- The final leg of my birthday extravaganza found us entrenched in freeway traffic for seven hours! National holiday week, Cannes Film Festival and the Grand Prix all major contributors to the jam! After inching our way on freeways, all the while being charged a king’s ransom in toll fees, we finally arrived in the rather lovely mountain village of Chamonix. Summer crowds had not yet materialized leaving the town pretty much to ourselves. Only a handful of tourists and the hearty hiker crowd in town! Decades ago, Brian and I had flown there from Kuwait, to meet up with my eldest sister Pirjo and her husband Bill for a ski week! The memories were overwhelming and poignant. We were two then, just really starting out on our married lives, 25 and 27! I return with two children, their partners and two grandchildren … ‘we’ had grown from two to eight! Memories flooded my heart and mind … I had many tearful moments as I walked the back roads in the early morning mist that first day! The memories of a long ago Chamonix, coated in winter’s snowy landscape was replaced by the stillness of a mountain sunrise and a field of wild flowers, reminiscent of a Claude Monet painting.
The chalet the kids had found yet again on trusty Airbnb was everything one could wish for in a mountain setting! More rooms than we needed certainly but utilize them we did! Thrilled to find a true Finnish sauna and cedar hot tub outside!!! And once again, a child’s dream yard where Ronan, Quinn, Oliver and Aliana could play and squabble in equal measure with abandon, or soak in the warmth of the hot tub, or just enjoy a patio surrounded by mountain views one could only dream of.
We all took turns with the various activities available in Chamonix … hikes without youngsters, hikes with them, (all of us taking a turn with childcare), even a day of shopping in town for hiking boots for some 🙂 or a Gondola trip to the dizzying heights of 12,000 feet for others. Brian skied down this same hill above the clouds forty years ago! My sister Pirjo and I, being rather ummmm, tentative skiers at the time, had opted to stay on the lower slopes :). Somewhere in a dusty faded photo album, I will find those pictures of that long ago time in our personal history. I loved it at the top …. feeling cradled in the heart of a mountain. I was loathe to leave, wanting yet again to linger longer.
Leaving Chamonix behind we sped along the Italian Rivera, going through so many tunnels, we lost count. The six km long one through Mount Blanc alone was incredible … a fait accompli!! The toll stations were everywhere at an ever increasing cost … paying the price for the engineering feat of long tunnels bored through whole mountains, I guess!
We arrived in Nice for our final day, minus Tim and Liseanne who took a bus from Chamonix to Geneva for a day, continuing on to Spain for an additional week of holiday.
A final early evening walk along the sea, an extravagantly delicious dinner at La Petite Maison, a restful sleep, a morning walk to the market for berries and we were off again for the long commute home! Thank you my children, my grandchildren, Jenn and Gary et al for a most memorable trip! Love them all very much. Au revoir français c’est un voyage amusant!