“You have to come see Mont Blanc,” she said.
It was barely light out.
“I can tell the time by the birds,” she added excitedly. “It’s 5:10, and they always start going crazy at 5.”
I wondered if it would be rude to crawl back into bed.
We really have saved the best for last. It’s not just that the Hotel Aguille du Midi in Les Bossons sits directly beneath and has a panoramic view of Mont Blanc, Europe’s highest peak at 15,782 feet; beneath its rippling Bossons Glacier; beneath the triangular mountain that shares the hotel’s name. It’s not just that we have a second-floor balcony facing the whole Mont Blanc range. Or that we can hike to the glacier without getting in the car or paying for a lift. Or that we take morning and evening walks past dark-wood chalets on a pedestrian path beneath the same picture postcard.
It’s not just that this hotel has been in the same family for five generations spanning 106 years. That it’s a friendly and easy-going place, with ping pong, pool, a hot tub, a billiards room and a great big garden with a little hideaway hut with kid-sized chairs inside.
It’s not just that the chef is Michelin-recommended, that he makes nightly the kind of old-fashioned vegetable soups we’ve missed from French cuisine past with ingredients picked from the garden. That his daily five-course meal continues with a variety of those old-fashioned French sauces – first on fish, then on meat — that foolishly have fallen from favor in much French cuisine. It’s not just that we finish each meal — after the cheese — with a choice of a dozen desserts at the “buffet” – fruit tarts, chocolate fondant, strawberry shortcake, or all.
No. It’s not just one of these things. It’s all. Yes, it’s a bit of a splurge; this whole trip has surely been that. But with a room just below $100 a night and a huge dinner and breakfast for us both for another $100, this hotel is a lucky find. For the songbirds. For the view. For its calm beauty. For the smell of freshly baking bread wafting right now from the kitchen door.
I’m a fragile sleeper come morning. So after Kathy’s comment, I lay listening to those birds for awhile in bed. Then I sat down on the balcony to write this. A cloud had obscured Mont Blanc by then, a white finger drifting across the green hillside below it. But the mountain is back again, above the clouds. It’s been peeking in and out, as has the sun, every day since Sunday now, between occasional showers and longer bursts of blue brightness. Perhaps it’s the mountain’s game of hide-and-seek, meant for big kids like us, looking upward to catch another glimpse of the summit.