Le Bon Vivre in Chamonix

Posted on June 11, 2014 in France Lakes & Mountains Lifestyle by Tim.Fowler Tags: , , , , , ,

Ruth, one of our resort representatives in Chamonix, lets us know why you can’t possibly sit still in Chamonix:

Now I have always considered myself to be reasonably fit – I’m a keen skier, I ran a marathon last year and enjoy the odd pedal on my bike. However, this view of myself changed completely when I arrived in Chamonix. The first person I saw when I arrived was a man that looked about the same age as my 90 year old grandpa, however this man was clothed in lycra gear that would put even the Tour de France cyclists to shame and was about to run off up a vertical incline. Chamonix is full of people like this, everyone (young or old) seems to be fit as fiddles and into everything; running, cycling, climbing, canoeing, skiing…

Mont Blanc Marathon ©Gaetan Haugeard

It’s no surprise, therefore, that at the end of June, Chamonix hosts the Mont Blanc Marathon; an absolute monster of a race. It’s the same distance as a normal marathon (26.2 miles) but it’s not the distance that is the problem in this case. The route gains 2511m overall and descends by 1490m; to put this in perspective, that is the equivalent of climbing Ben Nevis twice and running down Scafell Pike twice whilst covering 26.2 miles over the length of the route. The record for this course currently stands at 3 hours 30 minutes, whilst the current world marathon record is 2 hours and 3 minutes; this shows just how hard this race really is. Most competitors finish the course in about 7 or 8 hours which makes this one huge endurance challenge.

For those of us who do not enjoy pain, but do enjoy a bit of adventure, Chamonix definitely deserves its reputation as the European capital of Extreme Adventure Sports. There is no end to the active pursuits that are on offer in this part of the world and since living here I have been lucky enough to walk on a glacier and parapent from over 2000m. Parapenting is one of those things that you have to do once in your life, there is no feeling that compares to soaring over the Chamonix valley with a cold breeze in your face whilst feeling slightly out of control. Likewise, when it is 30C in the valley, it is amazing to be able to walk on the ice of the Mer de Glace (the biggest glacier in France at 4 miles long) to cool down.

The view from our Chalet Hotel Sapiniere

Chamonix is one of those places that it is near on impossible to have a lazy night in or a ‘duvet day’ and you can just forget ever turning on the TV again. After spending my whole childhood trying to get out of ‘going for a walk’, I now find myself setting off on a hike after work. This place definitely has the fitness bug and it is definitely infectious.