Our current experience, while once again in France, is the polar opposite in almost every conceivable way (emphasis on ‘polar’ as it’s about 40 degrees less Fahrenheit this time around…brrrr). Instead of city-dwelling, we are smack dab in the French Alps, between the likes of Mont-de-Lans and Le Bourg d’Oisans.
In Paris, a day outing would involve walking to the subway and then taking two trains to get to the other side of the city; here, a day outing could be described like this: “Head due east 1000 meters, veer left onto the emergency road (set up because the tunnel in the main road collapsed), and honk your horn before any blind curves.” In Paris, the highlight of the day could be seeing an amazing man-made structure like the Louvre; here, it’s seeing nature at its finest in a sunrise like the one below. In Paris, we were on the lookout for knives on the subway; here, we’re on the lookout for rockslides, flat tires, and being confused for a deer on the trail (hence the bright yellow jacket I wear while hiking). (Oh, and Terra just injured her arm while knitting herself some warm booties; TMK (too much knitting) is a real problem up here in the mountains.)
There are, however, a few similarities that confirm for us that we are in the same country: Baguettes, croissants, cheese, the wonderful French greetings of “Bonjour!” and “Au revoir!”, and the extremely long wait between asking for and receiving a bill at any restaurant. And we are once again housesitting, this time for a lovely 14-year-old lab named Athena. Our hosts, Marvin and Lisa, are away on vacation for a week, but we’re excited to spend a few days with them upon their return before moving on to our next adventure.
One of the main takeaways from both experiences is that we absolutely love France. The people, the language, the beauty, the history, and even the pace (you know we don’t really need to get the check right away after eating). Terra and I would like to learn French upon our return to the US (there, I put it out there with a feeble hope that publicly declaring it will help motivate us if our determination wanes).
The towns and ski resorts around us are very quiet as it’s right in between the two busy seasons, but the crisp and sunny Autumn days are the perfect backdrop for exploring. And we’re finding that the quiet and solitude is just what we need to reflect on our experiences to date and take in everything around us.
Living in the gorgeous Cascades in Western Washington, it’s hard for much scenery to ‘wow’ us. Well, we’ve only been here a few days and we’ve been wowed quite a few times. The scale of the Alps is beyond anything I’ve ever seen!
We’ve also experienced some cool day trips in the area, including to Briancon (near the Italian border) and Annecy (we technically did Annecy on the way here). Annecy, known as the “Venice of the Alps”, made quite an impression on us. What an amazingly cute town! We rented bikes and ended up riding all the way to the end of Lake Annecy and back. On the way we found a really cute bistro on the water and had some outstanding French wine. It was a magical way to spend the last remnants of summer.
We are still here for another 10 days so you will likely see some more posts and, who knows, maybe even a #natestory. After our stop here in the Alps, our next adventure involves taking part in three days of bouldering training sessions back in the Forest of Fontainebleau. That is really going to be a stretch for us, but it’s exactly the kind of stretching we want to do while we are out exploring the world.
Below are a few more pictures from our recent experiences.