Discovering Lac Blanc, Chamonix

Discovering Lac Blanc, Chamonix, France

A good friend sends me a text completely out of the blue. It’s just a photograph and a simple message… “I’ve just heard of a place called Lac Blanc and thought of you. You have to go here!”

I was intrigued. No, that’s not true. I was absolutely captivated.

Fast forward a few months and I’m sitting on the balcony of our AirBnB apartment enjoying fresh croissants and coffee from the local Boulangerie, staring out across the super-cool Alpine town of Chamonix as the rising sun lights up the dramatic, snow covered ridge of the Mont Blanc massif towering almost 4,000 metres above us, yet in a surreal way, somehow within touching distance.

You can only fully understand Chamonix when you arrive and witness the immense scale of the topography that surrounds it. The busy streets sit in one of the continent’s harshest yet most beautiful landscapes and are filled with both hardened mountaineers and tourists heading to the Aiguille du Midi ready to stand in a glass-floored box that perches over a 1,000-metre vertical drop.

Discovering Lac Blanc, Chamonix

Full of caffeine and croissants, we kit up and head out along the river. The first signs of Autumn are showing in the trees, but it’s more refreshing than cold and as always in Chamonix, the air is completely still.

We take the first cable car of the day from La Flégère station to get ahead of others, to make sure we spend as long as possible at the Lake alone later.

Once clear of the cable station at Refuge La Flégère and on the trails the hiking begins. Above us Marmottes bask in the early morning sun like giant Guinea Pigs as the terrain become more rocky and the well worn path becomes less obvious as we scramble up scree and rock sections, at times guessing the route, heading relentlessly upwards.

Stripped down to base layer t-shirts through the exertion, we finally reach the lake. It looks very ordinary when you first stumble upon it, a dark coloured body of water set in a backdrop of high meadowlands and craggy rock outcrops. We know this is not the money shot though. For that we pick our way carefully to the far end of the lake to gaze back at our present position, not daring to look up at the view until we are at the perfect point.

Discovering Lac Blan, Chamonix

We sit on a shoreline rock, catch our breath and ready ourselves to soak up the incredible view.

It doesn’t disappoint.

Awesome is an over used word I find, but this time it’s accurate and fitting. We let the still serenity of Lac Blanc framed by the incredible peaks behind wash over us for minutes in complete silence. It doesn’t matter how long you stare, it just doesn’t seem to sink in. Views like this are earned and to be savoured… we certainly did both!

As our bodies begin to cool we notice that it’s single digit temperatures at this altitude so layer up and finally pull ourselves from the vantage point to grab a coffee at the refuge café just off the lake.
As our fellow hikers begin to arrive to drink in the view we wonder what makes this particular coffee taste so good? Is it the view, the altitude, the excursion… what is that secret ingredient?

Discovering Lac Blanc, Chamonix

Refreshed and revitalised we head down the mountain and along the Balcon de Nord back to Chamonix to complete our jaw-droppingly beautiful loop. We arrive to watch Chamonix winding down from another day of perfection as fit, tanned, positive and super-healthy outdoorsmen and women slowly return from their days pursuits. This place exudes beauty in all things human as well as geographical.

This is how places should look. This is how people should be. In Chamonix this is just “chaque jour.”