Being among the fortunate few who don’t have any mid-term exams, Danielle and I have been able to plan a month long trip around a number of countries within Europe. What better way to start this journey then by heading up into the Northern parts of Italy (and as it turned out, the Southern part of France!). Here I must say a huge thank you to Marco, Marika and Eduardo for their wonderful hospitality over this weekend (and the entire time we have been in Milan so far!) – we are so grateful for everything and you will be pleased to know that this weekend was by far one of the best we have had in Europe, and I can quite honestly say one of my favourite places I have been so far.
The drive up to Courmayeur is a beautiful one – mountains, snow and lots of cobblestone houses. Courmayeur itself is a delight. Picture Wanaka or Queenstown, and then imagine so much more – this is the real deal. Upon arriving in Courmayeur we dropped our bags and headed across the border to France (no biggie) through a 12km long tunnel. We visited Chamonix – which was the most vibrant ski town I have ever had the opportunity to visit, and beautiful too. With the mountains creating the perfect backdrop, there was lots of people in ski gear walking around which created a happy, relaxed buzz. For dinner we went to Le Bistrot du Dahu where I got to experience the nicest red wine I have ever tasted and also such a delicious stone grill meal of steak, salad and chips – finishing off of course with the delectable “Mont Blanc” for dessert. We were all so wonderfully full that I’m surprised the car made it up the hill and through the tunnel home.
There is nothing quite like waking up with the curtains open to a view of the mountains draped in snow. After exploring Courmayeur (which is just as pretty and quaint as Chamonix, but had a slightly less touristy feel) we headed up into the mountains where we walked in the snow through the valley (snowy mountains surrounding us everywhere we looked) to a restaurant down the track. Along the way we saw numerous people walking, running, biking (I kid you not), and cross-country skiing. Some lucky children even had the joy of being pulled on a toboggan! Somehow I managed to draw my eyes away from the beauty of our surroundings just long enough to play in the snow, make a snow angel, and create a handsome snowman – quite the masterpiece! The spectacular weather enabled us to enjoy our red wine and local polenta specialty for lunch outside in deckchairs, soaking up the rays.
Photos and words do not do the beauty of this place justice – I can only imagine how stunning it must be during the midst of winter when all the wooden chalets and streets are coated with snow. I can already see myself going back one day, hopefully this time with skis in tow!