Visual Diary

French Perspective Pt 2 / South France

south france 2

Chamonix, Mont Blanc. Originally, I never thought I would find myself in Geneva. During the early planning, I was considering flying back to London as soon as I completed my Paris and Nice trip. But due to the expensive return airfare, I had to figure out another alternative. The only option I found was to transit through Geneva, Switzerland. The first thing that instantly crossed my mind was the Alps. And so full of curiosity, I decided to make my way back to the French border from Geneva, heading to Chamonix commune, where the Mont Blanc is.

From the airport, I took an hour-ride in a minibus that brought me across the spectacular scenery of the Alps. Travelling in a long westbound highway,
surrounded by vast grass fields and snowcapped mountains under the summer warmth, nothing could be compared to such an experience. The bus safely reached the Valley of Chamonix around afternoon time. As a town with 10,000 permanent residents, Chamonix had always been a lively place for both summer and winter seasons. Once there, I walked to La Frasse, a small village where I spent the night.

Surrounded by pearly white flanks of the Mont Blanc massif as a sensational backdrop, every single step I took was filled with dramatic feelings. At the end of that walk, I sighted the signage of La Frasse and checked into my room. The town was lively enough to be explored, so I spent the rest of my day wandering around it. On my way back, I was greeted by two French guys, who were to be my roommates for the night. I remembered preparing for them our local instant food and they found it spicy somehow. We enjoyed the night getting to know each other, playing cards, and exchanging viewpoints. As I recall, both of them left school and were about to enter the police academy as soon as they get back from this trip. Together, we took a couple of cigarettes before we all called it a night.

I woke up the next day surrounded by the sounds of a lazy village and greeted by the Rhône-Alpes view from the windows and I knew that those mountains were calling me to see them up close. I then prepared myself with hiking gear and headed towards Les Praz village, where the route to La Flegere would begin. It was such a dreamy route: walking along a quiet roadside on a cloudy morning, being enclosed by the misty atmosphere, and having the fresh smell of pine trees surrounding me.

After a mile of walking, I reached the village of Les Praz, found the trail’s entrance, and started my hike around 11 in the morning. The whole trail was exhilarating! It was just like my time in Scotland, except that I was all alone on that day. Surrounded by the woods in a foreign country and a thousand of miles away from my home, I thought to myself how this moment could be one of the best things life has to offer me. On the first hour, the trail brought me under the shades of nature. On the next, it brought me to an open sky area with a midrange panorama to the south facing Mont Blanc. After a short time of waiting, the sun finally came out and bathed the whole area with sunlight. I continued on my trail and after three hours of walking, successfully reached Refuge de la Flégère (1877m).

The refugee house was specifically made for the mountain’s visitors to take a break in. It was basically a hotel in the middle of a mountain. I ordered myself a cup of tea while there and enjoyed every sip of it while viewing the snowcapped European mountain massif in front of me. It was the most gratifying cup of tea I’ve had so far!

It was already two in the afternoon and I was half-way still from my absolute destination of Lac Blanc (2352m). Knowing that the daytime would be longer in summer, I decided to pursue the trail even though it was a little bit late. From the elevation of 1877m to 2352m, the landscape and geographical condition has seriously changed. The trail was a long walk on rocky and uneven surfaces, under a vast blue sky surrounded by the Rhône-Alpes massif.

Once I encountered the sign of “Aiguille Rouge”, I knew that I was close enough to the lake. With my blurry vision after several hours of expedition, I finally saw a guesthouse – which meant that I have successfully reached my destination. I climbed up to the viewpoint, took a long deep breath, and realized that I was already standing at the altitude of 2352m in the stunning French Alps! I walked around slowly, fully embracing the beauty and silence of it all.

France was my second solo destination. I decided to experience the trail by myself in one of the classic French Alps route leading to Lac Blanc, and I accomplished it. Overall, that personal journey was completed in 8 hours with 2 stops. Thinking back to that time still makes me feel so much alive and puts me back again in the right perspective of things. Au revoir, France, and merci for giving me the memory of a lifetime!

Words & Photos by Syazwan Asyraf