French Odyssey Part 13 – Panoramas & Finales   8 comments

After our hugely enjoyable 2 days in Chamonix walking the Grand Balcons and climbing the Croix de Fer, we headed off to our next and final holiday destination in the Jura mountains. They are an extensive area of small mountains, ridges and valleys along the French/Swiss border north of Lake Geneva. We only had a day there before we started to head home in earnest and as always I was determined to make the most of it. It’s a massive area with loads to see and do but I wanted to explore the long limestone ridge that overlooks Lake Geneva and had chosen a hotel not far from there. We stopped of on our way from Chamonix for a cuppa by the car at the Col de la Faucille.

The views back across the Lake to the alps were superb. From here, Mont Blanc really shows its massive bulk and height dominating everything else around it.

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Mont Blanc from the Col de la Faucille

To the north the Jura spread out as an extensive rolling pasture dotted with lakes, bisected by deep valleys and gorges. I would guess that the walking would be simple and rewarding and much quieter than the alps.

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Val de Valserine

Our hotel was another Logis at the Hotel le Pre Filet, a charming out-of-the-way hotel amongst the pastures with huge 2 storey family bedroom.

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Hotel le Pre Filet

Only problem was the restaurant was shall we say a little out of our league with not much in the way kids food. We had no food in the car and the hotel was the only place for miles so we headed into the nearest town St Claude to find a pizza place or similar. Alas it seemed Monday was restaurant night off and the whole town was closed and I had two hungry kids in the back. Salvation was found in the form of a kebab van in the main square and a feast of chips and Steak Americain in the car was the order of the day. I salute the kebab van man!

Next morning was clear and gloriously sunny for our final day.

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View from the hotel

The hotel put on a cracking breakfast that included what looked like hard-boiled eggs – except the egg boiler was tucked away in a corner out of sight. As Viz would say “Imagine my surprise when I cracked a raw egg onto D’s plate”. Luckily we all did see the funny side and I did notice a couple of other discarded plates with semi-cracked raw eggs on them – live and learn.

I purchased a map and we headed back up to the Col de la Faucille. The Grand Montrond looked like a nice short walk so we headed off following a mix of ski trails, roads and paths up towards the ridge of the Monts Jura. It was a stunning morning, clear skies with views for miles into the heart of the Jura.

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Across the Jura

The ridge was dipping in and out of the clouds so I was hopeful we might get a decent view. After passing some lovely pastures full of wild flowers and a couple of very scabby donkeys we made our way to the summit

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Name that flower

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Scabby donkeys

It was one of those “wow” moments that take your breath away. You get no idea of the view to come until you crest the summit. Laid out below your feet is Lake Geneva with the Alps spread out behind as far as the eye can see.

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D, Lake Geneva and the Alps

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Swiss Alps

Mont Blanc again dominates the skyline.

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Mont Blanc

The wispy cloud made it all the more atmospheric. It was quite simply one of the best views I’ve had in the mountains. To cap it off sitting in the far distance between the points of a nearer peak was the Matterhorn. Awesome

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Matterhorn distant in the centre of the shot

We stopped on the summit for a couple of hours, eating lunch and admiring the views.

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Lunch on the summit

I took a short stroll along the ridge and it would be a superb long walk right from end to end, a distance of about 16 miles or so.

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Petit Montrond

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Crete de Neige

All too soon it was time to head back down. Our holiday was coming to a close but this was a fitting finale. Another place to add to my ever-growing list of places to return to.

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Jura skyline

And that was pretty much that. We got back in the car and started the long drive home. It took us a day to get back from the Jura via an overnight at a B&B hotel in Troyes, the Eurotunnel and the Harvester in Swindon.

It was an absolutely fabulous holiday. I have to give up a good chunk of my annual leave to do a 3 week holiday which means I have to sacrifice some skiing trips, backpacking trips and the like. However I get plenty of payback from spending some real quality time with Jane and the kids doing the things we all enjoy and the whole family love the places we go and way we do the trip. France is a fabulous place for a holiday with so much to see and do and something for every taste and inclination. We are already planning next years trip, where to base ourselves for a couple of weeks, where to stop off and what do, favourite at the moment is Roussillon down by the French/Spanish border on the Med. Might be able to get some walking in, in the Pyrenees which would be awesome.

So to finish off my top 5 memories from the trip

5. Any of our meals outside our Provence holiday home

4. Kayaking in the Tarn Gorges

3. Grand Montrond, Jura

2. Any of a number of lazy days by the pool

1. Picnic lunch on the Grand Balcon Chamonix

Hope you enjoyed the ride

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8 responses to “French Odyssey Part 13 – Panoramas & Finales

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  1. Yep – I enjoyed the ride! You packed a lot in. That view across Lake Geneva certainly looks stunning.

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    beatingthebounds
  2. It was – the Jura needs further attention

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  3. Andy, you seemed to have packed a lot in. Brings back many memories, when we as a family used to do similar trips. Excellent photographs throughout and I can now download all of them with my slow broadband speed !

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    • Thanks Mark – glad that I’ve taken you back to some good memories. It was a superb trip and I’m loving these long french road trips. So much to see and do and really easy to research and organize. I do miss the chance to do some proper walking though, be great to visit these area in spring/autumn and explore them on foot.

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  4. fantastic Andy, has taken me a wee while to catch up on your reports but glad I did.
    There are some inspiring places that I wasn’t completely aware of, and I’ve bookmarked a couple of your pages for future reference.

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    • Thanks David – appreciate the positive words. One of the beauties of France is there is so much stuff to see. Alot of the places we’ve been in the last 2 years were new to us. I just pick an area off a map that looks intriguing, google-earth it and go from there. One of the main reasons I write my blog is to hopefully inspire trip ideas in other people so I’ll keep an eye out for your future french reports 🙂

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  5. Sound has mysteriously returned on our difference engine. So I’ve been catching up on your holiday videos. I’ve said it before, and given my penchant for repeating myself, I’ll probably say it again, but they really are magnificent. Great pictures and lovely sounds. I really should listen to the Allman Brothers more often. And Flogging Molly once at least – even though I enjoyed seeing them live with Uncle Fester, I haven’t investigated any of their recordings. As for Half-Step – one of the all-time top tracks of all-time. In my humble opinion.

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    beatingthebounds
    • Glad you enjoyed the vids. I like putting them together now I’ve got the hang of it although my PC grinds to a halt when I produce them. Looking for the right tune is the hardest part although it does mean I’ve expanded my music collection even further. I’ll bring my laptop up to Ninebanks so bring your Hard Drive and you can grab some more or let me know anything else you’ve come across that you might want

      Don’t forget there’s videos from my autumn adevtures as well 🙂

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