We started the day with breakfast left in the house for us by our ever generous hosts. Getting Sam out of bed was not too hard as he was looking forward to his first full day in Switzerland and the chance to speak more French (for which he is showing considerable talent).
Marie-Francoise, Roland, and Michel arrived for us promptly at 10am as arranged and the 3 Australians travelled with Michel as we started on our way up the winding mountain road that leads to the Val d’Anniviers, Michel’s area of origin, and the place he proclaims as the most beautiful valley in the world. It is indeed truly spectacular with tis deep gorges, running streams, many waterfalls, and delightful villages perched along the mountain sides. We were soon at the Clotzahan, Michel’s chalet where Marie-Francoise, Roland and Michel spend their summer break. It is wonderfully isolated and simple, yet with all the conveniences necessary. Marie-Francoise’s little cabin, the Cabaoui, it was really delightful.
Sam helped Michel plant some herbs in a small garden bed and we celebrated the gardening with an aperitif before having a picnic lunch of cold meats (including horse, pork, and beef sausages and ham), a variety of cheeses, some tomatoes and bread. That was followed and accompanied by wine and juice and chocolate. After lunch we continued up the valley to the Moiry Dam that was built to supply hydroelectricity in 1955. Sam spotted a patch of snow on the side of the road and asked if he could run to that and be picked up by us as we drove by. The snow energised him for the rest of the trip and he was delighted and amazed by the high mountains and abundance of flowing water. We stopped to talk to some local cows that were enjoying the pastures of the alpages. Each was bedecked with its obligatory bell. Sam got up close and personal with a couple of them, spurred on by Michel’s enthusiasm. We were hoping to walk up to the glacier, but when we arrived at the car park below the glacier, Marie0Francoise noted that the walk up and back would take at least 3 hours and our day was running short. We had a commitment to collect Myriam and Claude’s children from Martigny at about 5pm.
Sam’s disappointment was tempered by his anticipation of a different adventure. He saw a pallet in the creek bed that he decided would be a good sled to use on the patch of snow he could see in the distance. After some considerable effort, he extricated the pallet from the water’s edge and proceeded to drag it across the muddy, rocky terrain. He was helped by Michel, a kindred adventurer, and eventually Roland was also engaged to haul it the last few metres. This enormous effort was rewarded by a slide of about half a metre and the pallet was abandoned for more sliding and slipping on foot. Just as we were about to leave, Sam fell through the snow – much to his delight. Our way back over the river bed involved more scrambling over rocks and Michel helped Sam climb to the top of a very large rock for a great photo opportunity. More adventures were ahead. Michel had notices a tunnel of snow on the side of the road on the way up, so stopped on our return so he and Sam could do more climbing and scrambling. Sam declared it to be the best day of his life.
We came down from the valley and headed along the highway towards Martigny. A visit to the Art Gallery and Car Museum was a wonderful way to complete the day’s activities. Marie-Francoise, Roland, Peter and I checked out the paintings by artists such as Picasso, Renoir, Monet and many others, while Sam and Michel visited the display of cars.
Claude arrived in the car park with the children and we were all soon on our way back to the cure where we had dinner with Marie-Christine as a guest. It was wonderful to catch up with her again and to relax with some English conversation.