliders sailing above the peaks. I could have watched them all day. The risk definitely outweighs the benefit for me, but if there were a virtual reality version—I’d do it in a heartbeat!

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The trip was, as before, pretty much perfect. My only regret is that these photos really don’t do the landscape justice. I’m still a photography novice, so trust me when I say the real deal is 100 times more breathtaking than these pictures.

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