© 2019 by  Ryan Henderson

Chamonix, France

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”― Mark Twain

Our final drive of the tour was underway and by this time, it was very easy to fall asleep in the surprisingly comfortable bus seats.  I did wake up for one section, however, and found one of the other tour members showing off a GoPro video of him paragliding in Lauterbrunnen next to the waterfalls. EPIC.

Chamonix at a Glance:

Location: Eastern France

Population: 9,000

What It's Known For:

  • Mont Blanc (Highest Peak in Europe)

  • Skiing

  • Mer de Glace

  • Shopping and Food

Rolling into town, it was exciting to see all of the outlet shops and smell all of the wonderful food, while being surrounded by stunning and ginormous white peaks.  

By this time, there was a general consensus among a few of the group members that paragliding would be the activity of choice for our last full day in the alps.  Prior to this day, I never thought about paragliding, and would have said no to skydiving.  But with the circumstances and watching the other tour member's GoPro video in Lauterbrunnen, I knew it was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I couldn't turn it down.

(Above) Apple's Siri trying to be funny when I asked a serious question before the big day.

(Right) From Patagonia, to The North Face, to Arc'teryx and more, Chamonix was filled with retail outlets.  

Final Day in the Alps:

Because paragliding is so weather dependent, I was pleased to see this sunrise out of the hotel balcony when I woke up in the morning.

After meeting up with the pilots, we took a gondola to the top of a local peak.  By this time it was getting VERY real and everyone was stoked.

(Below) Running in tandem through the snow while dragging this giant 'chute was a little tricky!

WHAT AN EXPERIENCE.  I held the biggest smile the entire time and the pilot even let me take the controls for a little while.  The pilots our group members had were no joke: one was in the paragliding world cup at one point and the others had been doing it for 15-20 years.  My pilot even did some tricks while we were in the sky.

After our paragliding adventure was over, a few of us took a train to see one of the famed glaciers.  (Unfortunately all of the gondolas to Mont Blanc were closed due to maintenance)

Pictures really don't do this glacier any justice and it was really neat to see. 

A dinner and dessert back in town with the entire group was the perfect ending to our trip.