Crans-Montana The hiking season in the Alps is fairly short, with mountain huts (restaurants) only usually open from the start of July to the end of September. So with only a few weeks left until the end of the hiking season, I rented an apartment in Crans-Montana, packed the Mini (which Judith had kindly agreed to lend me) and headed off.
Eurotunnel Tuesday - I left home at around 9am for a leisurely drive to the Eurotunnel at Folkestone. I filled a bag with snacks in the FlexiPlus lounge (where have the macaroons gone?!) to eat a bit later on when I'd covered some ground in France.
A Bit Later On A couple of hours later I stopped in a busy (!) rest area on the motorway to eat my Eurotunnel lunch. Lovely weather for driving.
Aparthotel Adagio Dijon A couple of hours later, at around 6pm, I arrived at my overnight stop, the Aparthotel Adagio Dijon. The hotel is very close to the centre of Dijon, in a residential area, so parking on the street was challenging. So I paid EUR10 to pop the car in the hotel's underground car park.This particular space was quite snug, even for the Mini. But I think they had some more generously proportoned spaces on a lower level of the car park.
Room View The view from my room looked a little like something you might see in a news item about conflict in the Gaza Strip or similar, but I thought I'd best head out anyway and have a look around before it got dark.
Place de la Republique The fountain in the Place de la Republique was looking very smart in the early evening sunshine.
Door Another interesting door photo for my collection (although this one is more of a doorway than an actual door). I think this might have been the entrance to a military acadamy, but I might also have got that completely wrong.
Place de la Republique I found McDonald's, so I had a bite to eat in there before heading back to the hotel. The fountain in the Place de la Republique was looking super at sunset.
Meyers Manx For some reason there was a Mayers Manx parked on the pavement in the Place de la Republique. There's something you don't see every day.Anyway, time for bed.
Owl's Trail Wednesday - Thanks to my efforts yesterday, I only had about 190 miles left to drive to Crans-Montana. As I'd not seen much of Dijon yesterday evening before it got dark, and I didn't need to check out of the hotel until 11am, I thought I'd be as well to spend a couple of hours having a look around before I left.Trip Advisor says the most interesting thing to do in Dijon is walk around the Owl's Trail, which is marked by these little brass owls set into the pavement.
Place du Theatre As I'd set off pretty early (at about 8am) there weren't many people about. This was the view at the Place du Theatre, but looking in the opposite direction to the theatre, which wasn't that scenic. This looks very scenic indeed.
Square les Ducs I didn't see any Ducs, but I'm not sure what a Duc is.
Port Guillaume This is a bit of a pedestrian hotspot, so I had to wait ages to get a photo without lots of people in the way, but still some people to give scale.
Covered Market It must not have been a market day as this place was deserted.
Notre Dame of Dijon Very nice in the sunshine.
Street in Shadow I thought it was nice the way the sunshine was illuminating just one building in this street.Anyway, as enjoyable as it was wandering the picturesque streets, I really needed to crack on and head for Switzerland.
McDonald's About three hours later I'd passed Lake Geneva and was heading into the mountains. As it was lunchtime I pulled into a service area with a McDonald's for a swift bite to eat and was surprised to discover that they had a magnificent view from their terrace. Very nice.
Mountains Mmmmm. Mountains.
Apartment Car Park I made it to Crans-Montana and picked up the keys for my apartment from the nice Interhome people. However, I had a challenge getting into the apartment's car park. The security gate was opened by inserting a key into the grey post on the left of the picture. However, I couldn't reach this from the car because my steering wheel is on the "wrong" side. So I had to get out of the car to open the gate. But the gate is on a timer, so it closed before I had time to get through. After a couple of failed efforts, an old fashioned Le Mans running-for-the-car style start was sufficient to get me in. Phew.
Balcony View There was a lovely view from my balcony.
Out and About Having unpacked, I decided to go out and explore. Here's the mini golf. My apartment came with a pass to play that for free!
Er? I think this is a bench. You know, for sitting on. I'm not certain about that though as I never saw anyone sitting on one.
Dragonfly This landed right next to where I was standing so it seemed rude not to take a photo of it.
View Point At the very eastern end of town there's a view point looking east down the valley.
View Point Looking south, straight across the valley.
View Point Panorama This gives quite a good impression of how built up the bottom of the valley is. Hopefully I won't have much/any need to venture down there.
Sunset On the way back to my apartment I caught the golden glow of the setting sun on the distant mountains.
Painting This slightly weird and massive painting (it's maybe 20 feet square) was on the side of a multi-storey car park.
Crans-Montana Just in case I forgot where I was, they'd written "Crans-Montana" in huge letters next to the lake outside my apartment.
Crans-Montana Wide-angle lake view with some almost nice reflections in the water.
Reflections More sunset lake reflections.
Crans-Montana Close-up of the massive sign.
Stars Considering that Crans-Montana is quite a sprawling and built up place, they've done a pretty good job of minimising the light pollution, as you can tell from this photo of the stars that I took from my balcony. There might even be a hint of Milky Way there running from top left to bottom right?
Sunrise Thursday - Well not quite sunrise, but I was up bright and early to start my first walking day. I reckon that building that's shaped like a mountain is v v posh.
Bisse du Ro One of the most famous trails around here is the one that follows the Bisse du Ro. This is basically a little canal that was built in the 15th century (so ages ago!!!) to bring water directly to the town. A lot of effort has clearly been invested in this trail recently.
Trail Because Crans-Montana is so sprawling, the first half hour or so of most walks seems to be just getting out of town. So the trails wind between chalets, as seen here.
View Still, it wasn't long before I was out in the proper scenery. These giant letters are scattered all over, often in unlikely places (like this). I imagine if you "collect" them all they spell "Crans Montana".The Barrage de Tseuzier, where I'm walking to, is just visible in the far distance (if you know where to look for it :o).
Bisse du Ro So anyway, bits of this Bisse du Ro thing are mental. Remember, this was originally built in the 15th century!!! How would you even start thinking about building something like that when you've only got 15th century tools?!!!If the overhang in this picture looks like it's about three feet high, that's because it is. I was almost on my hands and knees to get under that!
Bisse du Ro I can see why they say this trail isn't recommended for people who have a fear of heights.
Bisse du Ro
Bisse du Ro This bit was particularly entertaining. No railing, just a rope to cling to on the cliff wall. And apparently it's very susceptible to rock falls. Which is why they're in the process of installing a suspension bridge off to the left side of the photo (they haven't got very far yet).
Barrage de Tseuzier After a while I got my first good view of the Barrage de Tseuzier (right in the middle of the photo), which didn't look that far away, but probably was.
Flat Ground Ah, some flat ground to walk along for a bit. Nice.
Barrage de Tseuzier Getting closer!
Cow It's always good to get a nice photo of a cow with a mountain in the background.
View There were some fabulous views.
Lac de Tseuzier Finally I made it to the Lac de Tseuzier. The Barrage de Tseuzier is out of sight on the left.
Waterfall As it was only an extra three miles to walk around the Lac de Tseuzier it seemed rude not to. There's a nice waterfall at the far end of the lake.
Bridge They've even built a couple of suspension bridges on the lakeside path to help negotiate some tricky ravine crossings.
View Nothing of particular note in this photo other than I thought the view was absolutely stunning.
Lake Panorama A panorama photo of the lake taken from one end of the dam. The clouds were really starting to build at the far end of the lake, which was where the weather forecast said the scheduled rain was going to arrive from. Time to head home I think.
Stairs These stairs looked very interesting. Fortunately they we not for public use, which was a bit of a relief as I would have had to go down them to see where they went otherwise.
View I crossed over the dam/barrage and headed back down into the valley on a diferent trail to the one I'd arrived on. Same great views though.
Tunnel It was a bit of a surprise to find a short tunnel on the trail.
"A certain risk of stony falls exists" Hmmm. Okay. I'll keep moving and listen for falling rocks then.
"A certain risk of stony falls exists" Ha ha. Listening is going to be of no use here then because the rocks will be falling off an overhang. They first I'll hear of them will be when they hit (hopefully) the trail and not my head!
Pool Survived the "certain risk of stony falls" and made it home, where I thought I've give the apartment block's swimming pool a try. It was well chilly so I didn't stay long at all.
Crans-Montana Out and about for a walk in the evening and I discovered that the giant "Crans-Montana" sign outside my apartment lights up in the dark. Awesome!Distance walked today - 16.4 miles (26.4km)Ascent today - 2,923 feet (891m)Descent today - 2,923 feet (891m)
Valley View Friday - Walking to Mollens to do the first half of the Mollens Loop. There was a lot of cloud about, but it was staying dry, which is the important thing.
Trail Having walked through chalets for 45 minutes or so, it was a relief to finally get into the proper scenery.
View After spending an hour walking up one of the steepest trails I'd ever been on, I started to get some nice views through the trees.
Waterfall At one point the trail passed under a waterfall.
Clouds The trail continued to climb until it climbed all the way up into the clouds.
Decision Point At this point I had the option to turn left and follow the Bisse du Tsittoret back to Crans-Montana, or turn right to add a loop of two miles or so to the trail. If the trail to the right had been flat-ish I might have been up for that, but it looked anything but flat. So left it was.
Slow Shutter I took this photo with the Slow Shutter app on my phone, which has blurred the waterfall a bit.
Bisse du Tsittoret The trail along the bisse was very good.
View That would be a nice view to have from your terrace.
Crans-Montana Eventually I started passing the chalets on the edge of town. There was a fabulous view down the valley.A short while later I got back to my apartment and had what felt like a well deserved lunch.
Cablecar As it was still only mid-afternoon I decided to get the cablecar up to Arnouva. It turned out there wasn't much to see or do at Arnouva, so I got the cablecar back down again. I took this photo from the cablecar just to remind myself that I'd been.Distance walked today - 13.9 miles (22.3km)Ascent today - 3,452 feet (1,052m)Descent today - 3,452 feet (1,052m)
Weather Saturday - Hmmm. What to make of the weather today? Well I could see the sun, which was a good start, but there was also a lot of cloud about. I decided to take a chance and head for the higest point around here - Plaine Morte, the Dead Plain!
Clouds The trail rises steadily through woods and meadows and before long there was a lot of cloud below me, which always seems a bit weird.
Barren Wasteland Then the meadows gave way to a barren, rocky wasteland. At this point I could see nothing of the valley below me. It was like I was in a bubble of clear air completely surrounded by clouds.
Desolate The trail continued to climb and the scenery became properly desolate. At least I could see some other walkers ahead of me on the trail.
Still Climbing I could see the cablecar going over periodically (but not in this picture, so don't waste any time looking for it :o). Oh, and it had started snowing gently. Doh!
Plaine Morte Finally the cablecar station at Plaine Morte came into view through the clouds. I was glad to have been following a GPS trail on my watch because there was no discernable trail on the ground to follow and with the poor visibility it would have been easy to wander off in the wrong direction.
Plaine Morte I think this structure is intended to frame the Plaine Morte, which I couldn't see because of the poor visibility. Or maybe it was just intended to give you somethng to look at because there didn't appear to be anything else up here.
Descending I hung about at Plaine Morte for about 30 minutes, having a rest and some lunch. I saw eight people get off the cablecar and head off on the trail down. Ten minutes later, six of them came back again. I don't blame them. In this visibility, I wouldn't be walking about up here without a GPS trail to follow.About a mile from the cablecar station, visibility started to improve, as you can see in this picture that I took on my way down (just after I'd passed the two walkers that didn't turn back).
Trail The trail passed right along the bottom of a very big rock face, across a scree slope that is formed entirely of rocks that have fallen off the rock face. No dawdling here then...
Trail ...apart from to take this photo of the trail passing along the base of the rock face.
Cabane des Violettes On the way down I passed the Cabane des Violettes, which is a restaurant near a cablecar station. Because it's perched on the end of a rocky outcrop, the views from there are supposed to be excellent. But probably not today so I didn't bother to detour for a look.
Marmots Trail The trail from Les Violettes to the cablecar station at Cry d'Er is supposed to be the best place in the area to see marmots because it's absolutely prime marmot terrain - lots of rocks to hide in and lots of greenery to eat. But I didn't see a single marmot (although I heard a few).
Marmot Trail View Still, the views from the Marmot Trail were excellent.
Cry d'Er Before long the cablecar station at Cry d'Er came into view.
Trail But I passed the cablecar station by and carried on walking down.
Dam The clouds cleared a bit and I had a fabulous view across teh valley to the dam and reservior where I'd been walking on Thursday.
Plaine Morte At one point I glanced behind me and got a great view of the cablecar station at Plaine Morte. If only I'd hung around there for another two-and-a-half hours, I'd have got to see what the view was like. If I get a clear day, and I'm feeling energetic enough, I might head back up there.
Miniature Eventually Crans-Montana came into view, so I took the opportunity to take a couple of photos using my camera's miniature setting.
Miniature Weird. A short while later I arrived back at my apartment. Yay!Distance walked today - 15.5 miles (24.9km)Ascent today - 5,168 feet (1,575m)Descent today - 5,168 feet (1,575m)
Sunshine Sunday - It was looking pretty nice out, but the weather forecast was for rain all day and the weather radar showed a lot of rain not very far away at all. So I decided to bin my planned walk for the day and do something a bit closer to home so that I could get indoors quickly if the weather deteriorated.
Etang Grenon So I decided to do the Lakes Loop, which is a seven mile trail around Crans-Montana that takes in seven of their lakes. Naturally I started with the one that was right outside my front door, Etang Grenon (I think "etang" means "lake" around here).
Etang Long Next on the list was Etang Long. There was water skiing on here, with skiers being pulled by a long cable stretched across the lake rather than the more traditional, and less cost effective, speedboat.
Etang de la Moubra Next up was Etang de la Moubra. There seemed to be a lot of activities going on around this picturesque lake.
Trail Despite the trail being around Crans-Montana, the bits between the lakes were predominantly on these picturesque woodland trails, which was very nice.
??? Now this lake is a bit of a mystery because I can't find a name for it. It doesn't even appear on Google Maps. But it was on the trail.
Etang des Miriouges Next lake is another proper lake - the Etang des Miriouges.
Bisse And then I followed a well maintained bisse for a while.
View I was also treated to occasional lovely views down the valley.
Throng I was very lucky to come upon this massive group of hikers on one of the few places where the trail followed a quiet road and was able to power past them before the next narrow bit.
Lac d'Icogne This one wasn't very picturesque at all.
Flowers Someone had put a lot of effort into this display.
Lac de Chermignon And the final lake on the tour, Lac de Chermignon.
Forecast With the exception of two light showers that lasted about five minutes each, the weather had been lovely. However, the weather forecast was still resolutely sticking with its assertion that it was going to rain all day.
Forecast The weather radar forecast for "NOW" (so that should really be more of an observation than a forecast) was showing a big blob of rain right over me...
Reality ...and yet the actual sky overhead was blue! What's the use of a forecast if it can't even tell you what's actually happening right now?!?! Good grief.
Etang Grenon And then back to Etang Grenon to complete the trail loop.
Sparrow There was a posse of sparrows that kept turning up on my balcony whenever they spotted that I was in, presumably hoping to snaffle some scraps of food. So I took the opportunity to take a few photos of them as they sat around.
Montana I noticed on my map that there was a place a couple of miles away called Montana, which was odd because I thought my apartment was in the Montana bit of Crans-Montana. As there were a few hours of daylight left I thought I'd walk the two miles to this other Montana to see what it was like.This was me leaving my Montana.
Etang de la Moubra Passing Etang de la Moubra again. It only seemed like I'd been here ten minutes ago.
Valley View Nice view down the valley on my way down to Montana.
Montana Village So apparently this is Montana Village (even though it's shown as "Montana" on maps), as opposed to the Montana that I was staying in. Quite picturesque though. I wonder how many people have booked accommodation here thinking they were in the other place, or vice versa?
Building An interesting looking building in Montana Village.
Interesting I passed this on my way back up the hill.
Etang Grenon There were nice sunset reflections off Etang Grenon when I got home. And still there had been virtually no rain all day, despite the "rain all day" forecast.Distance walked today - 11.3 miles (18.2km)Ascent today - 2,139 feet (652m)Descent today - 2,139 feet (652m)
Sunny Monday - After yesterday's weather forecasting debacle, today it was just plain sunny. Yay!
Etang Grenon There were the best reflections I'd seen all week on Etang Grenon as I set off on the day's walk.
Barrage de Tseuzier Before long I got my first glimpse of my destination, the Barrage de Tseuzier (which is just visible right in the middle of this picture), where I'd walked on my first full day here. However, on this day I was taking a more challenging and roundabout route to get there.
Woodland The trail started off easily enough though woodland.
Bridge In the middle of this photo, near the bottom, you can see a horizontal line. That the bridge at the bottom of the valley that I'm heading for, currently several hundred feet below me. The Barrage de Tseuzier is still visible in the far distance, a long, long way above the bridge at the bottom of the valley.
Well I've never seen one of those before! I've walked on some hairy trails in the Alps, but I've never been on one that warns "Not recommended for people subject to vertigo". I'm half keen to see why they felt the need to put the sign up and half keen to turn around and go somewhere else.Turned out that the trail was only mildly mental. Vertical rockface on the left, 70 degree slope falling away, oh, a long way on the right, and in the middle a two foot wide trail so steep that my boots were barely able to grip on the loose stony surface (hiking poles to the rescue). I've seen worse (although not by much).
Dyatlov Pass At the bottom was the bridge that I could see from the top and this strange hole in the mountainside that had been sealed up. Anyone seen the Dyatlov Pass movie?
Trail The rocky trail climbed steadily through the trees on the west side of the valley.
Mental Now why didn't this have a "Not recommended for people subject to vertigo" warning? This was way worse than the one on the other side of the valley!
Marmot Still, I survived the bonkers bit and shortly afterwards managed to photograph my first marmot of the week, albeit from quite a long way off.
Barrage de Tseuzier I stopped at the Barrage de Tseuzier for a rest and some snacks. Just as I was setting off again the wind briefly died away and these beautiful reflections appeared on the lake.
West Side View Back on the east side of the valley I got a great view of the bonkers bit I'd walked across earlier on the west side of the valley. Basically I'd come in from the left, about half way up the picture, somehow traversed that vertical rockface (you can tell it's vertical because there are zero trees on it), then crossed the bottom of the scree slope on the right, just above the tree line. Good grief!
Snow I got a view of one of the peaks I'd passed on my way up to the Plaine Morte two days ago. It looked like they'd had a bit of snow up there since then.
Bisse du Ro For the last leg back to town, I walked back down the Bisse du Ro, which I'd walked up to the Barrage de Tseuzier on my first walk. Despite the fact that I knew what to expect, bits of trail like this still take your breath away.
Crossing At one point the bisse crosses another bisse and apparently they don't want them to interfere with each other so they've built this little bisse crossing. And that was it for today's adventures. Time for a well earned rest.
Apartment I've just remembered that I've not taken a picture of my tiny, comfortable apartment yet. So here is one.
Apartment And here's one looking out of the window.Distance walked today - 19.3 miles (31.1km)Ascent today - 3,487 feet (1,063m)Descent today - 3,487 feet (1,063m)
Last Day Tuesday - It was my last walking day in Crans-Montana, so what to do? I'd still not been down to Sierre, the town at the bottom of the valley. But I really wanted to see the Plaine Morte at the top too. The weather forecast (for what it was worth!) was okay so I decided to head high. Nice blue sky over Etang Grenon on my way out.
Sunny As I'd done the same walk three days ago I didn't bother taking many pictures on the way up. But here's the view as the trail climbed above the tree line into the desolate rocky bit. The highest peaks kept disappearing into cloud then re-appearing so I had no idea what I'd find when I got to the top.
Plaine Morte Well I could see the cablecar station, which was a good start. It was really cold and there was a lot of snow about too, which hadn't been here three days ago. In places I was wading through several inches of it.
Plaine Morte See, the "feature" thing makes more sense when there's a view to see.
Plaine Morte Panorama And here's the whole view. Brilliant and well worth the effort of walking up here.I popped into the cablecar station for half an hour to eat some snacks and warm up a bit before heading back down. As I left I was wearing all of the spare clothes I'd packed in my rucksack!
Warmer It was really cold for the first couple of miles, but as I descended it gradually warmed up and I was able to pack away some of my spare layers.
Marmot I'd seen loads of marmots on the way up, but they were all too quick to hide for me to get any pictures. On they way down they were much more obliging, although only at a distance.
Marmot This was the best pic I got. This marmot is poised right outside the entrance to its, er, house (?!), ready to dive out of sight at the first indication of shennanigans.
Tunnel I also walked through this interesting tunnel under a piste on my way home. Apparently this is part of a winter hiking trail! Further investigation may be required.Distance walked today - 13.8 miles (22.2km)Ascent today - 4,597 feet (1,401m)Descent today - 4,597 feet (1,401m)
Home Wednesday - Up early to drive home. Here I am at the Eurotunnel terminal at Calais.Despite saying in 2016, after a very brief visit to Crans-Montana, "I don't think we'll be returning", I'm very glad that I did. It had been a good week and this time I think I can safely say that I will be returning.Total distance walked this week - 90.1 miles (145.1km)Total ascent this week - 21,766 feet (6,634m)Total descent this week - 21,766 feet (6,634m)