Skiing across the Alps in Chamonix

Monday 23rd December 2019 14:38 EST

Chamonix-Mont-Blanc (usually shortened to Chamonix) is a resort area near the junction of France, Switzerland and Italy. At the base of Mont Blanc, the highest summit in the Alps, it's renowned for its skiing. Year-round, cable cars take visitors up to several nearby peaks with panoramic views, including Aiguille du Midi above town, and Pointe Helbronner, across vast glacier fields on the Italian border.

The best way to get to Chamonix is to fly to Geneva. From Geneva you can book private taxis or shared taxi pick ups. The drive is about an hour, and it is picturesque. Chamonix is well known for its skiing slopes but for non skiers there is plenty to do.

The city celebrates Christmas on the eve, when families come together to have dinner. It’s a rather beautiful city with snow everywhere during Christmas, and snowy mountains at the backdrop- totally like a picture postcard. The city centre has a few expensive hotels, but many options of air b&bs and chalets. If you choose to live slightly away, a glass top toy-train connects the surrounding places with Chamonix. Chamonix city centre restaurants serve various kinds of food - from Swiss to French to Italian and there are plenty of options for vegetarians.  

If you are not a ski lover, you can take a short train ride to the top of Montenvers and then take gondolas right cable cars down, after which you can continue to walk down to the Mer de Glace glacier. It’s a steep walk down, and could be upto 30 floors. You can then visit the ‘Grotte de Glace’ an ice cave cut into the glacier and the museum of alpine wildlife and the crystal gallery. The inside of the ice cave is a wonderful blue, and it is believed to be France’s longest living glacier.  A glacier, appears blue because water molecules absorb other colours more efficiently than blue. The other reason for the blue colour of glaciers is the lack of air bubbles. Air bubbles, which give a white colour to ice, are squeezed out by pressure increasing the density of the created ice. From Montenvers you can have the view of the legendary Drus (3754m) and Grandes Jorasses (4208m). This glacier provides hydroelectricity to EDF, the famous energy provider.On another day you could make a visit to Aiguilles du Midi- in the mountain ranges. The cable car which makes a steep climb, oscillating in the wind between ranges, makes two stops. First at Plan des Aiguilles, where you could walk around the rather flattened surface of snow, and then head to the highest peak at 3842m, from where you can see Mont Blanc clearly. There is a view point and a restaurant with a fabulous view.

A word of caution, breathing gets difficult at such high altitudes, so it is recommended to take short steps or move slow. None of these places are recommended for babies. Snow boots and warm layers of clothes including thermals much recommended. 

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