Realising that the Tramway du Mont Blanc is in Saint Gervais Les Bains we decide to take a trip up the mountain.
At 4,810m, Mont-Blanc (or Monte Bianco, in Italian), is the highest mountain in Europe, and it’s right on the border with Italy.
The tram is the highest cogwheel train in France, with carriages bearing the names Anne, Jeanne, and Marie.
Travelling at 12km an hour we get the first train from Saint Gervais where we slowly start the steep climb that will take an hour and 15mins to reach the top of the mountain.
It’s a chilly morning as we start the ascent and hear the sound of the grinding brakes, our ears start to pop and the air becomes noticeably thinner.
Passing through forests we spot hikers and get a variety of alpine landscapes.
On the way up we pull into the tiny station of Motivon which is hidden from view, this small hamlet consists of merely a cluster of chalets and a tiny chapel perched onto the mountainside. We pick a couple of hikers here before continuing.
Travelling on we are treated to the most spectacular views of snow-capped mountains and green valleys as we begin to reach a plateau and continue along a ridge where we can, at last, see the Mont Blanc massif.
Once at Nid d’Aigle (The Eagle’s Nest) we can see the Bionnassay Glacier and Mont Blanc is less than 1000m on so we start to climb further up but I suddenly become unsure of the steep, uneven ground so I stop but John continues, however, he doesn’t get much further and we decide to walk a different path together but this route still takes us to heart-stopping vertical drops.
With our heads in the clouds at times and high above the roads that lie beneath us we are surrounded by beautiful views, it’s hard to know where to look first and not to get too excited at the gorgeous snowy peaks because there are large sharp rocks everywhere.
A trip up this mountain isn’t for the faint-hearted you need to take your time, walk slowly, and acclimatise don’t spring up the rocky steps as you normally would because being 3,842m above sea level the air is certainly a lot thinner and with the drop in oxygen the slightest physical effort can seriously get you out of breath. Not to mention the uneven terrain underfoot you need your wits about you.
In some ways, the French Alps take you completely by surprise by how beautiful, and unspoilt the area is and how much there is to see, the Tram is certainly an adventure. It’s easy to see why people come here all year round.