7 October 2014
I awoke by 07:30am, had a quick breakfast and checked out by 08:45am from St. Christophers Inn. I made a quick stop at a supermarket for some strawberry jam filled cakes before walking to Gare Nord station. By 9:15am I was already at Paris-Gare-de-Lyon station; over an hour early for my 10:41 am train from Paris to Annecy and Chamonix.
Luckily Gare-de-Lyon has high-speed internet available for free (20 minute usage slots). I used it to make some high quality Skype calls home. It was almost four hours on the train before my first connecting train. I used the time to transfer photos from my camera to my laptop, do some writing and to rest a little.
At 14:30 the train pulled into Annecy. I had an hour in this town before my connecting train for Chamonix departed.
I could see some trees and mountains in the distance and wanted to check it out. Surely there must be good views of nature out there?
It took me about 20 minutes to reach the edge of town walking over a number of beautiful bridges, across little streams beside residences with beautiful floral arrangements hanging outside.
When I reached the edge of town pulling my luggage with me I was satisfied. There was a scenic river with boats to pause at.
And a beautiful lake with the mountains in the background.
I looked at my watch and saw that I had 30 minutes to get back so I ran to the train station. I wasn’t sure exactly where the station was as I took a bit of an indirect route to the lake.
Fortunately I made it to the station about 10 minutes before departure. The next stop on the train was St-Gervais-les-Bains—Le Fayet. We passed beautiful properties on the way to that station.
After 10 minutes at St-Gervais-les-Bains—Le Fayet I caught the little red train to Chamonix, Mont Blanc.
There were quite a number of awesome sights to see on this final train stretch.
I departed Paris at 10:41am that morning and only arrived at my destination at 17:50.
A full day of travel. My accommodation was Mountain Highs Chamonix on Chemin de L’chna street. I checked the map outside the train station but could not find the street name. 2 people I asked did not know. I then followed street signs to the Tourist Information office to see if they could help. When I reached the office 10 minutes later I saw that they were closed.
Fortunately they have a free WiFi hotspot on site. I quickly loaded the Nokia Here Maps app on my phone and got the walking directions to Mountain Highs Chamonix – 20 minutes / 1.6km away. To get there I passed some of my favorite gear brands in town.
There were a couple of bakeries with grand macaroon displays.
Macaroons I like 🙂
I passed by the L’Aiguille du Midi cable station.
From here I got my first proper glimpse of Mont Blanc. At 4807m above sea level, it is the highest mountain in the Alps and the highest peak in Europe outside of the Caucasus range.
I reached by 18:45 with my heavy luggage – thank goodness for wheeled bags.
Check-in at Mountain Highs was quick.
The receptionist who is only there from 4 – 7pm advised me the rules for the sauna, hot tub, and kitchen, and said I could eat the breakfast as early as I want (self-serve). She also advised me about hiking trails to go on, provided me with a map and free local transport card and pointed out where the closest restaurants are.
That night I took a walk to the halal Restaurant La Cappadoce.
I had a good doner meal with ayran before heading back to Mountain Highs Chamonix to sleep.
My first impression of Chamonix left me feeling very comfortable in terms of what sights and services the town has to offer.