Archive for February 1st, 2022

February 1, 2022

The ski resorts of France!!!

Well this is something not done enough, really is the domain of my sons. However, needed to tag along a couple times and it was fun. I have written about these experiences in my blog; however, would like to tell you about the very best which of course is in France. Therefore, let me tell you a bit in my black and white series, no pictures, on the ski resorts of France!!!

France has some of the most beautiful ski areas in the world on its territory. The Alps, and their peaks often over 4,000 meters above sea level, undoubtedly offer the most exceptional playground, but other French massifs can also claim a remarkable blanket of snow in winter. If the indisputable stars of skiing in France are the alpine areas, there are many other ski resorts elsewhere in France. In the Pyrenees, first, where the slopes culminate on average at more than 2,000 meters above sea level, but also in the Massif Central (1,500 meters on average), the Jura (1,300 m), the Vosges (1 100 m), and the Corsican mountain (1,800 m). So, where to ski in France? Let me give you mine and many of the best !

Chamonix-Mont Blanc, a mythical ski resort (Haute-Savoie dept 74) Nestled at the foot of the Roof of Europe, Chamonix-Mont-Blanc is certainly the most legendary of French ski resorts. It must be said that this dean of winter sports not only has the privilege of being enthroned at the foot of one of the highest peaks in the world, as well as close to major tourist sites (Aiguille du Midi, the Tramway du Mont-Blanc , Montenvers..etc), but it also stands out for its access to four distinct ski areas, each offering different characteristics: Le Brévent – la Flégère, Balme, les Grands Montets and les Houches. In all, 150 km of slopes are available to alpine skiers, on 102 different slopes. At their highest point, the skier touches the summits at 3,275 meters above sea level. See ,also, the Glaciers cable car. The first in France (1924 – 1946), Put into service in 1924 on the occasion of the first Olympic Games in Chamonix, it ceased to operate in 1953, replaced by the current cable car. Today, the stations and pylons of the old route are still visible on the northern slope. The old Para station still houses the old dumpster that provided the link with the Glaciers station. And the Aiguille du Midi cable car: the highest in the world at the time of its construction, At the time of its construction, in 1951, people were talking about the most audacious high mountain ski lift project in the world! And for good reason: at the time of its inauguration in 1956, the Aiguille du Midi cable car reached a record altitude of 3,842 meters. Between its departure station, Chamonix, and its arrival station, the cable car travels a total height difference of 2808 meters, sometimes several hundred meters above the ground. Today, it is content with the title of highest cable car in France and that of the second highest cable car in Europe. Never mind, it remains the first in this ranking and one of the most emblematic in the world!

Val Thorens, the best ski resort in the world (Savoie-Alpes dept 73) . Voted best ski resort in the world for the fourth consecutive year at the World Ski Awards in 2019. Val Thorens is the highest ski resort in Europe. Located at 2,300 meters above sea level, in the sumptuous 3 Valleys area, the largest ski area in the world, this Savoyard resort in the Tarentaise Valley offers 150 km of downhill ski slopes, spread over 68 runs. As for the domain of the 3 valleys, it opens access to 600 km of alpine ski slopes and 339 tracks.

La Plagne – Les Arcs, the most popular ski resort (Savoie dept 73 ). Another huge area, but this time in the Southern Alps! La Plagne, linked to Les Arcs by the Vanoise Express, one of the most beautiful cable cars in France, is the family resort par excellence. Its reception capacity is immense, since it is actually spread over 10 separate stations, staged between 1,250 and 2,100 meters above sea level. Its ski area, linked to that of Les Arcs, is the third largest in the world after the 3 Valleys and the Portes du Soleil: 425 km of downhill ski slopes, and 258 slopes, the highest of which culminates at 3,226 meters above sea level. See, also, the Vanoise Express cable car: the fastest cable car in the world, With its gigantic 2-storey cabins, capable of carrying up to 200 people each, the Vanoise Express is a juggernaut… And a cheetah! Its airborne “buses” connect the ski areas of La Plagne and Peisey-Vallandry / Les Arcs at the speed of 45 km/h, another world record!

Megève, the most chic of ski resorts (Haute-Savoie dept 74). If beauty is a subjective notion, the fact remains that the majestic wooden chalets covered in snow in this Haute-Savoie resort make it a destination for charm as much as winter sport. It’s not for nothing that the resort is the meeting place for the world’s elite! As for its ski area, Évasion Mont-Blanc, it covers 400 km and has 185 slopes. In good weather, you can see Mont-Blanc from its slopes.

Val d’Isère, the coolest of ski resorts (Savoie dept 73). Located, like Val Thorens, in the majestic valley of the Tarentaise, Val d’Isère is distinguished by its prestigious past. The resort, it should be remembered, hosted the Albertville Winter Olympics in 1992. In 2009, it was also the setting for the Alpine Skiing World Championships. Another attraction, its ski area, linked to that of Tignes, offers 300 km of alpine ski slopes spread over 154 tracks in total. Unlike other areas of this size, the entire Espace Killy is connected in a natural way, and does not require tedious transits. The pleasure of sliding and snow, without the disadvantages.

Alpe d’Huez, the longest black run in the world (Isère dept 38). Nicknamed “Island in the Sun”, this ski resort located in the Grandes Rousses massif can boast of 300 days of sunshine a year. Everything you need to plan your ski holiday with peace of mind! In 2020, Alpe d’Huez also distinguished itself by being named Best Ski Resort in Europe in 2020 by the European Best Destination organization. Its ski area covers nearly 250 km and includes, among its 111 runs, the legendary Sarenne run , the longest black run in the world (16 km!).

Courchevel, the flashiest of ski resorts (Savoie dept 73). Courchevel – Courch’ for the regulars is a real Saint-Tropez of the snows. Less anonymous and more bling than its rival Megève, this ultra-luxury resort still has 17 5-star hotels. However, it would be unfair to reserve this resort of the 3 Valleys only for a wealthy clientele eager to show off. Courchevel is above all the pleasure of skiing with a gigantic ski area, the largest in the world, the same as that of Val Thorens: 490 km of downhill ski slopes and 335 slopes! 6 villages are connected to it by ski lifts or shuttles (Saint-Bon, Le Praz, La Tania, Courchevel village, Moriond and the famous 1850), enough to find accommodation at relatively reasonable prices at lower altitudes.

Avoriaz, the most innovative ski resort on sustainable development (Haute-Savoie dept 74). Located in the heart of the Portes du Soleil area, Avoriaz stands out from the club of ski resorts with vast ski areas by its ecological commitment and its entirely pedestrian character . Forbidden to cars, the resort is a vast circuit of ski slopes, where you can reach the foot of the high wooden chalets without taking off your shoes. As for the cross-border area of ​​the Portes du Soleil, it is very close to the defending champion, the 3 Valleys, and ranks second on the podium of the biggest in the world. In total, 12 resorts are connected to it in France and Switzerland, by a network of nearly 600 km and 316 alpine ski slopes.

Serre Chevalier, the largest unconnected ski area (Hautes-Alpes dept 05). Like Alpe d’Huez, Serre Chevalier is one of the French ski resorts to benefit from the most sunshine per year. Nicknamed “Serre-che” by the regulars, is located 16 km from Briançon, north of the Southern Alps, near the Écrins National Park, one of the most beautiful natural landscapes in France. Its domain, Serre Chevalier Vallée, has 250 km of alpine ski slopes, the largest unconnected domain in France. The resort is particularly renowned for its welcoming of families; it is also labeled Family Plus.

Le Grand Tourmalet at Barèges-La Mongrie, the largest ski area in the French Pyrenees (Hautes-Pyrénées dept 65). Located at the foot of the Pic du Midi de Bigorre, the ski resorts of La Mongie and Barèges open the doors to the largest ski area of the French Pyrenees: 100 km spread over 50 alpine ski slopes. On either side of the Col de Tourmalet, one on the western side (Barèges), the other on the eastern side (La Mongie), the two resorts enjoy very distinct atmospheres. If you are looking for a typical and authentic atmosphere, prefer Barèges and its charming stone and slate huts.

The skiinfo or on the snow in English is what we use here and me think, its the best ski resort information webpage at least in France!

Another good site is montagnes France or mountains France:

There you go folks, a dandy in the snow like right now in France. This is another dandy activity and I hope you have enjoy the post as I . And remember, happy travels, good health,and many cheers to all!!!

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February 1, 2022

The locks of Redon!

Now this is backwater Bretagne, the kind of places tells you are in old France, away from the capitals and into the countryside. My kind of place,and on my road warrior travels in my belle France have seen plenty. This is a city have written on before, but somehow left the Locks or écluses out and it is time to remedy the situation. I like to tell you about the locks or écluses of Redon. Follow me on the road along the waterways of Bretagne!


To date, any passage through a lock in Brittany requires human intervention. The procedures differ according to the locks. For the Vilaine canal, the lock is mostly done without notice While traces of commercial navigation on the Vilaine river date back to the 9C, the first development projects date back to 1160. The first ten locks were put in place between 1575 and 1585.

Before the construction of the Arzal dam, the sea rose there as far as Redon, a maritime character, to which the landscapes and vegetation still testify. The écluse de Bateliers lock, which marks the passage of the canal from Nantes to Brest to the Vilaine, at Redon since the 1960s, the viewpoint of this lock has not changed much. To the right, you will recognize the P’tit Théâtre Notre-Dame on Quai Surcouf. Straight ahead is the Vilaine river, only separated from the canal by this lock called the Bateliers.


The operation of the machines today is electronic, although if something goes wrong you can fall back on the good old crank. A former town of shipowners, Redon is a crossroads of Breton waterways, 40 km from the ocean. Located north of the confluence of the Oust and the Vilaine rivers , it is crossed by the Nantes-Brest Canal. Drilling this waterway was a major project in the 19C. It has 364 km of canals and 238 locks!  River transport began to decline at the start of the 20C. Goods now went by rail or road. From 1970, the Arzal dam strongly softened the milk soup character of the Vilaine. By regulating its flow, this rare model of estuarine dam has made it possible to fight against winter flooding in Redon and even in the region of Rennes and Vitré. It even provides drinking water!


Each year, the lock sees between 3,500 and 4,000 boats pass: pleasure boats, rentals .,etc.. Some arrive from Josselin and Malestroit, by the Nantes to Brest Canal. Others go up from Arzal and the Atlantic Ocean. The Redon lock must be among those which turn the most in Brittany. Allow ten minutes for a boat to pass, fifteen minutes if the weighbridge has to be raised. If they take the direction of Arzal, the Atlantic Ocean is only 4.5 hours by boat for boaters. The sea air is not so far away. As a reminder that before the construction of the Arzal dam, Redon was still a seaport. Even the commercial port of Rennes !


The city of Redon and its heritage

The Redon country tourist office on the waterways

The Bretagne region tourist office on the Canal Nantes Brest

The name of Vilaine derives from an old Breton name, ar ster vilen, “the river of mills”. Very likely given the many mills that still line its course today. But another explanation also seems credible: its original name could also be ar ster velen, “the yellow river” because of the muddy color of its waters during flooding.

There you are folks, my Bretagne has many wonders still to uncover, I am working on it with patience. Redon has a wonderful seafaring history even if today sits way inland, a wonderful town to visit, worth the detour. Hope you enjoy this brief tour of the locks of Redon!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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February 1, 2022

The Public Garden of Fougéres!

Once again, once upon a time I look at my vault and realised have pictures not shown in my blog. These happened to be mostly off the beaten path places of my belle France that needs to be told to all. This is the case of the Public Garden of Fougéres in Ille et Vilaine dept 35 of the region of Bretagne. Let me tell you more of it and hope you like it as I.


The Jardin Public or Public Garden, is located in the southern end of the Upper Town, is a public park with the particularity of developing on three levels following the slope of a land connecting the left bank of the Nançon to the hillside. Saint-Léonard, and to mix an English garden, a French garden and a botanical garden. The Public Garden runs along the Nançon river. It is bordered by rue des Vallées and by rue de la Porte Saint-Léonard. The park is home to no less than three buildings, the Tour du Papegaud, the Saint-Léonard Church and the City/Town Hall.


Built on the hillside, at the end of the Saint-Léonard promontory, the public garden of Fougères has two successive belvederes arranged in walks which allow the best apprehension of the castle site at the origin of the city: the rock of the coward where stands the castle, surrounded by four hills between which meanders the Nançon, a tributary of the Couesnon river. Entrance to the park can be made by the City/Town Hall square, the gate, at the top of the steps of the Saint-Léonard Church, joins the religious building to the city/ hall; by rue Porte Saint-Léonard, this is the main entrance, the gate of which is adorned with the city’s coat of arms; via rue des Vallées, after the intersection with rue des Tanneurs: this access allows you to climb the park via the fougerarium; and by the Via rue des Vallées, halfway up, at the junction with rue des Quatre Vents: this access leads to Place Leroux. Entrance to the park is free, all year round and at any time of the day. It is open every day from 8h to 22h (8h to midnight in season).


The Place Leroux has a triangular-shaped constitutes a second belvedere allowing a gaze to be taken in the medieval quarter surrounding the Saint-Sulpice Church and the castle. Today delimited by hedges and boxwood topiaries, it has a pocket-sized French garden with its embroidery flowerbeds and its 17C granite basin from the Château de Poilley. Decorated with public benches, Place Leroux is adorned with a butterfly-shaped mosaiculture located below a hillock joining the Place aux Arbres and traversed by multiple small footpaths. The Fougerarium along the Nançon on its left bank and climbing to Place Leroux, this walk in the undergrowth allows the discovery of more than fifty species of ferns from Asia, Russia and America.


At the end of the 18C. the first garden is made up, called Place aux Arbres. Thanks to the intervention of Albert Durand, President of the Syndicat d’Initiative in 1913, the mayor of the time obtained the classification of the Place aux Arbres among the natural sites and monuments of artistic character. The garden is spread over 3 levels: the Place aux Arbres offers a panorama of the origins of the city, overlooking the castle and the medieval quarter around the St-Sulpice Church (see post); The park was subsequently enriched with a kiosk in 1889 and a white marble statue called the Golden Age. Access to the Place d’Arbres square is via a monumental granite and wrought iron gate adorned with the town’s coat of arms.

The Fougéres tourist office on the Public Garden :

The city of Fougéres on its heritage

There you go folks, a dandy garden park with great views of the city of Fougéres. A nice family walk surrounded by great architecture and history just what a trip calls for. Hope you enjoy the Public Garden as I.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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