The second installment of my "behind the photo" series also comes from Chamonix.
One of the things I really geek out on, online, is Google Maps. I find it to be a fantastic tool to find new places to visit. I use Earth view and then rotate an image to get a 3D appearance so I can get an idea of what the terrain looks like - from there I use the street view tool to hopefully find other people's images to get a "real world" idea of the area. So there's secret number one on how I find some of the places I have been.
That is exactly how I found the Lac d'Emosson where I took this photo from. Lac d'Emosson is a reservoir located high in the Alps just across the Swiss border. Admittedly, I was unaware that you could literally just drive to the lake until I met a avid climber and chef, Matt, in Argentière - one of the communities that make up the Chamonix valley. I told him that I was trying to find a view of Mont Blanc that was from above and that I could drive too; it was too late in the day to catch a cable car and go for a hike, so driving was the only viable option. I mentioned Lac d'Emosson and asked him if we could drive there, to which he said yes and told me that the views from there were wonderful. Sold!
We finished up dinner at The Office Bar (click here to find them online), where Matt happens to work, and drove to Lac d'Emosson. The road winds up and out of the valley and you cross over from France to Switzerland. You follow another valley before splitting off and climbing again. The road was used in Stage 17 of this years Tour de France - chalk was still on the road and jerseys still hanging above; it was rather fascinating actually. It's a rather narrow and windy road, fortunately it was late and we passed two cars going up.
We arrived at a parking lot just before sunset. There's a restaurant (which was closed) that overlooks the valley below, and a view of the Mont Blanc massif in all of it's glory. Unfortunately the sunset never really came to life, but my the view was perfect for some night images of the stars over the majestic peaks - all we had to do was sit and wait, and with a view like this, gladly.
I spent nearly 3 hours outside under the sky that evening. I moved around a few times, trying to find different vantage points, but found myself going back to where I had originally setup. There was another group just down from me taking photos as well, other than that us, no one else was around. It was a peaceful evening under a beautiful Swiss sky looking on towards the exquisite French Alps. I don't think I could have asked for a more perfect evening.