. We stopped at a little town called Les Merricotes, on the Swiss side to visit an alpine zoo there. The zoo was a five minute walk from the train station, up a steep dirt path and over a footbridge to the entrance. There was also a large swimming pool. You could buy a ticket to the zoo only or to the zoo and the pool. It looks like a lot of the locals came to use the pool on nice days. The zoo also had a small playground with a slide and a couple rides with rope climbs. Sofia played for a bit and then we took the train back to Chamonix.
All in all, a lazy day in the valley, tomorrow we go to the top of the mountain.
Almost forgot...happy birthday U.S.A.!
Morning arrived warm and sunny. We walked to the Chamonix train station to catch the "Mont Blanc Express", a train that goes through the valley and into Martigny, Switzerland. The train takes a scenic route up the mountains and stops at a few towns along the way. The first part of the trip is on a French SNCF train (SNCF is the national rail system) with panoramic windows to take in the incredible views of the mountains and deep valleys. Once the train arrived in Vallorcine, the last stop in France, we got off and waited on the next platform for the train that would take us on the next leg of the journey. That train is operated by the Swiss train system, TMB, and runs on a smaller gauge track so that it can negotiate the tight curves around the mountains. The train tracks are built directly next to the face of the mountain, on a flat surface barely wide enough for the tracks, and the mountains steeply drop off on the edge of the track. It is amazing that a rail line was built and is maintained in such difficult terrain