Today’s excursions took us across Lake Geneva to France. Our first stop was the medieval city of Yvoire, and from there our tour bus drove us an hour south to Chamonix-Mont-Blanc in the heart of the French Alps.
Lunch in France sounded so exotic to us, but our excitement was dampened a bit by the heat. The air-conditioned bus felt nice and we were glad for some relaxed sightseeing through the window as we traveled past farm fields east of Lake Geneva toward Douvaine. We skirted Geneva clockwise from the east and linked up to the major A40 Expressway – Chamonix was about 40 miles ahead.
The area south of Geneva is beautiful – a very flat plain with the Aravis and Bornes Prealps rising purple to the West, the Chablais and Haut-Giffre Prealps to the East then the snow-capped main Alps range rising high in the South.
I was surprised at the traffic on the A40 Motorway, but learned that there are many commuters to Switzerland from France where the cost of living is lower. Perhaps 15 miles to the west, the large Hadron Collider is buried in the valley floor and a number of workers commute across the open border.
At Saint Gervais-Les-Bains, the east and west Prealps meet at the Arve River. Our motorway lifted high and around the foothills to the Arve River valley along the Viaduc des Egratz, which is an impressively elevated roadway with the highway hung on the side of the mountain off tall pillars.
We followed the Arve for about 10 miles to Chamonix, which is close to the junction of Switzerland, France and Italy. On our same highway, a few miles ahead is the 10-mile long Chamonix-Mont-Blanc tunnel which gives access to Turin, Italy.
There are numerous ski runs in this area from Saint Gervais-Les-Bain to Chamonix. The Olympic site of Albertville is about an hour southwest of here.
We arrived in Chamonix on one of their hottest days. Temperatures were well into the 90s and the weather seemed so out of place for such an alpine region. The completely snow-covered Mont Blanc hovered high above us and provided a stark contrast to the heat.