The way to Chamonix: Trains and costly surprises

Glaciers are revealed, but the clouds hide Mont Blanc in this view from our hotel this morning.


Naïveté, bad luck and good fortune all had parts in our eventful journey from sunny Strasbourg to rainy Chamonix in the French Alps on Monday.

Three trains were to take us on the nine-hour trip, but a bus and a very expensive taxi ride saved the day in the end.

The second train ride, meant to take us from Lyon in southern France to Saint Gervais, started well. But, when we got to the end of the line, we discovered we were in Evian! (Try that word backwards.)

Our hotel, La Chaumiere, in Chamonix. A nice breakfast buffet and a bottomless cup of coffee (our first on this trip) were a great start to the day.

We had lost half our train! It turned out that at one of the stops, the last three cars decoupled and they went to Saint Gervais, without us.

It was 9 p.m. and we were in Evian, a long way from our hotel room. We found the train engineer and he found us a bus, which took us back to Annemasse. He said to tell the folks at the train station what happened and that they would call a taxi to take us to Chamonix. A Japanese photographer in the same boat followed us.

We pulled into the Annemasse train station about 10 p.m. The bus driver spoke little English, but had been told of our plight and waited while we sought help.

However, the station was deserted. Now what? The benches looked like last-resort beds. Ouch!

Sue tried calling a taxi, but the first call went unanswered and the second got a recording in indecipherable French. The driver needed to go. We needed a taxi. A bilingual woman on the bus hopped off and called a taxi for the three of us.

It was nearly 11 p.m. when we pulled into Chamonix. The meter read 240€. As Sue and I approached the locked lobby of the La Chaumiere Hotel, tourists from London unlocked the door. An envelope on the counter welcomed the Spittles, our key inside!

It has been raining all day in Chamonix; our Tour du Mont Blanc begins tomorrow with more rain forecast. We will begin, rain or shine.

In Scotland, they might say “It never rains on the trail!”


Categories: Tour du Mont Blanc | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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8 thoughts on “The way to Chamonix: Trains and costly surprises

  1. Debbie Gudger

    Oh, boy! What an adventure! What a shock!
    Hope the hike goes well today-even in the rain-I just hope it doesn’t snow!


  2. Reg and Sue

    You’re up early, Debbie! We are sitting in the hotel bar, looking up at the mountain. Even in the rain, it is magical.


  3. Cynthia

    Yikes! The same happened to me 35 years ago. I was going to Berne, the train to Berne and Lausanne. I woke up in Lausanne. It was Christmas eve, so they comped the ticket back. Bon courage.


    • Reg and Sue

      Why didn’t you warn us? 🙂 Have you been to Italy yet? If so, how was it? Hi Chris! Ciao.


  4. Cathy

    What an adventure! Stay safe!


  5. Pam Thomas

    Wow, what a story! The trip to Chamonix will be one of THE stories of your trip. Something similar happened to Jim and me in Italy, years ago. The difference was that it was in the afternoon and we had about 20 helpful Italians trying to sort it out for us. Here in Ashland, it’s been unseasonably cool, so it’s gorgeous. Our house guests have gone home, so we are starting to think about packing for our trip and tying up loose ends. Have a wonderful hike around Mount Blanc. I bet you are happy to rely on foot transportation for the next few days. May the sun shine on the trail!


    • Reg and Sue

      The clouds broke for a bit this afternoon and gave us a look at The Mountain. We go up, up, up in the morning to more than 8,000 feet, then back down. Remember, pack light! Thanks for your good wishes. Au revoir!


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