What a difference 6 weeks make: the first day of a winter weekend in Chamonix

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We came back from a quick weekend in Chamonix a few weeks ago.  Wow, what a difference 6 weeks makes. Having visited during October half term in beautiful autumnal sunshine it was amazing to see how different things look in the snow.

 

Walking without snow shoes (but it would have been useful to have some…)

Having got the shuttle bus from Geneva at lunch time, we arrived in resort to find a whiteout, so decided to go for a walk rather than half a day on the piste with rubbish visiblity. We chose La Floria as it has some great views of Mont Blanc on a good day.  Look how different it was last time we were there!

La Floria, Autumn and Winter

In order to make more of a circular walk, as we’ve done in the summer, we walked through the cafe area and dropped down towards Flegere.  We’d had the reassurance of others walking/snow shoeing the path up from town, but it was complete virgin tracks on the way down! And this might be the reason why…

virgin tracks of the walking kind (La Floria to Flegere)

It did eventually take us down to the bottom of the black run down to La Praz though.  This actually turned out to be a comforting piece of familiarity the next day as it turned out.

Getting around

As we’d taken the Easy Jet transfer bus we were then of course without a car in resort. Quite a novel situation for us, but at least we got to experience the local transport we’ve talked about.  We could’ve been sensible and looked up the time table, but we decided to just head to the bus stop when we fancied it, as after all we were on holiday and had no rush for ski school.  Our wait was no longer than 7 mins each time.

On our first occasion, we tried rather ambitiously to get the free Navette to Le Savoy after a little petit de jeuner in a Cafe on the Avenue Augille du Midi.  This seemed like the route of least walking to get to the Brevent lift.  Indeed, there wasn’t any steep walking with ski boots and it wasn’t quick, but it felt like an adventure.  It also turned out to be fortuitous as the ques for the lift passes at Le Savoy were a lot shorter than up at Le Brevent, so in the end we actually got on the slope quicker than others we saw in the town centre at the beginning of the day.  It also amused us that the drag lift was the place of the Mini UTMB in the summer. 🙂

La Savoy drag lift

New Argentiere lift

Using the buses also meant we could go up Brevent, ski down Flegere to La Praz and hop on a bus to Argentiere for the afternoon.  Fab.  Ok the black run which we ski down was closed and rather patchy in places, but having walked down part of it the day before it seemed a better alternative than waiting in a lift que (oh, how my skiing confidence must have changed!)

This gave us the opportunity to check out the newly opened Plan Joran gondola at Les Grands Montets. Yes, we can confirm it’s an awful lot quicker and more comfortable than the old lift!  It also takes you higher up the mountain.

Plan Joran Gondala ArgeniereA new happy hour

Ok, so that was the skiing on Saturday, but what would a skiing trip be with out its aprés ski?  Well, we managed to get wind that the Cafe La Terrasse bar in the town square had just reopened and in an effort to attract clientele back it was doing a happy hour (another one to add to the list I hope).  Result.

Cafe La Terrasse Chamonix, Autumn and Winter

What made it even better is the sympathy with which they have restored the upstairs of this beautiful Art Deco building.  It no longer feels like an unloved, grungy bar with an accidental pretty exterior, but the kind place that warrants a longer relaxed stay (with live music still played in the bar downstairs occasionally).

Cafe La Terrace up stairs cocktail bar

Then it was a walk home via Casa Valerio, La Dolca Vita (88 Rue Lyret), for a pizza. This always comes highly recommend, and we can’t argue about the food, but the staff are almost a little too efficient as we seemed to get out of there at break neck speed. Maybe not so bad though as we need to conserve our energy for the next days skiing.

So quite a busy day for spotting changes during the first part of the weekend.  The second part come.

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2 thoughts on “What a difference 6 weeks make: the first day of a winter weekend in Chamonix

    […] The Times articles distraction aside, back to our little weekend away.  Well we continued with our use of public transport, so on the second day of our short break we […]

    […] I know I said there was a part two to our recent trip, but before we get to that I thought I’d share with you the things that have recently […]

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