Training, Travel

A guide to Chamonix, France

May 29, 2019

Mountains are good for the soul

It’s safe to say my first trip to Chamonix has had me fall head-over-heels in love with the mountains. I’m ready to retire and live in a chalet now.

I came to Chamonix last week to keep my Dad company on a training trip before he takes on the Mont Blanc Marathon next month. I follow a lot of great runners and adventurers on Instagram who seem to train in Chamonix on the regular, so I kind of knew how beautiful it was going to be… though it turns out looking at the place through an Instagram filter just does not do it justice!

I thought that I trained on hills… I’ve even been spending quite a bit of time running the Yorkshire 3 Peaks, so I was pretty sure I would be fit for Chamonix’s trails. Turns out, I’m not sure I will ever be fit enough! Admittedly, we didn’t come at the right time of year which meant we ended up doing a lot of routes which aren’t advised to do so in the current conditions… it meant trekking through lots of snow, which was pretty challenging.

The altitude is another thing to consider, it really did seem harder climbing than normal, so I figure it must be the altitude as well as the severe inclines!

I’m technically in Ironman training but I took the week off – well, I didn’t exactly ‘take the week off’ as I did over 17 hours of run/hiking… but you know what I mean!

Where to stay?

We stayed in the Heliopic Hotel & Spa – it was insanely beautiful! A spa is also really handy after a really after a tough day in the mountains. The hotel is located right in the centre of Chamonix, so it’s minutes away from all of the shops/bars and restaurants/ski lifts.

The hotel breaky is well worth investing in… it sets you up for a full day in the mountains and has an amazing view of the mountains to go with it!

What to do?

We mainly ran/hiked and there’s plenty of that to be done! I’m not going to share the routes as we definitely went off track a lot, but I can definitely give you a rough idea:

The vertical KM – more of a hike, pretty scary but absolutely amazing! A KM may seem like a piece of cake if you’re a seasoned runner… but trust me, it’s a killer! You can go straight up and back down, but we opted for a loop when we got to the top, making the whole thing actually about 7 miles!

The Mont Blanc Marathon route – we did about 19 miles of this and then caught the bus back from one of the villages back in to Chamonix (buses are free!). This route is TOUGH – especially with all the snow we had at this time of year, but once again, the views are worth it!

You can also hire bikes from the hotel (these are free but require a virtual deposit). We got the bikes and hiked around the villages, another great active way to explore!

Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to the Chamonix pool – it looks incredible! So, if you’re a swimmer, I would definitely say this looked to be worth a visit!

There are plenty of shops to break your bank account, plus some really great places to eat… more on that later, which I will definitely add to after my next visit (next month!)

We rented a car to get to and from the airport – this actually was great as It meant we could drive the Chamonix tunnel to get to Courmier in Italy. We timed this perfectly as we went to watch the Giro D’Italia and had the best pizza I have ever had!

Where to eat?

I definitely need to add to this list as we were guilty of going back to the same place multiple times!

Monkey

This was a firm favourite of the trip… we pretty much had a burrito everyday (the dream!) It’s also a bar and they have outdoor seating, it’s pretty relaxed atmosphere and far from fine dining, but the food is seriously good!

Moody Espresso

Coffee and cake spot sorted!

Annapruna

It may seem strange to go to France and eat Indian, but it honestly was one of the best meals I have ever had. Maybe save this for a night when you’re sick of bread and cheese (is that possible?)

La Mer de Glaces

I don’t go anywhere without finding the best ice-cream in town! Would highly recommend replenishing the lost calories from all the walking/running with some ice-cream here! I can say that the white chocolate and pistachio flavours are particularly good!

    

I’m heading back to Chamonix next month to watch the race – if you have any other must do-see-eat recommendations, please drop me a message!

You can watch the vlog here.

Em x

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