Chamonix & Mont Blanc

Lucy & I decided to take a day trip to Chamonix yesterday. We’ve lived in the Alps for a year and a half, but still haven’t actually seen much of the Alps… So after two hours and three trains, we made it to Chamonix, which was surprisingly warm for February. Then after another hour of searching for a bathroom and the Tourism office, we finally found ourselves at the télépériphique to go up to the Aiguille du Midi.

After having a mini heart attack upon seeing the price – 38 € ! thirty-eight freaking euros !- for the privilege of going up to the top, we handed over the small fortune (well, for us anyway) and climbed into the cable car. About 25 minutes later, we were on the terrasses overlooking Chamonix and the snow-covered Alps.

The Aiguille du Midi takes you up to 3,842 m

We stayed up there for about 3 hours, taking pictures and videos of the mountains. The highest level of the Aiguille du Midi gives you a great view of Mont Blanc (the tallest mountain in Europe!) You have to take an elevator up there, but it is free even though the sign down at the office in Chamonix says it costs 3 €.

Mont Blanc – latest measurement puts the summit at 4,808 m

The restaurant on the Aiguille du Midi is only open mid-June through mid-September, but there is a small overpriced cafe. FYI, their croque-monsieurs aren’t so good.


We both got bad headaches (I think the glare got to us) and sunburns on our faces. We didn’t actually forget to bring sunscreen, but we did forget to put it on. ::sigh:: Climbing the staircases to go from terrasse to terrasse will make you get out of breath easily – but don’t worry, you’re not out of shape, it’s just the thin air (or at least, that was my excuse…)


You can also buy a one-way ticket for 35 € and then ski/climb/hike all the way down. But man, that’s a long way.

Look how close I am to Europe’s tallest mountain!

Other highlights of the day included tricking the automatic public bathroom (no way were we both paying 40 centimes!), marveling at the “British Foods” section at SuperU, and being lucky enough to sit way across the aisle from a sick little girl on the train. The woman sitting directly across from her was not so lucky.

One last piece of advice – if you buy your return train ticket at Chamonix, make sure they sell you the right one. I bought my ticket at the machine, and Lucy bought hers at the counter and since we both have the Carte 12-25, they should have been the same price. But somehow she was charged 5 euros less. Apparently the lady sold her a période bleue ticket when we were leaving in a période blanche, even after asking Lucy what time we were leaving. If we wouldn’t have noticed this and changed it right away, Lucy probably would have been fined on the train even though it wasn’t her mistake. Never trust the SNCF!!

Want to be a flight attendant?

I honestly hate Delta Airlines because they left me stranded in Kentucky a few summers ago and wouldn’t pay for my hotel, but if you speak French and want to be a flight attendant, they are desperate for you! Delta is a part of the Sky Team Alliance, so it’s partnered with Northwest, Air France, […]

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French shopping my way

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On learning and teaching

I cracked open my French vocabulary books after a much-too-long break from them, and rediscovered why I love learning new words. Vocabulaire expliqué du français; niveau intermédiaire begins with a chapter on prefixes and suffixes, which are mostly the same in English thanks to Latin. But there was one prefix I didn’t know in French: […]

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Buying furniture in France, or why I miss dad’s big blue truck

We had to buy a new sommier (box spring) today because our old one was held up with books. Thank you Harry Potter for not letting our mattress fall to the ground. I’m still amazed at how cheaply-made beds are in France. Thin wood held together with staples, what a genius idea. That wood will […]

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Jealousy times ten thousand

What I am missing in Michigan: My parents’ driveway after 6 inches (15 cm) of snow fell. My beloved car buried under 14 inches (35.5 cm) of snow. Brandy attacking the huge snow pile. That is what winter should be like…. ::sigh::

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Super Duper Tuesday

I had my students vote in a fake primary today. The ballots were just as entertaining as the class. Can you understand the pictures next to the names? I think it’s hilarious. Barack Obama and John McCain were the winners, although no one had heard of any of the Republican candidates and I did get […]

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What do groundhogs and crêpes have in common?

February 2 is Groundhog Day (le jour de la marmotte) in North America; but here in France, it’s la Chandeleur (le jour des crêpes). I forgot to mention that my interview is now up at Expat Interviews. Oh, and the president got married today. Apparently Sarko & Carla only met in November?? That was quick.

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Aujourd’hui

Annecy in winter I tried to pick up my new carte de séjour today. Except the people in Paris had made a mistake and sent an exact copy of the card I already have – visiteur that expires at the end of March. It’s supposed to be travailleur temporaire that expires in May. ::sigh:: By […]

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Observations & Questions

I’m still amazed that students cannot figure out that the American word vacation mean vacances. I know they’ve always been taught the British word holiday, but I thought they’d be able to understand it in context… Apparently I was wrong. What is another way of saying “What else?” All of my students are getting into […]

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Why is Jennie no longer in France?

I created this blog in September 2006 when I moved to France from Michigan to teach English. Many of the earlier posts are about my personal life in France, dealing with culture shock, traveling in Europe and becoming fluent in French. In July 2011, I relocated to Australia to start my PhD in Applied Linguistics. Although I am no longer living in France, my research is on foreign language pedagogy and I teach French at a university so these themes appear most often on the blog. I also continue to post about traveling and being an American abroad.

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