Wednesday, 20 March 2013

European Road Trip Day 9 - The French Alps (Thursday 7th June)

We set off from our apartment in the hills near the Cinque Terre, at about 10am after I had had a couple of long, lazy hours. (With this view from my bed, I was in no hurry!)
Breakfast on the terrace with Scott.
View at breakfast.
We didn't get very far on the winding hill roads before we were stopped by this, for a while!
Back on the motorway, we drove for quite a while through similar scenery to the Cinque Terre - wooded hills with little villages perched here and there - all painted in oranges, reds and salmons.
We drove through Genoa, which looks an amazing place, with hundreds of painted apartment blocks all over the hills to the sea.
We carried on driving, with the scenery growing ever more mountainous, and me saying 'Look at the vineyards!' and 'Castle on hill!' rather frequently!
We entered France again just before going through the tunnel under Mont Blanc (or Monte Bianco!) Lucy informed us that we had spent 118 hours in Italy!
I caught up on writing my journal while driving through the tunnel, which is 11.5km long! I was fairly keen to distract myself from the thought of having the whole of Mont Blanc above our heads...
We had to keep the radio on and tuned into the Mont Blanc station as we drove through - they are pretty strict about the tunnel - minimum and maximum speeds, distance between cars, listening for any directions on the radio etc.
Being back in France, with the French signs etc, felt almost like being home, only with absolutely staggering scenery! Here's Tom in a lay-by area where we stopped for a quick break.
Mont Blanc was really amazing... solid snow at the peak, with what looked like a glacier flowing down off it!
I'm sad that I can't capture the vastness of these Alpine mountain ranges, with the green foothills. It was brilliant just driving along and taking it all in. Back to the French/German/Austrian chalet style houses again - so different from the Italian.
After a brief episode of our satnav going nuts (kept telling us to turn right, when we were on a bridge similar to the one above, with clearly NO right turns!), we neared our next apartment, and felt like the next part of our holiday was beginning!
Drove past this interesting building.
Our next apartment was the upper story of this Chalet, near Les Contamines!!
The English owner, who lives on the ground floor showed us round... Scott and Lucy enjoying the view from the balcony which ran along the front of our two bedrooms. (Needless to say we were dead excited again!)
Scott's and my bedroom. (Lucy and Jack shared a twin bedroom, and Harry and Tom shared a bed/settee in the living room.)
View from the back entrance balcony, to the garden and meadow beyond.
The kids just went and explored the meadow for a bit.
Views of our chalet from the meadow. (It felt very Heidi-like!)
After a while, we drove to the nearest town to get some food for tea, and tomorrow's breakfast - we were parked near these cool (and very typical) buildings! Scott and Jack went in the shop, while the rest of us waited out on the street, taking in the views. We killed ourselves laughing when Scott came back out, and realised that he had actually asked for 'rabbit' in the shop, instead of 'the bread'... ('Lapin', rather than 'Le pain'.) Serves him right for not learning his masculine and feminine!
We then tried to find a local park, which the owner of our chalet had tried to explain the directions to. Found it reasonably easily, and had a wander. Very pretty.
We had a picnic tea by the lake (which had zip-wires going to and from it!! - sadly not open), then played a newly invented game of 'Cold Water Up To The Elbow Endurance Test'. The kids were doing it - laying on a jetty with their arms in the lake, for as long as they could possibly bear it - last one in the winner. I had a go, and then realised just how cold the water really was!! Oh my goodness - it was PAINFUL!
We then went for a walk round the lake, and found this!! A huge artificial beach area, made of the most lovely soft clean sand!
There was a lovely shallow pool in it, and the kids found it was full of newts (plus a dead toad.) They had a great time exploring!
I positioned myself on the lovely boardwalk, and soaked in some evening sunshine. Couldn't quite believe I was in the middle of a great big beach, sunbathing, with the fabulous backdrop of the Alps!! Rather unexpected!
After some long jump attempts by everyone, we rather reluctantly made our way back home.
We drove back to the chalet by a slightly different route - more great views!

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