A big, crazy, adventurous group of friends rented a chalet in the French Alps for a week. In the mighty, crevasse filled, powder steeped, bluebird sky tipped mountains of Chamonix, France (and Cormayeur, Italy) we skied hard. It snowed heavy nearly every evening, and by morning as the fog rose steadily above the vast jagged peaks, the warmth of the sunshine combined with the fresh, deep powder, our happiness radiated at a constant high.
The quintessentially French mountain village of Chamonix on the one hand is quaint and inviting, with patisseries and boulangeries where croque monsieurs, crepes and Vin Chaud are sold street-side. Fantastic restaurants range from the cozy and homey with steaming french onion soup, pots of fondue, and rich spaghetti carbonara, (topped with a layer of parmesan cheese and a runny egg yolk) to the elegant and refined with escargots bathing in a pesto sauce, buttery foie gras dishes and perfectly cooked duck a l'orange. Add to that a bustling tourist scene with elegant fromage and chocolate shoppes and an endless variety of name brand ski apparel stores. On the other hand it hosts a vibrant apres ski and nightlife party, with live music and table dancing, pitchers of Pelfourth and Kronenbourg, bottle service and rounds of shots.
Skiing in the Alps was incomparable. Most notably, there was the 20km off piste run, the legendary Vallee Blanche - which begins with a descent from the top of the Aiguille du Midi. Harnessed to one another and our guides we hiked down a ridge edge with a 40 degree pitch on both sides, then we skied all day among the glaciers, untouched snow and the most breathtaking scenery Mont Blanc range has to offer.
Favorite spots in downtown Chamonix: