Aiguille du Midi vs Punta Helbronner – which one you should do?

Skyway Monte Bianco viewed from Pavillion, at 2,200m - mid-station of the Skyway Monte Bianco.

Aiguille du Midi vs Punta Helbronner – which one you should do?

Aiguille du Midi or Punta Helbronner- which one you should go to visit? Honestly, I would visit both and connect from one another through the Panoramic Mont Blanc Tunnel gondola.

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You can tell my happiness of being on top of the world (at least European world). Here at the Aiguille du Midi. Aiguille du Midi vs Punta Helbronner – which one you should do?
You can tell my happiness of being on top of the world (at least European world). Here at the Aiguille du Midi. Aiguille du Midi vs Punta Helbronner – which one you should do?

The case for Aiguille du Midi – Aiguille du Midi vs Punta Helbronner – which one you should do?

Aiguille du Midi (3842m) is located in Chamonix, in the border with Italy, and is one of the biggest attractions to go year-round, and lots in the summer to go and see the Mont Blanc (4810 m).

The funicular departs from a very modern lift base that has a shop, a food outlet and the big funicular that takes you to the middle station, from where you take a second funicular to the top. The top has a series of different terraces at different heights, to see 360-degree views of the French, Swiss and Italian Alps in all their splendour plus the magnificent Mont Blanc. Inside the structure is a bit old and you go within a cave, taking an elevator to go up the rock. This does not take the awesomeness of the landscape… It is really worth to go up there, you do feel you are on the top of the world, even though is really the top of Europe!

The Panoramic Mont Blanc lift connects Aiguille du Midi in France, with Punta Helbronner, in Italy. Aiguille du Midi vs Punta Helbronner – which one you should do?
The Panoramic Mont Blanc lift connects Aiguille du Midi in France, with Punta Helbronner, in Italy. Aiguille du Midi vs Punta Helbronner – which one you should do?

You can connect to go to Italy via the Panoramic Mont Blanc lift, which is a series of three gondolas (cable cars) going together on top of the Mer de Glace (the glacier sea) that zips you to Italy to Punta Helbronner (3466 m). This gondola has reopened last year after being closed for a bit due to one of the cabins falling on the glacier. I’ve written about it in this post some time ago. Still, this happened in winter, when this lift was closed, and it was due to a massive snow storm combined with really cold temperatures which froze the snow on top of the cable and its weight made it snap.

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Our half term ski-safari holiday based in the Valdigne of Aosta Valley- Courmayeur, Pila and La Thuile.

Our half term ski-safari holiday based in the Valdigne of Aosta Valley- Courmayeur, Pila and La Thuile. The boys happy after a great ski day.

Our half term ski-safari holiday based in the Valdigne of Aosta Valley- Courmayeur, Pila and La Thuile.

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This past February, as it is usual now, for our eight year in the row, we left home very early, this time with our pooch, and drove to the Eurotunnel, one hour- and a bit now due to the diversion in the M2/M20, and us trying to find an open petrol station to fill up our car.

Driving off Calais to the mountains. Our half term ski-safari holiday based in the Valdigne of Aosta Valley- Courmayeur, Pila and La Thuile.
Driving off Calais to the mountains. Our half term ski-safari holiday based in the Valdigne of Aosta Valley- Courmayeur, Pila and La Thuile.

We arrived with time to only go to the toilet and we boarded on our way to France. Thirty-five minutes later, we were rolling down the A16 and then A 26, all the way to Reims, and then around Reims and down to Troyes, and changed to A5 towards Chaumont. Just on exit 24 you get off the motorway and, after paying the hefty toll fee, and get into the route nationale 10 to get through a lovely wooded and windy road to Chaumont.

Following our road in the map. Our half term ski-safari holiday based in the Valdigne of Aosta Valley- Courmayeur, Pila and La Thuile.
Following our road in the map. Our half term ski-safari holiday based in the Valdigne of Aosta Valley- Courmayeur, Pila and La Thuile.

We made it in fantastic time to Chaumont, we got in our room at the Ibis Styles Chaumont Centre Gare and after trying to have a nap – an impossible task with the boys wired and running in the room, I went out with my eldest into town…

Arriving into Chaumont through the Route Nationale 10. Our half term ski-safari holiday based in the Valdigne of Aosta Valley- Courmayeur, Pila and La Thuile.
Arriving into Chaumont through the Route Nationale 10. Our half term ski-safari holiday based in the Valdigne of Aosta Valley- Courmayeur, Pila and La Thuile.

Just a nice walk around town, we’ve visited an old chocolate store with long showcase cabinets, which is a pleasure in itself. We got some chocolates, then we went to a fashion shop. My eldest is into fashion now…. getting to be a tweeny! He wanted a brand t-shirt. I don’t know why kids are so much into brands now. I negotiated with him that I was giving the money in exchange of one Amazon voucher he was given as a gift in Christmas and he could buy it.

Around Chaumont with my eldest and Ozzy. Our half term ski-safari holiday based in the Valdigne of Aosta Valley- Courmayeur, Pila and La Thuile.
Around Chaumont with my eldest and Ozzy. Our half term ski-safari holiday based in the Valdigne of Aosta Valley- Courmayeur, Pila and La Thuile.

After going to the local supermarket to have some little something in the room as it was still early, we came back to the hotel room.

At the chocolate shop in Chaumont. Our half term ski-safari holiday based in the Valdigne of Aosta Valley- Courmayeur, Pila and La Thuile.
At the chocolate shop in Chaumont. Our half term ski-safari holiday based in the Valdigne of Aosta Valley- Courmayeur, Pila and La Thuile.

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My experience of buying a home in the Italian Alps.

My experience of buying a home in the Italian Alps.

My experience of buying a home in the Italian Alps.

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In August this year, I had the great surprise of my mum telling me she wanted to give me an advanced inheritance. She knew I always wanted to have a home in the mountains, but there was no way that I could afford it with my salary and that of with my husbands’. We were vacationing in Normandie when she told me so. I could not hold my excitement and started looking in all real estate websites.

Going in our ride from GVA to Courmayeur. My experience of buying a home in the Italian Alps.
Going in our ride from GVA to Courmayeur. My experience of buying a home in the Italian Alps.

I’ve started with some of the British ones, but sooner came to check the Italian websites. The Guide to Buying a Home in Italy gave me lots of ideas of how to start and the contact of my property lawyer: Alessandro Clemente, who was great! I’ve talked to him before starting and he told me all the things I needed to take into account when going to scout properties. That was very important as I could have done all things wrong if I was not in the know.

We’ve planned to have a short trip end of August to visit some places. Idealista website was the one I’ve finished using to seeing the different offers and sorting what I want to do and an agenda on how we were going to go around. At first, I was thinking in two areas: Courmayeur and Cervinia. I’ve seen some flats in Cervinia – (Valtourneche really) with views of the Monte Cervino that seemed fabulous. Digging a bit more into what they were offering, this was part of a programme where you need to use your flat only some weeks and the rest the administration of the building takes care of it and rents it out. That kind of discouraged me because I wanted to have the option that if in the future I want to move to Italy, I have a place! Then talking to my mum, she told me that if I like so much Courmayeur and the Valdigne (the Valley of the Mont Blanc), why don’t I focus on that area only. Which really made my job easier in focusing how to use our three days better.

The balcony at the Gran Baita Hotel with a view of the Dente del Gigante - even though a cloud is covering it at the time. My experience of buying a home in the Italian Alps.
The balcony at the Gran Baita Hotel with a view of the Dente del Gigante – even though a cloud is covering it at the time. My experience of buying a home in the Italian Alps.

Got the flights to Geneva and transfers to Courmayeur. Got the hotel (Gran Baita) in Courmayeur and started looking each day at the Idealista website and sorting which flats I would want to visit. I had two weeks to talk to everyone and sort a pretty busy agenda. I’ve started to get excited!

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Stay at the Heart of the Valdigne to ski in Courmayeur, La Thuile and Pila/Aosta

The outside of the apartment in Morgex that we've finished buying. My experience of buying a home in the Italian Alps.

Stay at the Heart of the Valdigne (Il Cuore della Valdigne) to ski in Courmayeur, La Thuile and Pila/Aosta for your ski or summer holiday.

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The Aosta Valley is magnificent from wherever you look at it. Great mountains, from the Mont Blanc, Monte Cervino (Matterhorn) and Monterosa, to glaciers, rivers, hot springs, lakes, you name it.

Living room at Il Cuore della Valdigne. Stay at the Heart of the Valdigne to ski in Courmayeur, La Thuile and Pila/Aosta.
Living room at Il Cuore della Valdigne. Stay at the Heart of the Valdigne to ski in Courmayeur, La Thuile and Pila/Aosta.

Having a holiday there is the best way to disconnect from everyday worries, the rat race and why all of us who love the mountains, want to at least, do once a year.

Il Cuore della Valdigne is a beautiful stone and wood apartment in the middle of the Valdigne, the valley of the Mont Blanc, what in my opinion, has the nicest vistas of the Aosta Valley and one of the nicest of the Alps.

Being in the middle of Morgex, just 10’ outside Courmayeur, 3 minutes from the Pré Saint Didier terme (natural hot springs) and 20’ from La Thuile, and to the other side, 25’ to Aosta and the gondola of Pila, the chalet is located in a great strategic location for going skiing, cross country skiing (in Arpy, Val Ferret or Cogne), mountain biking, snow shoeing, winter walking, white water rafting and relaxing in the hot springs.

Living room at Il Cuore della Valdigne. Stay at the Heart of the Valdigne to ski in Courmayeur, La Thuile and Pila/Aosta.
Living room at Il Cuore della Valdigne. Stay at the Heart of the Valdigne to ski in Courmayeur, La Thuile and Pila/Aosta.

The apartment has two bedrooms and two bathrooms with showers in two floors, a living room with a double-sided chimney that also opens to the dining room. The wooden kitchen with the slate kitchen top is a delight, with all you need if you fancy doing a big meal. If you don’t, no worries, you are a stone throw away from many bars and restaurants in Morgex: Mont Blanc Café, Café de l’Archet, La Locanda, Trattoria da Bepe, and if you fancy something much more deluxe, the renown Casa Quinson, all within two blocks from the apartment.

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A fast-melting glacier in the Mont Blanc raised an alarm in the area of Val Ferret of Courmayeur.

Plampincieux Iconography - from Daily Mail. A fast-melting glacier in the Mont Blanc raised an alarm in the area of Val Ferret of Courmayeur.

A fast-melting glacier in the Mont Blanc raised an alarm in the area of Val Ferret of Courmayeur.

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The Planpincieux glacier on the Grande Jorasses peak of the Mont Blanc massif, which marks the border between Italy, France and Switzerland is fast-melting and could provoke a collapse of 8.8 million cubic feet mass of the 512 square mile glacier.

A helicopter rides on top of the glacier. Photo: Antonio Calanni AP - The Guardian. A fast-melting glacier in the Mont Blanc raised an alarm in the area of Val Ferret of Courmayeur.
A helicopter rides on top of the glacier. Photo: Antonio Calanni AP – The Guardian. A fast-melting glacier in the Mont Blanc raised an alarm in the area of Val Ferret of Courmayeur.

The glacier overlooks the Val Ferret and Planpincieux, 7 km up from Courmayeur. Experts from Fondazione Montagna Sicura (Safe Mountain Foundation), a charity in charge of monitoring the glaciers of Aosta Valley, said that this glacier has been moving since they have been monitoring it closely starting in 2013, but the size of a recent fracture and the increase of the speed at which the ice is melting raised the alarm.

This area is popular with hikers, so Courmayeur’s Major Miserocchi closed as a safety measure, mountain refuges and part of a road upon which the ice could directly fall. Contrary to first reported, only one home had to be evacuated. The rest of the 10 homes in the hamlet beneath the glacier are empty summer holiday homes.

A group of 160 or so pupils marched on Friday to protest against climate change with banners and slogans from “Ban plastic, save our planet” to “You broke our glacier”.

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An ‘ephemeral lake’ appeared on the Mont Blanc massif due to warm record temperatures

The Rochefort group with the distinctive Dent de Gént viewed from Courmayeur. An ‘ephemeral lake’ appeared on the Mont Blanc massif due to warm record temperatures.

An ‘ephemeral lake’ appeared on the Mont Blanc massif due to warm record temperatures. The phenomenon, witnessed by a guide of the Società  Guide Alpine Courmayeur has been reported by the “Montagna Sicura” foundation about the repercussions of the hot temperatures of these days. The training is near the Rochefort group.

Un lago blu dipinto quassù!!#laghi #laghialtamontagna @guidemontblanc #courmayeur #courmayeurmontblanc

Posted by Guidemontblanc on Friday, 28 June 2019

 

From AostaSera.it, Montagna Sicura and Guides du Mont Blanc

The canicular temperatures of these days have shattered the primates of heat in the valley floor, but their effects in altitude still worry those who deal with climate. On the Mont Blanc, due to the effect of a zero thermal that reached a height of four thousand meters, in addition to having created the sporadic conditions for which at least 150 paragliders managed to land on the summit the other day, a lake was formed in recent hours due to of the rapid melting of snow .

Technically speaking, we are seeing an “ephemeral lake”. The “Montagna Sicura” foundation reports this on its Facebook profile , sharing a photograph of the guide of Courmayeur Gianluca Marra (author of a video), which reproduces the unusual phenomenon, testimony to the “many repercussions on the high mountains” of the “Record temperatures these days” .

In the post, the foundation remembers that it is “the same place” (in the Rochefort group, whose most significant peak is the Dente del Gigante) ” in which it had already been observed in 2016 , when our technicians carried out an inspection of land that had not highlighted any problems “. An effect certainly suggestive from the point of view of landscape, but which can only give to reflect on the climatic evolution.

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A Feltrinelli bookshop at an altitude of 3466: Europe’s highest bookshop opens on Mont Blanc

Skyway Monte Bianco, Punta Helbronner, Courmayeur. A Feltrinelli bookshop at an altitude of 3466: Europe's highest bookshop opens on Mont Blanc.

A Feltrinelli bookshop at an altitude of 3466: Europe’s highest bookshop opens on Mont Blanc

From IlLibrario.it

60 square meters at an altitude of 3,466 meters and a literary proposal addressed to those who love walking in the woods, surrounded by nature, to those who are always looking for stimuli and points of view, to those who challenge their own limits and to those who feel the need to escape (and find themselves) in open solitudes. The images are of the new library in the Punta Helbronner’s station of the  Rotating Funicular Skyway Mont Blanc.

Skyway Monte Bianco. La Feltrinelli at 3,466 m. Photo Lorenzo Passioni. A Feltrinelli bookshop at an altitude of 3466: Europe's highest bookshop opens on Mont Blanc
Skyway Monte Bianco. La Feltrinelli at 3,466 m. Photo Lorenzo Passioni. A Feltrinelli bookshop at an altitude of 3466: Europe’s highest bookshop opens on Mont Blanc

On the Mont Blanc, inside the Punta Helbronner station– The SkyWay, the third floor of the Skyway Monte Biancodi Funivie Montebianco S.p.a.: here Feltrinelli has chosen to inaugurate the highest bookshop in Europe.

“What makes the mountain unique and the lucky explorer is the possibility of looking at the world from a different and exciting point of view. And this is precisely what makes a good book and the mountain, the reader and the traveller, so similar”, reads the presentation of LaFeltrinelli 3466 (the photos are by Lorenzo Passoni, ed).

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A Pilot may face punishment after landing on the Mont Blanc

Mont Blanc. Photo: The-Ski-Guru. A Pilot may face punishment after landing on the Mont Blanc.

A Pilot may face punishment after landing on the Mont Blanc

From Swissinfo.ch

A Swiss pilot who landed a light aircraft on Mont Blanc in France faces a maximum fine of €38 (CHF42, $43) in France thanks to a legal loophole. However, Swiss aviation authorities could crack down harder, including stripping him of his licence.

The mighty Monte Bianco - seen from Morgex, Aosta Valley. Photo: The-Ski-Guru. A Pilot may face punishment after landing on the Mont Blanc.
The mighty Monte Bianco – seen from Morgex, Aosta Valley. Photo: The-Ski-Guru. A Pilot may face punishment after landing on the Mont Blanc.

The Piper aircraft touched down on Tuesday at an altitude of 4,450 metres (14,600ft), apparently at an unauthorised landing spot on Europe’s highest mountain, according to the Swiss news agency Keystone-SDA. French police intercepted two mountaineers who had flown in to climb the summit.

The Swiss Federal Office of Civil Aviation  (FOCA) said it had yet to be officially informed about the incident and did not know the full facts. But a FOCA spokesperson said it could take action if the pilot is found guilty of offences in France.

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The Panoramic Mont Blanc gondola to re-open 15 June

The Panoramic Mont Blanc gondola to re-open 15 June

The Panoramic Mont Blanc gondola to re-open 15 June

The Panoramic Mont Blanc Gondola has been closed since January 2018, when storm Eleanor laid too much snow on the cables and that cause them breaking and  two gondolas falling down on the Glacier du Géant.

The lift connects the Aiguille du Midi (3,842m) in Chamonix, France to Punta Helbronner (3,466m) in Courmayeur, Italy, and the people that ride on the lift can see the marvellous Mer de Glace underneath. The ride takes 30 minutes to cross 5 km and is only opened in summer.

Around February the Compagnie du Mont Blanc found some more faults, but the company was still optimistic to open by the end of May. Now they are announcing its opening on 15 June. Last summer the gondola has to remained closed in order to change its power cable.

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Spot on: Gran Baita Hotel – Courmayeur

Gran Baita Executive room with outside pool with jacuzzi. Photo: Gran Baita Hotel Courmayeur. Aiguille du Midi vs Punta Helbronner – which one you should do?

Spot on: Gran Baita Hotel – Courmayeur

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The Gran Baita Hotel is a four starts hotel, part of the Alpissima group of hotels in the Aosta Valley. It is located in Courmayeur, 15 minutes from the Armani funicular, 10 minutes from the Via Roma, the elegant pedestrianised shopping road in Courmayeur, and five minutes-drive with a free hotel transfer to the Dolonne gondola.

It is located in a quiet and elegant neighbourhood in Courmayeur, with amazing vistas of the Mont Blanc chain, and the characteristic Dent de Géant peak. I totally recommend it as a lovely hotel to go for your ski or summer holidays.

Restaurant of the Gran Baita. Spot on: Gran Baita Hotel – Courmayeur
Restaurant of the Gran Baita. Spot on: Gran Baita Hotel – Courmayeur

Decoration is all in the Valdostan style, with lots of wood and cosy interiors. The hotel has 54 well-appointed rooms, many of them with balconies offering magnificent views of the Alps, as Courmayeur is located just by the Mont Blanc and the views everywhere you look at, are amazing! From the regular rooms, many of which are being renovated for the next winter holiday, to the Executive Rooms, with a wooden rustic-chic feel and mini private outside pools with jacuzzi, you have a choice for your stay. Some of the rooms are connecting, to house families. I’ve recently stayed in Room 222, that does not look towards the pool, but has a lovely feeling, with two balconies, and you can see the Dent de Géant while in the balcony. Completely loved my room. Travelled with my mum and she said she wants to buy it!

The in-house restaurant is lovely decorated in wood with oozes cosiness and offers local and international dishes.  La Sapiniere, is their newest addition, a stübe, typical from the Alps, serving Valdostan cuisine in a super cozy ambiance. The American bar has a welcoming fireplace and a spacious terrace with amazing views of the Mont Blanc and the surrounding mountains.

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