Grenoble, Chamonix, Paris! 
Wednesday, June 26, 2013, 08:16 PM - Trips
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I attended IEEE PES Powertech and my first SIRFN meeting in Grenoble last week. I visited Grenoble a couple years before in conjunction with the EU PVSEC conference, so it was good to see the city again. My old roommate from GT, Sebastien, still lives in the area so we spent a couple evenings enjoying the local beers and cheese (it's a French thing). He and his wife, Estelle, are prod parents to 20 month old Camille, who was kind enough to play rugby with me when I went over to their place for dinner.


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Cultural exchange: Marble Red from ABQ and Leffe from Belgium.

One morning before the conference, I took a nice 6-mile job up to the Bastille, through the caves, and back down a rough 30% grade hill into town. Of course my calves would hurt for a couple days because of the effort, but it was worth it for the sunrise views from the empty fortress!


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I toured the Chartreuse distillery and museum. This green liquor is created from 140 local herbs collected by Monks in the mountains. Supposedly only 2 of the monks know the complete recipe.

The Friday after the SIRFN meeting was La Fête de la Musique to celebrate the summer solstice. I remember my first encounter with the Fete in Paris in 2007 very well, because the streets were packed with rock, indie, techno, classical, and every other musical genre in between. Grenoble didn't quite have the same auditory density, but a few of the guys from the workshop joined me on a grand exploration of the different venues. We eventually picked up a couple beers and stopped off at the "Rock" zone. Seb eventually put Estelle and Camille to bed and joined us at around 10pm. We then headed off to the techno area to bring the night to a close. Our line-up was pretty good with DJ one Finger, Jeebey, and Itchy et Scratchy. At 2am, I gave up on there being a tram and jogged the couple miles back to the hotel, only to get up at 6am to catch my train to Geneva.



Estelle and Martin, both ex-UNM ski racers and ex-French/Austrian national ski team members, greeted me in Genève. We got supplies for a wonderful breakfast at their place in Annemasse, and then piled into the car to head toward Chamonix.

I didn't realize it before, but Estelle's parents had a spetacular house in the valley where we could stay, and her parents were out of town for the week too! From there we launched a couple day hikes. The first was a 6.5 mile hike/climb to Lac de Pormenaz. It was a very steep climb up but we somehow picked the only spot in the whole region where the sun was shining, so it great. We reached the ice-covered with a little snow hiking and had yummy baguette sandwiches.

We hiked back via the ski hill to Plaine Joux and then jumped into Lac de Passy for some refreshment. The clouds covered Mont Blanc for the most part, but every now and again they would seperate so I could make out the summit and it's impressive glaciers.





For dinner, I treated Estelle and Martin to dinner in Chamonix. Syrah and Fondue in front of Europe's biggest peak is certainly a great way to bring the evening to a close.





Sunday, we climbing in poor weather to Aiguillette des Houches. We could only spot the lower portions of the glaciers, but it was still a nice 3 hour hike with some respectable elevation gain (2,800 ft). We chomped down some sandwiches and then trucked it back into Chamonix for ice cream cones!




We grabbed a beer and I headed back to Paris. I navigated from Gare de Lyon to my hotel in a drizzle late on Sunday night, but managed to get a nice 2 hour walk around the city; I wanded up to the Pantheon, through the Luxembourg gardens, and down past Notre Dame before heading back stateside.

Photos are here.
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