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.

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.

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.


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


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.
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.


Winter wonderland




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!


Thanks for reading:)

2 thoughts on “La mer de glace

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

  2. Pingback: Goodbye France! – Erin in Paris

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