August 2, 2012

My Weekend in France

Last weekend I had the pleasure of visiting Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France, to celebrate Mark's successful ascent of Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps.

 It was a quick trip. I arrived via Paris and Geneva early Thursday afternoon and made the multi-leg journey home beginning Sunday morning, but even though brief, it was well worth the effort. Chamonix rests in a valley between the looming Mont Blanc and a smaller, yet incredibly beautiful mountain called the Brevent. So regardless of where you look, you're greeted with stunning views.

 The village was incredibly charming. It's a lively ski town in the winter, and filled to the brim with mountaineers, hikers and outdoor enthusiasts in the summer. I was one of the few people in town just to enjoy the food, wine and scenery, which is fine by me. Had Mark not just summited a massive mountain, I might have packed hiking gear to explore a bit. But we were in recovery mode, enjoying some really spectacular foods and wines of the Haute-Savoie and Rhone-Alps regions. And of course, we had a decent amount of Champagne. When in France!

 I did manage to fit one nice run in while there. I love running while traveling, it's the best way to explore. It was fairly hot, but we had an 11-course dinner booked and I needed to build up an appetite so I headed out with absolutely no idea where I was going and discovered a series of trails along the Arve river, a rough, silty, freezing cold glacial river that runs through town.

 I started on a path that took me away from the river and into the woods, at times on single track and at times on a gravel path. It was so beautiful with the mountains all around me. The altitude in town isn't severe at roughly 3,500 feet, but it was enough for this sea level New Yorker to feel a bit of sting in the lungs. I made my way back toward the river and chose another path that ran right alongside it. Apparently flooding is a risk!

The air blowing across the glacial water was like air conditioning. I couldn't have been in a more perfect place on a hot day.

The run was brief, but it helped prepare for the incredibly meal that followed. I think I could live on the bread, butter and cheese in France. And the wine, of course.

Saturday was rainy so we relaxed all day in our beautiful hotel. I read for hours while lounging in a robe, we sipped champagne on our terrace overlooking the mountains. It was beautiful to slow down and do nothing for a day. Especially in such a perfect place. I almost never do that.

Upon returning I had to stop procrastinating and start training for the NYC Marathon. It was tough to dive in with the jet lag, but I'm already enjoying it. After so much unstructured down time it's kind of refreshing to have a schedule. I guess taking a break was definitely the right thing to do.

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