C’est le propre des longs voyages que d’en ramener tout autre chose que ce qu’on y est allé cherché – Nicolas Bouvier

It is the characteristic of long journeys to bring back anything other than what we went there for – Nicolas Bouvier

Chamonix is a complete package of experiences. On one hand, robust Mont Blanc dominates the scene with its omnipresent snow-clad persona. On the other, the green cape of the Alpine forests renders gentleness. Add to it the man’s undying curiosity to discover more and to reach far off. Mix these elements and voila! A cocktail of astonishing experiences, a kaleidoscopic Chamonix experience awaits the discerning explorer.

Train du Montainvers

Built and operated since 1908, Train du Montainvers is a little red,  cogwheel train that runs on the rack rail track. It climbs its way up from Gare du Montenvers station in the valley at an elevation of 1035m to Hotel de Montenvers station, at an elevation of 1913m on the sides of Aiguilles de Chamonix mountain, in just 20 minutes.

Montenverse Train Station

Chugging, the train travels through rock tunnels, viaducts, and mountainside passages offering breathtaking views of the valley and the mountain peaks of Les Drus and Les Grandes Jorasses mountains.

Don’t forget to visit a small animal and crystal museum once you are up there before getting enthralled by the sight of the Mer de Glace and its tributaries!

Mer de Glace

Mer de Glace is a glacier. It means ‘sea of ice’. Its surface is marked by many irregular ridges and deep chasms thus giving the impression of the vast sea which got frozen in an instant of a time, million years ago! But is it really that huge, to be termed as “mer (sea)”, you may ask. For now, the answer is yes.

(Tongue of) Mer De Glace

Originating at an elevation of 2100m at the North face of Mont Blanc, it is 7.5km long with an average depth of 200km (maximum:400km). Its ranges from 700m to 1950m in width. Add to this its tributaries and you get the largest and longest glacier in France. If we consider it from its source to the tongue, it is actually 12 km long. It has been moving at speed of 70 to 90m/year.

Perched at an altitude of 1913m, the glacier lies above the Chamonix valley. Till recently, it was visible from the valley. Climate change has dealt a heavy blow to it. The glacier is shrinking at an alarming rate*. Hotel de Montenvers station was built to reach the glacier by train from the valley. Back then, one could reach the gigantic Mer de Glace from the station itself. Not anymore though. Why? Let’s find out…

Grotte de Glace

Grotte is a French word for cave. Grotte de Glace (cave of ice) is one of its kind tourist attraction at Mer de Glace glacier. It is the only glacier museum in France.

Each summer a new 100m cave is dug in the heart of Mer de Glace, as the glacier keeps moving at a speed of 70 to 90m/year. The cave showcases the ice sculptures that are entertaining and educative. The cave also fills you with information about the glaciers, the impact of climate change on them, and how further loss could be prevented. One needs to descend about 500+ steps to reach the cave after taking the gondola connecting Hotel de Montenvers station. This is a striking reminder to be responsible toward nature. However, breathtaking views of the Les Drus and Les Grandes Jorasses mountain peaks provide the saving grace.

Today I want to stop here with a question for you to ponder… are we doing enough to save nature?

A bientot!

*To learn more about the impact of climate change on the Mer de Glace glacier, click here

This post is part of #BlogchatterA2Z challenge2022

Click here for posts so far in the “Exploring l’Hexagone” series


Yamini Ali MacLean · April 13, 2022 at 12:06 am

Hari OM
answer… NO! Individually we may all do our bit – but until governments, and more importantly, mega business get over themselves, it is definitely not enough… Love your K word today! YAM xx
K=Kali Yuga

    Anagha Yatin · April 13, 2022 at 2:33 pm

    Absolutely agree Yamini. Much needs to be done on a larger scale and on higher realms rather than at only individual levels. However, we will never to able to recover the loss. Maybe restricting the further loss is something that we will have to be happy with.
    Thanks for visiting and sharing your thoughts.

Harshita · April 13, 2022 at 6:54 am

“Grotte DeGlace” seems like such a stupendous place!!

    Anagha Yatin · April 13, 2022 at 2:35 pm

    A very overwhelming feeling and very disturbing in equal measures Harshita. The damages to nature are so cruel and unpardonable.
    Thanks for visiting.

Pradeep · April 13, 2022 at 9:49 am

That train station looks like a house! Glacier museum looks just out of the world!
Visit my blog Time and Tide

    Anagha Yatin · April 13, 2022 at 2:36 pm

    Most of the train stations are like small houses. Petite, pretty, well maintained, and well equipped, these stations are of immense attraction for me!
    Thanks, Pradeep for visiting.

Priyanka (aka ‘Pri’) · April 13, 2022 at 4:31 pm

Loved your post. And the pics that go along with it. The glacier museum looks simply surreal. Yes, we need every bit of effort to conserve nature or whatever little is left of it.

    Anagha Yatin · April 13, 2022 at 5:25 pm

    Thanks, Priyanka. As you said, anything and everything to save the nature is a must!

Matheikal · April 13, 2022 at 4:45 pm

Your question is one which has bothered me for years now. No, we are just hypocrites pretending to save nature while actually raping her.

    Anagha Yatin · April 13, 2022 at 5:26 pm

    It’s a real shame for us. Thanks, Matheikal for visiting and sharing your thoughts.

Swarnali Nath · April 13, 2022 at 7:44 pm

The panoramic beauty of these places make me feel so loved, so blissful. Just roaming here and there makes you feel like a writer in search of her story. Beautiful places Anagha.

    Anagha Yatin · April 13, 2022 at 8:59 pm

    You said it so right Swarnali. Nature is most kind and loving. Thanks for visiting

Aesha Shah · April 14, 2022 at 7:28 am

We appreciate beauty of the nature and want to travel but are we doing enough to protect it, certainly an important question to ask. One of my dad’s colleague has done a lot of research on glaciers, many times I have read his posts, certainly there is a huge impact of climate change which needs to be addressed. But I also know there is lot of global politics involved in the same as my dad extensively works in that area. Hope all the countries can agree and start joint efforts towards combating climate change

    Anagha Yatin · April 14, 2022 at 12:34 pm

    That’s really good to know Aesha. Can you share the blog links? Thanks for visiting and sharing this information

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