the land of cheese. and mountains (france)

Last stop of summer vacation 2013 was France. Unbeknownst to me at the time we were planning the trip, I ended up crashing my brother’s honeymoon! He and Jenna eloped in Gibraltar and then made their way through Spain and France on their honeymoon. It was really fun to get to be the first person to celebrate with them!

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We met up in Annecy, which is a fairy-tale town in the foothills of the Alps. It was the perfect place to just relax for a few days. There weren’t many things to do, but enough to keep you entertained. We wandered the streets, stopping in stores and for ice cream (or in Jack’s case, beer). And we swam in the lake, both at a little park with a beach and on a paddle boat, with a slide! And we ate well.

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(I don’t have any pictures from the lake, but I promise you, it was lovely!)

From Annecy, we headed to Chamonix for some mountain fun. Jenna was a really good sport about this. Jack enjoys hiking but Jenna is (understandably) a bit wary of hiking with him since he has tricked her into some hikes she wasn’t prepared for. But she went for it and now can proudly say that she has been hiking in the French Alps!

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We bought passes that allowed us unlimited rides on the cable cars/gondolas for a given amount of days (2 for them, 4 for me). It was a bit pricey, but each individual trip is pricy and with the passes we had the freedom to just go where we wanted to, when we wanted to.

On the first day we started with a trip up the Brevent gondola just to get a sense of the valley. The clouds were coving the other side of the valley (the Mont Blanc side) but we had sun and views.

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The next day, Jack’s birthday, we took the cable car up to Aiguille du Midi, where we had a great view of Mont Blanc. Aiguille du Midi is a rather high mountain in itself at 12,605 feet, although being that high up kind of loses its excitement when you didn’t put any effort into getting there (as opposed to my last foray at 12,000+ feet, climbing Mt Adams a few summers ago). Regardless, the views of Mont Blanc and the rest of the range were impressive.

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Plenty of people were tackling the mountain, but we forgot our crampons (ha ha) and instead headed down a bit in elevation and began the hike to Mer de Glace (Sea of Ice). Although, unfortunately it isn’t much of a sea anymore.

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After Jack and Jenna left for the final destination of their honeymoon (Paris) I stuck around in Chamonix for a few days. While touristy, I liked it. Basically because I ate good food which reminded me of home (it is hard to describe what I mean, but mainly something a bit unique and/or ethnic. For example I had thai crab cakes one night and a homemade black bean burger the next). And because I got to hike a lot. The trails were busy enough that it was safe to hike “alone.” Not that I was doing anything extreme, but I’d rather not get lost or twist an ankle all by myself!

I visited Lac Blanc and the hopped back and forth over the French/Swiss border near Balme. So many hiking trails, so little time!

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With my vacation coming to an end, I was so thankful for all the amazing weather and great opportunities to explore new places. And felt ready to tackle the impending grey and cold Trondheim fall (I say this as I write this months after my trip, just days after returning from a week in the sun down in Spain – I guess I still needed a bit more vitamin D to get through this dark time before the snow starts falling!).

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