Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Our Very Own Tour de France! Day 5 - 9

Chantecoq to Lake Annecy

Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th August 2017

We left  Lake Chantecoq with 2 more long travelling days in front of us, so really I haven't got much to tell you.  On both days we went about a 100 miles and in so doing we passed through more forested areas and also through many miles of farm land where huge crops of corn on the cob and sunflowers danced in the dry hot sunshine.  As we passed by I thought it was a shame we hadn't been a few weeks earlier because the sun flowers were well past their best with drooping dry flower-heads - but they must have been an absolute picture when they were in full bloom!

On Saturday we' d planned to go as far as Dole, but after shopping at Lidl, collecting some free water, and a very late lunch we decided we'd had enough so we pitched up at a free Aire at Mirebeau-sur-Beze, and our main occupation for the late afternoon was trying to keep cool as our thermometer crept up towards 35 degrees!

On Sunday we did what all good British people do - we treated ourselves to a full English 🥚🥓🍅🍄 and beans (couldn't find an emoji for that), before getting underway towards our next target which was the lakeside town of Nantua.  To start with the terrain was much the same as we'd previously experienced, but once we entered the Rhone Alps Region and crossed the beautiful turquoise waters of Lake de Vouglans the landscape changed drastically.  From here T4rdis2 was  required to steadily climb through the craggy foothills of the Alps, thus exciting our taste buds for what is likely to come later in our journey!
Lac Nantua which lies in a basin like landscape
Pic was just before the French van parked!
We reached Nantua about 3ish - and as this was a lovely Sunday day - it was very busy. We managed to squeeze into one of the last parking spots on it's tightly packed Aire which is right on the lake edge so we had views of the glossy turquoise waters right from our dining room window - or at least we did have until a huge French van parked at the side of us at about 8pm!  Now, bear in mind that he almost needed a shoe horn to get in to the space and when he'd done there was  only about 2 feet between them and us - so at that stage I warned John that if he needed to break wind he would have to do so quietly😁.

Initially we were a bit undecided wether to stay one or two nights, but after our walk along the lake edge we quickly decided to move on again tomorrow - possibly because the lake is only a couple of miles long - so it wouldn't really have been worth getting our bikes out for a ride around it, and even if we  had some of our journey would have been on the road.

Nantua, as well as being very beautiful, is also the resting place of the Deportees' Memorial under which lies a skeletal body.  It commemorates the rounding up of over 1,400 people who were conveyed to concentration camps - 824 of whom never returned.

After our walk we wiled away an hour or two doing not much and then for our Sunday tea I treated us to fillet steak chips and salad all washed down with a drop or two of French 🍷🍷!  And we had just finished clearing up  when a little tap came on T4rdis2's door.  It was our neighbours John and Jackie from down the row - so our day was rounded off with a good old natter about each others adventures, and before we knew it the wee small hours were fast approaching!

Monday 28th August 2017

This morning we left Nantua behind and initially headed along uninspiring and busy roads as we headed towards the Gorges du pont du Diable - which translates to Gorge Devil's Bridge.   Here our journey became much more scenic as the road passed through a high sided gorge with the River Dranse torrenting along beside it, and as we went we spotted several lots of white water rafters challenging the rapids!

Also, in places the road was a bit disconcerting - in places the almost sheer cliff sides were held back by netting  and there was a considerable amount of rubble behind them that would otherwise have been strewn across the roads - and this was only the start of Les Route de Grand Alps!

Having said that the road was really very good and the only real problem was the lack of a decent parking spot for lunch, but eventually one popped up right beside the river so we didn't need much persuading to dive into it while we munched  our butties - the parking space that is - not the river!

From there our journey continued, mostly uphill,on the D902,  through the chic chalet strewn ski towns of Morzine, Les Gets and Taninges until we reached the settlement of Mieussy which is one of the birth places of paragliding in France.  Here we turned off The Grand Alps route and started to climb the more steep road (D 308)  towards The Col Ramaz which lies at 1610 metres above sea level.  This required us to drive along roads with several hairpin bends, through tunnels that prevent whatever's above from falling on your head, and where there is nothing at the side of the road except a long way down!

However, we didn't quite get to the top - John had earmarked an Aire at a ski station just short of the summit - and it turned out to be a bit of a lonely place - we were surrounded by jagged peaks, pine trees and lots of space - just our cup of tea - it was spectacular.  We strolled up the hill for a while and watched a couple of para-gliders jump off the top before returning to T4rdis's comfort to sip our late afternoon cuppa.

Our overnight parking spot at Sommand

Hello!  My Name's Daisy Bell

The only company we had was the moo-sical cows!  Instead of mooing they made quite a tuneful sound with their rather large bells - it was a pretty sound that was quite soothing in the light of day, but when it continued throughout most of the night I quickly came to dislike it intensely!

Tuesday 29th August 2017

Well as you might have guessed I didn't have a very good night's sleep - between the cows ringing and John snoring morning seemed a very long time coming, at times it almost seemed as if the bovines were playing Ring-a-ring-a-roses around the van!  Then, would you believe it - just before getting up time all went quiet - I think they'd gone to be milked!

The morning dawned hot and sunny again, and our first task  (after attending to T4rdis2's ablutions) was to get back down off the Col Ramaz requiring us once again to traverse the twisty turny roads, but what we didn't expect along the way was to get caught up in a traffic jam - the responsibility for which lay with another huge herd of  ðŸ„🐮🐄🐄🐮 mooo-ving to pastures new!  They didn't really delay us for long but after they'd gone T4rdis2 had to be very careful about wheel placement!

Our target for today was an Aire that lies in the shadow of Mt Blanc, so once again, as you would expect, this required a good deal of uphilling.  Quite early in our journey the mountain loomed up before us providing wonderful views of it's snowy peaks - we later learnt that we were quite lucky with this because apparently the peaks had been buried in swirling cloud for the past couple of weeks - but today it was as clear as a bell!  

Mt Blanc (The White Mountain) is the highest mountain in The Alps and the highest in Europe west of Russia's Caucasus Peaks.  It rises 4,808 metres above sea level and is ranked 11th in the world in topographic prominence!

The road that we needed to travel up to the Aire at Plaine Joux was much like a very long noodle that had been tossed out of a pan and had strewn itself in a convoluted 15 kilometre uphill squiggle with lots of blind corners, narrowings, jagged cliffs and more long drops at the side.  On the way up it took us through the flower strewn settlements of Passy, Bay and Plateau-D'Assy before we reached the summit at 1353 metres where we found a parking spot with uninterrupted views of the magnificent mountain right from our windscreen

The view was very hard to tear our gaze away from, but on the plateau there was plenty more to see! There were quite a few people acting like lemmings - taking a leap of faith and throwing themselves off the shear side of this very high hill and then gracefully descending to the valley floor far below!

And there were also more bells - but this time being rang by a gentleman in a very tuneful melody!

After thoroughly exploring our immediate area we took a stroll along one of the many hiking paths down to The Green Lake (Lac de Vert), the forestation around which provided some shade from the unremitting heat of the sun - but then our traverse back up the hill to T4rdis2 ensured we were well overheated by the time we got there!

The whole plateau had a very magical quality which was  mainly provided by the looming presence of  Mt Blanc - and I think the memory of it will stay with us for a long time to come -  it' s somewhere that we feel very honoured to have been able to visit!

Wednesday 30th August 2017

Well, what goes up must come down, and we did - mostly in first and second gear, thus quite slowly, but at least our brakes didn't suffer to much!  Today we headed for Lake Annecy, but on the way we had the 'pleasure' of passing through another ravine - this time The Gorge de l'Arly - another beautiful road (D 1212) where we were closed in by high cliff walls and where it seemed some people had a bit of a death wish in their urgency to get past our big bus! 

Lake Annecy
Anyway, we arrived safely at an Aire at Faverges which is about 5 miles from Lake Annecy and  about 7 from the town, but despite that we'd picked it because it has a launderette at the supermarket nearby - after 10 days our laundry pile is in urgent need of attention.   However, the weather forecast prevented me from getting on with that mundane task because today was hot and sunny and rain is predicted for tomorrow!  Therefore, after lunch we nipped off out on our bikes to see the lake, but as it's circumnavigation  is 50 kilometres we'd no intention of going all the way around.  Instead we satisfied ourselves with riding about half way along it's length before we stopped off at one of it's leisure areas to watch all the 'messing about on the water'.  There were all manner of crafts and people in and on it- and as it's said to be the cleanest lake in Europe (because of strict environmental regulations that were introduced in the 1960s) maybe the crowds shouldn't have been a surprise.

In all we covered about 22 miles, but for an afternoon ride in the heat of the day that was far enough for both of us - especially as chores awaited our return!  But when we got back we sat and enjoyed a cool drink and generally whiled away the time until it was far to late to start our laundry - Oh well tomorrow will do - and if it rains as the weather man says it might I'll need something to keep me occupied! 

So that's our story so far - so till next time it's goodbye from me and it's goodbye from him - Take care 😗

To see our French camping spots Click Here