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My Inevitable Return to the French Alps

5 Jan 2017

My last full weekend in France was spent at the base of Mont Blanc in the little town of Chamonix. Chamonix hosted the first winter olympics and now it is a year-round resort filled with outdoor-enthusiasts. Chamonix has been on my bucket list since my first trip to the French Alps seven and a half years ago. With hopes to make it to Chamonix at some point during my semester abroad, I brought all my ski gear from the US — definitely strange to show up at the Nice airport in August with all of my ski gear!
I had assumed temperatures in mid-Decemeber would be cold enough for decent snow conditions and a fair amount of terrain open for the season. While planning my trip in November, it looked like my expectations would be surpassed. My mom had expressed interest in coming to the iconic town in the French Alps with me, so I didn’t hesitate to research flights from Boston to Geneva. We found a very affordable flight, and we planned to meet each other at the Geneva airport on a Thursday afternoon, and then take a bus to Chamonix. While buying flights, it was storming in the French Alps and the ski resort was planning on opening some terrain ahead of schedule and in time for my arrival! Unfortunately, A LOT of snow melted between scheduling my trip and my arrival at Chamonix. The only ski area open was a cold and icy north facing slope. The ladies selling tickets were surprised people were actually willing to purchase tickets for their idea of less-than-superb skiing that awaited us.
My mom and I have spent most of our winters skiing in Maine, where a day above 20 degrees fahrenheit is a treat. Needless to say, we know how to bundle up! Taking the employees advice, we dressed for a frigid day, wearing all of our warmest clothes. We eagerly boarded the ski shuttle from outside our hotel to Les Grands Montets. We got off the shuttle and were greeted with green grass. Next, we hopped on a gondola that gained elevation quickly. We exited the gondola and finally arrived to the winter wonderland we had been hoping for! It seems the French skiers and the skiers from Maine have a different idea of what cold and icy is. It was at least 30 degrees fahrenheit and it was apparent we were over dressed. Even though the slope was in the shade, it was a bluebird day and they scenery was absolutely breathtaking. There was no fresh powder, but there was no ice either! We had a great day that easily surpassed a typical ski day in Maine.
Besides the skiing, we fell in love with the town of Chamonix. The town was filled with kind, positive, and active people and I saw it as a place where I would like to spend a significant amount of time. Although it may have been ridiculous to bring my ski gear all the way across the Atlantic ocean, I’m glad I did, and I’m especially glad I got to spend a long weekend in Chamonix! I know I will be back!

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