Although it broke my heart to leave the Dolomites after only 4 days, I wanted to show Fritz Chamonix, which so captured my heart five years earlier. My reward for recovering from my first FAI surgery was a 2-week trip to Chamonix to hike the Tour du Mont Blanc. It was my first solo trip to Europe and I managed to hike from Chamonix to Courmayeur, Italy before an early season snowstorm blew me out of the mountains and into a the comfort of a Chamonix hostel for the rest of the trip.
We left Val Gardena after a fantastic morning running the Vallunga Valley and made it to Aosta for the night where I had the most amazing pizza of my entire life. We were so hungry after the drive, we pulled into the first pizza place we found bars on the windows and all and it was like we had wound up in Napoli. Fritz ordered the green salad, which was just a bowl of lettuce and I ordered the tomato salad, which was just a giant bowl of quartered tomatoes.
The pizza! The crust was so soft, yet slightly crusty and the sauce so mind-blowingly robust with flavor, how can pizza taste this good? Fritz ordered the Marinara pizza because he was stoked it was only 4 Euro, but failed to realize Marinara meant only marinara. Crust, marinara, and some chopped garlic – that was it, but still equally amazing nonetheless. This was the real deal. A dog was seated in the chair at the table next to us and rapid Italian and passionate gesturing filled the dining room and kissing, there was so much kissing of the cheeks!
We arrived in Chamonix early morning and it was FREEZING so we put on literally all of our clothes and headed to the Extreme Cafe for coffees hoping the temperature would at least raise a few degrees before we set out on the morning’s adventure. We took the tram up to the PlanPraz and ended up busting through the clouds and into the sunshine. We hustled up the Le Brevant and then ran all the way to Lac Blanc and then down to Argentiere where we caught a shuttle bus back to our car in Chamonix. The run involved 4,600 feet of climbing, but 7,000 feet of descent – owie – and only one coffee and one beer so we were hungry!
We stayed at this most adorable AirBNB close to Chamonix, which was hands down the cheapest place I could find in town and you could stick your head out of the skylight of the loft and have an amazing panoramic view of both sides of the valley. Lucette’s was simply a steal at 50 bucks a night and she stocked the pantry with bread, jelly, biscuits, coffee and all sorts of other goodies, which was so nice. We had a blast in Lucette’s charming little studio.
It didn’t stop raining once during our second day in Chamonix, so we took an actual tourist day and ate croissants and went shopping and browsed wine cellars and took naps, it was great! Highlight was eating a juicy garlic potato burger squeezed into a table in the attic at the Poco Loco. We shared a table with a Swedish man enjoying his last beer ever because he was beginning his climb up Mt. Blanc in the morning and he wasn’t convinced that he would survive.
On our final morning in Chamonix, Fritz opted for a road run through Chamonix Valley and I headed straight up the mountain on the wildest, steepest switch backs I have ever seen. I followed the course for the Mont-Blanc Vertical KM race and couldn’t see a damn thing. I kept climbing and climbing just hoping for the best since the trail eventually became a series of ladders, cables, handrails, and cliffs. I seriously had so much fun, but there was no way I was heading back down those trails in that fog so I opted for a gondola ride back down to Chamonix where I enjoyed my last croissant and coffee before heading back through the Mt. Blanc Tunnel and back into Italy.