Chamonix would not be in the ‘traditional’ European itinerary for most travellers from India – especially in winters. For, it can get really cold there, snowed out and frozen to the bones!!
Had the opportunity to visit Chamonix in Feb 2011 for an offsite meeting and wow, was I bowled over!!
We touched down at Geneva in Switzerland and were to take the Chamexpress (excellent mini-van service that organizes door to door transfers from the airport to all hotels in the town) to Chamonix. A lovely drive, especially once you start uphill. Beautiful in white with pine trees and meadows, quaint little cottages with
chimneys and kids playing in the snow.
The van dropped us off at Les Aiglons Hotel & Spa Resort in the heart of Chamonix city — a fantastic hotel for anyone interested in winter sports. Our rooms overlooked the square, you could see Mont Blanc and the other peaks on one side and the whole Chamonix city on the other. And when it snowed, nobody complained. Not one soul. For most of us from tropical countries, this was novel and a reprieve.
Since we were there for a company offsite, the organising team had arranged a whole lot of games in the snow for us — team games amusingly called ‘fun in the snow’, rescue games and rides – snow cycling, tubes – they certainly managed to bring out the child in us. And when we were wet and tired enough, we were directed to La Caleche restaurant for dinner. Fantastic Sayoyard cuisine, the fondue being the main attraction; rounds and rounds of Tequila – perfect for the snow-filled evening. Les Aiglons Hotel & Spa Resort does have excellent food …
But the best part of Chamonix in the winter is skiing!!! Pick up the Ski gear from a rental shop close to your hotel and let yourself go. Wait!! Not from the cliffs yet. The cliffs are for veterans, not wide-eyed tropical-city visitors like us who don’t even know how to walk after wearing the gear. Hehe!! Boy, was it an experience!! Getting the shoes on was a task, walking with them was worse – some of us almost had to learn how to walk all over again! Not that you mind it, but little kids prancing around in ski gear sure gave us inferiority complexes. The shoes felt heavy, carrying the gear was so much effort. No wonder, we were here to participate in ‘team building exercises’
And once you reach the training slopes, you will realise that all what you just endured was nothing compared to what was coming. We obviously couldn’t ski. No, it isn’t as easy as it appears in the movies. Curse Hindi movies – they are all so unreal, with the hero-heroin singing songs while skiing effortlessly!! Coming back to reality, I realised there was only one way to go down the slope — on our rear. It was FUN though and immensely tiring.
We also went to the famous Aiguille Du Midi via cable car ( That’s another story and ‘Coming Soon’ in another blog). And then a wild farewell party @Après Ski in the ever popular ‘Jekyll & Hyde Bar & Restaurant’ next to our hotel. We thanked the restaurant staff profusely for their patience for allowing guests who almost brought the house down — loud music, fantastic snacks, table top dancing (!!!!) with Flamenco, Tap Dance, Bhangra!! Name it and our versions were performed with loud cheering and tequila shots at every interval! Few people were left standing or in a state to have a formal dinner organised afterwards. The restaurant even gave us all T-Shirts to remember the lovely evening!!
Would recommend Chamonix to anyone visiting Geneva – even if for a day, as the beautiful town offers something for both tourists and adventure seekers.
Also Read — Why You Should Plan A Trip To Aguille Du Midi