Chamonix events: Fireworks with Les Commandos Percu

Chamonix has been in the global news because of the tragic avalanche that took 9 lives on Mont Maudit a couple of days ago.

The day after, we were bombarded with people asking if we were ok, what the news was.
Thankfully none of us, our friends or people we know were caught up in the tragedy.
Plus, luckily, it appears that no-one who lives in the valley was killed in the avalanche.

Events like that do serve to highlight how this beautiful valley can be deadly when you least expect it.
Our thoughts go out to those suffering loss as a result.

However life always moves on — and this week has held one of the highlights of the Chamonix calendar:  the annual World Cup Climbing competition here in Chamonix.

The “Best of the Best” climbers battle it out – head-to-head in the speed competition,  and also in the technical difficulty which is measured in metres up an over-hanging wall with ever increasing levels of difficulty….

Despite the rain, the final was last night and AGAIN, we are blown away by the sheer athleticism of these amazing individuals.
An aerial ballet – plus the delight when they fall OFF the wall as they reach the expression of the peak of their ability.

This was followed by a percussion band.  But no ordinary percussion band.

This was “Les Commandos Percu”!

6 guys.
Dressed as commandos.
Creating a trance-like almost tribal experience.
with fireworks!

very cool!

Les Commandos Percu – Chamonix 13th June 2012

 

Actually, in the immortal words of Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica, “Frakking Awesome!”

Chamonix in Summer 2012 – Our what’s on, not-to-be-missed guide….

Chamonix is idyllic in Summer.

The snows have melted back.  The alpine pastures are green and full of wild flowers.
The alpinists are climbing, the hikers hiking…
…and the skies are full of paragliders circling in the thermic air and Chamonix town bustles with life as tourists flock here in their tens of thousands.

Helen walking in the mountains with the Aiguille du Midi behind

For people who only know Chamonix as a Winter ski resort, they might be surprised to learn that there are actually MORE people in Chamonix in Summer than in Winter!

Like any town bustling with life, there are a whole HOST of things going on for people to enjoy and experience…

So, if you haven’t got any plans for summer yet, then you are always welcome to visit Chamonix!  For a week or a weekend, we have space available in July and August.

Every Wednesday morning at 9:30, discover the history of Les Houches at “Les Chavants, 15,000 years of history”…  Trace the last glaciation, agriculture of yesterday, the first tourists…” Registration 4€ from the tourist office in Les Houches.

Every Thursday, there are guided tours around Chamonix town for 7 euros.  Discover the history of Chamonix and its secrets.

The Festival of Baroque runs from the 6th July to the 20th!  In honour of Johann Sebastien Bach, there will be a series of 13 concerts in churches throughout the Pays du Mont Blanc.  Information here: http://www.festivalmontblanc.fr  Listen to Bach in the church in Chamonix on Sunday 8th 20:15 at the Eglise St. Michel, then choirs in Servoz on Tuesday 10th, and Vivaldi and Bach in Les Houches on the Friday 13th 21hrs 22€ on the door. 20€ from the tourist offices in advance.

 

We are especially looking forward to the World Cup Climbing competition – between Wednesday 11 and Friday 13th July, the best climbers battle it out right in the centre of town on a 15 metre high, artificial climbing wall.  Both the technical difficulty and head-to-head speed climbing competitions are equally impressive.  Should be just us and 17,000 other spectators for the final!

This is followed immediately on the Friday 13th July night at 23:00hrs by the Fireworks spectacular!!  For the last 17 years, the company, “Commandos Percu” have been combining percussion with pyrotechnics!  This promises to be quite the best fireworks in Chamonix in a long while.  Original, audacious and surprising!  The post-climbing fireworks are normally SPECTACULAR, so this promises to be quite an event!

Then, more fireworks in Les Houches on Saturday 14th July to celebrate the cutting-off of heads of various French aristocrats a couple hundred years ago…

 

The Chamonix tourist office is celebrating its 100 years with free guided visits, from mon-thurs 16-19 July at 10h, as well as an exhibition of photos of Chamonix 100 years ago. We also have the  Ciné Concerts Tues 17/Fri 20 July and 11/12 August  at 18 & 20h –  a montage of old cinematography (the first fimed ascent of Mont Blanc) accompanied live by talented musicians playing the music of the period (Gershwin, Wagner, Strauss and Rossini!). 18€

 

Not to be missed!  Tuesday 24th July to Sunday 29th July, Chamonix plays host to the Cosmo Jazz Festival – organised by André Manoukian (the French equivalent of Simon Cowell!!).  During the day, you hike the mountains of Chamonix valley and get  to listen to the free Jazz concerts at altitude!   Then, there are more free concerts in the bars and restaurants throughout Chamonix starting in the early evenings.  Superb!   http://www.cosmojazzfestival.com

Béatrice Hombourger performs on the violin with a programme of Massenet, Beethoven, and Maskowsky on the Tuesday 31st July at 18h at le Temple, Place de la Gare.

 

The Fêtes des Guides  starts on the 12th August up in Lavancher, in Les Houches on the 13th, and culminates in Chamonix on the Wednesday 15th August.  The guides festival takes place every year at Les Gaillands starting at 15:00 – with demonstrations of Tyrolienne and Slacklining, acro paragliding with Baptiste Rousset at 18:30, concerts from 20h and the Sound and Light spectacle at 21h30. €13.

 

The Chamonix Adventure Festival runs from the 20th to 26th August –  screening adventure films in Chamonix and Les Houches, and offering courses on adventure photography and videography.

 

Finally on the 31st August, we have the Ultratrail du Mont Blanc.  Cheer 2,300 runners taking on a 166 km course with 9,500 metres of UP!   The runners come through Les Houches at about 19hrs – we have Edgar playing in the centre of the village together with a giant tartiflette!  The time to beat is 20h 05  set by Dawa Sherpa in 2003!    Run, Kilian Jornet, Run!  The man is a machine!  The ‘Usain Bolt‘ of Ultramarathons!

 

So…  that is just a taster of what’s going in on Chamonix this summer –  Our selection from all the events that are going on.
and of course, we still have some of the best walking, hiking, climbing, and mountaineering in Europe on our doorstep….

It promises to be a fun-packed, action-filled summer here… and if you have the opportunity, we would highly recommend coming to Chamonix for a bit of a break away this summer!

Lots going on in Chamonix in Summer 2011….

Busy summer here in Chamonix with lots of spectacular events going on in the area.

Firstly, in July there was the Climbing World Championships
Both the speed and the technical events were held in the place du Mont Blanc…

I love the speed events – I think it incredible how these athletes can climbing SO quickly up that vertical wall…. So, so impressive…

That coincides with the Bastille Day celebrations with spectacular fireworks in Les Houches and Chamonix.

Then, we enjoyed the free JAZZ of the 2nd Annual Cosmo Jazz festival.
There were some superb jazz musicians playing for free in the town centre and up the mountain. They would set up a short walk from some of the main lifts and play for everyones’ pleasure!

We sincerely hope they continue this event as it is one of the most enjoyable events of the Summer.
(shame I actually missed the above concert though – held at Lac Bleu above Plan d’Aiguille.)

There was the annual fête des Guides over last weekend – to raise money for the families of guides who have lost their lives or been seriously injured at work – finishing with its light show at Lac Gaillands on Monday.

Just starting today (Tuesday 16th August) is the Chamonix Adventure Film Festival showing films at the Majestic.

This culminates with a free film showing at the Lac du Chavants in Les Houches on Wednesday 24th August.

and finally at the end of the month, is the Ultratrail du Mont Blanc.

For those that have not heard of this, the UTMB is 2500 runners running 166km around the Tour du Mont Blanc – with the best winning time to beat of 20 hrs 5 mins set by Dawa Sherpa in 2003 (when of the 722 runners in the competition only 67 finished…).

Re-positioned web cam for summer…

We’ve repositioned the web cam for the summer so that it now points up the Chamonix valley – showing the Aiguille Verte and the Dru…

Take a look here: Chamonix chalet webcam

Sadly today is not the greatest day for the image – unless you are really into clouds and rain!  But, hey, at least it is great for the new VEGGIE PATCH growing here..

current still image (click for streaming):

Maison Jaune in porn scandal as amateur photos of tits published on internet

Back in March, we put a nesting box up on the tree between the two mazots and waited.
Patiently.

Hoping.

Then, a couple of months back, we first noticed that a couple of Blue Tits were checking out the box, just occasionally.  Darting inside, then turning tail and disappearing.   Then about six weeks back, we spotted that they were building a nest.  They were carrying bits of twig and grass into the box – very discretely – but then it went very quiet for a month or so, with no signs of activity.

However, in the last three weeks, the nest box has turned into a hive of activity – with both mom and pop darting in and out every fifteen minutes carrying food.   Sometimes seeds, sometimes caterpillars.  Then for the last two weeks, the chicks were very vocal and squarking all day, “Tchee tchee tchee ho ho ho”.

momma Blue Tit feeding her young - spot the chick inside the nest.

Proud and happy guardians we were…  As mom and pop got used to seeing us around the area, we were duly able to get closer and closer before they would give us their alarm, “cheeeer  cheeeer”.

Then yesterday, I spotted one of the chicks looking out through their round window.  It was the first time we had actually spotted the young.   There was the occasional sound of fluttering from within the box:  The chicks must have been stretching their wings – testing them for the first time.
This morning, there was even more of this – little white feathered heads popping up and down, appearing at the box opening for minutes at a time, and getting the lay of the land of the big outdoors!

I was momentarily flabbergasted when this particular little bird actually started tweeting the Welsh national anthem

Then, while I watched, both mom and pop came flying to the nest without food and without entering, before both landing on the tree above the box and both calling to their young-uns…

Slowly, a first head appeared and then a leg on the opening… Half-way out…  Looking around.  Dodging nervously back inside.  Then, eventually, courage finally plucked, the first baby Blue Tit leaped into the great void and fluttered its tiny wings in a panic-stricken, “oh, my god, here we go…” moment.  He flew rather unsteadily up and out, banking left in a rising turn straight into the side of the house!    Dear readers, do not worry.   He made it onto the ledge of one of the windows unhurt and waited there for a minute or two.  He was probably getting over his first flight nerves.  As a PPL, I can understand that – the first time you go solo is quite a harrowing experience!

"Continental 635, cleared for take-off on runway 30, wind 12 knots south-easterly...." - "Roger, cleared for take-off. Geronimooooooow!"

Then another, tentatively poking its tiny head in and out, before plucking up the courage to spread its wings, leaving the box… and also hitting the house beside his brother…

Then another and a fourth.  These selected the nearby silver birch.  A wiser choice I thought.

The fifth crash-landed on the electricity box…

One by one, they left until there was the seventh, the final fledgling, all alone in the nesting box.

Tweeting all by itself, it looked remarkably panicked by the sudden absence of its brothers and sisters.  I could hear the others and mom and pop calling to it..  Finally, in one giant leap of faith, hope and fear, the smallest bird of the lot emerged and flew; albeit extremely unsteadily, out parallel to the mazot, and up into the nearest silver birch tree for a well-deserved rest.

It is rather quiet now without their endless squarking.  It is sad to see them go – but as responsible parents, I guess you just have to let your kids grow up, make their own choices and fly out into the big wide world on their own….

Hope they come and visit soon.

Ed. note: Opening the box the day after revealed just one unhatched egg – all other seven eggs hatched successfully and the chicks made it to fledge. Plus, we have had some of the chicks feeding around the garden since.

Seeking an Enthusiastic Assistant Chalet Host

As part of our never-ending commitment to providing our guests with an outstanding holiday experience, we have decided that we would like to expand our team to include a third full-time member for next Winter season.

Although we immediately offered this position to Tim, our nephew, who has provided fantastic service to the chalet and our guests for the past two years, he has made the, albeit we’d-like-to-think difficult, decision that now is the time to pursue his own path, goals and experiences.  Consequently, we thank him for ALL that he has contributed to the chalet for the past two years – and wish him all our very best in his future.  For those that know Tim – don’t worry – he is still staying in the valley – and we hope he will continue to play a major part in our lives….

However, this creates an opening for some dynamic individual to try to step into some very large shoes, create some amazing kirs, and play an active role in helping us manage the chalet.

So, if you know any wonderful individual who would be willing to work their butt off in exchange for meager wages and some fantastic skiing experiences, please point them in our direction!

For more details on the job, please look on our Chamonix Ski Jobs page.

 

Chamonix B&B now available throughout the summer at Maison Jaune

New for 2011, we are now offering our guests rooms on a bed and breakfast basis throughout the whole summer from June right through to September.

New prices :
for B&B only, it is just 65 euros per person per night
or for 85 euros, this includes a three-course evening meal with wine included…

For more details on this, please look at our Chamonix bed and breakfast page.

Walking up to the Nid d’Aigle

Another beautiful September’s day… 
Warm but not too hot.

A little breeze, perhaps. 
Ponderous cumulous clouds floating around the valley….

View down the Bionnassay valley

View down the Bionnassay valley

Helen and I headed out walking for the Nid d’Aigle.

Stunning views of the Bionnassay glacier from the Nid d'Aigle

Stunning views of the Bionnassay glacier from the Nid d'Aigle

The Nid d’Aigle is the end of the Tramway du Mont Blanc – which rises to 2,362 metres just before the Bionnassay glacier…

The area reminds me of Snowdonia… and how just as you arrive at the summit, soaking with sweat, dripping with perspiration,  muscles exhausted, you are met by a group of grannies who have just taken the train!

The Nid d’Aigle is just like that!

Luckily, the refuge sells beer.

Tramway du Mont Blanc heading up to the Nid d'Aigle

Tramway du Mont Blanc heading up to the Nid d'Aigle

The walk down alongside the track was rather difficult going..  Uneven pebbles and stones the whole way…
Still it was worth it as I wanted to get the following photo:

Tramway du Mont Blanc in front of the glacier du Bionnassay

Tramway du Mont Blanc in front of the glacier du Bionnassay

The Ultratrail du Mont Blanc

Every year thousands of fit, completely insane people gather in Chamonix town centre to set off on the Ultratrail du Mont Blanc..

Basically they run the Tour du Mont Blanc in one go.  
All 166 kilometres of it. 
9600 metres of altitude change!

Ultratrailers passing through Les Houches

Ultratrailers passing through Les Houches

It takes a normal person 11 days to complete this tour in a reasonable hiking fashion…

The fastest person this year,  Kilian Jornet, did it in 16 hours and 3 minutes.

Keep on running!

Keep on running!

anyway… watching all this exercise made us quite hungry. 
…so we passed the time watching the runners and enjoying a relaxing meal at the Chevanne