Inside Emosson dam

Barrage du Vieux Emosson

Bordering the French and Swiss Alps, Emosson dam overlooks Mont Blanc from 1965 metres above sea level. From the Chamonix valley, visitors can drive up to the dam or of catch a series of interesting trains. I drove up, entering cloud at the car park which burnt off within the hour.

Emosson dam Switzerland

Hikes, distant dinosaur footprints and magnificent views abound, as well as an under-advertised tour of the interior of the dam wall, which I took. Although there’s no descent to the turbine in the tour, I was not disappointed. The tour took about hour and a half and cost around 10 Swiss Francs. With a group of Swiss tourists, we started in a room with miniatures showing different parts of the dam, with interesting explanations. We entered the tunnel at 1926 metres altitude and walked the length, stopping along the way at information points and learning about the different measuring devices that constantly monitor and record the tiniest of movements.

Emosson dam wall tunnel

One surprising fact is that metal is never used in the concrete constructions of dams. The porous concrete would keep any metal wet, causing it to rust. The concave shape both vertically and horizontally provides the strength against the water on the other, convex side of the dam wall, and the water actually ensures the structure remains stable. The concrete has some elasticity, allowing the dam to move up to 30cm under normal conditions with varying water levels.

Emosson dam wall

Any structural movement is measured and recorded within microscopic accuracy, with stations dotted along the length and depth of the damn interior walls. The dam wall was built in front of a smaller, older dam which remains in place but hidden in the middle of the dam, 40 below the typical water level. There’s also an old, flooded chapel which was built in memorial to those who lost their lives in a border battle between the Swiss and the Savoyardes before the old dam was built. It’s suffered structurally under the water, and a replacement memorial chapel was built on a hill near the dam.

Thankfully, the battles are over, and in order to build this dam, which was on Swiss land, but drops down into France, both countries offered the other a small section of land and share the electricity created by the hydroelectric system.

Fans of Le Tour de France might also recognise this dam wall as the finishing line of stage 17 of the 2016 Tour de France. Tour buses accessed the dam and picked up the riders, then descended via an tunnel dug through the mountains with an exit in the valley further down below, normally reserved for use by the electricity companies.

Emosson dam views

Arriving at the far end of the barrage and back in daylight, our tour guide pointed out the old building sites and areas, such as the replacement chapel, an old summertime-only road used by the dam constructors and le bel oiseau — a natural rock formation on a higher nearby hill that resembles a bird in flight.

After the tour, my travel partner and I hiked to another, higher dam (Le Vieux Emosson), visible from the first one. With the choice of rugged mountain path or paved road, we opted for stones and wild flowers. This is definitely not a path for someone with vertigo (like me!) but once we got to the steeper sections, there was no turning back. Marked as a one-hour hike, it took us around three hours, with a long stop for a lunch with a view, and many stops for adjusting my feet and not looking down.

Vieux Emosson dam

There was plenty to look at — an abundance of wormwood flowers (the plant that gives that special taste to genepi, chartreuse, vermouth and other mountain drinks), a large section of snow to traverse, a broken wooden access bridge that required an alternative route over the trickling stream, and these fluffy white flowers.

Emosson wild flowers

From the higher dam wall, the view to the dam below is ridiculously beautiful. In the foreground is a small mountain refuge — the perfect place for a quick drink or snack before the final climb to the dam wall. In the distance is the first dam, where the walk began. The mountain hike wound in and out the rocks to the right. For the descent, we chose the paved road on the left.

Barrage du Vieux Emosson

The paved descent was certainly faster and easier than the rocky hike up, but taking such a narrow road in a car demands a certain level of confidence and ability of the driver: there are no places to overtake, and passing pedestrians must also be tough at times. Then there’s this natural rock tunnel. The dot you see in the distance is a person. The tunnel is not high nor wide, yet cars manage to get through.

Emosson dam road and tunnel

The paved road is still picturesque, with stunning scenery in front and behind along the way.

Gorge at Emosson mountains

Alas, we spent so long exploring that we ran out of time for a ride on the Mini-funic funicular — a good excuse to return next year (it’s closed over the snowiest months of the year).

Emosson Mini-Funic

Back at the first dam, we were rewarded with gorgeous afternoon views overlooking Mont Blanc, providing the perfect end to the perfect day.

Mont-blanc from Emosson dam

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No, France, this is not pavlova

French 'pavlolva' (not the real thing)

Pavlova has always been a contentious subject for us ‘Antipodeans’. Us Australians say we created it. New Zealanders say the same. It all started when famous Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova, visited both countries during the 1920s. Pavlovas, or ‘pavs’ as they’re more commonly referred to in their country(s) of origin, started being produced in both countries as birthday cakes, BBQ desserts and basically any other celebration. “I’ll just whip up a pav” was something heard frequently at home, when invited over to a friend’s place for a gathering. I was shocked when I first discovered that Kiwis wanted to claim it as their dessert, and I’m sure every Kiwi was shocked to hear the same about Australians.

As contentious as its creation is, Kiwis and Aussies do agree on the general construction of a pav. Crusty and delicately browned on the outside and gooey and soft inside, a bit like tender marshmallow. That’s the whole point of pav. Top it with cream, then some fruit — favourites at home were strawberries or kiwi fruit (that doesn’t mean it’s from New Zealand though) — and maybe some mint leaves, and Bob’s your uncle: it’s ready. Sometimes, we got fancy and decadent, crushing up Peppermint Crisp chocolate bars as a fruit substitute. Regardless, the humble pav always featured a gooey centre and an ever-so lightly-browned crust. Here’s one such example of the perfect pav:

Proper pavlova - fruit, cream, brown crust, gooey centre

One of the benefits of pavlova is that the gooey centre liquefies after the first day or so, which means it really should be eaten on the day it’s made. What a hardship we faced, growing up in Australia, having to finish off a delicious sugary treat (but with fruit, so still classed as healthy) after our last dip in the pool on a balmy warm evening with friends. Yes, pav rekindles fond childhood memories for me — something I appreciate even more now that I’m living away from home.

So you can imagine my utter shock when French recipes started appearing as ‘sponsored posts’ on Facebook, showing how to make pavlova, when there was no gooey centre at all. I started writing messages in French, like “C’est pas un vrai pavlova” (“It’s not a real pavlova”) and explaining what was required to make a real one. Nobody replied. I’m sure they just thought “C’est qui, cette anglaise?” (“Who is this English woman?”), and carried on with making the Frenchified pav.

This morning, I awoke to yet another recipe. This time, it’s pavlova revisited. Oh no it damn well is not! No. Noooooo. Mais NON. Here it is:

So, what we’re looking at here is a glorified meringue recipe. There’s nothing difficult or Australian (or Kiwi) about meringue — not even its name. Did anyone called Madame Meringue come to Australia in the twenties and wow the socks off so many people that chefs got creative and made dried bits of egg? No. Nope, meringue and Australia don’t even begin to rub shoulders in the same circles. Pavlova is a different beast entirely.

Having said that, the dessert above does look delicious, but please France, understand it’s meringue and not pavlova.

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French supermarket logic

Vegatarian aisle at Carrefour Annecy

France has really embraced veganism lately. It’s like French people skipped the whole vegetarian stepping stone and went whole hog (minus the hog), and they seem to be sticking to it. It’s grown so much that it takes up almost a whole aisle at Carrefour Annecy now. So they moved the aisle.

For an industry that prides itself on selling by senses, like pumping the freshly-baked bread smell by the entrance and making vegetables look more attractive with a light sprinkling of water spray, I do wonder if they’ve missed a beat or two here. The vegetarian and vegan options are now in THE SAME AISLE as the stinky dried meat! 

Because non-meat eaters just love the smell of decaying flesh. Vegatarian aisle at Carrefour Annecy

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The funny monk at the Grand Saint Bernard pass

Col du Petit Saint Bernard border crossing

Winter of 2018 was one of the snowiest for a long time, and the excess snow on the high mountain passes took a few more weeks to clear than usual. The result, as each one opens, is a spectacular mix of sun, cyclists and walls of snow.

Col du Grand Saint Bernard in heavy snow June 2018

A tunnel on the Col du Grand Saint Bernard on the Italian side

  I decided to circumnavigate Mont Blanc, travelling from Saint Jean de Sixt through Chamonix, then dropping into Switzerland near Verbier, heading up the Grand Saint Bernard pass, then down into the Italian region of Aosta before climbing up the picturesque road through La Thuille and taking the Petit Saint Bernard pass into La Rosière before heading home.

Of the two passes, I found the Col du Grand Saint Bernard to be more interesting. I stayed at the historic hospice, which has been housing pilgrims since soon after Bernard of Menthon jumped out his Menthon family castle’s window by Lake Annecy to avoid marriage and ran away to the Col to help pilgrims (after which time he was subsequently sainted and had an entire breed of dogs named after him for their use as pilgrim rescuers on that very same Col).

Statue of Saint Bernard at the Great Saint Bernard pass

Saint Bernard pointing towards the hospice.

The original, small hospice was built in 1050, and it was enlarged several times to cope with the number of pilgrims needing shelter at the altitude of 2473 metres. With deep snow for up to seven months every year, pilgrims faced the dangers of avalanche, injury, frostbite, death and at one point, plague. So numerous were the pilgrims one winter that the hospice had to kill a cow a day for a month just to keep everyone from starving. Modern transport and various other factors mean there is now enough room at the hospice to accept paying tourists as well as welcoming genuine pilgrims.

Arriving in the evening and looking forward to a dusk walk before bed, my travel partner asked the monk at reception if the doors would be locked at a particular time. “Monsieur,” he replied, “we haven’t closed our doors since 1050AD.” Who knew monks could do deadpan comedy?

morgue at the Great Saint Bernard pass

Bricked-up morgue containing mummified bodies and skeletons

View from the hospice at the Col de Grand Saint Bernard

Hospice du Grand Saint Bernard window view in the morning.

Not far from our tiny bedroom window was a morgue, with a bricked-up door protecting the mummified bodies and skeletons who fell victim to the elements or disease during their passage. Despite this, the hospice was a tranquil place to sleep until 7.30 in the morning when the tranquil sounds of a flute and organ are piped into every room as a wake-up call. The second was more of a “get up out of bed, lazy people” tune, and I was grateful for the return of silence after four songs. Alas, it was almost 8am and we had been told that breakfast was at 8.

Arriving five minutes late, we were the last ones to be seated. Bread baskets and butter and honey were our morning fuel, along with coffee and tea, until a comparatively gluttonous lunch  in the village of Aosta four hours later. I fully recommend this experience (the hospice and the Italian lunch).

Other highlights of the trip were:

  • the museum at the Col du Grand Saint Bernard
  • walks to explore the tiny flowers that had emerged where the snow had melted
  • the historical town centre of Aosta
  • the abundance of castles close to the national road, along with waterfalls and jagged mountains
  • the sky walk bridge on the road up to La Thuille (where there’s a zipwire/flying fox across the gorge)
  • the giant Saint Bernard dog statue at the Col du Petit Saint Bernard
  • the spectacular views of Bourg Saint Maurice in the valley a long way below

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If you’d like to see more of how the road looked, here’s a quick video (subscribers might need to click through on the link):

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Medieval France for a day

Once upon a time, a girl from a far-away place found herself in a strange land, so she began to learn the language and the customs, and she wrote a blog about the experience. She had heard of this village called Les Grandes Médiévales d’Andilly, where wandering minstrels are only drowned out by the sounds of live canons or the crowd cheering on the jousters. Alas, the village only allowed visitors a few weekends a year, and always in May, when the girl from a far-away place was either heavily occupied with work or preferred to stay sheltered during the rainy month.

Ten years later, the weather and my work commitments cleared just in time for the opening day at Andilly medieval village/theme park. The wait was definitely worth it. The village is run by staff and volunteers who are knowledgeable, entertaining and most importantly, professional. This is not the place to find your typical medieval role-play fan who slaps on a bit of medieval make-up and speaks in a funny accent. There are blacksmiths who explain how they create things; engaging actors who recreate funny scenes of life in the Middle Ages; highly-skilled horse riders performing impressive stunts; and my favourite, the torture instrument lady who described an array of torture instruments in a convincingly positive and comedic manner (for example, she assured us with good arguments that the chastity belt was an excellent marital aid).

The more obvious draw-cards are the combat aspects, such as jousting, sword fighting, a catapult demonstration and a canon show, loved by the young and old alike. Here’s a sample of the jousting.

Shady picnic tables and food outlets are placed throughout the site to rest weary feet and refuel energy levels, and a raised tree walk where kids can bounce along to burn off energy between shows.

Many members of the public got into the spirit by dressing up for the day. Perhaps not all quite corresponding with the medieval era or historical records, there were characters from Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean and The Lord of the Rings lurking around the many shops selling animal furs, leather gauntlets, and a full variety of medieval wear and wares.

Unexpected sights included the tightrope walker without any safety strap or safety net below (just a couple of hooks on his balance pole, a random member of the public dressed up as death and hanging around a bridge (cue Monty Python quotes of “An African or a European swallow?” and “What is your favourite colour?”), and a girl on a cow waiting to buy an ice cream.

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But let’s get back to the torture lady. She explained what the contraption in the slideshow above is. It’s a shoe. The ‘naughty’ person puts their foot inside the spacious metal contraption and a metal slide inside shortens its length to squash the foot ‘for a cozy fit’. A mini BBQ is placed underneath to ‘gently brown’ the sole of the foot. While this is going on with the right foot, the person’s left foot is placed on a piece of wood with a small metal pyramid 5cm high in the centre. A mallet is brought down onto the foot to ‘tenderise’ it and break the bones. The benefit of this is that the person forgets that their right foot is burning.

Disappointments of the day were the long toilet queues (triple the number of toilets are needed), the lack of soap to wash hands properly after a toilet visit and long food queues at peak times. Unexpected bonuses included a wide variety of vegetarian food (ranging from super healthy to pure indulgence) and the hidden, quiet bridges over pretty streams between the hoards of people on the main paths.

Items worth bringing that I didn’t bring include sunscreen, a refillable water bottle and a toasty warm layer for the evening entertainment. And bring cash, because medieval shops don’t have card terminals!

Les Grandes Medievales d’Andilly is open for only two weekends a year. In 2018, that’s the long weekend of 19-21 May, then 26-27 May. If you can’t make it, there’s always next year.

 

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Not all French adverts are chic

Mustela creepy baby

Many of us have a love affair with France. We love the chic French clothes, the indulgent French food and the poetic softness of the French language. French kissing? No coincidence there either.

However, French advertisements sometimes let the side down. You might remember the Kinder Bueno advert with the inappropriate music from a few years ago, or the cliché view of vegetarians (where the vegetarian mum recommends a brand of meat to her curious son), or perhaps the Tipiak ‘pirate’ old ladies who still haunt the screen today.

A new, kind of creepy advert has appeared on French TV. There’s a baby used throughout, with weird baby sounds used whenever the image of the baby is displayed. Couldn’t they have used footage of a baby making cute sounds instead? Is it just me that finds the still baby image with a voiceover baby a bit creepy?

For those interested, the advert’s message is actually quite nice, saying that Mustela skin care products listen to what babies want. That’s when we hear from the baby with the creepy voiceover, who says “I want something natural”, and then “I want to protect my planet”. I get the message, but I’m pretty sure it could have been done in a much cuter way. Or is it just me that’s creeped out?

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Johnny Hallyday lives on in French culture

Johnny Hallyday has died

You may have heard the news recently that much-loved French rock star, Johnny Hallyday, has lost his battle with cancer. It was touch-and-go back in 2009, when he was placed in a medical coma after a post-op back pain, and I wrote about the couple who I overhead talking of his death. People wept in the streets, and French president Emmanuel Macron made a speech during the public funeral procession. Now, a new Hallyday battle begins: his two eldest kids to previous wives were left out of his will, but under French law, a deceased person’s children must be treated more or less equally. The two kids are therefore challenging the will.

Whatever the outcome, someone is making money from Johnny’s death with a huge range of memorabilia available in the shops. Actually, the memorabilia has always been around, but now, the stands have been constructed and extra stock added. Below is a photo I took this week in Annecy Carrefour supermarket.

Johnny Hallyday after death

Has any other rock star been written about by so many people? As well as this wide range of books, there’s coffee mugs, calendars and t-shirts in a bin attached to the stand — and not at discount prices.

Meanwhile, even closer to home in Le Grand Bornand ski resort, a friend of a friend snapped this picture (merci T Nardin).

Johnny Hallyday skiing

Johnny is printed on the back of this guy’s jacket, which he’s no doubt wearing proudly, along with his Johnny-looking hairstyle, perhaps in homage to The French King.

Personally, I’d prefer the mug.

In fact, I’ve decided to start a mug challenge. Help fund a Johnny Hallyday mug and I’ll post a picture of me drinking coffee from it once I’ve bought it with the money raised!

Help me buy a Johnny coffee mug

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The paradox of France

80km speed limit in France

“Liberté, égalité, fraternité.” It’s about as French as it gets. It’s as French as croissants, saying “oh la la”, and chic fashion.

Something else very French  seems to be the cultural paradox of progression and tradition.

Traditionally meat lovers, more than 50% of French residents are now reducing their weekly intake of meat. In the past year, veganism alone has doubled to 4%. Add this to the figure for vegetarianism, and around 10% of French residents have already stopped eating meat, yet food outlets still struggle to offer anything without meat, let alone without dairy products. Tradition still rules.

Before and after the 80km/h speed limit reduction in Corsica.  (Copyright Corse-Machine – link to original).

This week, the 90km/h speed limit was reduced to 80km/h in an effort to reduce the high road toll. A sign of progression, yet speeding fines remain low, and many speed cameras don’t work. The public backlash has, as expected, started. One jokey comment I saw asked if it’s worth going through the time, effort and money involved to obtain a driving license when those without one (or disqualified) can drive a two-stroke car on public roads at up to 70km/h. Thankfully, those two-strokes aren’t allowed on the motorways with the 130km/h speed limit.

The joke image on the left is another reaction: before and after the 80km/h speed limit reduction in Corsica (where many road signs are peppered with bullet holes). The speed limit reduction is a start at reducing a high road toll: progression is winning this one.

Also this week, a hundred women signed an open letter published in a French newspaper condemning the #MeToo movement — a movement which denounces sexual assault and harassment. Don’t get me wrong: I can see what the letter is trying to say: women shouldn’t play the victim card, but this poorly written, illogical letter goes no further to fix that problem. Among the sentiments are these two statements:

A woman can, in the same day, lead a professional team and enjoy being a man’s sexual object, without being a “whore” or a vile accomplice of the patriarchy.

and:

She can make sure that her wages are equal to a man’s but not feel forever traumatized by a man who rubs himself against her in the subway, even if that is regarded as an offense.

The letter doesn’t address those women leading professional teams who don’t enjoy being a man’s sexual object, nor how this is considered professional. What happens when it’s the boss making the moves? How can anyone — male or female — enjoy being a sexual object in the workplace when accepting such an activity potentially puts others at risk?

As for the subway comment, what on earth do equal wages have to do with a man rubbing his penis against a stranger? The argument, like many others in the letter, makes no sense! You can see the full translation here and make up your own mind.

Having lived in France for more than ten years, I’ve heard the creepy workplace comments and seen the open sexism first hand: when I first moved here, it felt like the sexism clock had turned back twenty years. But I’m also relieved to say that those behaviours have decreased in France, or at least where I live. Let’s hope that this is one aspect of traditional French culture that dwindles further despite this embarrassing open letter, and turns progressive tout de suite.

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France’s most searched dish

Tartiflette with Reblochon cheese

Tartiflette has been listed as Google’s top recipe search for France. So what is tartiflette and is the rest of the world going to jump on the bandwagon?

original and authentic Tartiflette recipe made with Reblochon cheese

AOC Reblochon cheese packetFirst of all, you might be surprised to learn that tartiflette — marketed as a traditional mountain meal — is a new dish, created as recently as 1980 by the association responsible for promoting Reblochon cheese. Reblochon is an AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) cheese, so it can only be made in certain areas of Savoie and Haute Savoie in France. I happen to live in the Aravis valley, the birthplace of Reblochon cheese, so tartiflette grew in popularity very quickly here.

The idea was to increase the dwindling sales of Reblochon cheese by creating a dish that everyone would love. Based on the traditional recipe of péla (potatoes, cheese and onion cooked in a frying pan), tartiflette has lardons (similar to small pieces of bacon) added, and is cooked in an oven.

Tartiflette cheese without Reblochon AOC/PDOLocal restaurants embraced this easy-to-make recipe and Reblochon sales picked up. Now, tartiflette is so popular that cheese companies have started producing “cheese for tartiflette”, as a cheap alternative to Reblochon: it can be produced anywhere in France because it avoids using “Reblochon” on the packaging.

Some restaurants cater for vegetarians by offering tartiflette without the lardons (vegetarians should note that rennet is used in Reblochon production). Another popular menu item is tartichevre (tartiflette made with goat’s cheese instead) and other varieties that include everything from local mushrooms to berries. There’s also croziflette, made with the local pasta called crozet (instead of potatoes), tartiflette pizzas, and more. A French friend introduced me to his very own tartitart — tartiflette encased in a pie crust before baking, presumably because he loves pastry (and it was delicious).

The rest of the world has already started to embrace tartiflette the way that France has, and in the interests of ensuring a really authentic tartiflette recipe is available in English, here’s one that I’ve translated from a trusted local source here in the heart of Reblochon cheese makers in the French Alps. Tartiflette recipes that include herbs, such as thyme, and cream or sour cream are simply not correct and should be avoided! The flavour of the Reblochon cheese suffers when these ingredients are added.

Tartiflette recipe

Serves 4.

1 kg potatoes (any firm/waxy variety)
200g lardons (or smoked bacon)
2 large onions, sliced
1 large, ripe Reblochon (around 450-500g)
2 tablespoons oil
a dash of wine (if desired – 100ml maximum)
salt
pepper

Preparation

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (gas mark 6 or 7)
  2. Peel the potatoes, dice and rinse, then wipe with a clean cloth.
  3. Add oil to a frying pan and heat the onions until they turn clear.
  4. Add the potatoes and brown them.
  5. Add the bacon and wine and stir through the pan, then remove from heat after a few minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Hold the Reblochon upright, like a wheel, and cut in half, creating two wheels.
  7. Pour the potato mix to the gratin dish.
  8. Place the two Reblochon halves on top, with the crust facing down.
  9. Cook for 15-20 minutes.

The dish is usually served with:

  • a simple green salad;
  • a bowl of small gherkins and cocktail onions; and,
  • a plate of cured meat.
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How to deal with snow

Snow in St Jean de Sixt Copyright LeFrancoPhoney

I took this photo last week on a walk around Saint Jean de Sixt. The trees are heavy with snow, glistening in the sunlight, and the fence pictured is laden to the point that the snow is warping between the posts.

Snow in St Jean de Sixt Copyright LeFrancoPhoney

In fact, the photo really doesn’t do it justice. As beautiful as the fresh snow looks when the sun comes out, the roads can be a nightmare. Keeping the roads clear of snow is a winter-long task here in the French Alps, and they’re pretty good at it around La Clusaz and Le Grand Bornand (especially compared with some other ski resorts I’ve lived in).

Haute Savoie magazine with snow clearing detailsEven more amazing are the statistics for the entire Haute Savoie region of France. The magazine contained an article about the winter road services and how the keep traffic flowing on even the stormiest of nights.

Haute Savoie covers an area of 4,388 km². It includes the area on the French side of Lac Leman (Lake Geneva) as well as Chamonix and Mont Blanc, Annecy, and further south, almost to Albertville, and a bit further west of Annecy too. It’s a region with plenty of mountains and cities well above sea level.

Surprisingly, the department keeps the roads clear with just 144 snow clearing trucks. However, it’s quite likely that many of those are here in the tourist hot spots of the ski resorts, like the ones here in the Aravis, and that smaller villages without tourists are left with snowy roads while the remaining snow clearers cover a wider area.

In comparison, when driving through Italy’s Aosta valley on the other side of the Mont Blanc tunnel, I noticed small cars and vans with snow clearing equipment tacked on the front. They looked like private vehicles!

Meanwhile, here in Haute Savoie, I drive like a nervous Australian if the road has a few centimetres of snow on it, while some locals make the most of the situation, sliding around in car parks and pulling on their handbrakes. Everyone deals with the snow in their preferred way. Mine is a pair of skis.

Snow clearing statisitics Haute Savoie

A few other stats for a typical Haute Savoie winter, translated from the image above:

  • 29 snow clearing centres
  • 28 snow clearing storage spots
  • 141 snow clearing circuits
  • 445 staff
  • 3,000 km of departmental (free to use) roads to be cleared of snow
  • 24,000 tonnes of salt used
  • on call 24/7
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About me

Wendy Hollands writer in Annecy, France

I'm an experienced technical writer based in the French Alps. I enjoy learning French language nuances, winter sports and travel. Drop by wendyhollands.com, my other site.

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