A tryst with the French Alps
There is more to France than just Paris, as we discovered in our 7 day trip to France. We spent only 2 nights in the French Alps but the region is beautiful and magical and much lesser known than its Swiss neighbour and thus an easy choice for my first real blog post.
Annecy is a beautiful town in the foothills of the French Alps. It took us about 5 hours to drive from Champagne to Annecy. The drive itself is memorable – there is a point when you enter a tunnel and when you come out, the scenery has completely changed, and you gasp because you are surrounded now by the majestic and supremely beautiful Alps (which I have realized, are beautiful in any country).
The town is adjacent to a an alpine lake, Lac d’ Annecy, which provides a glimmering blue backdrop. The town center has a very medieval feel to it. A main canal runs through the town which gives it a lot of character. What struck me most were the flowers in the plentiful window boxes which made the town even more charming. A small château sits in the middle of a the canal and completes the picture-perfect vista.
Having spent one wonderful evening in Annecy, the next morning we drove to the ski-resort town of Chamonix. Breathtaking scenery accompanied us as the road curved through the Alps. Chamonix is right on the border of Italy, Germany and France, and a wrong detour nearly took us from France to Italy. In Chamonix, a quintessential Alpine town, we found ourselves surrounded by wooden lodges amidst pine trees and rolling clouds.
Chamonix is one of the gateways to the Mont Blanc mountain range (it contains Mont Blanc, the highest mountain peak in Europe). Sometimes the weather gods smile and give you the perfect weather, so you can make the most of your limited time in a remote destination you are unlikely to visit in the near future and experience the best of what the place has to offer….. and THEN there are the other times…. (when the weather gods are smirking and saying “nice try“, as we were about to find out!).
In Chamonix you can take a cable car to Aiguille du Midi, a mountain peak in the Mont Blanc . This is the one of the highest cable cars in the world, and still holds the record for the highest vertical ascent through a cable car, which takes you to a platform for a 360° views of the Alps and the iconic Mont Blanc. So, of course, we had to try it! The ascent with the cable car was thrilling, but when we reached the viewing platform, a massive snow storm began. Visibility was reduced to zero and it appeared as if the world outside was shrouded in a white blanket. No panoramic view of the Alps for us this time around! We waited for the storm to subside while sipping coffee at 12,605 ft., and then took the cable car ride back.
(“Us” refers to me and my husband – travel companion extraordinaire!)