Our last day in the beautiful Valley had arrived and I began early to pack. What a great camping spot it was … Next year it will be some fancy villa and we will probably sit in an outdoor jacuzzi where we were camped over the last few days. Most of last nights group stayed at Cedric’s friends (mike) house. Two beautifully refurbished wooden houses with a nice architectural touch. Breakfast and a hot shower! Feeling great. Afterwards a quick visit to Cedric’s house (with plenty of snails around much to Alex’ excitement). During my the drive to Cedric’s house alongside a usually small river one could see the amount of water that poured down the night before. The river had swollen massively with a crazy strong current. Better not to go canyoning today! After a brief shopping stroll we said goodbye to everyone and took off to lac d’orient.
A 300m/4,5h drive taking us half the way between Chamonix and Calais. No swimming this time though as the weather was rather fresh when we arrived 5pm. Tent up quickly. Then a drama unfolded as Alex complained about pain in his ear. Thanks god mama had given us Nurofen that kicked in very timely so o could abort a trip to the doctor and rather sit with a beer watching Alex on the trampoline! Thanks god. Sick kid = no good holiday.
We had to start the day reasonably early to meet our climbing guide for the morning. Location was les Gaillands (a Popular local climbing spot), but we forgot to rent the shoes and hence had to pop back to Chamonix center and pick up some European 26 size climbing shoes for Alex. How sweet! The climbing was again and instant hit with Alex and he made his first 5m ascent. Good skills. The abseiling was his weakness given the awkward backward leaning position one had to take (and that doesn’t feel very natural). Alex went on to climb two more 10-15m walls before calling it quits. Also for papa the excercise was reasonably tiring especially with 32 degrees in the shade and felt 40 degrees on the wall. After about two hours we left for Cedric’s hours to rest a little. Alex in action!
Our afternoon session kicked off in a small restaurant for lunch. I got my log awaited Tartiflette and Alex his chicken nuggets. Then quickly to Chamonix train station and off to Montenvers to see mer de glacé – a huge glacier. The train trip takes you up some 1000m to 1900m and is very beautiful. Once there one sees the glacier covered in all sorts of rubble before defending towards the ice cave by gondola and then 240 stairs (not verified hearsay). In the way down one passes markers of the glaciers dimensions 10-20years ago. At this pace, one will have to walk 400 stairs come 2025! Anyway, the ice cave is pretty awesome and cold as ice (ha ha). Inside we checked out the light displays and ice sculptures and went back up to catch a drink and the train back down.
Coming home to the tent was far from funny. Rain clouds had appeared and started soaking some stuff we left out to dry as more or less every Night in Chamonix was filled with thunder, lightning and huge amounts of rain. We rescued most pieces from getting wet and got going for our dinner appointment with Cedric, his father and friends. We all met at Casa Valerio, which is one of the best italian places in town. No pizza though as a fire had destroyed their oven recently. Alex met his three girlfriends for the night. They had just arrived with mum and dad from London and parents got their conversations going. Great evening especially to meet Cedric’s dad. At 9pm or so I had to retire. Long day, but great day. The night ahead was wet and loud as it rained all night long and thunder echoed in the valley … Wow!
We had initially planned a canyoning trip Thursday morning and almost got cancelled. Anyway, after the usual porridge breakfast we set out to see Mont Blanc a little closer. Next stop Aiguille du Midi at 3840m. Alex was pretty excited and very happy I took jumper and jackets given the markedly lower temperatures. Was a funny feeling for me personally as the altitude had an impact, but more so due to memories of my last Aiguille du Midi visit some 10 years ago when I set out with friends to climb Mont Blanc from here.
In the afternoon we finally got into canyoning mode with our guide Maxine. He planned an extended tor for juniors and the next two hours turned out just brilliant! Quickly we put wet suits, harness and helmet on and hold up a hill for 10-15mins. Alex was introduced into the key skills of sliding and how to jump properly and off we went. After a few smaller rides / obstacles, we arrived at a larger waterfall. Beautiful in itself. There we abseiled down (Alex by himself), then jumped from about 2.5m and finally zip lined down from the top again. So proud of Alex showing no fear whatsoever. Next was a massive 20m abseiling, which I soloed and Alex did together with the guide. Amazing! From there it was only smaller obstacles though notably our route took us for 5mins into bordering swiss territory. Alex couldn’t get enough of canyoning and would have repeated the track immediately.
Town to get home after a sun & action filled day. BBQ, fire and a beer. It proved also quite entertaining … Dirty Old Town & Fanta 4
Reasonably on time start from lac de Panthier for a 3h drive to Chamonix. Little boring for Alex, but once the mountain range got in sight that quickly changed. Arrived in Chamonix, at my friend Cedric’s property, we set up camp. Direct view on Mont Blanc included. After a little shopping in the local Carrefour, we got a fire going (handy to have your own forest right behind the house) and the BBQ as well. The rest is just two boys in the wild. Great.
After a reasonably good first night in the tent (no complaints from Alex whatsoever), we kicked off our first full day in nature. How to do that better than with a fresh baguette from the camping shop. While Alex did enjoy nibbling away on the fresh bred, he eventually insisted on his usual breakfast treat- porridge. Learning French on a bike.
After breakfast we decided to go for a countryside bicycle ride. We rented a bike with a trailer for kids and off we went. Our 11km route took us past a maize field, castle Commarin, village Semarey and back to the lake (where we took a quick bath on the shore opposite of our camp before returning home). A quick ice cream to everyone’s enjoyment and off to the beach. This time we took along Alex’s new floating crocodile, which proved an instant hit and he was hardly to get out of water. In the evening we took another trip on the bike alongside nearby canal and with Chateau Neuf (yep, that one with the expensive wine) right behind us.