Running with Julia: lunch at Chalet la Floria

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Chalet Floria is a charming old stone building brimming with flowers that is nestled into the hillside near Chamonix’s famous Petit Balcon Sud.  It’s open mid-morning to late-afternoon from June to November and offers a small menu of light lunch options, deserts, coffees, juices, beer and wine.  With sweeping views of Mont Blanc, the Mer de Glace and the Chamonix valley below, it’s the ideal spot to relax and refuel on an easy hike.

Chalet Floria is just an hour from Chamonix but it feels like a world away

I grew up in Marin County, California, a place with plenty of incredible day hikes.  Back home when I was planning on being out on the trails for several hours, lunch would consist of some trail snacks or maybe a PB&J, eaten while leaning against a tree or sitting on a rock.  The thought of being able to sit down at a scenic café and enjoy fresh food and a hot coffee before continuing the trek never even crossed my mind – not until I came to the Alps.

After enjoying a vegetable quiche and fresh lemonade while taking in the sights of Mont Blanc on Chalet Floria’s terrace, I realized that no matter how stunning Northern California is, my time in the Alps is going to spoil me.  I could quickly tell that in these mountains, spending hours on the trails is a way of life.  That means that taking a moment to pause, refuel, and appreciate the view at a scenic mountain hut is just part of a typical day in the Alps.

The views from the Chalet Floria patio are almost as delicious as their fresh baked treats

On my hike to Floria, I turned the corner and the chalet seemed to appear within the trees.  I felt as if I’d stepped into a storybook; potted bouquets hang from the window awnings and rose vines adorn the stone walls.  More flowers bloom from grassy enclaves along the terrace, which grow alongside a small herb garden.  Though it was a short hike, the chalet is situated just high enough to take in stunning views of the valley, the Mont Blanc glacier, and the surrounding peaks.

I took a seat at one of the wooden tables shaded with rainbow umbrellas, and studied the menu, which includes fresh salads, vegetable omelets, and small plates of cheese and cured meat.  There’s also an array of freshly made berry tarts and sweet crepes.  Chalet Floria is less than an hour hike from Chamonix, but it feels cozy and secluded.  It’s a hidden gem in trail-lover’s paradise.  I sat for about an hour, enjoying my lunch and taking in the views, and the feeling of blissful bewilderment didn’t fade.  As I sipped the last of my lemonade and watched the clouds swirl by the top of the glacier, I couldn’t help but ask myself:  “Is life in the Alps always this good?” 

Places like the Chalet Floria are about “pausing, relaxing and taking in the beauty” — Julia Maxwell

The magic of the Alps is especially strong at small mountain huts like Chalet Floria.  Visiting these huts makes you realize that being in the mountains is about more than just covering kilometers and hiking up inclines; it’s about pausing, relaxing, and taking in the beauty.  There are many more charming huts to visit, more café au laits and blueberry tarts to enjoy, but my afternoon at Chalet Floria was a warm welcome to a typical day of life in the Alps.

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