From Alsace we drove across Switzerland, to the French Alps choosing this route partly for the novelty of traversing a new country in a day and encountering another language.
We stopped for a picnic by Lake Geneva where it was incredibly hot, and the lake was surprisingly like a swimming pool – warm, clear, and absolutely gorgeous for swimming. Sadly, one child had left his swimming togs at the bottom of his suitcase at the bottom of our car boot that was stuffed to the ceiling. So he and I played catch in the scraps of midday shade, feeling a bit hot and wretched watching the others bomb into the water. Lesson learned. Had we all had our togs handy we could have stayed and played all day
We drove on to St Germain des Bains, near Chamonix, where we had rented a small apartment. Here, Lily turned 12 and spent the morning practicing her photography skills and tasting macarons in the beautiful village
. Later we visited the gorgeous open air pool in Chamonix and enjoyed blasting down the waterslides and relaxing in the hot sun on the deck with a glacier view.
We took the funiculaire up to the Aiguille de Midi
And acted like real tourists, queuing for a stupidly long time to take “Le pas dans le vide” (the step into the void) over a 1000m drop.
Then enjoyed a delicious lunch overlooking the valley, before following the panoramic Grand Balcon Nord trail to the Montenvers glacier and taking the little scenic train down to Chamonix, feeling hot, dusty and very very tired.
Later in the week we caught the chairlift up to Bettex for a day’s mountain biking which turned out to be quite a lot trickier than we had anticipated, leading to a few tears and tantrums.
We were very thankful to have a pool as this was the week of the second heatwave of the summer. When it’s over 40 degrees in the French Alps it’s hard not to get anxious about global warming, especially when catching up with a friend who told us how she has watched the glacier retreat over the last 10 years. And there was more crazy weather yet to come