Val d’Anniviers 1

Somebody said be careful what you wish for, you might get it. That might have been enough to tip us off if we had thought of it when, as we drove up into the Val d’Anniviers, Emily saw the clouds up the valley and expressed a wish to walk in the clouds. She was to have her wish come true but a large part of the day that was planned for us would not happen because of the clouds. The plan called for us to drive up with Roland and Marie-Francoise, visit a traditional dwelling at the village of Fang, meet Michel at the top of the valley where we would see some cows and walk to the toe of the Glacier Moiry, and finish the day with traditional raclette served by Michel at his chalet near Grimentz.

Our first stop up the valley was at the site of an original tunnel that had been carved out of the rock by traditional hard work. The tunnel is no longer in use and has been replaced by a new one pushed deeper into the rock. We were able to walk the length of the old tunnel but not back to the road at the far end because part of the old road had fallen into the gorge. Beside the entrance to the tunnel there is a substantial shrine built so that travelers could pray for safe passage up and down the mountain.

From there we drove a little further up the road to Fang, a village in which some of the old buildings have been maintained in close to original condition and where one of the residents is passionate about the history of the village. She greeted us with enthusiasm and after a little explanation of the layout of the village, conducted us to the school and proceeded to give us an extensive account of the history of the village. After a considerable time Emily announced that she felt ill but before she could be ushered outside to the fresh air she fainted. It wasn’t long before she was revived but she stayed outside while the rest of us returned for a quick completion of the history. We then strolled down through the upper part of the village to visit the traditional dwelling and the restored mill. It was only later that Marie-Francioise told us how much Emily had saved us from. The estimated time for a full tour of the village was 4 hours.

From Fang we drove up the valley to just above Grimentz where we were met by Michel and proceeded up towards the Moiry barrage and glacier. We stopped just below the barrage to look at the cows (les vaches) and allow Emily to walk in clouds. Roland and Emily managed to pat one of the cows before we got back in the cars and climbed up the road to the barrage. I don’t recall seeing the barrage wall, probably because of the thick cloud, and we saw little or nothing of the lake as we drove along it to the parking place for the glacier walk. As we got out of the car it began to rain a little. That, and the thick cloud, was sufficient to persuade Michel that conditions were unsuitable and too dangerous to proceed. We headed back down the hill, pausing briefly to allow Emily to play in some remnant snow by the road.

Michel pronounced the conditions unsuitable for the planned raclette too. Instead we drove to the village of Vissoie, a little down the valley from Grimentz, and ate fondue at a bar there. The fondue was the traditional mix of melted cheese, white wine and schnapps into which dry bread was dipped and then eaten. We enjoyed the fondue, white wine and conversation, although Emily found the traces of wine in the fondue too strong for her taste. We topped off the fondue with a variety of desserts. My colonel had an unfortunate accident in which the chef slipped with the vodka bottle and it finished up brim full with about three times the usual quantity of vodka. I was well settled for the drive home down the valley.

Never wanting to let time go to waste, Marie-Francoise led us off to a display of work by a local artist before taking us home. Majella and I were not hungry for dinner after the fondue so we granted another of Emily’s wishes by taking her to eat at the local McDonalds. By the time we returned from that the view of the Val d’Anniviers from Serafino was still full of cloud but there was a patch of sunlight falling on the snow at the top of the valley.