Martigny

We rose at about 8:00 am, ate a quick breakfast, and then slipped out to the local supermarket to pick up some Swiss chocolate that Majella and Joel needed to complete their collections of homecoming gifts. Based on past experience we were able to navigate to the western end of Sierre, and locate the shopping mall which we knew to have ample parking and a supermarket.

None of us had any Swiss francs so Majella checked on the way in and confirmed that the supermarket would accept Euro notes but not coins. Majella and Joel selected their bargain bundles of Swiss chocolate bars, we tendered €20 and received 16 Swiss francs in change, and were on our way back to Serafino. We managed to find our way with just one minor navigational detour and were ready and waiting for our hosts well before 10:00 am.

Marie Francoise, Roland and Michel arrived on schedule and we were soon on our way to Martigny, about 40 km down the Rhone valley. Once there we parked and walked to the local church, where recent renovations had revealed that it had been built over remnants of the church that had been established by St Theodule around 380 AD. A clear panel had been installed in the floor to allow visitors to see part of the ancient baptistry. In addition to the archeological interest, the church was remarkable for the very detailed wooden carvings that adorned the doors and the high central pulpit.

From the church we walked further into town to the mediatheque where there was a display of photographs by Leonard la Giannada, founder of the Fondation Pierre la Giannada established to commemorate his brother who had died in a plane crash. The display had originally been intended to feature the work of the foundation but was adapted when a large number of photographs taken by Leonard la Giannada during his travels in the 1950s was found during preparations. The collection included images taken around the world that captured some of the flavour of the times in Europe, Russia, the Middle East and more. We were fortunate that the exhibition was not busy when we arrived and that the woman at the front counter was a Canadian who was able to offer us an explanation in English.

Roland and Michel left the exhibition before the rest of us to collect the cars, picked us up from the street outside, and we headed off toward the home of Myriam, daughter of Marie Francoise and Roland, and her husband Claude. Their house is perched high on a hillside near Martigny with sweeping views of the valley although we were unable to see them because of the mist.  Myriam and their daughter, Maelle, greeted us at the junction above their house. Lorick, their son, was at home with Claude. Just as we arrived, Nicolas, son of Marie Francoise and Roland, arrived from Geneva with his son Yoann. We spent a couple of hours there, catching up and enjoying lunch of salad and barbecued meat which included venison provided by a neighbour who hunts.

We visited a zoo that featured animals of the local regions. After we had seen the animals Joel had a chance to display his climbing ability on some of the playground equipment.

After lunch we headed off to visit a zoo near Martigny. It is perched on the hillside further down the Rhone valley and features animals of the local regions. We were able to see several species of deer, chamois (part of our lunch menu), wolves, foxes, black bears, and more. Yoann and Maelle were very enthusiastic about the animals and about playing on the climbing equipment and slide that we found at the end of our tour through the park. Joel also enjoyed the challenge of climbing the rope equipment.

We said farewell to Myriam, Maelle and Lorick at the zoo. Nicolas and Yoann returned to Sierre with Marie Francoise and Roland, while we three rode with Michel. Back at Serafino we had about an hour to rest up before joining the others at 7:00 pm mass where we were able to catch up briefly with the parents of Marie Francoise. We returned to Serafino where Marie Francoise served us dinner of pizza followed by stuffed christian – pastry caramel filling. There was wine, coffee and schnapps to accompany it. Our hosts departed at about 10:00 pm, promising to return around 10:30 am when it would be possible to make an assessment of what the weather might allow us to do on our last full day in Sierre.

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