As a snowboarder, there a few places in the world that constantly come up in magazines/conversations that are must go places for avid boarders. Chamonix is one of those places and even just being there in the summer put a huge smile on my face. I was ecstatic just to be surrounded by these mountains and it was hard to contain my excitement. Rex and I posted up at one of the nicest campsites on our trip with a view of two glaciers crawling down from Mont Blonc into the valley. The weather was so-so but the sun kept on making an appearance so it was okay.
Our plan was to head up to Aiguille du Midi (3,842 m / 12,605 ft) on the gondola. It’s one of the most spendy things with have done on this leg but it was highly recommended to us & was absolutely worth every penny!
Once you get up to the top, about 20 mins with a gondola change in the halfway point, you are greeted by the first amazing platform of views. To be honest, once again words don’t do it justice, so please see pictures below. This is the starting point though for one of the routes to summit the infamous Mount Blanc and you have the perfect view to see the groups head up. My heart was fluttering like a little girl seeing a puppy!!! I wanted to get suited up and head out right away!! Needless to say that DIDNT happen butttttt another trek/climb has been added onto my dream list of things I would love to do one day!!
To give you a little bit more detail on how it’s set up there:
Two platforms-one higher and one lower. To get to the higher platform you must go into a mountain, over a crazy bridge and take an elevator up. Once up top, it’s fairly small and the “stepping into the void” glass room is up there. This is also where the people in their “squirrel” suites BASE jump and whizz by the lower platform. It’s pretty insane seeing somebody just jump into a 1000m free fall without even skipping a beat! I felt like my heart was pounding more than theirs and I was just watching! Please note: This is NOT on my bucket list of things I want to do!! Thank you for thinking that I would want to do that though 😉
We spent pretty much most the day on top, enjoying the insane views and the sunshine. Once we got on the gondola to head down (which is like a roller coaster ride, free hanging for over 2000m from one pillar to the next) , we decided to get off at the mid station and hike a “horizontal” trail to the next valley over where a traditional mountain tram could take us down to Chamonix. Needless to say, it wasn’t flat but as our Nepali guide would call it “Nepali flat” which means a steady up and down rolling trail. 3 hours later, with amazing views of the valley, we ended up coming around a bend to one of the craziest valleys I have seen in this trip. Mer de glace glacier in the bottom, but the amount of recession of this glacier was crazy. You could see the definite lines where it used to be and according to the info boards, the glacier was that big not even 80 years ago, which makes it one of the fastest receding glaciers in the world! If you don’t believe in global warming, come see this and you will be a believer!
Once we checked weather, we decided to head towards Nice to escape the rain. We followed the Great Alpine Road from Chamonix area all the way along the Italian boarder to Nice which sits on the Mediterranean Sea and is just south of Monaco.
We laid a pit stop in half way, went over some of the most amazing passes I have even been over, more specifically Col du Galibier (which is part of the Tour de France ) and the highest drive-able pass in Europe, Col de I’Iseran (2770m). We drove threw rain, hail, bike races and ski resort after ski resort to be welcomed to perfect sun filled skies, warm air and clear waters of the Mediterranean Sea!! We were elated!!!
After getting settled in, reality hit us, that the following day we were going to be getting our next visitor on this trip: Caroline, one of my old roommates from 54th street & dearest friends was coming to southern france to travel with us for a couple days! We were super excited and she brought loads of sun with her!
Once arrived the following day, we spent the day relaxing, catching up and just being all around lazy. We roughly mapped out the days to come and took off for Monaco the next morning.
Monaco is well… Monaco?! It’s everything you think of and more, it’s James Bond, it’s money, it’s Ferraris, gold plated Bentleys, it’s Mazaratis that are treated like beater cars, casinos, tuxedos, Yachts bigger than my elementary school… You get what I am getting at, it’s a place of opulent amounts of money. We spent the day just walking around with our jaws on the floor, adoring the charm and beauty of this 4 mile long country that is nestled between Italy and France. Seeing the size of the streets puts the famous formula one race into perspective. We wandered till we found ourselves at a pebble beach and we plopped down for a couple hours to do some swimming and napping.
A short 2 hour drive south and we found ourselves at our next campsite, right on the beach with a straight on view of the beautiful town of St. Tropez.
Today’s agenda : BIKE RIDE!!!
We rented some shabby bikes from the campsite and headed toward St. Tropez. This was one of the main places that Rex wanted to always check out and he was right, the place is absolutely beautiful. It is an extremely affluent area, with a harbor that is full of some of the prettiest yachts and boats I have ever seen. The town is right on the water, with some of the buildings being in water. Charming small streets, great shopping (even though overpriced) and one cute cafe after the other (even more overpriced) comprise the old city. Pictures are worth a million words, so see below.
Biking was a brilliant way of transport, since traffic is very high in the small area and parking overpriced and this also meant we could have a few drinks on the way home. We found ourselves a little on the tipsy side once back at the campsite and Rex and Caz found a bottle of whiskey which was taken straight to the beach for our enjoyment. We enjoyed each other company and had a fantastic evening, including another win from Germany!!!
Rain was chasing us, so we took off towards the Atlantic side of France with the hopes of getting some waves and seeing some old friends!
We arrived on the Atlantic coast after a very long day of driving and Rex was our hero! He charged all the way threw the 10 hrs with no problem, rain and all! He is such a trooper!!! Exhausted we showed up at an old colleague of mine front door step in Capbreton. We had been in touch with him for a couple weeks prior and we invited us to stay for a couple nights in his back yard and to celebrate 4th of July!
Things never really play out the way you plan while traveling, good or bad, but luckily for us, plans kept on changing for all parties concerned for the better! Caz decided to stay with us threw the 4th of July weekend and unexpectedly my other old roommate showed up in southwest France on a whim!
To give a bit of a background, there were 4 of us living together on the beach in Newport. Jess and I had moved in and were joined by Caz (Caroline) after our first year, Brandi joined us after our 2nd year and 6 years later we had all become each other’s families. Inseparable and travel happy it was one of my best times of my life till the house got sold and our little beach family went their separate ways. So needless to say, for me it was like having my extended Family show up on our trip and it was so nice to have them with us.
We spent a great weekend in Steve’s backyard, connected with some awesome new friends, celebrated 4th of July in full American style with BBQ and all, and got some good surf in too.
After our weekend was over, Caroline had to make her way back to California to move and work and then there were only 3 again!