Just like at home in the States, the University students in the UK get a break in the middle of the semester. This break was reading week! Reading Week has an actual purpose of giving students a week to catch up on all of their reading and assignments, but for an international student like me, it more means a week off to go travel around Europe. And so I found myself early Monday morning of reading week, getting ready to go on what I can only describe as a dream trip, skiing in Chamonix, France.
Skiing is something that I usually take for granted during the season. But this winter, without being able to go as often as I do at home, I was itching to get on the slopes. My whole family has been skiing in Vermont close to every weekend in the winter since I was about 8, so it is a sport that is a really important part of my life. Not only do I love the sport itself, but it has allowed my family to do something all together throughout my entire life, and honestly brings us closer together. Not getting to do this trip with them was kind of a bummer, but it was still an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. So, I booked the trip with a friend I met here in London and we went off to Chamonix, France!
The only thing I can say about getting there was that the mountains were so beautiful it didn’t feel real. I’ve never seen mountains so high and it just reminded me of how beautiful the world is. The first day was just a normal travel day, first getting the train from London to the airport, the plane to Geneva, Switzerland, and then a bus from that airport finally to Chamonix. When I got off the bus I was greeted with a wonderful ski town nestled in the valley between all of the mountains. The town provided wonderful food such as cheese, lots of cheese.
The next day started a three day skiing extravaganza. After catching the bus into town from our hostel, we grabbed our rental skis and hopped on another bus to our first mountain of the trip! Chamonix is home to Mont Blanc, the tallest mountain in the European alps, and is situated right on the border of Switzerland and Italy. You can buy passes to go to the mountains there as well, but we stuck to France and got a pass that gave us access to the three main mountains in Chamonix. The first one was Balme Vallorcine, a more beginner mountain, in my opinion, with open trails and incredible views. You can really do anything you want on these mountains, I stayed on trail, I went a little off trail, I saw people hiking up to get the freshest snow possible, and even witness para-skiers, flying through the air in parachutes before hitting the snow with their skis. Needless to say it was an incredible first day.
The second day we went to what I think was my favorite mountain, the Brevent-Flegere area. This was actually two peaks connected by a huge tram that you could easily take to get from one to the other. This one was also really cool because you walked right from the town center to the lift to get to the trails. On the Flegere side of the mountain, I found some of my favorite trails, they were long and winding with incredible untouched snow on the sides. The views from this mountain of Mont Blanc and the rest of the valley were some of my favorites as well.
The last day brought us to the last mountain, Grand Montets which had some of the most fun off trail skiing I’ve ever done. It was a huge mountain with a peak summit of 3300m which is just over 10,000 feet. I went to the next tallest lift at 2777m and the say the view was breathtaking was an understatement. This mountain was filled with difficult, yet fun trails and the views just speak for themselves.
Overall, this trip was a dream trip of mine, and I can’t believe I was actually able to do it. Thanks Reading Week! I recommend any skier of any level, if you love it as much as I do, to try to make this trip to the French Alps, it was unlike anything I’ve ever seen while also having amazing skiing for all levels. There was nothing I or my friend felt uncomfortable on, and he had only been skiing for a couple years. So whether you’re a ski nut like me, or a casual skier, or don’t do any snow-sports at all, Chamonix is by far the most beautiful place I’ve ever been and anyone can enjoy it.