Chamonix and Annecy, both of which we visited in November 2010, are located in south eastern France in the department of Haute-Savoie. The first ever Winter Olympic Games were held in Chamonix in 1924, while Annecy is now in competition with Munich and South Korea to be the venue for the Winter Olympics of 2018. However these two communities are very different. Annecy is a city with a population of 50,000 and is the departmental capital of Haute-Savoie. It sits on the northern end of Lake Annecy, which is an extraordinarily clean and beautiful lake. Last year, cyclists in the Tour de France made a circuit of Lake Annecy as Stage 18 in that competition. Annecy does not close down at any time of the year. It is at all times a thriving and bustling community. It lies only 30 miles to the south of one of Switzerland’s largest cities, Geneva, where a serious housing shortage has resulted in many people living in Annecy and commuting across the border to work in Geneva. On the other hand, Chamonix is not a city and it certainly does close down out of season. Chamonix is simply a picturesque Alpine ski resort where, out of season, one has difficulty even in finding a restaurant serving dinner.
|Mt. Blanc, Chamonix, France
We visited Chamonix nevertheless because, having travelled so widely in Europe, we wanted to see its highest point. Mont Blanc, rising to a height of 15,780 feet, is that highest point and Chamonix nestles in a valley immediately below it. On the floor of that valley flows the River Arve. The river flows through Chamonix and it also flows through a village named Les Houches, 4 miles to the west.
|Town of Les Houches viewed from our hotel
|Les Campanules Hotel in Les Houches
|Statue of Jesus
That road continues past the hotel in its upward journey and finally arrives at a statue of Jesus Christ, several dozen feet high, overlooking the valley with arms outraised.
|Massif of Mont Blanc
|Mer du Glace Sea of Ice glacier
|Montenvers Train accident Aug. 25, 1927
This piece, written by Bob, originally appeared on our website on January 23, 2011.