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…).

Kandahar World Ski Championship in Chamonix 2011!

Today was the Mens downhill from the World Ski Championship here in Chamonix – well, Les Houches, to be precise…

This event is named after Lord Roberts of Kandahar – a Victorian general who famously lifted a siege of the Afghanistan town of Kandahar – who gave out medals at the first ski competitions back in the 1900’s!

Le Cassure - the first jump (50-80m!) of the Chamonix Kandahar

Apparently  in 1911, Henry Lunn the travel agent (Lunn Poly!) organised a downhill ski race in Montana, Switzerland and Lord Roberts donated a magnificent trophy.  This race was known as the Roberts of Kandahar challenge.  There was no piste or trail, and the first descent of 5000 feet took 61 minutes!

Later, in 1928, his son, Sir Arnold Lunn, teamed together with Hannes Schneider, to create a combined downhill/slalom contest, which was known as the Arlberg Kandahar.  This took place in St. Anton and was held annually until the start of World War II in 1940, and resumed in 1949.

The sites of the A-K expanded to include Chamonix, Sestrières in Italy, and Garmisch in Germany.

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Today, there was a fantastic atmosphere – it was AMAZING to see these top-class skiers flying down the route that we know so well (and ski so badly in comparison!).   Somewhere between 20 and 40 thousand spectators lined the route and the finishing line.

Just after launch on the Goulet

Helen and I got to see the jumps at the Cassure – the first jump where they drop into the bowl which is normally horrendously moguled… and also le Goulet – the steepest part of the “Verte des Houches” – where they must be jumping 60-90 metres!!