There is a really good place for motorhomes to park with views of Mont Blanc and the surrounding mountains she said. I would love to go there but it’s up a fairly steep road she said! No problem said I. “we have just done the steepest roads in northern Europe on our motorhome tour of Norway, so if we can do those roads we can do anything”. We are, of course, now in southern Europe and more specifically in The French Alps where the mountains are much higher than Norway. Just for the record Mount Blanc is 4808 metres high and the highest mountain in Europe. The place where I was about to drive to was at Plaine Joux and at an altitude of 1,350 metres. We had driven up a very steep road to the Dalsnibba viewpoint in Norway at an altitude of 1,200 metres so this one at Plaine Joux would be the highest we had driven to. How hard could it be!
The dramatic ascent to Plaine Joux
We set off from Les Gets where we had spent the night in a large free motorhome parking area and headed for the A20 motorway towards Chamonix. After turning off the motorway we stopped to consult the map to try and determine the best way up the mountain to Plaine Joux, but it was not that easy to see the best way because there were several interconnecting roads. This meant that we had to rely on the sat nav and of course it took us on the shortest route which involved a single carriageway with several hairpin bends and it was very steep. Needless to say we met several cars coming in the opposite direction where it was virtually impossible for us to reverse. My rule in these situations is that smaller cars reverse, especially when it’s a bigger vehicle going uphill. There was much cursing from the me including “we are never driving a motorhome on another mountain road again” and “this is too steep for a motorhome”. Eventually, the road improved a little and we reached the top and it was definitely worth the effort as we had reached probably the best motorhome parking place in Europe, with incredible views of Europe’s highest mountain range including Mont Blanc.
Chamonix – the most stunning scenery in Europe
The road down from Plaine Joux was much easier and far less stressful because we managed to follow the main road rather than take short cuts and our next destination was Chamonix. We had last visited Chamonix 2 years ago and had stayed in an excellent hotel with our room having views of Mont Blanc. On this visit, however, we parked our motorhome in the car park for the Aiguille du Midi. Motorhomes are allowed to park overnight for 14 euros.
The scenery around Chamonix is simply stunning and awe inspiring. Last time we had visited Chamonix we had taken the Aiguille du Midi cable car. This is Europe’s highest accessible point by cable car at an astonishing 3,842 metres above sea level (12,604 feet). At the top the air is thin and you can really feel your lungs trying harder to obtain more oxygen. Altitude sickness is an issue at the top of Aiguille du Midi, but it’s a place I think everyone should try and experience because you are nearly at the highest place in Europe. If you love views you will love Chamonix!
On this visit to Chamonix we didn’t go up the Aiguille du Midi because there is another equally dramatic cable car ascent on the opposite side of the valley called Brevent. Reaching an altitude of 2525 metres with two cable car rides you get incredible views of Mont Blanc and the other mountains around it. The top of Brevent is also a more pleasing temperature whereas the top of Aiguille du Midi is normally around 0C in summer and often colder. It was interesting watching the paragliders take off and there are several cafes and restaurants. The cost for two people on the Brevent cable car is €52 return. We spent several hours at the top of Brevent and there are several walks along the ridges as well as paths down the mountain.
Chamonix is an incredible place if you love scenery. It’s steep wooded valley and mountain peaks are truly jaw dropping, especially in good weather when you can see the summit of Mont Blanc. Chamonix also has a lively restaurant and bar scene as well as a good range of shops and small supermarkets. Parking a motorhome in Chamonix is not a problem and whether you have a motorhome or not there are plenty of hotels and apartments to stay in. For me Chamonix is a ‘must see’ destination. Everybody needs to see Mont Blanc and the mountains because they are truly inspiring.