Having grown up in Australia where the highest mountain is around 2,300 metres and few others reach anywhere near that height, I have always had a great desire to see the snow capped mountains of Europe. Travelling from Turin to Chambery in France on The TGV gave me my first look and they were spectacular.
It was great to find Deb waiting for me at the train station in Chambery and after a brief reunion, we drove up the steep and winding road to the resort village of La Tania near Courcheval in the famed Three Valleys area of the French Alps. I was not disappointed. The scenery was spectacular. We were surrounded by rugged, jagged, snow-capped mountains. The snow was retreating from the lower levels but that only served to make the whole area more interesting. The snow melt cascading down the mountain streams, the trees with their new spring growth, the fruit tree blossoms and the wild flowers all added to the picture that unfolded before me. I couldn’t have asked for more.
Over the next few days Deb and her partner Gav treated me to some wonderful scenery, spectacular rides up ski bubble lifts and cable cars and drives into amazingly beautiful places. We visited a very pretty place, Lac de la Rosiere, a beautiful crystal clear tourquoise lake that is popular in the summer months with picnickers and hikers and also serves as a source of hydrolectricity.
One area in particular really stands out for me. We drove up to a town called Champagny-le-Vanoise and then along a winding and steep road with avalanche refuges built into the side of the mountain to a little village called Champagny en Haut in a hanging glacial valley. This is all part of the National Parc du Vanoise. We travelled as far as we could by vehicle up this very steep sided valley with waterfalls cascading off the sides. We then walked another 2 kilometres or so up the valley beside a crystal clear stream running fast with snow melt across colourful stones and past a pretty little chapel. Along the way we spotted some ibex in the distance. Alpine Ibex, sometimes called bouquetin, are wild goats with extraordinarily long arching horns. They range in small herds across the steep mountain sides, generally above the snow line.
Phil and Andrea, the owners of Snow Retreat, and Deb and Gav’s employers, made me very welcome at La Tania. We dined royally on Gav’s fine cooking and with their friends in restaurants and on back decks. I had ample opportunity to sample the local wines, cheeses and other produce and did not need a lot of encouragement to do so. Who would have thought that I would be sitting on the back deck of a chalet in the alps in a t shirt (it was a very warm day) enjoying a barbeque and looking out on all those snow capped mountains.
Here are a few images of my stay in the Three Valleys. Click on the image to go to the gallery Cable Car - Courcheval Lac de la RosièreThe Lac de la Rosière is located near Courcheval, in the French Alps and is popular in summer for a variety of activities including swimming, hiking, and nature discovery together with a via ferrata (protected climbing route) that is accessible to beginners. Vallon du Champagny en HauteSparkling stream flowing through the hanging glacial valley of the Champagny en Haute