Transcript for Episode 249: Who Else Wants to Enjoy the Aiguille du Midi?

Category: Lyon Area

Discussed in this Episode

  • Aiguille du Midi
  • Chamonix
  • Mont Blanc
  • Mer de Glace


This is join us in France Episode 249. Bonjour, I’m Annie Sargent and join us in France is the podcast where you will hear pragmatic advice for your next trip to France. And I am not shy about the fact that I want you to see more of France than just Paris. And that’s exactly what we’ll do on today’s episode about visiting the Aiguille du Midi. I can’t talk today Sorry, I have a cold in the French Alps. My guest is equally young. She was at the Aiguille du Midi recently, and she was surprised by how some things worked. And so she offered to talk to me so you can be warned and be prepared. That’s how we’re keeping it real on this travel podcast. It’s all about your personal travel experience. I released my third voice map audio tour yesterday with this one, I guide you through more master and I’ll talk to you more about that after the interview. I’m very excited because that one was really dear and dear to my heart because most people go to more math and understand absolutely nothing at what they’re looking at. And I want you to scratch the surface a little bit. Let’s say if you are interested in our episode about the Aiguille du Midi I recommend you also check out Episode 262 hundred and six about doing the tool moon blown. Episode 121 about a young couple who went to Chamonix and the Alps and Episode 83 about trip family trip to Provence and Chamonix. And as you know, we use a lot of French names on this podcast. If you’re not sure how to spell them, you’ll find them all written out on the episode page at join us in France. com forward slash 249 the number is 249. All right, let’s chat with Eddie Couvillon about the beautiful Aiguille du Midi.


and welcome to join us in France. How are you?

I’m doing very well. Thank you.

I’m very happy to have you on to talk about your visit to the Aiguille du Midi. I asked you on the show because I noticed that it was you had seen that it was different than what you had expected, and lots of people want to see the DVD. That’s near Annecy, isn’t it?

It’s actually right in Germany.

Oh, sorry. Wrong town. So, so how? Well first of all tell us when you did this trip

we did in early June this year, which was actually perfect weather for this because it was still moderate at the bottom. Very, very cold at the top, obviously, I think that’s pretty much year round. Right? Yeah.

So it’s it can be very cold over there. Although today I’m not sure because we’re having another heat wave. So

I’m glad we left before the heat wave. There’s no air conditioning in a lot of places. That’s right. That’s right.

That’s right. So how did you visit to the DVD go? What was surprising about it to you?

Well, you know, doing the research beforehand that their website is very confusing f4 for tickets and just the whole process. So the day before when it was very, very overcast, and we knew we didn’t want to do it on that day, but we went to the information desk to talk to them and luckily we did because the lady recommended because there was no line to go ahead and buy the ticket that day, which we did. So The next morning when the weather was absolutely perfect, and we arrived, the ticket line was very, very long. So it’s a good idea if you know the weather’s going to be good the next day to either pre purchase your tickets online that night, or maybe go the day before to get your ticket. Good to know. Yeah, it was. The people were very friendly Vegas wasn’t even after getting the tickets. It was a little confusing, because when you walked up, you thought you had your ticket, you could get on the tram. And then you find out later you had to go back to the information kiosk information booth and get actual boarding pass. And it’s just a plastic I think I sent you a picture of it is just a blue plastic pass with a number. And that number is the tram you’re going to be riding for the day. So yeah, so that’s the only confusing I think if you want it to maybe ride a one o’clock tram, you could probably go early in the morning and get a boarding pass for that particular one but you can’t just walk up and get on a trail. We had about a two hour wait before we were able to actually get on That day.

Wow. So so this is something you want to play in a few hours for.

Absolutely. Yeah, the trip up and back is really not bad. I want to say maybe a 20 minute ride to get up and down. And then once you’re up there, you can stay as long as you’d like. So we stayed for a good while and took pictures. But so that doesn’t take long at all. But you really do have to factor about a half a day just because of the potential wait for the depending on the line today.

So were you staying in in Ennis in Germany?

Yes, we sure were.

Okay. Okay. So from your hotel or Airbnb, you were able to just walk to the lift, and we

had a little bit further to go. So we had to draw, but there’s plenty of parking in the town. It was that was all very easy. It’s mostly street parking, but we didn’t have any kind of problems with that. Now. We were early June, I think in July and August. It might be a little bit more of a problem because it’s a fairly congested small town. There’s not a whole lot of parking but so just consider give me give us a plenty of time to do it. Right.

And so you so you, you purchase your tickets online, you, you don’t print them out, you get them on your phone, I assume you can do either. Yeah. Okay. And then the next day, you go and wait in line you have to arrive two hours before you stated time?

Well, it just depends. Because like the way we did it, we didn’t realize that the way the assigned time. So when we got there about nine o’clock in the morning, you have to go to the information kiosk, which is totally separate from where you buy tickets. It’s in the park kind of in the general parking area. And that’s where you pick up your boarding pass, which is the confusing part because it says nothing about picking them up boarding pass, right find out how to get on the trail and so they kind of send you back that way. And once you go to get your boarding pass and the lady savior tram number 36 she’ll say 36 leaves at 11am. I saw independent Yeah, so we luckily we just found a cafe and just sat until the time

I see so the tickets you purchase the day before was for like a long slot of time it was saying you go in the morning or something or did they give you a specific time?

No no specific time at all. You basically buy a ticket for the day you want to ride.

C that makes sense. Okay, so if so if you show up when a bazillion other people are showing up as well, you are your boarding time is going to be possibly a few hours,

right? Yeah, absolutely. Now, they do recommend getting your actual ticket the day before because they’ll only sell the number of tickets for spots they have available for that day. Right so maybe your ticket day before but the boarding pass you have to go the morning of I would go as early as possible as soon as they open just to be sure you get the slot that you would like.

Okay, that makes sense. That makes sense. Yeah. Yeah. On the in the mountain overall. They are being very, very careful. I heard a lot of grumbling like on French TV. The they keep interviewing people who want to go do the moon blown. So the the highest peak, you know, and they have to have a permit and all of that. But it used to be that they didn’t really check. But now they check the permits, they check people’s ID they check if they’re there at the right time if they have the right equipment, I mean, they are turning into really picky people because they’ve had too many accidents. I guess.

The way I can speak is that some of the sites I looked at one of the options people do is they’ll take the tram to the top, and then they’ll they’re guided hikes to go back down and hike down into Germany down the mountain. And some of some of the guys I looked at said it was a they considered a moderate hike, not too bad. And it was very, very icy and very steep. Some people look like they weren’t necessarily prepared for that. I can see why that why they’re like because it would be very dangerous. If you’re not prepared. I can imagine.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. So did you walk down?

No, we just we took the tram up and then took a stand up. there for about 45 minutes or so and then tram back down.

Okay, so how long is the train the tram ride?

Maybe 20 minutes you ride the first one for maybe 10. And then there’s an actual exchange where you get on the tram and then get on the second one to go straight up to the peak. Okay? But it’s all it’s all included in same price. It’s just you just changed from one to the other. How much is it more or less? I want to say I think it was 63 euros a person for an adult I don’t know child ticket.

That’s pretty expensive.

Yeah, it was fairly expensive, but I think it was well worth it. My kids are 20 and 22. And they’re still talking about it. They love it.

Well, it’s not every day you get to go to a peak like that without being a top in top shape. mountaineer. So Exactly. Yeah, yeah. So so the So you went one month of the year again,

early June,

early June. Was it very cold up there.

It was very cold. It was. I want to say the base of the mountain it was light jacket weather, but at the top of the mountain, you really need a glove especially And all the way to the peak because the wind gusts were very, very strong. I think they’re up to 70 or 80 miles an hour. Ice cold. It was blowing snow on us very, very cold. But it was also the sun was very strong. I would say sunscreen and gloves and it’s a good jacket and scarf for the top. Very good to know. Yeah, very good to know. Yeah. I mean, you don’t sound like you’re used to a lot of cold weather because sound like you’re from the south. Yeah, I’m from South Louisiana. So if it’s below 70 degrees, our temperature it’s really cold.

Yeah, Canadians might be able to get away with just a light jacket because you know, they’re tough.

Exactly. Yeah. We didn’t say too long up outside. It was cool.

Yeah. Yeah, that makes sense. So Up, up, up there. How much do you get to walk around

there? Well, there are a few different peaks. Once you get to the second the end of the second tram you have the option of taking an elevator and the elevator is actually carved through the middle of a mountain to get to the very top. Wow. So you can stay at different levels. Now the two in my group who were uncomfortable with heights didn’t go up the elevator but my son and I did and it was that’s where the wind was really, really blowing. It was beautiful. There’s plenty of room to walk around on the lower level. The second level, there’s a cafe, of course there’s a tourist shop, you can buy things but there’s a you can eat lunch, you can have coffee and the prices there were reasonable for that. It was very nice.

And of course photography is very nice up there, I’m sure.

Yes, absolutely view you. You would do much better than me. I just use my phone. But it was Yeah, it was absolutely beautiful. Oh, that’s fine. phones are good. I use my phone.

Last time I went to Paris. I didn’t even take the camera. I was like, it was a fun, I’ll be fine. And it was some good shots. So yeah, no, that’s great. That’s That’s very good. So would you say this is appropriate for people of all ages,

I say have they do have an age restriction. You’d have to look on the website. I can’t remember the age. Now. I want to thank you Four or five years old and I can see why there are railings, but I would be a little concerned with a really a youngster up there but so they do have that but yeah, absolutely. Um for even for elderly there’s there’s not a ton of walking. It’s there’s not a lot that can be stairs but they also have elevators forum So no, it’s very accessible easy. I would recommend it for all ages that are allowed up there. Wow.

Did you feel your heart beating harder because you were a higher elevation?

You do. When you get to the very top we all notice we were definitely short of breath. had it all started kind of getting headaches before we came back down.

Right? Right. So maybe when people have a heart condition, this might not be the best idea.

Yeah, you think you might want to consider that or if you really, you know, it kind of maybe asthma or breathing conditions. But we thought for the time we say the 45 minutes, we were ready to come down. It was enough. We had seen everything we thought that our field And it was we were starting to feel the altitude a little bit. So we came back down.

Yeah, I did a similar thing at the PD in the Pyrenees. And it’s this it’s a similar situation, except that it probably doesn’t get quite so many people. At least the day we were there, but yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s gorgeous. But once you were up there for maybe 30 4050 minutes, you’ve seen everything. I mean, you and I do get baked a little bit cuz. Yeah, the sun hits you hard up there.

Right. Yeah.

So what would you say? What else do you recommend people do in this area?

You know, we shaman he wasn’t our trip. We ranged everywhere. We flew into Alsace and then went all the way down to Provence. So shaman he really the only thing I wanted to do there was go up this tram I really wanted to team up block. Yeah, the city itself was fine. It’s there are other cities with a little bit maybe a little bit more to do, we did find. Now one thing we did find went out of town. And found a local pub and we watched the women’s soccer game. It was us versus I think Norway. So that was fantastic to watch that in a it was a local, very legit really neat. Little bit different ideas. We really tried to go as local as possible with everything on the trip and it paid off very well.

Now you have a very French name guru, yo. You speak French true.

And my kids, my children are both fluid, which is they grew up in French immersion. We have French heritage in South Louisiana because a lot of our ancestors came from aka D in Nova Scotia or my family’s from the Bordeaux region. Oh, yeah. So we have my kids are both grown up through French immersion. So they’re both fluent. And I’m like, thank goodness because they were all translators for the whole trip.

Yeah, did you find that people in Germany don’t speak as much English as maybe other places. You’ve been in France.

fair amount of English I think because it was a touristy area. They had a fair amount is some of the smaller towns we went to. There was a little bit more of a. Oh,

I lost you. lost you. Hello? Yes. Oh, there you are. Yes. Sorry. So we were talking about English. Is there a lot of English in Germany?

Yeah, there is there is a fair amount. I think because it’s a touristy area. I found the bigger cities where the tourists were drawn to they had more English. Few of the smaller towns that we they we stayed in was a little bit more of a struggle, but not really, as long as you really made an effort and you knew the key words, you know, it’s been a lot of time listening to your podcast and the phrases you should know all those key phrases and then just when they would think we knew what we’re talking about, and start speaking French to if we have to stop, but no, not really, I mean, everywhere in the country we went we really, the people were so friendly, and so we had no problems at all interacting with the Well the whole time.

That’s great. How many days did you spend in the in the French Alps?

Only the three days in the Alps that whole trip was 11 days total.

Okay, so just three nights in the French Alps. Right? You feel that was enough?

I do. I do. We also went up to salt. SAULT? Yes. That was on our way down to Provence and that was also another really good visit but I think so now you know now if you want to do some height and more hiking and stuff, but yeah, I can see maybe spending more time but that was enough. We wanted to see a little bit more and I felt like that time we left Germany we were all satisfied

Yeah, yeah. Yeah somebody on the join us in France close group on Facebook was just saying you know, I want to stay 10 days Is that too much? And I maybe it would be unless you really enjoy hiking and or sitting around at a cafe reading a book or something.

Right, right. RB just like to sit and look at View I can see that for a few days but you know we are looking for living more active vacation.

Sure, sure. Sure that sounds that’s Yeah, that sounds like most people anyway. All right can Is there a hotel or an Airbnb you can recommend.

We actually our travel agent has one the only one that she booked for us and it was just the hotel Excelsior. It was it’s a beautiful hotel. It’s a I think it’s the best Western hotel. But it was just far enough out of the towns where we had to drive and to go to dinner so probably falling things a little bit more convenient Gemini but it’s it’s a very expensive town. Yeah, believe it or not, I was our trip. Even the meal. Everything. They’re just playing off a little bit more very expensive.

Oh, I didn’t realize that. Well, of course you right next to Switzerland and that is seriously expensive.

What? Yeah, one night. One night in Bern, Switzerland. And that was that was incredibly.

Yeah, yeah, we French people get sticker shock. It’s Switzerland. How much is it for a train ticket or for you know, even a bus ticket? It’s like eight French francs for a bus ticket or some night. My daughter was there recently and she was she came back saying, Okay, I have no money left in the account to help me.

I believe in trying to eat out in Switzerland. Oh, my goodness, the food was so expensive. But yeah, I’m glad. I’m glad we went. But one night was enough. That one? Yeah.

Yeah. So would you recommend this area more for active families or making people with young kids or maybe older people or everybody Really? I lost you again? Hello, yes. Sorry. You’re back. Did you hear the question?

Yes. I sure did. Yeah. For mainly for active families. I think in this area just because especially in Germany, anywhere you park you’re gonna have to do a lot of walking. I mean, we walked a lot on those days. Now we did. We also have 15 train ride from there, which was really nice to the glacier. We did you know, we did a lot of different things.

So you went to the last? We did.

Yeah, we did. But again, for access, and that’s one for sure. You can do that we will do maybe with if you’re limited physically, but not to the train ride, especially if you want to go down to the glacier. You can’t because now as a glacier recedes, it’s now 500 steps. stairs, you have to go to sand and then climb.

Ah, yes, I’m those a lot of stairs. Yes.

With a lot of fair Yeah, so that one is really that area for active families would be a little bit easier to navigate for sure.

Yeah. So melted glass. That’s very good to know that there are a lot of stairs. Yes,

a lot of stairs. And if that’s the one thing my daughter who has a fear of heights she struggled with that because the stairs are there metal grading so you can see straight through them. Oh yeah. And that was that was a challenge for her. So she and I went back up and had coffee and waited for my son. The go down in The glacier, so just some for people to be aware of that if you make it there, you might be disappointed if you can’t go all the way in.

Yes, yes. I there’s a great family story in my family. My mother and father went to the melting glass on their honeymoon. And she just couldn’t. She was just afraid. And

this was a long time ago. Right? Yeah, yeah, the heights

are a problem. All right. Was there a particular restaurant you like or particular local dish that you enjoyed?

You know, it was pretty, it was nothing really stood out terribly, because it was similar to everything in the region that we had because it was Listen, Germany in that area, it was all kind of overlap. There was nothing in shame when we really that suit necessarily stood out. Okay.

Yeah, so probably potato dishes and cheese dishes and sausages. Right? Yes. I haven’t been in years but I yeah, that’s what I would expect. To find over there,

right? Yeah. All right not not nearly nearly like the southern France as we got further down in our old in that area the food on my goodness gives us more Italian inspired fresh pasta and oh my goodness that was Oh yeah.

Yeah fresh fruits and vegetables and it’s much. I mean honestly the food in the south of France. Probably my favorite is Provence actually as far as the types of food that they offer. Southwest is also good, but you have to like duck.

Ah, there was there was a lot of guts everywhere we went it seemed there was a lot of options. I was surprised by that. Yeah,

yeah. Ducks are in danger in France. We eat them too much. All right. Did I forget to mention anything that was important that you want to add?

I don’t think so. I think you covered it. No, I mean, I just highly Highly recommended, even for people like I said to the people in my group have a pretty healthy fear of heights. And they will follow it not on the tram, they were able to just look straight towards the mountain because you go, you skim the mountain. So they didn’t have to live down. And they both were very, very happy that they did it. So it’s something if you’re, if you’re if you have a little bit of a fear, it’s something really worth getting out of your comfort zone to go to do for sure. Excellent.

Very good to know. All right. Well, Eddie, thank thanks so much for doing this interview with me because the, you know, we’ve talked about this area, but never in that much detail about the GD and lots of people will see it. So it’s it’s important that they know what to expect.

Right? Right. I agree. And I appreciate you very much, Annie. I’m we’re already planning a trip back in a couple of years ago, the Bordeaux and Normandy region. So I’m looking forward to hearing more of your podcast.

Excellent. Thank you so much.

You’re very You’re very welcome. Have a great day.

You too. Thank you, Courtney. Hawking’s Richard wicker sorry Richard Jeremy PacMan Cassie shawl Adam gate would Megan Perez and Kimberly Stevens for pledging to support the show on Patreon this week. I think I have killed a few of your names My apologies but I am very grateful for your support. patrons enjoys several rewards including membership into a secret Facebook group where I answer questions everyday. patrons can also hire me to be their trip consultant and help them work out details that are sometimes complicated. Visit forward slash join us to see the different reward tiers and thank you so much for giving back. My thanks also to Don Davis, Adam gatward and Dyson Mason for sending in a one time donation using the green button on any page on join us in France. com that says tip your guide donations of $20 and over get you Also get you an invite to the secret Facebook group. And Don wrote thank you for all you do. I am a Patreon supporter and I just purchased both the audio tours, which I’m very excited to try out in a couple of weeks when I’m in Paris. I will share my trip experience with the join us in France Facebook group, thank you so much. That is so wonderful, Don, thank you. When you have let me tell you how you do the

the review because I think a lot of people miss that. When you finish the tour. When I’m done talking. There’s another voice male voice that comes on that’s EN the founder of voice map. And he explains his vision for the app and things like that he doesn’t have very long, maybe 30 seconds. And then when he’s done then it will automatically take you to a place where you can review the the tour and that is super helpful because it’s new. I’ve only had them out for about a month and so I don’t have a lot of reviews yet. And Adam who also made a donation wrote boardroom Annie, I signed up on Patreon. But I also want to make an additional contribution. I found your podcast a couple of weeks before a trip to France and Italy. The podcasts were very helpful, especially the episodes on driving in France. I had driven in Italy a couple of times, the rumors I heard of driving of driving in France scared me because of the right priority. But your podcast straighten me out about all of those untrue rumors, driving went very well even picking it even picking up and returning the rental car accidents in peace in Paris. Many things, Adam, so thank you so so much, Adam and Dawn for being so generous. For my personal update. This week. I spent a week in Paris to put the final touches to my MoMA tour, and I am delighted to announce that it’s live. As with all my other GPS aware audio tours, you can get them directly through the voice map app. Just search for Paris and then tours with Annie Sargent. But podcast listeners get a discount when they buy through join us in forward slash audio tours. These tours will save you a lot of time because I take you straight to the best parts of each neighborhood. And as I tell you stories about each area, I make sure to scratch below the surface, because you are Francophiles or you wouldn’t be listening to me. You know how much I love French history and culture. And if I spend my life just taking people to the best places for selfies, I would hate myself. So I want to tell you about things that you missed last time you went to Paris, and trust me, you missed some because most of us do. I have to thank my husband David, who’s been helping me with the nitty gritty of selling these tours. And my sister in law KT who played an old French tune beauty Roughly it’s called Black Wolf plan to do a boot. And you’ll hear that when you take the tour. And of course, the folks at voice map who are doing an outstanding job with this app. But one person I can never thank enough is Patricia Perry, who has invited me to stay at her apartment in Paris. The last three times I went to work on these tours. She’s a really generous hostess and has great suggestions for places in Paris that we can explore next, so thank you so much, Patricia. Oh, and I forgot to mention earlier that I published two Patreon rewards short videos from Paris. If for Patreon supporters should have gotten a notification about that, and in the next couple of days, I’ll release some photos and also one more reward explaining how to deal with the Rooney bathroom one in Paris. My visit this time happened to coincide with that and I learned a lot

because I’ve done it in To lose before but this was my first time in Paris. And there are so many things to see in Paris that Yeah, they don’t make it so easy. So if you let me explain, if you plan a trip to Paris that includes the third weekend of September, you will get a chance to see a lot of wonderful venues that are not normally open to the public. But French people we love to make things as complicated as possible. So several podcast listeners have told me that they were in Paris but they couldn’t get into anything. So I’ll explain how anybody can get in, in this new Patreon exclusive and this week, I will also release a short episode on the public feed this time that I will call Do you really need a recommendation for everything have much to say about and I hope I can help you not get too overwhelmed with your trip planning. If you want to recommend the podcast to someone who already listens to buy casts, tell them to search for join us in France travel podcast anywhere they like to get their podcasts, if they listen to music on their phones, tell them to search for join us in France on Spotify or Pandora. And if they normally don’t listen to anything on their phones, send them to join us in France. com. There’s a play button there. And of course, they can open join us in France. com on their phone, and then play from there. That’s the problem with podcasting is that there are so many ways to listen, that it confuses people. But really, it’s pretty straightforward. There’s a play button, click on it, search for it. So thank you so much for listening and for spreading the word. Send questions or feedback to Annie at join us in France. com. Have a great week of trip planning, and I’ll talk to you next week. Have a have a great time in France, if that’s where you are Join us in France travel podcast is written and produced by Annie Sargent and copyright 2019 by addicted to France. It is released under Creative Commons Attribution non commercial no derivatives license

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Category: Lyon Area