Continued from part 7: Chamonix Mont Blanc, France
Snow, snow, snow, and cold
Our little hotel and surrounds have been transformed to an area covered in a fine layer of white. The snowfall whithers to light rain and strengthens to snow again, and as we arrive in Chamonix from Passy there is a marked difference in the amount of snow and how low on the mountains it is now. We arrive at the train station and travel up the mountain at a crazy angle.
The wind up here is insanely cold, blowing ice and snow against your skin and generally being rather miserable. From the train station, we take a cable car down to a set of 400 stairs leading to the entrance of the ice cave in the Mer de Glas.
On the way down these steps, the wind howl down the valley in the mountain and by the time we arrive in the cave my hands are frozen, my hair is soaked to the scalp and being in a cave of ice actually feels warm.
The cave is disappointingly smaller than we thought, but still quite a unique experience. Francois puts his hand on the ice, but as it’s so cold from outside he can’t feel anything (though it looks super smooth).
Before departing to make the ascent up the stairs again, we prepare by zipping up anything and everything that could be. I haul out my second pair of gloves and use my scarf for added padding on my ears, and hope for the best that my toes won’t fall off by the time we get back to the top. Ironically, when we get outside the wind has subsided and it’s a lovely day out on the snow.
Back at the train station, we hog the only heater in the room for a time while waiting for the train to return to Chamonix.
From here we travel through the countryside to Annecy. We leave the snow-covered Alps behind and enter areas a little more akin to our “platteland” and we’re blessed with some patchy sunshine.
While looking for places of interest to visit in this general area before our trip, I was enchanted by the Menthon Saint Bernard chalet and decided it has to go on our “to see” list for the south of France.
Sadly the chalet is only open from May to September and we have to carry on towards Annecy. Luckily we find a good vantage point on the road, and I snap some photos of the chalet with the mountains in the background.
We arrive in Annecy and book into our hotel. It’s the first ‘real’ hotel we stay in, with parking, keycards, room service and obligatory tiny rooms. We unload our car and stow what we can before leaving for the old town centre, where some of the buildings date from the 11th Century.
It’s a beautiful city, set on the lakes. However, everything is far more expensive than what we experienced in Italy. Two scoops of gelato are €3.70, where in Italy they were generally €2.50. Coffee here is double the price at €1.60 per cup.
We decide not to dine out, but instead save up for a lavish meal in Paris. We head back to our hotel for another bed-picnic, some TV, and reading before bed.
Header photo by Deon Joubert.
All other images by the author: © catterflyworx 2012.