Chartreuse monastery hike

The week before my mom left in December we drove up into the Chartreuse mountains to go for a hike up by the monastery of the Carthusian monks (the ones who make the Chartreuse liquor) – la Grande Chartreuse -up by the town of St Pierre de Chartreuse.  (Detecting a pattern?)

La Grande Chartreuse monastery
Micah and Grandma on the way up


La Grande Chartreuse monastery

It’s not the first time we’ve been up there – we hiked here with before a few times (not to mention taking my sister and family, plus Susan’s mom, {and quite possibly 50 or so other visitors} to the distillery down in the town of Voiron)  – not to mention this is close to where I ran La Grand Duc trail race last spring.

La Grande Chartreuse monastery

La Grande Chartreuse monastery
Finishing her sandwich on our way up to the monastery
La Grande Chartreuse monastery
La Grande Chartreuse monastery


It was an amazing day for a hike – it was sunny and above zero -but they had just got dumped on with snow the night before. There was so much snow hanging heavy on the trees that it was actually a fairly dangerous place to walk, as there are massive trees lining the path up to the monastery. The warmth of the sun on the snow caught up in the branches was causing it to fall (what we call ‘treevalanches’).  And sometimes they were HUGE.  For some reason Grandma seemed to get hit more that others of us, and a few times I had to shelter Alma as there would be a clump of snow 3 times my size dropping from about 5 meters up!  No wonder the monks were all nestled safely inside their cloister cells praying…it’s too dangerous to be outside.

La Grande Chartreuse monastery
almost there


When you get up here you can see how these monks though this would be a good place to get away from it all.  Even now you get the feeling that you are in a place of utter solitude – I can’t imagine how isolated you would have been up here a few hundred years ago.






The Chartreuse Distillery

chartreuse liquor distillery caves in Voiron France
down in the caves

We drove down into Voiron, where the Chartreuse distillery is. Honestly, we’ve been there so many times I have completely lost track – but I still find it interesting every time.  To me, this story of monks from the Catholic church, who live up in the middle of nowhere in the French Alpes to remain in solitude, who then brew an elixir-of-life based on a centuries-old formula given to them, and from there develop a liquor made of a blend of 150 plants, which then becomes famous all over the world…is a pretty interesting tale.  Plus the fact that you get to sample at the end – likely means that I’ve enjoyed €50 worth of Chartreuse VEP, and 1605 etc…one tiny glass at a time.

chartreuse liquor on the floor of the ageing caves
“Caution: liquor made from a top-secret monk-held formula of 150 plants is dripping out of centuries old oak casks”
not at all slippery…actually quite sticky.