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.....you can stretch right up and touch the sky' as Mungo Jerry once sang, and that sure seems to be the case this summer, this high up in the Alps. I sure hope the summer in the UK is half as hot as it is here. We have been scorching in the heat here for the past week, and the good weather looks like it is going to continue.
Since the last post we have had another exclusive weekend, which was a lot of fun, we had a proper winter-esque party on the Sunday night, with a formal sit down dinner, followed by plays and even an awards ceremony. We then partied until the wee small hours, and most of the crowd stayed and danced the night away. Since then we opened the doors to The Lodge as a hotel, and have had several groups of guests through, enjoying the sun and great temperatures. The weather is looking pretty good most weeks, and with plenty of events coming up, we are looking forward to a great summer. One of the biggest things we have to look forward to this year is a finish, in the village, of a stage of Le Tour de France.
It is a huge honour for the village to be hosting this, a first for Switzerland, and a pretty tough stage. The riders start in Pontarlier, France, a mere 207.5 kilometres away, and wind their way up and over the mountain pass, into Yverdon-les-Bains, then along, up and down through the valleys, passing Gruyeres (where the cheese is from) and then on to Martigny. The final section is from Martigny to Verbier; they climb from 500 metres, up to us at 1500 metres - over 26 kilometres - with the final 8 kilometres climbing an incredible 700 metres of vertical. All of this after riding for 199 kms to get to the final hill! Now, it's a good 30 minute drive in a car from Martigny to Verbier, and on the official timing sheets, they are giving the fastest riders 45 minutes to complete that, when I say a good half hour, thats getting up to 90kph on the straights. God knows how fast these guys are going when they come up the hill. One thing is for sure, it is going to be quite a day here in town, with an estimated 50,000 people coming up to watch! That's the same number of people on the busiest winter day in the middle of summer!
Last time we spoke, I was talking about mountain biking as an activity, this week I am going to look at walking and hiking in the area, and outline 2 of my favourite walks that you can take on whilst staying here. Walking, and hiking are great ways to relax and take in the mountain air and scenery. The Lodge is ideally situated at the bottom of the forest, and so many of the walks can start right from the back door here. When you mention walks in the Swiss alps, most people think of steep mountain slopes, and long hard treks. However, we are very lucky here to have a great walk along the 'Bisse du Levron'.
The Bisse, as it is known, is a small stream that was originally used to transport water from the glacial meltwater from the glacier of Tortin, and transport it all the way around the valley, to a town called Levron, 25 kilometres away and has been doing so for over 500 years. Now, an irrigation channel might not sound the prettiest thing ever, but it is a beautiful way to see the mountains and listen to the sound of gently trickling water. Normally water in the mountains is cascading off waterfalls, but the Bisse is a gently flowing stream. It was built over 500 years ago, and the feat of engineering in itself is quite a sight. There are sections of the Bisse that look like they are flowing uphill, but the water keeps going. This is a perfect walk for any ability, as there are various start and finish options for the Bisse. To walk the entire length of the Bisse would be around a 3 and 1/2 hour walk, starting at La Chaux, and ending up all the way around the other side of the valley at the Chute de Bisse, which is where it drops off the end of a cliff and carries on to the village of Levron. If thats all a bit much, we can drop you at one of three restaurants, and you can walk for 1/2 an hour, or up to 2 hours to another restaurant, where we can pick you up after a hearty lunch, or carry on to the hot tub at The Lodge. It's perfect for kids and families, as it is mainly flat the whole way.
St Christoph is a small chapel, perched high on top of a cliff, a few hundred metres above the Patier si de of the village. From the starting point in Patiers, you climb up to the chapel, which offers a stunning view over the snow capped Combin Glaciers, and down to the valley villages of Vollege and Sembrancher. You can stop for a picnic at the top, and walk back down, it is only a 25 minute walk up, but if you are feeling a bit more adventurous, carry on to Le Chateau. This gets a bit steep and precarious, as there are bits where the ridge drops down away from you on both sides, for a few hundred metres, but then you are quickly back in the forest. Le Chateau, high up on the ridge of the mountain is the remains of an ancient watch tower, looking down on to the Val de Bagnes, and alerting the villagers to any attackers that may be trying to attack the Bagnes region. Looking down, and panting from the brief climb makes you stop and wonder how they managed that climb with heavy packs of stones to build the Chateau with several hundred years ago. Once at the Chateau, you can carry back on to the Bisse, and get to Marlenaz, a mountain restaurant, for a well deserved lunch. You can of course walk all the way back to The Lodge, or call us for a pick up. The best way to carry on however, is to climb up to underneath Pierre Avoi, and onto the top road, and from there walk back to Ruinettes, and either walk from there, or catch the bubble down to The Lodge. This full loop would be about a 4 hour round trip, stopping time added to enjoy the picnic lunch, or even longer if a leisurely lunch at Marlenaz is in order.
Of course there is also the hot tub and Kats treatments to fill your days if that all sounds a bit too much, and don't forget Bambam, The Lodges very own chocolate flatcoat> retriever, is always available to keep you company on the walking trails, just have a good supply of sticks for him to fetch!
So, as we begin the countdown to The Tour, 8 days to go, tune in next tine for some Tour based pics, more summer fun and of course all the gossip from summer in The Alps.Until Next time,
Gareth Chandler, Activities Manager, The Lodge
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