I considered myself a decent snowboarder, I mean I know how to break properly and all. That was, however, before my trip to Chamonix, France. I somehow felt very inadequate when I saw the skiers and snowboarders there. They were awesome, carving the slopes like it's no big deal.
Okay, so my friend and I kinda decided spontaneously to go on a ski trip (for her, and a snowboard trip for me) in Chamonix because she was leaving Paris for good. She suggested to go to Chamonix together as a farewell trip and I'm really glad we went there. We left Paris on Saturday morning, took the train from Paris Gare de Lyon to Chamonix-Mont-Blanc. It took us about 6 hours, with one transit, to get there. Our exhaustion from catching an early train was immediately wiped away when we arrived.
The town is mind-blowing. We couldn't believe that just 6 hours ago we were in busy and often stuffy Paris (although yes, Paris can be romantic at times but we'll discuss my mixed feelings about the city some other time). Everywhere we looked, we saw snowy mountains we couldn't wait to ride our ski and snowboard on. People were so friendly and English was widely spoken. My friend and I also felt that we could understand their French better than when we are in Paris.
We booked a room at this hotel called Auberge du Manoir, located conveniently in central Chamonix. I highly recommend this hotel for your stay in Chamonix because of the location, the charming and clean hotel room, as well as the excellent service and hospitality. Oh yeah, they also have a hot tub and sauna, which is perfect for your evening after a day spent with the snow.
The following morning, we headed out to Le Brévent ski station. A warning to you snowboarders without your own boards, there is no snowboard rental around this ski station. I made the mistake of thinking there would be at least one rental place and went there empty-handed. I had to take the bus back to the city to rent a snowboard and went back to the ski station again. There is, nonetheless, a ski rental place where my friend rented her equipment. Oh also, it was definitely very convenient to get to the ski stations as there are buses to various directions from Chamonix. It actually just took us around 10 minutes to get to Le Brévent from Chamonix Mummery bus stop. Based on our research, Le Brévent overlooks Mont Blanc, and it does have a WONDERFUL view, the kinda view that makes you rethink about your existence. We took a cable car to go up and also to go down. There were many people who went up the mountain for the scenic view and not for skiing nor snowboarding. The ticket costs around €42,50 for a 4-hour pass.
For our second and last ski/snowboard trip, we chose La Flégère ski station (about 10-15 minutes bus ride from the bus stop next to our hotel). Having learned my lesson, I rented a snowboard from a rental store near our hotel. However, there was a rental store that had both ski and snowboard equipment close to the cable car station to go up the mountain. My friend and I both agreed La Flégère was definitely more friendly for us. There were more easy slopes for beginners and there were also more beginner/intermediate skiers and snowboarders there. I didn't feel so bad for falling flat on my ass a few times cause unlike at Le Brévent where falling is like a myth, people do fall occasionally at La Flégère. Oh by the way, my iPhone died on me several times because the weather was apparently too cold for it. In terms of the view, I prefer Le Brévent but in terms of the slopes, I like La Flégère better. If you are an expert skier or snowboarder, feel free to dismiss what I just said cause I didn't venture the difficult and very difficult slopes at both mountains so there is no way I can judge from an expert's point of view. We only skied and snowboarded for just 2 hours because we had to catch our train back to Paris at 3.45pm that day.
I miss you already, Chamonix. I'm dreaming of your soft snowfall, snowy mountain slopes, and mouthwatering mountain food such as cheese fondue and tartiflette. I'd love to go snowboarding again this season, maybe fall a little bit less this time so my ass wouldn't hurt as bad.