Gotcha! There are no pictures of naked (or if you are from the south, “nekkid”) French people.
When we arrived at our new place in Le Tour, there was a bed waiting for us in the, “master bedroom”. Those words are in quotes because it is really just another bedroom. The bed that awaited us was not what anyone would call the most comfortable of beds. Some people like firm beds and some like soft beds. Some people probably like the Goldilocks combo where everything is, “juuussst right”. The bed here was none of those things, and all of those things, except just right. It was firm in some spots and soft in others. You could always count on ending up in the middle of the thing by the end of the night, so at least it had that going for it. Best of all, it was lying directly on the floor, like the one in your first college off-campus apartment.
There is also a closet in the “master” waiting for us to fill it with our stuff. Or at least six or seven small items of clothing as that is about all that would fit. Of course we had to take the accordion doors off the closet first so we would have room to walk around the bed, since when open, the doors took up too much space.
What all of this means is that Emily and I needed new bedroom furniture and a new bed. There is a lovely store in Chamonix that sells all manner of housewares. We managed to find a bed with lots of storage underneath and a chest-of-drawers. Or if you are from the south, a, “Chester Drawz”. When I was growing up I always wondered who Chester was and why we were talking about his underwear.
Much to our surprise, furniture in Chamonix and France in general is very cheap compared to furniture in the US! “How can this be?”, you might ask, since lots of other things are more expensive. It turns out there is a very good reason furniture is cheaper here. It is delivered to you unassembled.
Some of you out there will be familiar with the fact that M and I, to put it kindly, are not mechanically inclined. The last home project we tried was replacing the microwave at our place in Frisco. After three hours we gave up…, on getting it out of the wall. We had to call our friend Landon to come and finish the job for us.
To say that putting together a bed with storage shelves and a chest-of-drawers was going to be a challenge for us would be one of the greatest understatements in the history of understatements. Right up there with, “we really need an electric screwdriver!” Our current list of tools consists of the following: Allen wrench, bunch of screwdrivers of various types (except electric!), and Leatherman. We had to borrow a hammer from our neighbor Michelle. I think in the back of our minds we were hoping for something along the lines of, “Some assembly required”. Wishful thinking is what that was. Speaking of wishful thinking the, “ALL ASSEMBLY REQUIRED,” instructions stated that our bed could be put together in 1 hour by a team of two people. It must have been referring to a team other than M and I. I am happy to report that M and I are both still alive, we have a bed, and it only took us 6 hours! We reserved the assembly of Chester for the next day. He only took about 4 hours.
Part of the reason for our rush in getting our furniture put together was that sister-in-law Sarah was coming to visit. The guest room was taken up with lots of our stuff and we needed somewhere to put it so Sarah would have a place to sleep. We finished just in time!
Sarah likes to hike when she visits us over here so we planned a couple nights at the Loriaz hut in order for her to get further afield than what one can normally do just from our house. For those of you who may be unfamiliar, the hut system in Europe allows one to go across and around all of Europe by hiking from hut to hut. Some of the huts are as nice as regular hotels. Others are what one would call rustic. As in, there is no running water and a hole in the ground for a bathroom. Loriaz is more towards the rustic side of things although some of the bunk houses did have nice wood paneling and comfy beds.
The hike to Loriaz from our house is about 7 miles and does not have a lot of vertical gain. It is a good hike for people who are unaccustomed to hiking around here as there are no real technical sections.
The hike from Loriaz over the Col de Terrasse (I pronounce it, “Tear ass”) then over to Emossons Dam, which we did the next day, is not for people unaccustomed to hiking over here. It begins with a climb straight up to a ridge with about 1,800 feet of vertical gain in less than two miles. The climb also has some easy scrambling over large boulders at the top. Did I mention there is no real trail and only sometimes a random path through the scree on the way up?
Once at the top, you cross into Switzerland which is immediately known due to the fancy trail signs that appear right when you cross the border from France. The trail signs in France are nice also, but the Swiss signs are a level above. The trail from the top is basically picking your way over and through large slabs of rock and trying not to trip because you are looking at the stunning views. After about 5 hours we made it back to Loriaz and took it easy for the rest of the day.
While staying at Loriaz, your choice for getting some of the sweat and dirt off, is to use water from the creek next to the encampment. M, Sarah, and I would generally dip our wash clothes in the creek and wipe ourselves down. The water was freezing cold so it felt good on the hot days.
The freezing cold water did not stop the French group, also staying at the hut, from getting completely naked and taking a bath! Needless to say this was a bit of a shock for M, Sarah, and I. The creek also has a pipe coming out of the ground so you can get water. The first day we were there, I came around the corner to get some water and there was an older naked guy bathing in the creek. As the kids say, “Awkward!” I got my water and made my way onward as quickly as possible. The next day, I went over to get water and came around the corner to see 3 naked ladies taking a bath. That was a bit too awkward for me so I went back later to get my water. Fortunately for all of us, there are no pictures, but Sarah and M can vouch for the facts, as they too had these experiences.
The next day we were ready for a real shower and took the easy route again back to our place in Le Tour. M and Sarah greatly appreciated having an actual toilet where there was very little risk of getting urine or other stuff on your feet.
M and I had one more big adventure following our Loriaz trip – the annual homeowner’s association meeting. In France, it is called a syndic, which is basically syndicate, without some letters. The meetings are exactly like the HOA meetings back in the States, only held in French. M and I got to meet a couple more of our neighbors including Monsieur Lanson and Monsieur Rob. The meeting ended with some champagne for all except M and I (to the befuddlement of our neighbors). The cool part was that the champagne was Lanson champagne. It turns out that 6 generations of the Lanson family have been in the champagne business, since 1760.
I hope to have more to report soon.
Now go out and be consistent!