You might remember the fluffy St Bernard puppies and dogs I visited a few weekends ago at the Barry Foundation. A friend with a dog as big as a St Bernard had heard about the open day and was armed with a map and directions. We jumped in her car (with her dog taking up most of the space), and we headed through Chamonix and into Switzerland. On the outskirts of Martigny, I realised I hadn’t read her printed directions to get us to the foundation. “No worries,” I said. “I’ve passed the place recently and I remember how to get there.”
Sure enough, I navigated us to the building with a big St Bernard on the side, and there was a festival going on all around. Most people seemed to be dressed as ancient Romans, and that didn’t put us off. We parked the car, but we really should have noticed that we were in the wrong place. Apart from the jousting Romans eating medieval soup and hanging out in an actual Roman ruin next to the St Bernard building, there were other signs that we chose to ignore:
- a private function in the St Bernard restaurant, blocking the public from entering;
- a 10€ fee to enter the museum during an open day; and,
- not that many people around apart from the frolicking Romans.
My friend stayed outside as her dog wasn’t allowed in the museum, and I went in to check it out. Inside was a plethora of St Bernard mementos, pictured, plus the history of the dog in French only. There were some cheesy films involving avalanches and people miraculously surviving them with just a few centimetres of snow on them. Beethoven the film was also looping in the TV corner, dubbed into French with English subtitles.
There were some dogs out the back who were caged like zoo animals and who looked bored on their concrete floors, despite the plentiful toys and the company of other dogs.
Luckily, we stumbled across a tourist information office on our way out of town and discovered the real Barry Foundation address, where we continued the St Bernard ogling for the rest of the afternoon.