Summer is coming to Chamonix
18th May 2012
Hello again! So after a little interseason breather we’re back and looking forward to summer. Skis and boards have been relegated to the cellar; ski clothes have been given a (long overdue!) wash and packed away and we’ve even ventured out of the valley for a week or so to see what’s going on outside of our bubble. Having returned with 20kg of cheddar, Branston pickle, Marmite, sweet chilli sauce and ginger beer, I now feel refreshed and ready to embrace the coming months (which if I’m honest, are by far my favourite months of the year in Chamonix).
In my last report I was cowering in my apartment as the most ferocious wind I have ever experienced ripped through the valley (taking the partition wall of my balcony with it!) Well, the carnage this storm left behind is still evident all around town. There must have been in the region of 2000+ trees brought down or rendered unstable, and even though the roads and main thoroughfares were very quickly freed up, the cleanup operation to remove all remaining debris will go on for some weeks to come. Many of the footpaths on the edge of town and the lower level trails are still littered with fallen trees making normally leisurely walks a bit more of an obstacle course.
There has still been a bit of a chill around in the mornings recently with the mercury not rising much above 2 degrees first thing. Earlier in the week there was even talk of snow down to 1000m but thankfully that did not materialise. I was actually in Les Arcs 1800 on that day and although it was snowing lightly in resort as we arrived, the snow line was still around 2000m or above, much as it is in the Chamonix valley. Although we’ve had a fair bit of rain this month as is expected, when the sun’s been shining, the temperature has been in the mid-twenties and so the shorts and flip flops have already had a few outings.
Yesterday was a bank holiday here in France (Ascension) and it dawned beautifully bright and clear. Determined to make the most of the sunshine we thought we’d break in the walking pins with a quick trip up to the Merlet animal park above Les Houches. It’s quite a nice walk to get your legs back in shape with around 350m of uphill from the valley floor. The trail switches back and forth from Lac Gaillands and we all agreed that it was much less steep than we’d remembered, although perhaps a bit of winter running had also helped lessen the shock to the legs! Although we hardly saw a soul on the trail, once at the park, there were hoards of people up there, kids everywhere and cars parked all the way down the road. I imagine there would have been quite a queue to pet the marmottes yesterday so we didn’t linger and continued down to find a quieter spot to eat our sarnies. From Merlet, you can drop back down to Chamonix via the big statue of Jesus that you may have spotted as you drive up the valley. There is an amazing view of Mont Blanc from here and what with it being Ascension; it seemed like an appropriate spot for a picnic!
I’m very excited about it being summer – as I said at the top; it’s by far my favourite season in Chamonix. If you’ve never experienced it you may wonder what on earth we do here once the snow has gone and the lifts have closed. As anyone that has spent a summer in Chamonix will tell you, there’s a whole lot more to do here once the ski season has finished - take a look at our Summer Activities section for a taster of the sort of things that are available. Chamonix also hosts a number of high profile events and sporting competitions from June to September that draw in crowds and spectators from all over the world. If that all sounds a bit too exhausting, then we’re also generally very lucky with the weather so kicking back by the outdoor pool or sipping rosé on the terrace is also an integral part of life here in the summer. Either way, we’ll be bringing you regular updates about life in Chamonix during the coming months and keeping you posted on what we get up to. I hope we can tempt you to come out and join us at some point!
Conditions at time of reporting:
- Date of last snowfall
- Depth of last snowfall
- Highest temperature
- Altitude of lower slopes
- Altitude of upper slopes
- Altitude of highest temperature