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Charming Chamonix

Courtesy of Arnaud Bachelard

A journey to France was not complete until I visited the awe-inspiring and gigantic Mont Blanc and experienced Chamonix holidays.  I was not disappointed, with lungs full of alpine air I took in a vista of spring-time flowers and soft sunlight.  Faraway I gazed at the lilac horizon of crooked peaks. Majestic snow-capped mountains made this region everything that I ever imagined it to be, and more!

Chamonix is a hikers’ paradise with plentiful winding trails throughout the mountain ranges. Hiking is a wonderful, healthy and affordable option for backpackers and I could easily find a trail for my fitness and ability level. There are hiking trails in the Chamonix valley that require more fitness than others. When in doubt, it’s recommended to get some local advice before embarking upon trails.  It’s also important to use the right equipment and safety precautions with sudden, volatile weather changes. An ideal difficult trail for those who are really keen might be the Tour du Mont Blanc – a route taking in the French, Italian and Swiss Alps over 112 miles. For ambitious hikers with suitable gear, I also recommend taking the trail up the Aiguillette des Houches to the summit where you can see some of the best preserved alpine chalets in the valley, as well as taking advantage of panoramic views.

Being France, the food is always excellent quality. Although, the restaurants and eateries in the region are made more for the apres-ski crowd and not budget backpackers. I didn’t let this bother me and visited the supermarket where I bought a fresh baguette, some regional Gruyère cheese and had a wonderful, affordable post-hike feast.

For more flush backpackers, many restaurants specialise in melted cheesy goodness in the form of Fondue, where you can dip meats and veg into a large communal pot of steaming cheese.  It’s possible to try the ‘pierre chaude’ and cook your own slices of meat on your own personal hot slate at the table. Both novel and communal ways to pass the time eating at a leisurely pace – as the French love to do.

 Finally, I allowed myself a luxury purchase that originates from this alpine mountain region:    the classic Swiss Army knife.  It has proven to be enormously practical, beautiful and elegant device with countless uses for myself as a backpacker.  The classic model includes things like a bottle opener, scissors and pen knife. Models nowadays can feature things like an LED light and ballpoint pen.

Alison has been a travel fanatic since childhood and her neverending wanderlust has taken her all around the world. She recently began writing about her experiences to inspire others to feel as passionately about travel as she does. Her favourite destination is New York City, which she has visited six times.

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