Dwight Peck's personal website
in the Parc National de la Vanoise
may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a
good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught
up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.
few days free, and hikes to be hiked. Where shall we go?
turn at once to our Ira Spring and Harvey Edwards, 100
Hikes in the Alps (Mountaineers Press, 1979), flip to pages 38-39,
grin and head for France. The circuit of the Aiguille de la Vanoise (hike number
13), in the Vanoise National Park (France's first national park, which set the
standard for all those to come), is a classic walk amongst stunning scenery in
the mountainous Savoie region of France south of Lake Geneva (Lac de Léman).
let's get settled. In Champagny-en-Vanoise, as it turns out.
we're in Champagny-en-Vanoise on a drizzly Thursday in August, and this is the
Hotel Les Glières which we found on the Web (website) -- our Hike Number 13 begins in Pralognan
but that town was full up and Champagny, just 15 minutes away up another side
valley above Bozel, looked great, and turned out to be
great. The Hotel Les Glières is a newish two-star with reasonable prices,
an excellent host, good rooms with great views, and a perfectly satisfactory restaurant
-- there's someone now, scrutinizing the restaurant menu on the street in front
of the place.
that's Kristin, before we've even unpacked the car. Kristin studies menus as others
do the Quran or the Book of Revelations (and learns much more from them).
Can't wait to get started
lies at about 1250m overlooking Bozel 400m below, but up behind the village to
the east is a wonderful hanging valley some 7 km long, and the paved road ends
here at the trailhead of Le Laisonnay d'en Bas (1572m).
would make a great setting off place for hikes up to the northeast, and there
are two small summer villages on the way, Champagny-le-Haut (of course) at 1476m
and Friburge at 1510m.
has Saturday's hike all picked out . . .
La Grande Motte (3653m) . . . but alas the weather came in and we didn't get to
have a go at it.
the chapel in Friburge -- we're headed down for dinner now (enormous, delicious
local potato and cheese specialties that we couldn't get half through, excellent
inexpensive wines, and tiny little French beer bottles at prohibitive prices).
-- It's time for Hike Number 13, and there's the refuge at the Col de la Vanoise
-- but that's another story.
which, we're back in Champagny to have a look round at the tasteful lighting effects
on a drizzly evening.
is much like many another 1200m village trying to make it as a ski and sports
resort -- in many ways the villages themselves are all very much the same, with
new, nicely designed hotels, shops, and discos and lots and lots of expensive
second homes standing empty most of the year. It's tacky and easy to laugh at,
but, first, some of us LIKE tacky Alpine ski resorts
in general, in measured doses, and second, Champagny is
quite well done -- no sprawling salmon-colored stucco one-story hacienda-style
rancheros with huge wrought iron gates at the head of the drive, no murderously
rectilinear grey concrete condominia. Though the village's obligatory
Irish pub didn't look very Irish from the outside.
baroque church of Saint Sigismund (who?) stands on a rainy evening (and other
times as well) on a little hillock in the lower village (Champagny-en-Bas) . .
. . but the upper village is where the neon is. Champagny's
website is very informative, though somewhat overeager.
of Saint Sigismund itsownself -- we tried to get in to see its famous "two
retables and a magnificent glory beam", but there were people in there praying
and what not and blocking the whole place up.
hike from Champagny-le-Haut didn't happen, as it was raining in a disspiriting
way, so we went
to see Chambéry instead, where it was not raining and everything was closed
anyway. That's here.
we're very sorry to leave Jean-François Millot and his Hotel Les Glières,
and rainy Champagny-en-Vanoise, but one of us has to go back to America and the
other has to go back to work, equally unlovely prospects.
Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, .
All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 7 September 2005, revised 20 March
2008, 29 August 2014.