Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018
On the Archduke's Path in Mallorca
Showing posts with label France. Show all posts
Showing posts with label France. Show all posts

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Alpine Interlude (7) – Fontainebleau, 13 September 2018


A couple of hours drive from Troyes, Fontainebleau was our last significant stop on the way home. We stayed at Barbizon, but before going there we had a good look around Fontainebleau Palace and its grounds.

The place has a rich history…

“The hamlet of Fontainebleau was endowed with a royal hunting lodge and a chapel by Louis VII in the middle of the twelfth century. A century later, Louis IX, also called Saint Louis, who held Fontainebleau in high esteem and referred to it as "his wilderness", had a country house and a hospital constructed there.

Philip the Fair was born there in 1268 and died there in 1314. In all, thirty-four sovereigns, from Louis VI, the Fat, (1081–1137) to Napoleon III (1808–1873), spent time at Fontainebleau.

The connection between the town of Fontainebleau and the French monarchy was reinforced with the transformation of the royal country house into a true royal palace, the Palace of Fontainebleau. This was accomplished by the great builder-king, Francis I (1494–1547), who, in the largest of his many construction projects, reconstructed, expanded, and transformed the royal château at Fontainebleau into a residence that became his favourite, as well as the residence of his mistress, Anne, duchess of Étampes.”

And so on … including Napoleon Bonaparte’s presence before his first abdication:

“On 20 April 1814, Napoleon Bonaparte, shortly before his first abdication, bid farewell to the Old Guard, the renowned grognards (gripers) who had served with him since his very first campaigns, in the "White Horse Courtyard" (la cour du Cheval Blanc) at the Palace of Fontainebleau. (The courtyard has since been renamed the "Courtyard of Goodbyes".) According to contemporary sources, the occasion was very moving. The 1814 Treaty of Fontainebleau stripped Napoleon of his powers (but not his title as Emperor of the French) and sent him into exile on Elba.”

It’s a magnificent palace. Here are just a few of our pictures.


Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Alpine Interlude (6) – Troyes, 12 September 2018


A damp day in Timperley should have enabled me to return to indexing our Alpine Trip pictures. If I had got up to Day 49 (tomorrow, perhaps?) I’d have reached Troyes, on our way home. Here there are lots of wineries, and the cathedral has masses of lovely stained glass.


At least my punctures are mended and I’m up to date with emails and a few domestic chores, if not with the never ending task of ‘processing’ photos!

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

'Summer in the Alps' Day 31 - Montreuil-sur-Mer to Timperley

Wednesday 1 August 2018

Another 9 to 5 day in the car. Travelling north. To cooler climes. Only 24°C here.

An uneventful drive, and all is well at home, albeit the lawns are a bit patchy.

There's a gadget on the dashboard of the car that tells us we spent nearly 65 hours in the car over the past month. (Seems quite a lot!) We covered 2753 miles at an average speed of 42 mph, getting 62.2 mpg. I could work out the cost but I'm not going to - it was far less than a long haul flight would cost for just one of us.

We are so lucky to have the wonderful and varied scenery and people of Europe on our doorstep.

Not short of further statistics, I can report that during the month the time we spent walking knocked that car statistic into a cocked hat. During the many hours of our walks we covered around 350 km (220 miles) in distance and about 21,000 metres (13 miles) in height gain. I'll leave the geeks to work out the average gradient!
Today's pictures:
From breakfast in Montreuil to a deserted towpath in Timperley

'Summer in the Alps' is taking a short break. 

To be continued. 

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

'Summer in the Alps' Day 30 - Heidelberg to Montreuil-sur-Mer

Tuesday 31 July 2018

The first full day's drive of this trip saw us travelling the 417 miles to Montreuil-sur-Mer between 9am and 5pm. We took a 'toll free' route through Germany,  Luxembourg and Belgium (perhaps passing Mick and Gayle en route), finishing with some French country roads.

An easy journey on a sunny day, and we have a nice but cheap room in the Best Western Hermitage hotel in the centre of town. Thankfully the temperature here in Montreuil is closer to 25°C than the 30+ temperatures that we 'enjoyed' yesterday.

Thanks to the magnificent spread presented to us this morning, we haven't needed to eat all day - until a tasty picnic meal was sourced this evening at the local supermarket. It was great that Thomas was able to delay his journey to work, with Andrea taking the day off, so we could enjoy a leisurely breakfast with them and linger over our farewells, during which a large TV that they brought over from Timperley was loaded up for a return to Timperley. Apparently it won't work in Germany without some extra gubbins. Anyone need a TV?

Anyway, your hospitality is very much appreciated, T and A, and it has been great to catch up, and enjoy your company in both Heidelberg and Matrei.

An after dinner stroll around the ramparts concluded the day's activities. There's an equally good walk around the base of the ramparts, but the evening light is better appreciated on top. The walks are both about 3 km in length.

Today: 3.5 km walk around Montreuil's ramparts. We often stay here and enjoy this walk, so I won't reiterate previous reports. We are nearly home, but it feels as if we are still very much on holiday.
Today's pictures were all taken in Montreuil-sur-Mer:
The Mairie (Town Hall)
The church, with our hotel in the background to the left
The ramparts
Evening in the main square

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

'Summer in the Alps' Day 3 - to Füssen

Wednesday 4 July

My apologies. Yesterday was not Monday, and June doesn't have 39 days! The pressure of blogging on the hoof must be getting to me. But perhaps nobody noticed these and other faux pas ...

Today we reached the Alps. The last hour or more of our afternoon journey revealed an ever closer arc of high mountains. These are the mountains on the German/Austrian border that leer over the flatlands of Germany. We enjoyed those views a view years ago on the E5 walk from Verona to Lake Constance. The mountains include Zugspitze, 2962 metres, the highest mountain in Germany.

Before all this, we eschewed the lavish and expensive hotel breakfast in favour of coffee and croissants at a nearby salon de té, which trebles as a bakery and post office.

Then we enjoyed an 11km stroll in the woods, on marked paths from the village. A 400 year old oak tree, Gros Chene, with a 6 metre girth and surrounded by foxgloves, was encountered before we rose slowly up winding trails to a sandstone pillar, Rocher de la Guerite.

A little higher, and the Chateau de Hunebourg was encountered. This deserved more than foxgloves... it was surrounded by Mullein. A very private place from where we ambled back to Neuwiller via a hamlet with a barking dog, and a rather interesting spring.

We saw three cyclists and two walkers during the course of this delightful meander along the ● route to the chateau, then the X route back to the start.

We elected for a toll free journey to Füssen, taking a while over the 243 mile journey. But German motorways are toll free, unlike the French ones. So perhaps we shouldn't begrudge having to spend 70 cents to have a wee in Germany whereas in France that facility is free in most places.

Mommenheim provided an excellent purveyor of lunch, in the form of an emporium that doubled as a chocolatier and a salon de té. When we left it was raining. The first rain that Sue and I had seen for several weeks.

The skies soon cleared, and we ate our evening meal outside for the third day running, at the Olivenbauer restaurant; a good salmon pizza and a seafood salad.

We are staying at the Maurushaus, a 300 year old building owned by the same family until 2001, after when it was allowed to rot until Marieta and her husband bought it in 2012. They have made a fine job of restoring the building. Our 'small double' is a lovely large room.

Today's pictures:
1 Hotel du Herrenstein - spot the storks
2 Footpath sign in the Vosges
3 A view from a clearing during our woodland walk
4 Maurushaus - our room is to the left of the ancient front door
5 Proof from the centre of Füssen that we have reached the Alps

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

'Summer in the Alps' Day 2 - to Neuwiller-les-Saverne

Monday 3 July

Well, we are now 250 miles closer to the Alps, in a lovely little village in the Saverne area near Strasbourg.

We spent the morning in Laon, walking about 7km around some ramparts we didn't visit yesterday, before enjoying a coffee in the Cathedral square. A visit inside the cathedral brought huge admiration for those who, hundreds of years ago, built this magnificent structure.

The afternoon's journey was uneventful, partly on toll motorways but also through some increasingly quaint small villages.

We are at Hotel du Herrenstein, a Logis establishment providing a luxurious room and fine food served in the garden in the shade of a huge magnolia tree in the 'what has become usual this summer' high temperature of a Europe wide heatwave.

Tonight the shrieking swifts were outshouted by the beak clacking stork population whose hungry young look as if they are about to fledge from nearly every chimney pot in the village.

And not an England supporter in sight to join us in a rather bizarre form of entertainment. (For the long term record we were here when England's Henderson missed a penalty but the side still managed to beat Colombia in a penalty shoot out.)

Today's pictures feature our walk around Laon, plus a snap from our hotel window tonight.

Monday, 2 July 2018

'Summer in the Alps' Day 1 - to Laon

Saturday 39 June

Emails from Chris (Stockport Walking and Outdoors Group - SWOG) elicited the promise of a slideshow for SWOG on 3 October. I gave two options:
'The Anglesey Coast Path', which we did in April, or 'Summer in the Alps'.
Chris chose the latter.

So we thought we'd better get on with finding some material for the presentation!

Sunday 1 July

Technically our 'Summer in the Alps' didn't begin, but we did drive down to Reading in the afternoon and spent a very pleasant evening with Ian and Julia, including a 5.5km stroll around Dunsden Green. They are pictured with Sue, on that walk.

Sadly I left my fitbit and Garmin chargers at Ian's house, so I'll be watchless and GPSless, apart from the old S5 phone, for a while. We did used to manage without these gadgets, didn't we?

Monday 2 July

After driving 173 miles yesterday, we drove another 273 miles today, taking a 'Toll Free' (apart from Eurotunnel) route on some pleasant country roads to a town on a hill - Laon.

The toughest part of the journey was the first 4 miles. That took an hour! No wonder Ian sets off much earlier to go to work in Staines.

Anyway, we arrived at the Eurotunnel terminal just in time to catch our pre booked train, and the rest of the journey was uneventful.

Our route through a countryside of tree lined golden fields under a blue sky didn't make it to the Alps today, but Hotel les Chevaliers is friendly and helpful, and we enjoyed an excellent meal at Restaurant Le Parvis, in the square dominated by the sunlit cathedral.

This is a place rich in history. Our hotel room is up a spiral staircase reminiscent of a castle, with a long view to the north. Umbrellas deck a nearby street.

The Notre-Dame Cathedral dates from the 12th century, as do the town gates and much of the ramparts. After dinner we took a 2km stroll around part of the ramparts, passing a designated lay by for six motorhomes, unless you straddle two bays like the one pictured - the only motorhome using this unserviced facility tonight.

We returned to our room, from where we enjoyed a lovely pink sunset to the familiar sound of happily whistling swifts, who were of course oblivious to the disappointment of the Japanese footballers who at that very moment were succumbing to the superior skill of a few Belgians. 

Saturday, 30 June 2018

A Short Tour of the Vanoise – Sunday 2 September 2007 – Going Home, and an Index


Before my short report on the journey home, here’s an index to the postings for this short trip. You can access all the postings at one go by clicking here and scrolling down to the oldest posting. I’ve not attempted to place links between the days due to problems with Google’s ‘Blogger’ software that destroys all the formatting when you try to edit using the Blogger dashboard.

Saturday 25 August 2007 - Day 0 – Travel to Modane

Sunday 26 August 2007 - Day 1 – Modane to Refuge d'Orgère

Monday 27 August 2007 - Day 2 – Refuge d'Orgère to Refuge du Plan Sec

Tuesday 28 August 2007 - Day 3 – Refuge du Plan Sec to Refuge de l'Arpont

Wednesday 29 August 2007 - Day 4 – Refuge de l'Arpont to Refuge du Col de la Vanoise

Thursday 30 August 2007 - Day 5 – Refuge du Col de la Vanoise to Epecia Hotel, Pralognan

Friday 31 August 2007 - Day 6 – Pralognan to Refuge de Péclet-Polset

Saturday 1 September 2007 - Day 7 – Refuge de Péclet-Polset to Modane

Conrad visited the area in 2001 and walked the ‘Full Tour’. His report is here.

Here’s my report on the journey home:

Sunday 2 September 2007

An easy journey home. We cope with the peculiar locking system of the Megane Scenic and enjoy a few hours in Chambery - a very nice town with an elephant square celebrating the French exploits in India, and some interesting ancient streets. Mostly shut, so pleasantly quiet, hot and sunny.

The Elephant Fountain79-The-Elephant-Fountain

Outside Ste Chapelle Grand Carillon80-Outside-Ste-Chapelle-Grand-Carillon

Martin in Chambery's ancient streets81-Martin-in-Chambery's-ancient-streets

Theatre Charles Dullin82-Theatre-Charles-Dullin

After a nice lunch, easily back to Lyon airport and home to rainy Manchester, but a refreshingly jolly taxi driver.

Costs per person:
Air fare £139
Car hire £42
Tolls/fuel £12
Hotels (3) £68
Refuges (half board)(5) £160
Meals £90
Coffees etc £20
Taxis £11
Sundry £7
Total £549

Friday, 29 June 2018

A Short Tour of the Vanoise – Saturday 1 September 2007 - Day 7 – Refuge de Péclet-Polset to Modane


Here’s Martin’s diary record for Stage 11:

Saturday 1 September 2007

Cards given to Richard, who is 43 today, then a good breakfast - usual ingredients but no rationing - before leaving on a cloudy morning.


The refuge was in cloud all last night, with Brocken Spectres showing in the light from the refuge. Today the cloud slowly clears and when we reach the Col de Chavière - 2796 metres - at 9.30 after walking for an hour the cloud had gone and we had fine views towards Mont Blanc and also to the nearby peaks and those to the south - the Ecrins Massif and Mont Thabor.

The view North58-The-view-North59-Sue-and-MartinBrilliant.

Four Shadows out for a stroll61-Four-Shadows-out-for-a-stroll

Polset Peaks611-Polset-Peaks

Sue with Mont Blanc62-Sue-with-Mont-Blanc

We linger with a brew for 40 minutes. Sue goes higher, which she says is calmer - up to the east. But Andrew has had enough and clearly won't go up any further, having reached the col first (others had cameras). We enjoy the moment. Nobody else is here. Self-timed photo tradition at cols lives on!

On Col de Chaviere642-On-Col-de-Chaviere

This is the highest col of our trip, and the highest col on GR55 - the highest GR col in France.

Eventually we reluctantly leave and head down towards Modane.

Jenny descends from Col de Chaviere66-Jenny-descends-from-Col-de-Chaviere

Gentianella campestris, or Field Gentian67-Gentianella-campestris-or-Field-Gentian

First steeply down, then across a lovely flat section with glacial debris. Pass sheepdogs with the now familiar warnings. A waterfall drops out of cloud to our right. We eschew the path to Refuge de l'Orgère and continue on down GR55 towards Polset, passing a spring at 2100 metres.

Descending to Polset68-Descending-to-Polset

There's a sign to a goat's cheese farm here. A bit lower, before Polset, we stop for lunch - 12.00 to 12.40, before entering the forest. It's a lovely location, and a very pleasant final brew - the gas runs out here.

The last lunch above Polset71-The-last-lunch-above-Polset

Amanita muscaria or Fly Agaric70-Amanita-muscaria-or-Fly-Agaric

Three men from last night's refuge pass - a group walking GR5 in sections - one English, one German, one South African. Later, in the forest, I chat to these three, before a long wait for my party. I then get ahead again and we reconvene at the bridge to the south of Modane centre, which the others have visited and have declared 'shut'.

So, after the motley three book into Le Perce-Neige and are given two of our three pre-booked rooms, we (must have sorted out that problem - Ed) adjourn to the square for a few beers in the sun.

Modane's Hotel Le Perce Neige77-Epilogue-Modane's-Hotel-Le-Perce-Neige

Celebratory Beers75-Celebratory-Beers76-Birthday-Boy

Very chilled, very pleasant, all very relaxed, before stumbling back to the hotel for a bit of R&R before staggering out and finding a pizza restaurant where we consume more beer until the cook arrives at 7pm.

Everything slips down wonderfully.


[Stats: 8.30 to 2.00 including 1.5 hours breaks = 4 hours walking, 14.0 km with 350 metres ascent.]

(Anquet: 15 km, 1124 m ascent)