Sunday, October 16, 2011


Only a week or so into my pastry program at ENSP in Yssingeaux we had a long weekend over Easter and so a few of my friends and I rented a tiny little car and drove to Chamonix. Chamonix is right on the alps and is incredibly beautiful. The road trip was a wonderful way for us to bond and get to know each other and we found that getting extremely drunk together helped aid that bonding process further. 


This weekend we had got out of class early on Friday and did not have class on Monday, since apparently everyone I France really celebrates Easter on the Monday after it. I also think it is because the French love not to work! This is especially apparent in all of the French waiters I have met, since they don't seem to care if you are sitting there or not, what you ordered, or if you receive it in a timely fashion. It makes me appreciate tipping just a little bit more...

So, since we had a long weekend, a few of my fellow classmates and I decided to take a trip to Chamonix Mont-Blanc. We rented the world's tiniest car and the five of us crammed into it for our four hour trip to Chamonix. I drove, which was quite entertaining since the French are aggresive drivers, since I have no idea exactly how fast 130 km/hr is, and since I haven't driven a stick in a few years. I also felt like we were going to blow off the road since the klennex box we were in could fit completely inside the midsize SUV I drive in Colorado.

Off we went and it was quite smooth sailing though I did stall in one of the many tolls they have on the highways here. On our way to Chamonix, we decided to stop in Annecy for a late lunch and it turned out to be one of the most charming towns I have ever seen. It sits in a valley next to a huge lake, and has canals running through it like Venice. All of the buildings were old and beautiful and we bought some fresh baguettes, a round of soft regional cheese, herb salami, olive tapenade, and a tin of foie gras and for a makeshift picnic next to the lake. There were people everywhere (a lot of them rollerblading), and we made friends with a nearby Cocker Spaniel who appreciated the bit of baguette I shared with him. Once we were finished with out lunch we made the rest of the trip to Chamonix, arriving after sunset.

Chamonix was what I imagine a traditional Swiss skiing town would look like, which makes sense since we were right on the Alps. It was dark when we arrived so we only went for a few drinks (or perhaps more than a few) before retiring for the evening. When we awoke the next morning we were amazed to see that our window was facing Mont Blanc, which was absolutely breathtaking! We also discovered that our adorable hotel was in the center of town, and we could even see the town clock tower from our room. We spent the day exploring the small town and doing some shopping. I bought some handmade chocolates for myself since it was, after all, Easter weekend. The town was filled with toursists, mostly from Italy and Switzerland, as well as dogs! Dogs ran free all over the town and were even allowed in restaurants, on trains, and in hotels. We ate fondue and raclette for lunch and I was definitely in a bit of pain from the massive ball of cheese that was sitting like an anchor in my stomach.

The next day we took a train up the mountain to visit France's largest glacier and took a tour of the ice cave that they carve into it. It was absolutely beautiful! Near the entrance you could see how truly blue the glacier was from the sun shining through it, and as we walked deeper into the tunnel they had multicolored lights illuminated the
incredible ice. It was definitely a sight to been seen, and probably a once in a lifetime opportunity for me, since it is melting at an alarming rate! All along the 350 steps leading down to the glacier, they had signs posting here it had been in previous years and it was somewhat depressing to imagine that in only a decade it has diminished
by so much.


After our ice journey we returned to town and decided to go to dinner at Atmosphere, which we noticed had been mentioned in the Michelin guide. It did not recieve any stars, but it was delicious! I started with the seared salmon which was served with a soy sauce honey mousse which tasted like heaven. For my main course I had the veal which was perfectly cooked and melted like butter in my mouth! I finished the meal with strawberries topped with lime mascarpone and meringue and was quite content, though extremely full! We finished our final evening in Chamonix at a bar with live music, and went to bed relatively early in preparation for our trip home the next day.

On our way home we stopped in Lyon which is quite a beautiful city! It is surrounded by two giant rivers, and all of the buildings are yellow, orange, pink or cream. We walked along one of the small cobbled shopping streets in Old Lyon, and had lunch at one of the many brasseries. Though the service was absolutely appalling (even by French standards) there was a restaurant kitty that I chummed onto my lap by sharing my sausage with it, and it sat there contently, sharing my lunch, until it decided to go and hunt pigeons. We continued to shop for a bit before getting back into our tiny car and returning home to Yssingeaux.

While we had a few detours and mishaps (my friend Elze was navigator and she accidentally tossed the map out the window) it was quite a fun trip. I would love to return to Lyon, especially since it is only a half hour drive from my tiny village.

I am starting to miss a few things from home, like burgers, customer service, less tax on my meals, and my pets, but I am really having quite an adventure!

Miss you all!


This trip was truly wonderful. Annecy was a wonderful detour and I would love to go back there sometime. It is just such a charming old city. Very relaxing, very french, very enchanting. Chamonix is breathtakingly beautiful and if you're a big skier I'm sure it's a great place to go (I wouldn't really know though since I haven't been on skis in a few years). And, as always, a roadtrip with a bunch of girls, while at times stressful (especially when you're the designated driver and you have 3 backseat drivers without maps or any driving experience) is a guaranteed good time. I also managed to get a speeding ticket on my way there from a speed camera even though I was only going 4 kilometers above the 90 kilometer limit. Total bullshit. First, 4 kilometers is nothing. Second, if I had been pulled over I would've been able to sweet talk my fine ass out of it. Third, I doubt that little car could even go that fast!

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