Hiking: Grand Balcon Sud, France

Saturday was market day in Chamonix. The market opened from 7am to 1pm and was located near Place du Mont Blanc – where I happened to pass by on my way to the train station that morning, and caught a glimpse of the Climbing World Cup Lead qualifying round.

When I got off the lift at La Flégère, I did not see a sign to Grand Balcon Sud. The staff at the station pointed me to a direction opposite to this myriad of signs.

Then I found it – a paper marker written by hand.

The trail started off in the woods

With the view of the Mont Blanc to the left.

After a set of steep stairs – the only ones on this trail – the terrain turned rocky.

Here finds a (green) pointer to Via des Evettes – one of the three Via Ferrata (Iron Roads in Italian) climbing routes in the Chamonix Mont-Blanc area. First developed by the Italian Army in the Dolomites during WWI, the route employs steel cables, rungs and ladders afixed into the rock face, allowing the climbers to secure themselves to the metal fixture and limit the fall.

July sees abundance of wild flowers.

Just when I thought it was all nice and easy, I came to a narrow section of the path fit for one foot, with the drop of a steep slope on the side (right after I took the below video).

Scary but fortunately I passed without issue.

Shortly thereafter came a spin-off – Here I can take either the wide gravel road that’s relatively flat but somewhat uninteresting, or a high trail with ups and downs but a better view.

I took the later and had a sandwich sitting on the meadow.

After lunch, I ascended to Plan Praz to complete the trail

The clouds thickened…

Maybe it was the clouds, or maybe it suddently downed on me that this was my second last day in the region, gazing at my favourite mountain, I did not want to leave.

I found a large rock, settled down and took it all in.

In front of me, the paragliders were busy taking off one by one. Behind me, the rock climbers called to each other coordinating on their ascent. There were unlimited entertainment up there. With the clouds hung low, the temperature dropping, threw in a light breeze, it was perfect to stay for hours.

Back in Chamonix, I stepped into the Saint Michel church to admire its Alpine-themed stained glass by Louis Balmet.

Got to know a French writer and mountaineer named Roger Frison-Roche.

I had a fantastic falafel mezze box with mujadara rice, salad and pickles at Ela. It was so good that I also got their spanakopita and rakakat (spicy pork) for picnic-on-the-trail next day.

I’m pleased that the food scene in Chamonix has really improved over the past decade, now I no longer have to rely on the cheese-heavy raclette or tartiflette.

Back in my hotel room resting the tired feet

And that was when I heard the guitar…

What a great way to finish the day” I thought…after all the hardwork, then some music, with that view!

But that’s not all…

Around eight o’clock, I walked back to Place du Mont Blanc to see the Speed Climbing Finals. The plaza was PACKED with spectators!

China ended up taking both golds in the competition. It was incredible, as I had never been to an international sports event where China participated, not to mention hearing the National Anthem twice in the same evening.

The day just kept getting better and better 🙂

Coming up next: Hiking in the French & Swiss Alps – Col de Balme

11 thoughts on “Hiking: Grand Balcon Sud, France

  1. Absolutely AMAZING views! Glad you took video, so you can remember the mountains. Did you hike alone? Since some of the rocky terrain is a bit dangerous wondering if they make people walk together. You REALLY had a great time! Wonderful!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. To trust a paper-written sign might make the average person skeptical, but turned out it led to the correct trail! Grand Balcon Sud looks like a wonderful hike, and you got absolutely stunning views all-around!

    Liked by 1 person

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