Tour of Argentiére

Since the majority of my readers will never come to Argentiére, and the rest have never even been out of the US, I thought I would share some pictures of where we have been living this summer.  Argentiére is like most villages in the Alps.  It has a grocery store and quite a few restaurants and shops which are all on the main route through town.  By quite a few I mean six restaurants and about as many shops.  Certainly there are significantly larger areas such as Chamonix, but even that is smaller than Frisco.  There are also even smaller places like La Tour or Montroc that do not even have a small grocery.  I hope the pictures will give you some idea of a typical Alpine village.

This is the Gare, or train station, across the street from our apartment along with the car park.

The train runs regularly about every hour.  Most would think it would get tiresome after a while, but we do not even notice it anymore.  It doesn’t make a lot of noise or honk it’s horn all the time.  It’s also free to use from Vallorcine all the way down to  Servoz which is quite a way past Chamonix.  Fortunately it does stop around 8 pm.

Our apartment is at the very top on the right.

Like most living spaces along the main street, there are usually businesses on the bottom floor and living spaces above.

Looking North at basically all of Argentiére main thoroughfare East side.
Trailhead for what I like to call, “the Goat Hill.”

The picture above is the beginning of one our favorite runs that leads up to Le Chesereys.  I call it the goat hill because we see Ibex every time we go up it and they look like goats.

This street leads to most of the houses in Argentiére.


This is the town plaza.

The town plaza is used for things like live music and the town party which was last weekend.  As far as we could tell, the town party consisted of some food and the selling of used books.  There was also a man singing on a stage.  I recognized some of his tunes, but was not exactly sure of the songs since for some reason he was singing in French.

The grocery store!

The big part of the sign on the left reads, “Marche U.”  That is the name of the grocery.  It’s part of a grocery chain called Super U.  For comparison sake, this grocery is about 1/5 the size of the Whole Foods in Frisco.  Really small.  I have become quite adept at ordering deux poulet blanc and demi kilo steak haché from the grumpy meat guy.  That is of course, two chicken breasts and a pound of hamburger.  He makes the hamburger while you wait.  He cuts off a hunk of steak and puts it in the grinder and voila, steak haché.  I also learned how to say “oui,” when he asks, “C’est tout?”  I used to just give him a thumbs up because I didn’t know he was asking me if that was all.  Every week our conversation is exactly the same.

Meat guy: Bonjour.

Me: Bonjour.

Meat guy: Qu’est-ce que tu veux?

Me: Deux poulet blanc et demi kilo steak haché.

Meat guy:  incoherent mumbling…

Meat guy: C’est tout?

Me: oui.

Meat guy hands me my stuff: Au revoir.

Me: Au revoir.

It hasn’t varied in a month.

Bridge over the river Arve.

As you can see, there are lovely flowers planted everywhere.  Even over the river which flows with glacier melt and was quite high in the June when we got here.

Town Hall/La Poste.

Yep.  Town hall and the post office all in one little building.

Catholic Church.

It is France, so you must have a Catholic Church.

One of two streets through the local neighborhood.

I am not exactly sure what happens when two cars enter this curve at the same time.  There is barely enough room for a single car to drive down the street so passing is not an option.

Looking south at the west side of Argentiére main street.

Hopefully you now have some idea about what Argentiére is like.  That concludes your walking tour of town.

Normal days.

It has been a little while since the last post, so I thought I would write something just to let my one reader know we are still alive and doing well.

Since we are not training for any particular race at this point, our days are a bit more routine.  We do some work related things each day as well as some form of exercise.  M actually tries to get in a normal work day whereas, since there are not any physical clients for me to train, I only have to train them virtually, which does not take as long as an actual training session.

I am certain my clients are completely happy with this as it means they can do their exercises, or not, and there is no one there telling them to do it again because they did it the wrong way.  Or add more weight because it wasn’t heavy enough.  Or tell them to stop talking and focus on what they are doing.  Or subtly or not so subtly imply that drinking 2 bottles of wine at dinner when there are only two people eating dinner, might be a little on the high side.

Unlike at home, we actually try and go out to eat once per week here in France.  I have mentioned Pizzeria Des Moulins before in this blog and we continue to frequent one of their two establishments in Chamonix.  Last night, since M had done a huge run earlier in the day, we decided to go for the pizza instead of the pasta.  Fortunately we were able to get there early enough to get a table without a reservation which is unusual as the place is continually packed.  For a place with plywood walls decorating the interior, that says a lot about how good the food is.

As usual M and I each got our own pizza.  M’s had ham and fresh tomatoes, while mine had pancetta and goat cheese and arugula, which in France is known as Rocket salad.  We don’t know why its called Rocket salad.

We were happy to see our usual wait staff, Omi, Diddier and the rest of the gang.  For those who might have seen Diddier before, it was quite unbelievable, but he had on a different shirt!  And even more amazingly, his jeans were not the normal painted on tight ones he usually wears.  This pair of jeans was so tight they were like a second skin.  Despite the unusual clothing of the staff ( at least to our American fashion sense – which is non-existent) our servers are awesome and we love going to see them.  They treat us very well and put up with our horrible attempts at speaking French.  As with most French people, they usually just switch to English to avoid having to hear us speak French.

Since today is a Sunday, that means laundry day for us.  Our apartment has a washer and dryer which is great as it means we do not have to go down the street to the laundromat.  Our washing machine is German and works great as most German things tend to do.  Our dryer is French and has a mind of its own.

In fact we do not even call our dryer a dryer anymore.  We call it a damper because most things just come out sort of damp no matter how long they have been in the thing.  I say the damper has a mind of its own because that is true.  For example:  let’s say you have selected the cotton setting and scrolled through the length of time options and selected one hour and three minutes.  I know that sounds like a weird amount of time, but our dryer does not believe in ten minute segments.  It will only give you choices like the following; 34, 47, 1:02 etc.  Since our drye….er, I mean damper, does not work all that well, we generally try and select the longest time option available.  And yes,  those options change randomly throughout the day.  The other problem is that the damper will then disagree with whichever time setting you have chosen and simply change to a different (usually shorter) time frame.  We have to keep a sharp eye on the tricky thing as there is no telling when it might decide that its done damping and simply stop.  However, this is not as simple a process as I have made it out to be.  Sometimes the damper is simply having a rest!  Yes that’s right; it will randomly stop damping for whatever length of time it feels like, and then start back up again like it just came back from a bathroom break.  We have found that if we do not curse at the thing, and give it a break between loads, it seems to reluctantly go about its job.

We hope everyone back home is doing well.  Please let us know if you have any questions or blog topics to suggest.