There are some wonderful things about winter and one of them is snow in the Alps. It’s time to get out of the city where the snow turns to brown sludge and stops the world from functioning, and head to where the snow is fresh and white and magnificent and makes you gasp with its beauty.
France is full of top ski resorts, and one of these is the resort at Chamonix. You can’t go wrong heading to a valley under Western Europe’s highest and most famous mountain, Mont Blanc. People flock here for skiing, mountaineering, snowboarding and hiking (needless to say that’s a summer pursuit). But when I head there it’s purely for the beauty and wonder of the place. I am not a skier, I am more likely to say Pen when people say Mont Blanc, but that’s where the Aiguille Du Midi cable car comes in.
Rising in two stages, the top terrace of the cable car is a whopping 12,600 ft (3842 m) high – that’s like climbing Mont Blanc without raising a sweat! The last 140 ft (42 meters) is actually achieved by elevator within the rock – now that’s my kind of mountain climbing. Along the way there are two viewing terraces where you change cable cars and on a clear day you’re looking out over three countries: France, Switzerland and Italy. The second stage of the cable car ride takes you over a glacier; this ride has everything.
In summer, the mid-station at Plan d’Aiguille is a good place to begin a walk to the Montenvers where a train takes you back down to Chamonix. In winter, stick with the cable car both ways and break your journey with a hot chocolate and meal at 3842, the restaurant and café on top of the world. Aiguille De Midi has its own stamps and postbox so send a postcard. And if you’re sick of France and feel like Italy, the panoramic Mont Blanc cable car will swing you across Mont Blanc and the border in the highest cable car in the world. I wonder where they stamp your passport?