47 0 0 0 13 6. Now, luxurious lodges and warm-weather activities are helping showcase book why French children don’t spit summer-time appeal. Wait, where do I put my feet?
Around us blew a soft breeze. A green valley lay far below. Beyond it, a patchwork of forests and fields rolled away into the distance. And between my shoes was a sheer drop of slick limestone, with no apparent footholds. The few who know Chamonix in the United States are mostly die-hard adventure types.
Home to Mont Blanc, Europe’s tallest summit, this village in the French Alps hosted the first Winter Olympics in 1924 and has been a world capital for cold-weather sports ever since. But if any leisure industry is threatened by climate change, it’s winter sports. Just across the border in Switzerland, the ski season is a month shorter than it was four decades ago. The Mont Blanc glacier is retreating at a record pace.
Winter towns, from Whistler, British Columbia, to St. Moritz, Switzerland, are investing in what the industry calls “weather-independent attractions. I never considered myself an alpinist. I love mountains, and being around them brings me a sense of peace. But I’d rather read about a polar expedition than take one myself. About a decade ago, when my wife, Rachel, and I were living in Paris, I started to hear from friends that Chamonix had a more bucolic, less extreme side.
They talked about fields stuffed with wildflowers. It became a dream of mine to see the Alps in summer. Rachel and I now live in one of Los Angeles’s densely settled urban canyons. There came a moment, last summer, when we had both been working too much. It had been years since we’d taken a trip together, just the two of us.