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Day 8: Chamonix

Much as we enjoyed yesterday's walk, once we were partway through it we realised that it might have been better to do it in the opposite direction, because then we would have been walking towards the view of the snowy mountains rather than away from it.  When we were discussing last night what we wanted to do today, we kept coming back to the same idea of repeating the walk again :) Of course, it all depended on what the weather was going to be like...

There had been heavy thunderstorms throughout the previous evening, but luckily when we woke up this morning and went out onto the balcony, we could see that there was a bright blue sky again.


We'd caved in and decided to eat breakfast in the hotel, so we headed to the breakfast room to see what it was possible to get for €13.00. To be honest, it looked like a fairly average breakfast buffet! There was bread and croissants, ham and cheese, some scrambled egg and a bit of fruit; pretty much what you would expect from any hotel. I made several trips to the buffet to try and get my money's worth. The coffee was good at least :)

Once we had eaten as much as we could we set off to walk to the bottom of the Flégère cable car, which we would be using to go up the mountain today rather than down. We left our hotel and crossed the river, which was looking particularly scary this morning!


As we walked we could just see up to the top of the cable car station where we were headed...


...and when we turned around, we could also just make out the one that we would be walking to.


The cable car was quite busy this morning and we only just about managed to squeeze in. We were rather squashed, but at least had a better trip than one French lady in the middle of the cable car who must have been terrified of heights, and so spent the entire ride burying her head in her husband so that she couldn't see anything and swearing loudly every time the cable car swayed xD


We were soon at the top and ready to set off on our walk.


As soon as we started off down the path, we had a wonderful view down the valley towards Chamonix.


We were soon to find though that some bits of the walk were easier in some directions than in others. In particular, I was worried about a steep set of steps carved into the side of the mountain, which had been difficult enough to climb up yesterday and seemed like they might be even harder to climb down.


We soon arrived there and I found to my horror that the steps were even worse than I thought, because the rain overnight had made the wooden bits quite slippery. Let's just say I didn't particularly enjoy the climb down!


The worst bit was near the bottom, where you had to negotiate these two strange metallic steps!


Eventually I made it down in one piece and was able to enjoy the views again :)


The respite was only short-lived though, because before too long we were approaching the rocky part of the path once again.


And it really was rocky...


...very, very rocky!


The rocks didn't last forever though, and the advantage of doing the walk in this direction was that we had got the most difficult bit out of the way at the start, and were able to relax for the rest of the walk.


There were fewer clouds in the sky today than yesterday, so we were finally able to see the top of Mont Blanc :)


And we had an unrestricted view of most of the other mountains as well.


It was definitely worthwhile to repeat the route and always be walking with the snow ahead of us :)


Because we'd done the walk before, we were pretty sure that we would recognise the route without any problems.


There were some bits I didn't remember though, like the point at which the path went round this rather scary corner!


We seemingly also didn't remember the point at which we were supposed to have turned off this wide path onto a narrower one.


Somehow we missed the correct sign and ended up walking quite a long way downhill, on a path which was wide enough to be a road.


By the time we realised our mistake, we were too far down for it to be worth retracing our steps. We could see that the wide path would ultimately lead back uphill towards the gondola station at Planpraz, so the best option was to stick with it.


It did give us a different perspective on where we'd been...


...and actually some better views of the snow than we would have had from the original path :)


Although in places it was quite steep, we couldn't complain when we turned corners and had views like this :)


When we got to the gondola station, we stopped at the cafe for a drink.


The views from the cafe terrace were pretty impressive too.


Then it was time to go back down to Chamonix in the gondolas. We had a go at taking a selfie with the view on the way down, but I think maybe we need more practice xD 


When we reached the bottom, it was fun to look back up at where we had been.


Then we set off through Chamonix in search of a place to have lunch.


Tim was very impressed with his steak :)


After lunch we explored the town a bit more.


It's a really pretty little place...


...completely surrounded by the mountains.


As we began walking back to our hotel along the valley, we realised that we now had a complete overview of the route we had walked. It was impressive to be able to see both the start and end points from down below.


As we got nearer to the hotel, I realised that there was something unusual about this afternoon; it wasn't pouring with rain yet!


After a bit of a rest in the hotel, we decided to take advantage of the unexpectedly good weather by having an evening stroll around the forests behind where we were staying.


It was a nice relaxing end to what has been a brilliant holiday.


Tomorrow morning we will be getting a bus from Chamonix to Annecy, and then changing in Annecy for a bus which will take us directly to Lyon airport. From Lyon we will fly back to Birmingham, via another stop in Brussels. It will be a long day of travelling to get home again, but it has definitely been worth it :)


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