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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Presset Refuge & The Final Days in Landry, France – July 19-22, 2012

I can’t believe that we stayed another three weeks in one spot, but that is what France will do to you.  Now I understand why so many Europeans vacation here:  Between the beaches and the mountains France has it all covered—much like California.  And, just like California, when the tourist season hits full swing the charming small towns become crowded and, at least to us, less attractive.  So we are heading off to Switzerland tomorrow but not before a quick recap of our final days.

We accomplished one last long hike up to Lac Presset and the Presset Refuge, almost nine miles round trip (14 KM.)  The trail starts out with a gradual but constant incline until you are just past the Refuge de Balme (temporarily closed for construction) and then increases in intensity until you are clambering hand over foot the final ½ mile straight uphill.  But the reward is supendous:  A small, sparkling clear lake with a great view of Pierra Menta and the mountains behind La Plagne as well as a charming Refuge including refreshments served by the two cutest waitresses in all of France.  (See picture link above—I wish I had video-taped the encounter so priceless was their dedication and earnest desire to serve.)

After a short break we hiked over to the Col du Brussard where we could see down the opposite valley all the way to Beaufort.  A couple of days later, while dining at La Pierra Menta Bar & Restaurant overlooking Lac Roselend (delicious and traditional Savoie food including a dessert recipe from their grandmothers which was out of this world but, as they waitress said, “You have to like figs”), we realized we were gazing up at the Pierra Menta from the opposite side of the mountain and actually sitting adjacent to the valley we had looked down upon the other day.  It is just as stunning from either side, although the Lac Roselend view also includes Mont Blanc (and less tired legs.)

SP managed to end his fishless-ness by catching (what I think) is an Arctic Chard during our time at Lac Roselend but I came away empty.  We stopped in a couple of promising looking pools along the river on the way home but yielded nothing more.  Knowing that there were a handful of children awaiting the arrival of Rosco and River for the evening walk, we packed in our poles and headed home.

I didn’t think River’s life would get better following her evening in Antibes but it sure has:  Started by two of our neighbor’s kids, we now have a circle of six vying for walking and petting time.  At any given moment River can be found laying down with two to four hands all petting her.  The (darling) kids also pet Rosco of course, but he doesn’t relish the attention quite like River.  Indeed, eventually he will look so longingly at the front door that we’ll let him in to sleep while River maintains the love-fest.

It is lucky for us that most Europeans are better educated than we are; it has been an unexpected delight to meet our neighbors in camp (all adjacent pitches have people from the Netherlands in them and they all speak English.)  Not only have they helped with the dog-walking instructions but we have also picked up tips on where to land in Switzerland following our quick stop in Geneva, and a Rabobank cap from an IBM’er who is so nice I forgive him for working with Oracle products.