La mer de glace

One day during our week in Megeve, Benjamin, Dominique, Cyril and I packed into the car and drove to Charmonix for a day trip. Charmonix is a little skiing town right on the border between France and Italy. It is very close to Mont Blanc and is situated in a tiny valley dwarfed on all sides by mountains. Because of this, Dominique told me that she preferred Megeve. The mountains there are present but not imposing. I loved it though. For me the mountains were more awe-inspiring than anything.

(To read more about my week in Megeve, click here)

We reached Charmonix early in order to catch the 10 am train up the mountain to the glacier, but the first train was delayed until 11. The crew needed time to clear all the snow from the night before off of the tracks and from the welcome center near the glacier.

The delay was actually a blessing because then we had time to go into the small city center to explore a bit. Charmonix had a beautiful city center, but with a noticeably more touristic air than Megeve.

014ea75e216d840bfcb114723333bf53dc36d5c2a7
Cyril and his aunt Dominique in Charmonix

After a very steep train ride in a charming old-fashioned red mountain train we arrived at Montenvers and were greeted by this spectacular sight.

01af7d15ac6a264a9d9471c38dcd5f791c8f227acb
La mer de glace!

It was my first time ever seeing a glacier in person so I was thrilled. Glaciers are incredibly fascinating for some reason that I can’t quite put a finger on. Is it their strength, age, rarity, perils, or immensity?

What’s more, we had the opportunity to visit a cave carved inside the glacier. We took a cable car down half way to the glacier and walked the rest of the way down many flights of stairs. They had plaques affixed to the rock every so often to say what year the glacier was at that height. Even though the glacier has had natural cycles of gain and retreat over the past 200 years, it is alarming to see how much it has retreated since 2010.

01ec3f4ccc1e1785e772a6c58da4fda4b7a61d8f1c

The glacier is constantly ‘flowing’ and moving so they carve a new cave every year. It has been done since 1946!
01fdd8a4f1e6b2ca756bca36df5198e577ec4e4f49
The new cave under construction
01d20a6c3bdc7c70fd4d3f8a1de49d6977b2dd5e7a
Ice sculpture
01483cec2d3e543afe93c43b2b2807a13d3edc36a8
I just couldn’t get enough of the beautiful ice

010d9caeec7dd278364bd783e1ede139e93acd3fae01561e745733fedb42e396341f1dcb92875852c11a01c0a8889b168845ff42fa846b75d16ddbc505a5f40115a721a044dbce43702985898ebfa9bc52fe3c13019adee785458519c87b6deb1a9af7ad8570689f270171c853ce32bd5f8a241f5c2e905037758a2c56c8

Back up by the visitors center, there was a small museum with displays about la mer de glace: its history, morphology, and importance. It was very well put together! The fact that blew me away is that there are actually little tiny organisms that live in the glacier. They can survive at very extreme pressures and temperatures, like at absolute zero (-273.15 Celsius) !!! The biology nerd in me was excited.
013e78e43fe211dccf1e611c2a2d8090d1f548998d
Like science fiction come to life!!!!!!

And after that another first- snowshoeing! They had free rentals at the little glacier museum.

It was incredibly quiet on the trails; the softly falling snow muted everything. It was like Cyril and I had completely left civilization behind, even though I knew that the bustling glacial overlook was a stone’s throw away. The snow was deep at that altitude, probably about three feet. I couldn’t remember the last time I was surrounded by that much snow. To add to the ambiance, it started to snow huge fluffy snowflakes. I had never snowshoed before but I would do it again in a heart beat.

01c05cb0ff818c9541945b93765684ccd810c1b04a

0199fc813e3c8f78ce73996d823bfd91554ff55951
Winter wonderland

014e9893718917350e092fb8a26abdc3a6c0a17bb3

01895c466c12f854b5865991a2331ae06cdc0128c2

 

01eed17e6eb09757ecee71ca6019b525f9b4965b40
Towards the end we ran into rooms that were built into the huge mounds of snow.  They were spacious and surprisingly warm inside. It looked like they were renting them out for travelers. I would love to stay in a snow bunker like that for a night!

0190121ba0aa2f93e45cc5f3b1ca025ce3e64b4827

010a8134b662f1c7761f1c16947255954237f9e9ad
Thanks for reading:)
Advertisements

2 thoughts on “La mer de glace

  1. Pingback: To the mountains! – Erin in Paris

  2. Pingback: Goodbye France! – Erin in Paris

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s