How’s your week been? We’ve had a great time exploring the French alps! Hope you like photos of mountains and snow – there’s plenty below! Here’s a day by day summary of our adventures during Week 13 of our 5 months in France:
Monday: We drove north to Annecy, which is known as one of the prettiest towns in France. It certainly is a lovely place with canals running through it and the lake on which it sits is beautiful. We then drove east to Chamonix where we we took the cable car – the highest vertical ascent cable car in the world, rising from 1,035m to 3842m! It’s a 20 min ride then there’s an elevator which takes you to the absolute top from which the views of Mont Blanc, surrounding alps and into Italy and Switzerland are stunning. It was minus 17 deg at the top! (Quote of the week: David ‘This is the highest I’ve ever been!’) The whole experience was, in a word, overwhelming.
Tuesday: In the morning we went into town and took the Telepherique (cable car, in this case, a bubble!) up to the Bastille which gives nearly 360 degree views over Grenoble. After lunch at the apartment, and a skype session with our boys in Adelaide, we drove up to Chamrousse which, looking up, you can see from Grenoble. It’s the closest ski field to Grenoble and there was lots of snow, it was about 30cm thick at top. It’s a lovely drive up to Chamrousse as well.
Wednesday: We drove to Sisteron, about 2 hours’ drive through Vercors National Park – quite a hilly, winding road – spectacular! There was still lots of snow around and it was snowing at the highest point. Sisteron is in the Alpes de Haute Provence region. We visited the Citadel which dates back to the 12th century then returned to Grenoble via the same road.
Thursday: This morning we took the Funiculaire up to St Hilaire and back. A funiculaire is a carriage which goes up and down a train track, controlled by a cable. The Funiculaire de Saint Hilaire du Touvet was built in 1924 and is the steepest in Europe, with a gradient of 83% at the steepest point. It takes 20 mins to go up 700m. Once again, we were treated to amazing views. We then drove to Chambery and on to the picturesque Lac du Bourget, round the lake to visit the Abbye Haute-Combe then continued round the lake enjoying a beautiful drive and back to Grenoble.
Friday: We spent today driving to Briancon and back. The drive included stunning scenery, winding roads on the edge of mountains and lots of tunnels through parts of the mountains.
Saturday: The morning was spent wandering round town. After lunch we drove straight up the hill in front of the apartment to Fort St Eynard then drove back via St Pierre and Voreppe. Again, the scenery was breathtaking.
Sunday: Today we went for a drive through the middle of the top half of Vercors National Park, via several small villages, including Pont en Royans where there are ‘maisons suspendues’ – houses built on the rocks overhanging the river, almost defying gravity! Not long after there, we went through a very long tunnel and popped out into completely different scenery and climate – there was snow everywhere whereas there’d been none on the side of the hill we’d come from. At some point the road we wanted to take was closed and we missed the deviation turn, ending up who-knows-where on a very minor road on which we, of course, encountered a very large tractor coming our way. We had to reverse uphill for about 200m to a hairpin bend where there was room for us both on the road. We continued on, only to find the road back to Grenoble was also ‘route barre’ so we had to back track quite a way before we found the right deviation which eventually brought us back to the apartment. We did see a couple of deer along the way – the first we’ve seen here.
We’ve had a real mixed bag of weather this week – sun, rain, fog, snow and overcast, with daytime temperatures between 2 and 18 degrees. We head out each day prepared for anything and everything! Pretty much everywhere we’ve been this week has left us short of words to describe how beautiful it is in the alps. We’ve loved exploring the area and have more planned this week, including a couple of days in Geneva before we head back to Montlucon next Sunday.
All the best for the week ahead
Chris and David