Val d’Anniviers

We had agreed last night with Marie-Françoise on a 9:30 am start so we had no need to hurry this morning. Majella and I slept until 7 am when we got up for breakfast and Majella did our laundry. We let Callum lie in until 8:45 am when Majella roused him for his laundry. He emerged around 9 am and managed to eat breakfast and be ready to go in time for our rendezvous.

Marie-Françoise, Roland, and Michel were ready and waiting for us. In a few minutes we were on our way around the outskirts of Sierre, across the Rhône, and climbing the zigzag road toward the Val d’Anniviers. At one point Roland pulled out and passed another vehicle but Majella was not up for that on the narrow winding road. Further on Roland pulled over and we did likewise to allow faster drivers behind us past.

We passed small villages before we went through Vissoie, a larger settlement, crossed to the other side of the valley, bypassed St Jean, and reached Grimentz. We drove through there, down the valley a little, and along a rough dirt track to reach the Clotszahan. Michel has described himself as an aborigine of the valley where he was born and grew up. This small holding is his patrimony where he is ‘on country’. We spent some time there as our hosts showed Callum around the traditional chalet and the small cabin built for Marie-Françoise. The meadow there was covered in a variety of wildflowers and we enjoyed walking among them.

Then it was back to Grimentz and down to St Jean where we had been invited for aperitifs with Sylvain, Michel’s older brother, and Marie-Rose, his wife. They greeted us warmly and immediately offered tiny bottles of Sanbittèr, an Italian orange soda with a touch of bitterness. It was not to Callum’s taste but Majella and I enjoyed it. Once we were seated around the table in the outdoor area, Marie-Rose served a plat Valaisan – cold meats and cheese – with crackers and Sylvain poured glasses of local white wine for those who wanted it. There was Coke for those who wanted that.

We nibbled and chatted there for some time before saying our farewells and driving back to Grimentz where Marie-Françoise had reserved a table at a restaurant. Callum had a burger with fries and salad (with tomato excluded at his request). Majella and I had rösti (potato like hash brown) with ham, melted cheese and a poached egg. The food was good but more than enough after our aperitifs.

After lunch we drove up the valley to the Moiry barrage (dam) and a little beyond to see the glacier. Along that road there was some snow pack so we stopped for Callum to enjoy more snow.

Majella and I first saw the Moiry glacier on our trip with Emily in 2006. At that time we could walk to the toe of the glacier and climb onto it. It has now retreated considerably and, even if we were all as spry as we were 17 years ago, we might not have been able to reach the toe. In any case we looked from a distance and walked no further.

Back at the barrage, Callum and I walked from one side to the other and back. The others walked part the way and when we returned were already ensconced in the restaurant ready to order dessert. None of the adults wanted or needed dessert after lunch so we had coffee or hot chocolate instead. Callum had a Coupe Denmark (fancy ice cream sundae) and enjoyed that very much.

On the way back toward Veyras we paused for a walk around Grimentz. That took us along narrow winding streets past old timber buildings dating from the 17th century. Callum found the different modes of construction interesting. While we walked there was a light shower of rain but it did not last long.

We were both feeling tired and Callum assured us he was exhausted. Roland and Michel were both looking as though they needed an early start on their rest day tomorrow. We had food at the apartment – cold meat, bread, fruit, peanut butter – that Marie-Françoise had given us and no real need for dinner. We said good night when we arrived at Salamins’ and headed back to the apartment for an early restful night.


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