Freed to Catch Something

by a wandering wonderer


Summer in Alpes

I have a special relationship with my grandfather. He's the opposite of me in terms of character, which certainly complements us. He obviously has his own vision of his time, which can sometimes lead to endless and exhausting debates... I'm happy to have him in my life and from time to time we go on trips together. This was the case in the summer 2019 when we went to the Haute-Savoie, to Les Gets where my grandfather owns an apartment. We used to go there every summer with my parents, brother and sister, but as the years went by, I went less and less. I was able to rediscover the region... I'll take you there!


July 20, 2019 - We quietly arrive at Les Gets 


We arrive quietly in Les Gets from Bollène in the south of France, where my grandfather lives. Summer in the mountains is really pleasant, with the scent of freshly cut grass, cool nights, lots of hiking and, of course, chocolate! Getting out of the car, all the childhood memories come back, the smells of the outdoors, the smells of the woods. Nothing has really changed, at least as far as the apartment is concerned, because the village is on the move. A lot of new cabins are being built. But the view from the balcony remains the same, splendid...


July 21, 2019 - A very gentle start at Les Mines d'Or and Freterolles


It was a beautiful day when we joined my aunt, uncle and cousins at the Lac des Mines d'Or, near Morzine. A quick meal in the restaurant before heading up to the Freterolles auberge. The landscape is vast and green. This is where the goats and cows graze from June to September. 


July 22, 2019 - Mont-Chéry walk

My grandfather is in good shape and so am I. We decide to take a hike to Mont-Chéry, an 1826 m high mountain overlooking the Chablais and the Mont-Blanc massif. Magnificent !!!. We take the little cable car to the summit, then head down to Mont-Caly and take the small road back to the apartment. No need for a car, we do it all by foot...



The cows are quietly resting...


Along the way, the scenery is beautiful and the flowers smell delicious, especially the white Reine-des-Près, which gives off an almond scent.


July 26, 2019 - Lac du Plan du Rocher

A few days have gone by and we decide to go for a walk not far from the village, at Lac du Plan, the tadpole lake. Childhood memories come flooding back. We used to go there to see and collect lots of tadpoles when we were kids. There are still so many. We take the red eggs (egg-shaped cable car) up to Les Chavannes... It's quiet...


In the distance, however, you can hear the engines of construction vehicles working to improve the ski trails for the coming winter season. 

We arrive at the lake ...


July 29, 2019 - le Brévent and Chamonix

My grandfather wanted to take me to the Brévent... so we're getting ready to go, to climb the 2525 m peak facing Mont-Blanc. It's going to be a beautiful day, a visually stunning day. Leaving Chamonix, we're helped by a first lift, a gondola that takes us to Plan Praz at 2000 m altitude, and then a cable car without pylons that takes us to the summit. I specify pylon-less, because the effect is impressive. You feel as if you're floating in mid-air. 


View of the first Plan Praz cable car


Le Mont-Blanc, magnifique

A rain of photos is coming... I'll let you discover!


I took a walk to the summit alone, as my grandfather, at this altitude, preferred to sit on a bench and watch the scenery. When I found him again, he was chatting with a man who knew Bollène very well, as his brother lives there. Is the world really that small? Time goes by, we observe the landscape, it's quite cool and the sea of clouds enhances the scenery. Then we head back down to Chamonix to see a bit of the town. 


We don't stay there long, though, as we then head for the Swiss border at Châtelard, passing l'Argentière and its famous glacier, the second largest in the French Alps. We stop off at a small supermarket just for the chocolate...


July 31, 2019 - Les Lindarets and Avoriaz

This July 31, we're going to Les Lindarets, a small village in the Vallée d'Aulps where a multitude of goats roam. It's a good place for the whole family, and the atmosphere is friendly, with all those goats running around, always wanting to eat.


We were just stopping by... and then headed for Avoriaz, the famous ski resort. Its summer aspect is really strange and unusual. I didn't know if I liked it or not... I still don't!


August 01, 2019 - Big day in Samoëns, Cascade du Rouget, Sixt-Fer-à-Cheval and Joux Plane

I'm a great lover of botanical gardens. And just my luck, Samoëns is home to the Jaÿsinia Alpine Botanical Garden. A little history? The name “Samoëns” comes from a medieval expression from 1167, meaning “the seven mountains”.  Thus the inhabitants of Samoëns are called Septimontaines and Septimontains.

The garden, laid out in 1906, boasts some 2,400 varieties of plant, and provides an opportunity to discover alpine flora and mountain plants from five continents. 



We then head for the Rouget waterfall, nicknamed the Queen of the Alps, near Sixt-Fer-à-Cheval, which we'll see later... The waterfall is magnificent. It's hot and the water splashes down on us for our comfort. Here are a few photos...



We're close to the famous Cirque of Fer-à-Cheval, the largest rocky amphitheatre in the Alps. I'm rediscovering this magnificent place, and I'm amazed. It's grandiose. You feel so small in front of this immense rock face.



The day continues in the village of Sixt-Fer-à-Cheval, in the Abbaye de Sixt, where scenes from the past are on display, including this school... My grandfather is delighted. He's a former schoolteacher... 



We then return to Les Gets, stopping from time to time along the way to take photos of the mountains. We also stop at the Col de Joux Plane, a fearsome and dreaded climb for cyclists. Indeed, the climb is tough, even with the car. But the view from the top is worth the trip. It's splendid...



August 02, 2019 - Hiking at Praz-de-Lys and Lac de Roy

Le Praz-de-Lys is a pretty village nestled at an altitude of 1,500 m, just in front of Mont-Blanc. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to photograph it that day. It was surrounded by clouds. But the next few days could give us a surprise... to be continued. So we decided to take the path leading to Lac de Roy. The rest in pictures... greenery, mountains, flowers and cows...



Willowherbs, in bloom, line the roadsides. They're superb...



Other flowers... the Blue Scabious, the Sainfoin, the Marjoram, the Flowering Bellflower or the Meadowsweet...


We've arrived at the lake. There are few humans but a large herd of cows grazing peacefully…



August 05, 2019 - Walk on Lake Montriond

Time flies. It's not sunny every day, and sometimes I just stop to take pictures. We spend time visiting my aunt (my grandfather's daughter) and my cousins, enjoying their company, eating at their place in Morzine, going to the market, taking short walks... Today, for example, I took some photos at Lac de Montriond, near Morzine. The weather's fine and we're taking our time to walk around the lake.



August 06, 2019 - Afternoon at Col de Joux Plane

We're heading back to the Col de Joux Plane, as we like it here and the weather is better than last time...



August 07, 2019 - Passage to Graydon Chapel

The weather takes us to the Graydon mountain pastures beneath the majestic Roc d'Enfer. It was founded in 1859 and completely restored in 2009.



August 08, 2019 - Day trip to Geneva

We're planning to head to Switzerland today, and more specifically to Geneva. It's about an hour and a half's drive and the weather is kind to us. We arrive early and struggle to find a place close to the site of our first visit, the UN. After making several U-turns and U-turns, I notice several cars passing through a security gate. My grandfather and I decide that it looks like a parking lot. After a few seconds, I notice that the cars around us are very pretty, very clean and, above all, have diplomatic plates. It occurs to me that we're not supposed to be here and that our red Peugeot must look a bit out of place. I get to the security gate and roll down my window, a bit embarrassed. I hear the man ask us what we're doing here and confess that we've probably made a mistake and are looking for a parking space for the tour. He tells us to turn around and shows us where to park. We eventually manage to find a space a little higher up, in the heights of Geneva... 


We arrive at the UN at the visitors' entrance. We pass through a security gate, then stroll through a corridor before stopping, waiting our turn to pass in turn before a person who asks us questions, takes our photo and then gives us a badge. We then move into a large room with armchairs and sofas. It's very crowded, and we wait for our guide to call us. There are several guides, depending on the language spoken by each person. Our French guide arrives and we begin the tour. This is primarily a place of work, not a museum, so many of the rooms are not open to the public. What I really wanted to see was the Human Rights Room, whose ceiling is reminiscent of an underwater cave.



The UN in Geneva is one of the largest centers in the United Nations system, and the busiest for meetings and conferences. It is one of the four main offices of the UN Secretariat, with headquarters in New York and two offices in Nairobi, Kenya and Vienna, Austria.


We continue our tour through the main halls, then some of the rooms, and finally the Human Rights Room, the circular room whose dome is decorated with a multitude of colors representing an underwater cave. The decor is the work of Mallorcan artist Miquel Barcelo.



The place is monumental and impressive. It was an original visit and I'm glad I did it. The tour is over and we decide to head down to the Square of Nations, with its famous broken chair and the Alley of UN Flags.


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We then take a stroll in the Parc de l'Ariana before heading down to the city. We rediscover the banks of Lake Geneva and Geneva's famous water jet, as well as the old town.



We're having a drink on the Rousseau island, before climbing up to the old town and discovering the Protestant Cathedral of Saint-Pierre, before heading back down to the lake and taking the car back to France. 



August 12, 2019 - Rainy afternoon at Les Chavannes

Several days have passed and we're back in Les Gets for a rainy afternoon. We decide to go for a walk in Les Chavanne. The smell of nature here is incredible. There are ants, blueberries, Laser de France (white flowers) and green...



August 13, 2019 - On the road to Lassarre

The next day, the weather was not yet suitable for long hikes. We discover the heights of Les Gets on the road to Lassarre, with this farm, these sheep and this rather comical sign... it says: Dog running forbidden, keep them on a lead. If you don't get it, buy glasses or go back to school!



August 14, 2019 - Switzerland, again, but this time in Montreux

We leave for Montreux, a Swiss town in the east of the country. We pass along the southern part of the lake, passing through Evian and then Sain-Gingolph, which marks the border between France and Switzerland, marked by the Morge river. We bypass Port-Valais and arrive in Montreux... I'm speechless. It's beautiful, cute, colorful and very chic.



A bronze statue of Freddie Mercury, sculpted by Czech sculptor Irena Sedlecká, stands on the riverbank. Freddie Mercury lived in Montreux for some time, recording several songs with his band Queen. He felt very much at home here. On the posthumous album Made in Heaven, the song A Winter's tale reads: 


So quiet and peaceful
Si calme et si paisible


Tranquil and blissful
Tranquille et bienheureux

There's a kind of magic in the air
Il y a une sorte de magie dans l'air

What a truly magnificent view
Quelle vue vraiment magnifique

A breathtaking scene
Une scène à couper le souffle



He was right, because it makes you feel good and the view is pleasant and magnificent.




“All we hear is radio gaga”



We continue to stroll along the banks. We discover various works of art, luxurious hotels and the magnificent panorama of mountains skimming the lake...




The day ends in Evian-les-Bains before returning to Les Gets.




August 16, 2019 - Last day on the Côte d'Arbroz and return to Praz-de-Lys

The trip ends on the Arbroz slope and Praz-de-Lys. The green mountains are magnificent and, as I said above, I could see Mont-Blanc towering majestically over the valley. 



It was a summer filled with visual discoveries, colors, textures... It was grandiose and splendid, words I've written and said many times I think...