Hope you’ve had a good week. Here’s a summary of our second week exploring the French alpine region:
Monday: Got some exercise walking round Ikea; drove to Hauterives to visit the Palais Idéal, a very unusual structure which took postman Ferdinand Cheval 33 years to build. After 10,000 days of labour, he realised his dream of building the Palais out of stones he found and collected while walking his 32km mail delivery route each day. He started constructing it at age 43, after deciding he wanted to be creative rather than waste his evenings playing cards or doing nothing. The Palais is considered to be an extraordinary example of naïve architecture – it certainly is unique as you’ll see in the photos below.
Tuesday: If you’re looking for a cultural experience on a Tuesday, you won’t find any! Went to Vizille to visit the chateau – closed on Tuesdays (we did at least have the market to go to but why close the town’s main attraction on market day when there’s more people in town, that’s a French mystery); went back into Grenoble to go to the museum/art gallery – guess what? – closed on Tuesdays (why have a museum of national importance closed on any day of the week – another French mystery). Interesting comment from the French CEO of IBM – France has an unemployment problem and there’s not a lot of growth…hmm…how about creating thousands of jobs by having shops and everything else open more??
Noted, again, the need to lose some weight – went for a long walk and managed to not eat anything involving pastry!
Spent the afternoon at the apartment relaxing, practising our watercolour skills and listening to – ad nauseum – info on the US election.
Wednesday: Given that we’d run out of energy for steep, winding, snow-flanked, one lane roads, we went to the museum/art gallery which is actually all art, no museum-type stuff, to my relief! Was good to see some Monet, Picasso, Matisse and Renoir masterpieces again. Took the bubble-cable-car up the hill and had lunch at the restaurant – lovely views over Grenoble and across to the alps. David had a chicken and crayfish dish. What the French call a crayfish Australians would call a small prawn. The poor crayfish needed to be back in the sea to grow a little more. Back to the apartment to relax and get all washing done ready to pack in the morning.
Thursday: Left Grenoble and headed towards Geneva. Stopped for another look at Annecy – known as the Venice of France, it really is a very pretty town. Arrived in Geneva in time for a late lunch, walked a bit along the lake front, hopped on the Petit Train (little tourist train) for more of a look. Geneva is quite an attractive city, a bit like Paris actually (except for the lake) and very classy – streets are lined with shops like Louis Vuitton, Cartier etc and every brand of Swiss watch shop you can imagine (but can’t afford to go into!). Stayed the night in Annemasse, on the French side of Geneva – it’s cheaper this side!
Friday: Headed off to circumnavigate Lac de Leman (more commonly known as Lake Geneva), stopping at the medieval town of Yvoire, Aigle (chateau closed of course), Montreux (chateau open fortunately – a great one to visit as you can explore it all yourself (ie no guided visits), and it’s pretty much all open to visitors, has some secret tunnels and several levels with the top giving great views across the lake). Montreux is famous for all the musical people as the place where Deep Purple wrote and recorded “Smoke on the Water” where the song talks about the Montreux casino burning down. Montreux is beautiful, wedged between the lake and the Alps. Straight back to Annemasse from Montreux just as the sun was setting. Oh, Switzerland might be pretty but it’s pretty expensive as well – paid $51.70 for two omelettes, a bit of salad and two drinks!! Was a nice lunch but at that price, can’t afford to eat dinner!
Saturday: Woke up to fog and rain – not a good day for driving or sight-seeing. Decided to check out of the hotel a day early and head north-east. Stopped in Beaune (south of Dijon) for lunch – had a walk around in the rain, seems like a lovely town and might be worth another visit on a nicer day. Arrived back at La Villatte – home, for the time being at least – just as it was getting dark.
Sunday: Had to restock the pantry and fridge and move our gear from the cottage to the house – we’ve been upgraded! The owners are now in England until February so we’re staying in the house. It’s nice to have a bit more space, even though we did like being in the cottage. There’s another couple (like us, same age, having a gap-year!) arriving mid-December to live in the cottage for 12 months.
So, all in all, a great two weeks, particularly the first, being able to see such spectacular scenery. Planning to relax a bit this week, get back to art class, French lessons and dancing and will plan a train trip to Paris for later next week.
All the best
Chris and David