At Samoens 22, 23, 24 May 2011
After the party Guylène dropped Beate and I in Samoëns and she returned to Sallanches. We are staying in rooms across the street from Guylène’s studio. I had planned to go directly to bed but it was midnight by the time Beate sang a good night song in German and we retired to our respective rooms. It is really great to see her.
The next morning we headed into town for a café au lait, some of that yummy bread from the bakery and an internet connection to post my musings on the party. As it was Monday the bakery, most businesses and all of the hotspots in town were closed. And the one cafe in town with a public computer is on vacation! Just like last time. This time I was not the only tourist in town, and the café on the town square and the vegetable stand there were still open. We drank our coffee and orange juice and talked. Realizing we hadn’t hadn’t eaten breakfast and it was already 11:30 we bought some ripe tomatos and returned to Guylènes studio for a light lunch of bread, cheese, paté, cucumber & tomato salad and pear tart.
Guylène called just as we were finishing to say Susanne had invited us for a balade in the mountains. This is not a songfest a la the sound of music, but an easy hike. So we piled into her new teeny Mercedes-Benz and looped our way up to the Col de Joux plane, a pass Guylène and I previously visited in the snow that is part of the tour de France. Some of my favorite memories are of the descent from that pass. It was so beautiful. But as it was snowing when Guylène and I were there, I did not realize she had brought me there because there are great views. Today the snow was long gone; it was spring, and the alpine meadows dotted with purple gentian, violets, yellow troile (Beate’s favorite), buttercups. Here as every where else the flowers are early and even the rose colored flowers of the tiny mountain rhododendren were starting to open.
We headed for a little sommet called La Bourgoise pausing to identify flowers and admire the scenery. I think Susanne said that cows are brought here to graze in the summer, but for the momment there were only sheep visible on the steep slopes. It is an easy and popular destination with a cross and small panorama d’orientation and the views of Samoëns, the Griffe valley, the Aiguilles and Mt. Blanc are fantastic. Beate spent a couple of weeks in this area last summer, she did a hike with a group around Mt. Blanc with a guide, and then a week in Samoëns taking day hikes, so she knows her way around and pointed out various peaks she had climbed, verified their names with Suzanne and they discussed the merits of the various refuges they had stayed in. We stretched out on the grass, soaked up the sun, watched a hang-glider making lazy circles in the sky. Paradise.
The walk with Suzanne was a slight variation of the original plan which had us walking with Veronique, who had also invited us and Guylène to dinner. When an emergency called Veronique away, Susanne planned the walk and also invited us to her house for dinner, where Veronique would arrive with the dinner and Guylène would join us. Tres compliqué but it all went flawlessly. Suzanne and Veronique seem like kindred souls, and got on quite well this weekend so it was a surprise to learn that they had only actually met at Guylène’s party.
The dinner was simple and delicious. Punctuated with both song and laughter. Because there is very little artificial light the stars were magnificent as Beate and I walked back to our gite.
Our morning was again a stroll into the village for coffee, internet access, a little walk in the botantical garden, and lunch. Another change of plans had us meeting Francoise at Guylène’s studio at 1:30. She took us into Cluses to meet Veronique who took us up into the surounding mountains for a balade to Lac Benit, a beautiful lake in a cirque with a dramatic escarpment as a background. Veronique is lively, funny and interesting, knows and loves the area, so once again in addition to being a dramatically beautiful walk the company was good. At points along the walk you could see Lac Leman (more commonly known to Americans a Lake Geneva), and the mountains of the Griffe valley rising above Samoëns. The wild flowers were thicker here, really lovely. And some beautiful gentle red cows! The temperature has been increasing every day. Though warm in the moutains it was considerably cooler than below. The hike a good incline, good practice for the camino.
We finished after 6:00, then drove further along to another beautiful, treeless area. Guylène, Suzanne, Veronique love these mountains, and speak with affection of every peak, col and lake either visible or just behind that peak there. It adds a grounding to the experiance to share their love of each place. We then headed off to meet up with Guylène and return to Sallanches, though we didn’t actally head back until after 9:00 pm. Alain had dinner waiting, and we sat on the warm patio as the amazing view of Mt. Blanc faded into night.