Tuesday 11th August 2020

Condes to Semnoz – 121 km

Today we will make for some cooler, fresher air, and our first stop in the French Alps proper. We are heading to the town of Annecy but we are not staying there, we will make the 1700 meter climb to Semnoz peak which has a 360-degree view of Lac du Bourget on one side and the Alps stretching across Switzerland and Italy on the other. The route is part toll and part free, but what a route. We go some of the way on the “White Motorway” which has the most amazing views. The landscape has changed considerably. Mountainous and green. Superb.

Our final stop is the Refuge d’ Semnoz. It’s a bit of a slog up some very steep and hairpin bends for about 40 minutes. Once it flattens out, after some 1650m height, we see the clearing of where we can park up. Sure enough, the view is astounding. From the front of the van, we see the Alps, Swiss, French and Italian, all in a line as well as Mont Blanc. An amazing site. At the back of the van, we can look down into the valley with Lake Bourget and the surrounding towns. From this spot, we can see the sunset in the valley at night and watch it come up again over the Alps.

There is nothing here except for some excellent walks and cycling. It’s challenging stuff on a bike, we watched some mad cyclists do the 1650 meter high climb just so they could get a photo at the summit.

Cyclists climb the hill and pose by this for a photo… Would you?

Once settled in a spot we get the walking boots on and off we go for a short walk. There are some things here but not much. Three restaurants and two shops selling local cheese and we mean local, the cows and sheep freely wander around the Alpine hills. All you can hear all day and all night is the clanging of the cowbells as they eat and eats and eat. That’s all they do, eat.

Cow bells. That’s all you can hear here.

Towards the end of our walk, we see what looks like gliders, it turns out that they are radio-controlled gliders, a local club comes here and flies them. They are amazing to watch and it kills a good 45 mins watching them skillfully control these model planes.

On the way back to the van we pop into one of the local cheese shops and buy some local goats cheese for dinner tonight. We shall see how good it is then.

Chilling out and watching the cows go by is the order of the remaining of the day before dinner which tonight will be quesadillas, a glass of white followed by oat biscuits and the local cheese which was just the best. We agreed, the best goat’s cheese ever, not this white, glue-like stuff from Waitrose, but firm, creamy, and just excellent. The rest of the night was watching the sun setting behind us with the colour of the Alps changing at the front. Magic.