For the last five days we have been staying at Les Balcons de Savoy (http://www.les-balcons-du-savoy.com/), a four-star apartment residence in Chamonix. Our apartment has two bedrooms, a kitchen, and a small sitting room – and best of all, a balcony (hence the name of the residence) overlooking the town of Chamonix, L’Aiguille du Midi, and Mont Blanc. It really is quite a backdrop.
Les Balcons de Savoy was built in 1992 and shows some signs of wear but is still well worth considering if you come to Chamonix on vacation, especially with a family. Its location is close to restaurants, shops, and activities and it includes a reasonable indoor swimming pool if the weather isn’t good.
The weather during the week has been changeable with lots of cloud cover. Yesterday dawned bright and clear and the view of the mountains from the balcony across the meadow between the residence and Chamonix was stunning. I took the image shown from the meadow with my Nikon D700 and a 12-24mm lens.
The weather was good enough to venture up to the Aiguille du Midi with the cable car, which operates in two segments from Chamonix. First, you ascend from 1,039m over the forests to the Plan du Aiguille at 2,317m and then take a second car to the terminus at 3,842m on the Aiguille du Midi (the actual terminus is at 3,776m and there’s a separate elevator to the top. The second segment is by far the most spectacular as the car travels at up to 12.5 m/second over sheer snow-covered rocks up to the top. Once there, you marvel at the engineering required to build the various facilities (telecoms, restaurant, viewing balconies, exit point for skiers and alpine climbers to the Vallee Blanche, and another cable car over to Italy). Truly it’s worth the Euro41 fare to travel to the top.
The weather on top was reasonable for most of the time and we even managed to get several good views of Mont Blanc. However, the clouds did come in when we took the elevator to the 3,842m point (an extra three euros is charged for the lift) and we couldn’t see anything from the top.
On the way down, we stopped at Plan du Aiguille for a drink at the cafe there and then took the opportunity to walk towards the mountain to get a better view of how the cable car ascends to the Aiguille. There was a fair amount of slushy snow on the ground but the amount was surprising given that it was mid June. Certainly, there was more snow around than I remember during our last visit to Chamonix in July 1998. Anyway, the snow didn’t pose any great difficulties and we enjoyed the walk.
As the weather was still good, my son Eoin and I decided to walk down to Chamonix rather than take the cable car. The walk is supposed to take about 2 hrs 20m over terrain that is steep but not particularly difficult. However, it did take a toll on my quads that I am feeling today…
During the walk down, we noticed a waterfall about 25m to our left. Getting to a position where we could see the waterfall took a little more effort than a mere 25m scramble through some trees as it involved some climbing downhill to a point where we could view the fall, but it was worth the effort.
After two hours we reached the car park of the telepherique in Chamonix. All in all, a nice way to spend a day.