Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Mountains!

Well, we've had a busy couple of days.

Sunday, the weather didn't start off too brilliantly, but wasn't too bad. Alice kept on mentioning about going up on a chairlift, so that partially brought about a decision to just head down the valley to Chatel. From there, we headed up the Super Chatel, then the Morclan ski lifts, to the summit (1970m) of le Morclan. The first of these lifts was an actual "télécabine", so Jacqueline felt safe, however the second was simply a chairlift (télésiege), and that proved too much for her, so Jacqueline stopped halfway.

Just after we reached the summit I must admit I myself was left wondering whether this was such a good idea, since we got caught in a shower (which at our altitude came down as hail stones). However, five minutes passed, and so did the shower, and then we were filled with sunshine. So, some wonderful views, not least back along the Val d'Abondance, although the higher peaks around us all had intermittent cloud.

Back down in the valley, we took a wander through Chatel, which was a charming little village, obviously centred on skiing but busy in the summer with tourists nevertheless. Very picturesque.

Still in grey weather, we decided that the rest of our exploring might be safest done by car, and so we headed on into Switzerland, then took the motorway back up to Lake Geneva (Lac Léman). During the journey, the weather improved a lot and by the time we drove into Évian we were in bright sunshine. Took a stroll through Évian (us and a million other tourists), which was a beautiful, almost seaside resort. Took in our first ice creams of the holiday, and a walk along the lakeside. Alice didn't behave very well, which spoilt things a little, but Jacqueline and I just ended up strolling on, leaving Alice to follow at what she considered to be a safe distance.

Out of Évian, the evening weather was still sufficiently bright that I suggested taking the scenic route home, and so we headed for the village of Bernex and saw some wonderful views of the nearby Mont Cesar and the Dent d'Oche, in almost clear blue sky. Even Jacqueline was into this, though Alice decided to wait in the car. Upon arriving back at the car we were about to head back to the chalet when I mentioned to Jacqueline that it was possible to drive on and get an even better view of the Dent d'Oche, and so she suggested doing so. And so a further fifteen minutes along a windy mountain road brought us to le Pré Richard. Clearly this was a ski area, with many (non-operational) lifts, but one of the things that was operational in the summer was the café. So, there we were, at 6:30 on a sunny summer evening, enjoying a beer and staring at the beautiful Dent d'Oche.

The weather was so good in the evening that the omens looked good for the next day, and this was backed up by the weather forecast (I've been paying quite close attention to the forecast to try and pick out the best days for sightseeing, since we're forecast rain for some of the days we are here). So I announced that I wanted to be out of the house early so we could head over to Switzerland for the day.

So there we were on Monday morning, out of the chalet at an unbelievable 10 o'clock, heading over to the resort of Zermatt in perfect sunshine. Although we didn't arrive until lunchtime, all soon agreed that the effort was worth it as we found a beautiful town (much expanded since I was last there, and even now blotted with several large cranes). After a bit of a dodgy lunch (I didn't felt right for the rest of the day afterwards) we headed up more ski lifts, this time to take us to the Schwarzsee for stunning views of the Matterhorn and the surrounding peaks. Words cannot begin to describe the feelings of awe, power and purity up there. Just as well I took so many photographs then! The only downside of being up there was this ignorant waitress bellowing at me in German as I tried to order some drinks in both French and English. But I got there in the end, this helpful woman even pointing out to me what I should have asked for (heissige wasser!).

Back down into the town for a further stroll, back to the station. Because Zermatt is car-less, one can only travel as far as the next town in the valley, Täsch. So, we needed to take the train back to the car park, then on home. Each was was almost a three hour journey, so all in all it was quite a long day - about 11 hours in total, though fortunately Jacqueline drove us back. Atfer we returned, I just about had the energy to upload the day's photographs, then I was all in.

We're still not decided what we'll do today, though one thing is for sure we will take things a little easier.

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