Tour de Chamonix

Chamonix is the principal city of a well-known winter sports area: the valley of the Mont Blanc in the French Alps. There is ample opportunity here to shoot beautiful vistas. Just look at the phone of any old winter sports goer. But I want to show you another side of this town, which I love. A more practical side, where people live and work, and take the bus, etc. I sort of planned to shoot during februari, the same month I wanted to write a book or at least start writing it, and we have to do a couple of other things as well, so once again ambition was huge and I am still small and I froze. Have not touched a camera in weeks. But then last week my friend and fellow photographer Bas came to the rescue, by challenging me to take photographs and write a blog post this weekend, like he himself would do. I could not refuse. This afternoon the sun was shining vehemently, illuminating the whole valley. My wife and I took a walk all the way around the centre of Chamonix from our home in Les Praz (a suburb of Chamonix) and back.

Looking at Chamonix from Les Praz.

Walking towards Chamonix from Les Praz we pass this half-assed frozen lake right by the old dump (or at least it looks like that, it’s behind me while taking the photo). We’re looking at the sports center, you can see the slide belonging to the swimming pool. The flats are student housings, the sports center holds a college and a sports-related university, I do believe. To the right (outside the photo) is the spa. We’re standing on a cross-country ski piste (the French call it: ski de fond, meaning: bottom ski).

Typical French house near Chamonix.

Continuing our walk. In La Frasse there are some traditional French homes left, like the one above. Even though many have been torn down (I assume) to make room for wooden chalets or larger buildings with chalet trimmings that can be rented to tourists. Admittedly, they mostly look good and are surely more comfortable, but I like these old homes better.

Paul & Albertine are houses.

The whole valley is littered with signs like this. Traditional carpenters have a lot of work. I like how every one of these buildings look different, even when they are built at the same time.

Belachat building, looking at the Aiguille du Midi.

A flat that looks to be from the (late) sixties in Chamonix Sud, possibly Les Molliasses (I don’t remember exactly). The view of the Aiguille du Midi struck me on second sight, after I already thought the building looked good.

Contre jour.

The end of the route des Pèlerins, where it winds down towards the tracks (yes, until now we were on the wrong side…), some dirty snow left from a snow dump around two weeks ago probably, when it was all white and nice, if you like Christmas cards.

Pink (salmon?) house in Les Pèlerins, Chamonix

Don’t you just love this? Quite unpretending. This is what I think about when I think of a French house.

Flat in front of the massif du Mont Blanc

Even the most simple flats look awesome against this backdrop, imho. This is on the good side of the tracks, but still somewhat on the outskirts of Chamonix. Wouldn’t you just love to chill on one of these balconies with a good book, basking in the winter sun, occasionally looking up to check whether the mountains were still beautiful?

Route des Pècles.

On our way back we ascended towards Les Pècles, a favourite street of mine, along with the Route des Nants (even though that is a bit more upscale). With all the power lines above ground and the snow covered mountains in the back, I got a bit of a Japan vibe.

View of the massif du Mont Blanc.

Looking from Les Pècles over the poor part of Chamonix towards the Mont Blanc. Wouldn’t spit on a flat here to live out my old age (starting about now).

After we descended back into the center of Chamonix and survived the streets crammed with tourists we sat down on a wooden bench outside the local micro brewery and enjoyed sundown with a pint. Sundown meaning: watching the sun disappear behind some mountain, it is not nearly down by then but the temperature quickly drops and we still had some distance to cover to get home.

What do you think, more photographs of Chamonix like this? Or do you prefer the Christmas cards with snowy chalets and stuff?

3 thoughts on “Tour de Chamonix”

  1. I am really glad you went out on this photo walk! You’ve shown us some beautiful scenes and whilst reading this I realized that having a nice beer at a micro brewery while the sun is setting on a lovely Sunday afternoon is a pretty good life. Enjoy!

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