Aosta, Chaminox & Martigny - Three countries in three hours
|Rafaella's gallery Aosta|
|Amelia's new found friend in Chaminox|
|Entrance Mont Blanc tunnel|
I know there are plenty of ways to drive through three countries much quicker than three hours. We weren't going for the record but more a quality experience. However, we did manage to go through the Italian Alps via the Mont Blanc Tunnel, stop off In Chaminox for excellent French coffee and fresh flan, then wander our way through an idyllic high mountain valley (at around 1300 metres) and the ski area of Vallorcine, France then back down the French alps to Martigny.
The plan for the day was to take Amelia for a first time flying visit to Italy, which can be easily organised from Lausanne. We went via the Grande St Bernard Tunnel, the dust of the overnight powder snow giving the alpine forest that cover the mountain slopes a fairytale look. By ten thirty we were parked and wandering Aosta's old town looking for an equally old cafe. The Central Cafe looked the part and our selection was confirmed by the rowdy bonhomie of the locals that greeted us when we managed to push open the front door. The coffee was big and hot, the bruschetta and mozzarella on toast delicious and although we had to repeat most parts of our conversation to compete with the din it was an overall rated four out of five experience and considered well worthwhile on our exit.
After brunch we wandered until we found the 15 B.C. Roman wall and followed its perimeter back into the old town area to track down a local artist from whom I wished to purchase a print for Jodie's birthday. although her studio/shop was closed until three pm, Rafaella came to the door to quench our peering faces, then let us in to purchase. With Jo's gift wrapped print in our possession, we completed a driving circuit of Aosta (in other words I was using my internal GPS and lost my way) until we reconnected with the motorway (more thanks to the Alfa finding it's way then me) and headed west for France.
Mont Blanc was almost at it's finest but fast moving cloud made it difficult to photograph. The climb up to the tunnel is picturesque and the usual superlatives apply for snow covered mountain ranges. The Mont Blanc tunnel is eleven and a half kilometres long (and A$39) but at one hundred k's an hour it is a fairly short journey through the heart of Europe's highest mountain.
Chaminox was pumping. Skiers of all shapes, sizes and colours, blinded by the need for that adrenalin thrill that lay in wait on the slopes above them, wandered like lemmings towards the chairlifts and the scent of the whiteness. The Chaminox air was close to zero but the coffee and cake did help. A quick stop off at the macaroon shop for some after dinner goodies and we were soon winding our way towards the chalets of Vallorcine and the close proximities of its gentle snow slopes and smoking chalet chimneys. Vallorcine looks like a pretty chilled out place to ski and I marked it in my mind map for a visit with a snowboard before this winter is finished.
By four thirty we reached Martigny and an hour later we were back in Lausanne where we had started out some nine hours earlier. Three countries in three hours or three countries in a day? It depends how you look at it and whether you want Italian and French coffee, or Bruschetta and flan. I recommend the day trip and would be only too happy to take you round whenever you are passing this way.
|The streets of Aosta|