The Tour de Month Blanc is one of the world’s most famous hikes as it circles one of Europe’s highest peaks and weaves through three different countries. Come with me as we start day 1 of this 3 day hiking journey.
This is a 3 part series as I hiked 3 days my adventure in France in the stunning mountain town of Chamonix. I’ve heard about this iconic ski resort for decades, but never had the chance to visit. This week, I share my tips for visiting Chamonix and hiking the Tour Du Mont Blanc.
About Chamonix, France
Chamonix, actually named Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, is located 99km from Geneva in the heart of the Alps bordering Switzerland, Italy and France. At an elevation of 3396′ which seems low until you look up and see the tallest peak in Europe, Mont Blanc. This town is famous for winter skiing as well as summer hiking and rock climbing; everyone in town seems active, fit and ready to take on the world. The food is incredibly delicious with a hint of Swiss fondue influencing the delicious French cuisine.
How to Get There
The best way to get to Chamonix is by private car from Geneva. It’s fast, convenient and you can travel when you want. However, if you are price conscious, you can also check out the FlixBus which offers limited travel times between Geneva and Chamonix. Note: Geneva is NOT the cheapest airport to fly into, you may want to consider Milan which has a bus that takes around 4hr to Chamonix.
Where to Stay in Chamonix
There are lots of great hotels in Chamonix, and I’d recommend staying in the heart of the city as close to the walking zone as possible. You are expending so much energy during the day on the mountain, that you don’t want to walk too far at night to have dinner. We stayed at the 4 star Hotel Morgane and it was fantastic. Ample sized rooms, great breakfast, and very friendly staff.
What to Eat
Ok, this is France, on the border of Switzerland and Italy. Honestly, you cannot go wrong! My favorite meal was at Josephine. We started with shared salads which gigantic and so yummy, and then we moved on to Fondue and whole branzino (Mediterranean Sea Bass). Make sure to sit outside, but UNDER the awnings; weather in the mountains is so unpredictable, and you don’t want to get drenched by a summer squall. We also enjoyed the high end restaurant Atmosphere, and make sure to book ahead and ask for a table on the river.
Where to Shop
Every shop is geared towards outdoor activities. From Helly Hansen to North Face and Patagonia, you can find everything you need. Although you can buy all the name brands, make sure to check out these independent sport shops.
Best Spa in Chamonix
A must do while in Chamonix is the QC Terme Spa. What an incredible spa and an incredible value; the daily entrance fee was only 48euros, and it included outdoor and indoor pools, cold plunges and foot soaks along with a salt room, waterbed room, infrared sauna bed room and a crazy face exercise relaxing room. Again, QC Terme Spa is a must when traveling to Chamonix.
The Tour Du Mont Blanc – Day 1
We were going on an organized trip with Adventures for Solo Travelers based out of Atlanta. There were 24 of us who signed up for the tour but we were divided into three groups: There was a fast group, a medium group, and a slow group. I joined the slow group so that I would have time to film and take pictures. The tour company we went with was called Alpine Tracks, and my guide was Mark. He’s one of the owners of Alpine Tracks and has been guiding for 15 years! I was in very good hands.
We started our three day tour in Le Tour which is a ski resort, and headed out on our hike from France to Switzerland. We ended up in the small town of Triente and then got a transfer over to Martinique. That’s day 1 of our three day trek. Make sure to stay tuned for days 2 and 3!
Paragliding has been on my bucket list for some time, but I never wanted to rush it. Last month, the location, conditions, and price all worked perfectly! Keep reading to hear about my experience with Fly Chamonix.
HOW TO GET TO CHAMONIX
The best way to get to Chamonix is by private car from Geneva. I like it because it’s fast, convenient and you can travel when you want. However, if you are price conscious, you can also check out the FlixBus which offers limited travel times between Geneva and Chamonix. Another way to save money would be to fly into Milan instead of Geneva. From Milan, you can take a bus that takes around 4 hours to get to Chamonix. Geneva is a smaller airport and so it tends to be more expensive to fly into.
WHERE TO STAY
There are lots of great hotels in Chamonix, and I’d recommend staying in the heart of thecity as close to the walking zone as possible. You are expending so much energy during the day on the mountain, that you don’t want to walk too far at night to have dinner. We stayed at the 4 star Hotel Morgane and it was fantastic. Ample sized rooms, great breakfast, and very friendly staff.
Our guides from Fly Chamonix met us at Le Brevent Gondola meeting point. They were right on time and getting us excited for the adventure ahead. When we got to the top of the windsock, the guides started putting our gear on us including harnesses and helmets, and setting up the parachutes. The take-off was such a rush: the idea is you run as fast as you can while the parachute is filling with air. Pretty soon, you’re floating in the sky! I loved how my guide gave me the opportunity to “drive.” For more adventurous people, you have the chance to do acrobatics and have a big adrenaline rush!
All of my friends and I thoroughly enjoyed our experience with Fly Chamonix. A highlight was flying in front of the breath-taking backdrop of Mont Blanc. A bonus with going with Fly Chamonix is how they set you up with an ongoing video of the flight for a reasonable fee. I love my GoPro footage!
Are you planning a trip to Montreux, Switzerland? Maybe you are heading to the Montreux Jazz Fest like my girlfriends and I did. Keep reading to hear all about our travels!
Getting to Montreux, Switzerland
The girls and I met up in Geneva for three days before we headed on our hiking trip on the Tour de Mont Blanc. We happened to be in town during the Montreux Jazz Festival. It seemed like it was meant to be! So we hopped on a train and headed to Montreux. We switched trains in Lausanne and then we decided to take the train passed Montreux to Chateau Chillon and then walk the 30 minutes back along the lake to the festival.
Chateau Chillon is worth the Trip
One of the most iconic things to do when you’re visiting Montreux is to walk along Lake Geneva and visit the
ChateauChillon. What is it exactly? A gorgeous medieval chateau that was controlled by the Savoy family. We found it to be very well maintained and inside found lots of great information about living in the medieval times. The Savoy family only spent about one month a year here back in the 1400s. They would come with 300 horses, all their wares, and they would make furniture as soon as they arrived. I found it crazy to think that the family owned this beautiful chateau on Lake Geneva but only stayed a month out of the year!
Onto the Jazz Festival
After the chateau, we took a beautiful walk right along Lake Geneva back to Montreux. The Montreux Jazz Festival is a music festival in Switzerland about an hour and a half by train from Geneva. It was founded in 1967, lasted three days and was based in the Montreux casino. It was exclusively jazz at that time with Miles Davis, Bill Evans, Soft Machine Weather Report, and Ella Fitzgerald as some of the headlining artists. Nowadays, the festival lasts two weeks and happens every July. I suggest to visit all the shops along Lake Geneva where you can buy hats, shirts, and all the eclectic bohemian stuff that you would find at any festival. After that, you can head to the supermarket for some wine and snacks and sit at one of the picnic tables before you go see the music. That’s what we did.
We decided not to spend the155 Swiss francs to go see Slash and the other headliners. Instead, we went to the park to hear the wonderful artists that were playing there. All in all, it was a fabulous festival with the best views. I hope you enjoyed this blog. Make sure to stay tuned next week because I’m going to be paragliding in France!
Welcome to my London travel experience! lt’s been 20 years since I’ve been to London and it happens to be an old home town of mine. Keep reading to find out what I did on my short weekend there.
A little about my journey in London
After graduating college from the University of Texas, I decided not to take the investment banking job on Wall Street I’d hoped to get… Instead, I packed up my bags, had $300 in my pocket, a one-way plane ticket and I moved to London! No, I didn’t have a job. No, I didn’t have a place to live. I ended up couch-surfing on a friend’s couch who I had met a year before and in about three days I found a job typing as a “Kelly girl” in the city of London.
I had planned to stay in London for 6 months but it turned out to be a year and a half! After that, I spent an additional three and a half years living in Europe. To say that this geographical move to London changed my life would be an understatement. This is where my love for travel really took off, and here I am 20 years later back in the city that I love with you.
Tips for where to Eat in London
One of the most fun things to do while you’re in London is to eat. There are so many restaurants and so many areas of London, it can be overwhelming! My suggestion is
Pick a food genre
Pick an area town
Find out what you think is the best restaurant in the area with that particular food genre.
An example from this recent trip: I wanted something a little French and I wanted to be in Covent Garden. I wound up at a restaurant calle Le Beaujolais and I had some amazing French cheese and wine.
TIP: Make sure to try some of the amazing ethnic restaurants that are available. Some people say the Indian food in London is just as good, if not better, than the Indian food in India!
I hope you enjoyed this little blog about my short trip back in London. Tally ho!
This week I’m in an old hometown of mine, London England and I’m going to share with you some top tips for your first trip to London!
London is one of the easiest places for Americans to travel to; it is the mother country, after all! This city feels like a more formal and ancient version of New York City and has everything you could want. London was my first taste of ex-pat life, where I worked as a temporary secretary in the city of London. I love the city and everything it has to offer.
Flying into London
The first thing to pay attention to when you’re headed to London is which airport you are coming into. Did you know there are six airports in London? You want to make a note which one you are flying in and out of.
Where to stay in London
London is EXPENSIVE; there’s no doubt about that! It’s easy to be overwhelmed and a little shocked when looking for accommodations in the city. Some of the most common questions I get are, “Where should I stay?”, “Is there anywhere affordable in London?”, “What about cheap Airbnbs?” Honestly, cheap doesn’t exist, and if you think it’s cheap, it’s probably scary or so far out that you wouldn’t want to stay there. Not only is accommodation expensive, transportation is also expensive. So what to do? I suggest staying in a hotel inside The Circle Line (one of the Tube lines) for a couple reasons. 1. Time if of the essence, and you don’t want to waste precious hours riding the tube into the city. (TIP: Make sure your hotel is within 3-4 blocks of a tube station) 2. Transportation is also expensive and the further out you stay, the more expensive it will be to get into the city. If you’re visiting London for the first time, you will want to cough up the dough and stay as central as possible.
Here are a couple great Hotel options when booking your trip to London:
A lot of people who are traveling to the UK are also traveling to the continental Europe, but it’s important to note: In the UK, they use a different currency! In the UK they use the British Pound. It is different than the euro that you’re going to using in France, Italy, Spain etc. A great tip: Don’t bother exchanging money from your home currency into the British Pound while you’re at home. Just wait till you get to the UK and withdraw at any of the ATMs. The exchange rate is typically better. Make sure to notify your bank that you will be traveling so you can take money out.
How to get Around
The best way to get around is by the subway or the tube – it is the most efficient and least expensive way to get around the entire city. The tubes were used as bomb shelters during WWII! The subway system is easy to use and efficient, but there are some down sides. There are constant delays and certain lines not working due to maintenance issues. On my last trip to London, I found this great Tube App that not only shows me the best route and travel time, it shows me which lines have delays. This app was invaluable on my trip, as it saved me time as well as stress when finding my way around the city. Tip: I suggest getting the Oyster Card. It’s a $5 deposit and then it’s only seven British pounds a day for as many rides as you want to take. When you’re done, you turn in your Oyster Card, get your five pounds back for the card and any money left on your card.
What should you wear in London?
It is 10 latitude degrees further north than New York City and it has 106 days a year average rainfall. That means bring warm clothes no matter what time of the year you’re here. Currently, it’s mid-May and packed with me a lightweight jacket, scarves, long pants and close toed shoes. The best shoes to wear in London are walking shoes. Whether you’re taking the tube, a taxi or just wandering around, you’re going to want to be in easygoing, comfortable shoes. As far as style, London is a lot like New York City, so anything goes! If you want to dress up and go to the Savoy for high tea, go for it! OR if you want to be low-key casual in your yoga pants, that works as well.
British English vs American English
I wanted to give you a few tips about the language differences between British English and American English. First of all, when you’re in a restaurant and you need a napkin, in London you need to ask for a serviette. (I tend to make a mess when I’m eating so I need lots and lots of serviettes!) Secondly, the boot is actually the trunk of the car. Additionally, when you are asking for the restroom or the ladies room you can actually ask for the loo. When you’re staying at your hotel and they tell you you’re staying on the first floor, that does not mean you are on the ground level. It actually means that you are one level up. In England G is the ground floor, then the first floor then the second floor. Finally, the difference between chips and crisps. Here in the UK chips are french fries and crisps are potato chips.
Food to Try
Great Britain is not historically known for its food, but I do suggest that you give all the traditional British fare a try. Things to try:
Bangers and mash
Proper English Breakfast
Fish and chips
Other things to Note
Remember that they drive on the other side of the road! If you’re renting a car, you’re going to be sitting on the right-hand side and if you rent a stick shift you’re gonna be shifting with your left hand. When you’re on the road about to turn, you have to look right, left, right! And lastly, note that the adapters for the UK are different than European adapters.