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Chamonix

June 29, 2011

We fled Chamonix a day early. Why didn’t we like it? I don’t know. It was beautiful. Alpine. Chalets. Ski shops. Mont Blanc towered. Everyone wore fleeces and hiking shorts, or biking outfits; they were all tan, fit, and friendly. The Arve river roared through the middle of the town. I went for a long hike in the woods. I would recommend the town to all my friends. But I hated it. I don’t know why it made my skin crawl. Too small. Too alpine. Too many outdoorsy people. The mountains blotted out the light. There was a big black hollow at the foot of Mont Blanc. But none of this explains my loathing, the feeling I had of wanting to get right out of there. When we drove up to Chamonix into the Alps, we were delighted by the big fat brown cows with their cowbells. But the only things to eat seemed to have to do with cows. Cheese. Cream. Cheese. There were even cow hides draped over porch railings in case you forgot where your food came from. I did not find this appealing. But still, there was absolutely no reason for me to dislike the place so strongly. Why do some places appeal to us and others don’t? This is a mysterious question. It’s enough to make one believe in past lives, although I suppose Freud would say that I have associations to alpine places and pine forests that are not happy. But I have never been to such a place before. How can I have bad associations? New Hampshire is the closest I have come to Alpine.

We rushed back to Annecy and took the train to Lyon. Now we are up high on a hill in a converted abbey looking over an old city with narrow passageways and I am much happier. I don’t like ski chalets. I don’t like mountain villages. I did keep thinking of some old Pink Panther movie where I think they are up high in the French Alps. I know that Mary and Shelley found Chamonix thrilling. But I felt out of place. Trapped. Where were the patisseries? The tables where I could sip coffee and write?

7 Comments leave one →
  1. karen clevidence robertson permalink
    June 29, 2011 5:42 am

    Loving these posts, Charlotte. Reliving a time and life I once had. Chamonix… All I remember is Japanese tourists thinking that I was French and wanting to take my picture with baguette in hand. Can’t remember if we took the tram up to the “needle” or not. Funny… that’s supposed to be the highlight!

    Lyon… Spent a day taking what I was sure would be amazing pictures, only to discover at the end of the day that there was no film in my camera! But the “taking of the pictures” remains a good memory!

    If Papi were still alive, I would send you to his lovely home in Normandy, and he would gladly have you. Now THAT’S a wonderful French experience! But alas…

    Christophe will be there next week. Not sure what Gerard has planned. Most likely some “randonees” in beautiful places.

    Love you! Keep posting…

  2. Tamsen Endicott permalink
    June 29, 2011 8:41 am

    Mountains can be foreboding! Think “Lord of the Rings”.

  3. Mary Cole permalink
    June 29, 2011 10:02 am

    Not to sound too weird or anything but I believe that we all carry unique energies, and so do places. Sometimes the alignment is thrilling, and sometimes the misalignment is, well, like you and Chamonix.

  4. Jade permalink
    June 29, 2011 10:32 am

    Eva Wong, a legit feng shui master, writes that mountains — especially really steep, jagged ones — harness a lot of destructive energy. No wonder nestling in amongst them isn’t the coziest feeling. Maybe everyone is so fit because they are subconsciously preparing to flee.

  5. June 29, 2011 4:36 pm

    Jade, you are right. This must be what they are doing!

  6. June 29, 2011 4:36 pm

    I don’t think this is weird at all. I think this is absolutely true. Thank you.

  7. June 29, 2011 4:37 pm

    Thanks, Karen. I love these snippets of memories from you. You and baguette. You not taking pictures when you thought you were. Love you, too~

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