Mont Blanc (#22)

 

 

Snow Trekking on Mont Blanc

Mont Blanc is the highest mountain in the Alps and in Western Europe. Mont Blanc means “White Mountain” for its perpetual snow fields and glaciers. Towering at 15,782 feet (4,810 meters) trekkers get to see incredible vistas from high mountain passes, lush valleys, highway-sized glaciers and alpine views.

Getting up close and personal to Mont Blanc is a 20-minute ride in the Aiguille du Midi cable car from Chamonix. Be mindful of altitude sickness. At those heights, breathing gets a bit more difficult due to the thin air, and giddiness might set in.

We met a couple who were just about to begin their trekking journey. We stayed around to watch them adorn their heavy snow gear. Some snapshots together, one good-bye and they went their way, disappearing into the snow.

I took this opportunity to Step Into The Void,  a 2.5 meter glass enclosure, extending over a 1000 meter precipice.

Behind Bars (#21)

Behind Bars, Hotel Mercure, Chamonix

 

This cosy bar can be found in Mercure Hotel Chamonix, France. The hotel is located at the foot of Mont Blanc and the Aiguille du Midi mountains, and only a few steps away from the Chamonix’s railway station.

Chamonix is one of the oldest ski resort towns in France. Mark Twight describes Chamonix as “the death-sport capital of the world” because it is a base for extreme sports like ice-climbing, rock climbing, paragliding, rafting, canyoning, wingsuit flying and extreme skiing.

Chamonix1

 

Chamonix2

 

Something to shout about:-

  • Chamonix played host to the first Winter Olympics in 1924
  • The gondola that brings skiers and visitors up to Mont-Blanc (Western Europe’s tallest mountain) is just 10 minutes walk from the hotel.
  • Pierce Brosnan went to Chamonix to film the James Bond movie, The World Is Not Enough.
  • McDonalds is just up the road in the town centre, so you need never go hungry.

A Town Like Nancy

During my long coach journey from Switzerland to France, I stayed overnight at a French city called Nancy in the Lorraine region. By the end of the evening, I wished I could have had an extra day or two to explore this very historical city.

Nancy has an air of finesse found nowhere else in Lorraine. Thanks to Place Stanislas, she is considered to be one of the most beautiful places in the world and is inscribed in UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

Up to the mid-17th century, Nancy comprised two distinct fortified towns separated by an esplanade. Stanislas I, King of Poland and father-in-law of Louis XV, wanted to honour his son-in-law. So he embarked on an ambitious project to join the towns and extend the area. The French architect, Emmanual Héré de Corny, was commissioned to look for an ideal site and in 1752, the foundation stone for the first building in the Stanislas Square was laid.

Place Stanislas is Nancy’s crowning glory.  The magnificent pale-stone buildings and facades, fountains and gold-coloured wrought-iron railings, are regarded as one of the most exquisite and homogeneous examples of 18th century neo-classical architecture.

Place Stanislas
Place Stanislas is a rectangular square measuring approximately 400 by 350 feet (120m by 105m)

 

Famous buildings surrounding the square include the handsome Town Hall (Hôtel de Ville), the Opera House (Opéra National de Lorraine) and the Fine Arts Museum (Musée des Beaux-Art).

Hotel de Ville
The Hotel de Ville is the largest monument in the square measuring 90m long
The statue of Stanislas I stands in the middle of the pedestrian square.
The statue of Stanislas I stands in the middle of the pedestrian square.
Place Stanislas has its on Arc de Triophe, designed by the architect, Héré, to honour Napoleon Bornapare
Nancy has its own Arc de Triomphe, built by Emmanual Héré

 

Besides being an arts and cultural melting pot, the square is also home to many cafes and restaurants. This makes it the undoubted venue for events and festivities in Nancy.

Fountain of Neptune
The Fontaine Amphritite – one of two symmetrical fountains fashioned by Barthelemy Guibal, a French sculptor.
A Clear Day at the Place Stanislas
The square is a good place to hang out
Golden gates by Jean Lamaur
Place Stanislas is surrounded by wrought-iron railings with each corner carefully embellished with gold leaf, earning its nickname, “The City of Golden Gates”.

Ornomantal Grills

 

Outside the golden gates, the Old Town becomes recognisable with its narrows streets, alleyways, tall houses and mullioned windows.

Old Town Area
The small, inviting shops and cafés that line the paved streets make it a delightful area for strolling.

 

Life In The City
Flowers growing opposite my hotel which is a 10-minute walk to Place Stanislas