Last weekend, I returned to my old home of Méribel in the Savoie region of France for a wedding and discovered a new roundabout. Viewed from behind (as pictured, right), the carved mountaineer is overlooking the Méribel valley with a couple of animals carved around him.
At first, I had been impressed by the mountaineer’s beautifully carved face, hands and sock detail (as pictured below – slightly blurry as we weren’t able to stop), but after demanding my friend circle the roundabout so I could snap photos from different angles , the view from the back was even better.
In all my seasons of living in Méribel valley, I’d never taken much notice of the view from this part of the road, but the wooden mountaineer’s gaze frames the scene perfectly. Sadly, the enormity of the mountains from this spot just isn’t reflected in the photo.
Méribel ski resort is renowned for its wooden chalets, and the heart logo of the village is carved in the balconies of many of the buildings in town and beyond. The use of wood on this roundabout fits well with the woody buildings just up the road, but the beauty of the carvings is far greater than the collection of chalets, which is why I think the view from behind is so much more impressive than from the front: the nature surrounding the roundabout enhances the carvings’ charm.
So, who is this man? I can only presume it’s Scotsman Peter Lindsey, an interesting guy who started investing in the valley before World War 2, and later bought much of the land that the village now sits on, and developed the valley into a French ski resort before selling it back to the locals. In fact, he’s partly responsible for the use of wood cladding, stone structures and slate roofs in the local buildings. Even if it’s not him, I’m naming that statue Pete.