Posted by: Richard | June 25, 2009

Day 12: To Val D’Isere

June 24: Today was a light day, only about 6 hours, so Lynn and I were going to enjoy the sun and scenery.  Our route today was over the Col du Palet and then down to Tignes (a world-class ski resort) then over the Pas de la Torviere to Val D’Isere.  I had skied in this region in 2001, and was excited at the prospect of another couple of towns like Chamonix.

The first two hours of the walk today were my favorite of the entire trip so far.  It was beautifully quiet except for the birds twittering and the marmots squeals of delight.  We walked up with beautiful panorama’s unfolding over and over again.  Lynn and I were quiet as we enjoyed everything around us.

We reached the Col du Palet and a lovely little refuge, where we sat in the sun to watch marmots and drink coffee and oranginas.  We took longer than usual as it was so pleasant.

Coming over the col, we saw the first ski lifts of Tignes.  Though some others hate the ski lifts, I think it an interesting aspect of the scenery in summer, and Lynn insists we get photos of me below many of the ski lifts.  As we walked through the high alpine, we eventually saw Val Claret and Tignes.  These two towns looked like miniatures towns from where we were, with the high-rise 1960s architecture so at odds with the surroundings.  We also saw people up high on the Grand Motte glacier going for a morning ski.

We descended to Tignes, marvelling at it again and again.  We reached the town and it was dead. Lynn insisted we go to eat at a brasserie.  I was against it and was dead wrong.  It was just what the doctor ordered, a great meal outside with a great view.

From Tignes, we had a two hour walk to Val D’Isere.  We were in good spirits (though my feet have been getting worse every day (particularly on descents) and I was in some real pain).  Finally, we sighted Val D’Isere and descended to the town.

It was a ghost town!  Every business was closed, and the many apartment and hotel windows were all covered over.  It was weird, we were the only people in this thriving ski town.  We finally found the tourism office (which was open and is where we are now) and was informed that there were three hotels (out of a total of 100+) that were open right now.  In addition, one restaurant and one supermarket were open.  This was nuts!  Here we are in a lovely little town and it turns out that most businesses are only open for 5 out of 12 months in a year.

We wandered over to our hotel, which is run by an english woman and received a nice room.  We showered and i went out to do the laundry.  As so much of our gear is dirty, I did the laundry wearing only my swimming trunks and rain coat.  While the laundry was on, I did a variety of stretching. I must have looked like a complete nutter to anybody who was passing or on the security cameras.  Luckily as the town was so quiet, I don’t think anybody noticed me.

For dinner, we went to the only open restaurant.  It was filled with 11 people.  After our order, the waiter came back to inform us that they couldn’t make the order, as they had no more vegetables.  We changed our order to a cheese pizza and penne with tomato sauce (likely from a can I guess).  It was crazy.  We walked back to our hotel.  At one point, we saw three people who must be locals who stared at us like we were from another planet.  So bizarre.

We finished Oliver Twist last night and then went to bed in clean clothes and relatively clean bodies….

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