Walking: La Bourgeoise

A nice easy stroll, with an impressive view.  Perfect for a baking hot Sunday afternoon.  It's route #10 in our guide book, and the first of our challenge to walk up all the "Septimontains" - the seven mountains around Samoëns (and co-incidentally, the local name for inhabitants of Samoëns).

The easy way to summit La Bourgeoise is to start from the Col de Joux Plane.  For us, that means sticking the dog in the car and driving up, but for an astonishing number of locals, it means donning the lycra and cycling uphill.  It's amazing zigzag route up the mountain, with jaw dropping views down to the valley. And at this time of year, just a few weeks before the Tour de France comes through, it's cyclists that out number cars on the road,  easily 10:1. 

There's a car park at the summit, and it's easy to pick up the signposted path to La Bourgeoise summit.  We encountered plenty of cows, which terrified Denis the dog.  We're not sure if it's their size, or the loud cow bells clanging, but the poor boy wouldn't shift, so The Sidster carried him past the (perceived) danger.  The cows seem quite at home on really quite steep slopes - quite the mountain goats. 

It's an easy walk, on a clearly marked path, right across to the summit.  We had a pretty clear day, and Mont Blanc looked majestic (and white) in the background.  For me though, the fascinating thing is the view down into the Giffre valley.  Seeing the familiar road layouts & various hamlets from a different perspective is great.  A gentle reminder of how small we all are in the world around us.  But we did manage to spot our chalet with the binoculars.

Its about 35 mins to the summit, and 30 back (downhill) .  A great spot for a picnic, or the cafe by the lake (near the car park) does great coffee & cake, and the owners are super-friendly.


Walking: Les Fardelay loop

The ski season is over, and it's time to dust off the walking boots.  After 30 years, mine are finally broken in and really quite comfy.  They look like museum pieces, and when I check out this seasons latest boots in the shops in town, I realise just how much lighter modern boots are.  But mine are not yet worn out, and I'm oddly fond of them.

We have some friends from London staying this week, and today we figured we'd brave the "pluie éparses" (scattered showers) and get out there.  Our best walking books are in French, but happily they come with maps, so we get a French lesson to boot.  

Parking the car in Salvangy, by the ski lifts, we walked along the D29 road towards Cascades de Rouget, following the left turn up the hill.  There are some beautiful views, looking down over the patchwork of Salvangy's roofs.  The road soon runs out and turns into footpath, running further up the hill.  Emphasis on the word up.  The first half of this walk is upwards, ascending 254m in about 2km.  Hard work for a out of shape townie like me...  but this is how change happens & I get fitter!  And we're rewarded though, with stunning views across the valley to the Cascade de Rouget.

At La Célière, we turn right on to the path signposted down to Les Fardellay.  Surface tree roots form natural steps down the hill through the forest, and in time the path emerges into open pasture.  The spring meadow is beautiful, and I want to learn more about the flowers. Swathes of white umbellifers, that I initially think are bullwort, turn out on closer inspection, to be cow parsley.  I've gathered a few dried seed heads, thinking they might make for an interesting art project later.

A bridge took us over a raging Giffre river.  At this time of year it's running really full and fast. Then it's through the meadow to meet up the with road by Les Fardellay chalets, and on to the Cascade de Rouget.  The sheer power of the water crashing over the rock is breathtaking, no matter how many times I see it.  We got wetter at the waterfall than we did anywhere else on the trail - those pluies were happily quite éparses.  From there it was gentle down hill back through the forest to Salvangy to pick up the car.  

Our tech tools tell us it took about 3 hours, we covered 6.5km, climbed 250m, and took about 15,000 steps.  None too shabby for a damp Monday.