Freedom (ish)

Since I wrote my last post as we prepared for the end of French lockdown on 11th May, we’ve been enjoying our freedom – even if it wasn’t total freedom at first…

At the start of déconfinement there were still restrictions, including a significant one – not being allowed to travel more than 100km. Also, neighbouring borders were still closed, so we couldn’t exactly jump in the van and drive off into the sunset.

However, as we no longer had to write out a form to nip to the supermarket or go for a walk, we were happy to hang out in Morzine for the forseeable future. We spent the next few weeks ticking off a mini bucketlist of things we’d always wanted to do in and around Portes du Soleil (when it isn’t covered in white stuff).

Exploring Lac de Montriond and Les Lindarets

During lockdown, the roads and trails between Lac de Montriond and the village of Les Lindarets were our regular dog walk / running routes, although we were always mindful of the 1km and one hour limits. From 12th May we could explore the area properly without risking a fine.

Lac de Montriond is one of those places that takes your breath away each time with its backdrop of mountains and sheer cliff faces. There’s a path all the way around that’s perfect for walking and running, plenty of picnic spots and a playground, so the kids love it.

One of our favourite hikes straight from the van was the climb along the road to Les Lindarets, and then on to a waterfall with views across the valley towards Lac de Montriond.

As spring arrived the alpine meadows around Les Lindarets burst into colour with flowers.

Les Lindarets is VERY popular in summer due to the resident greedy friendly goats, hence the name Village des Chèvres (the goat village). Luckily we were able to visit before it got busy.

So. Much. Hiking.

Being locked down in the mountains is amazing, but also slightly torturous when you know there are miles of trails just out of reach.

Our first major hike was to Col L’aup Couti, beneath Pointe de la Chavache, the mountain overlooking Ardent. It was crazy looking down on the van from the peak we’d been staring up at for the past four months.

We hiked up there a second time with our lockdown neighbours, and from the col along a very steep and sketchy ridge called Arête des Fours, up to Tête de Lindaret.

The views were a bit different to the last time we were up there!

We also hiked across the Swiss border and up to Pointe de Mossettes. These views of Switzerland are my favourite when we’re snowboarding and it is just as beautiful when the snow has melted.

We found even more incredible views hiking to Belvédère du Lac, a viewpoint overlooking Lac de Montriond.

Trail running

During lockdown, Jim and I had been running regularly to offset our ever-increasing alcohol / cheese intake. As with hiking, once lockdown ended it was great not to worry about the distance/time factor. I’ve always had mixed feelings about running, I like the feeling afterwards but find the actual running part a bit dull at times. Trail running is (obviously) different, especially somewhere like the Alps. It’s something I really enjoy and definitely want to continue doing beyond our year away.

New ink

We felt that surviving lockdown in a van deserved some kind of lasting tribute so Jim and I had mountain tattoos inked by lovely Liane at Chez Betty Tattoo Studio in Morzine. (Some might say matching tats are cheesy but clearly those people have never seen True Romance.)

Jim has been back to Liane for another (much bigger) tattoo and plans to get his sleeve finished next winter.

Spring shredding

At the end of May the guys from REAL Snowboarding organised a kids shred day in Avoriaz. Eden and friends got to spend the day riding a crazy park set up by local shredders the Simpson Brothers. It was a great opportunity for the kids (and big kids) to get in one last day of riding after the season came to such an abrupt end.

We then parked up for the night so we could enjoy one of Avoriaz’ incredible sunsets.

Mini road tripping

As the weather got warmer we were craving a beach fix so drove down to Évian-les-Bains (where Évian water is from) on Lac Léman – the French name for Lake Geneva. We really like Évian, it isn’t overly touristy, van parking is easy (and free) and there’s a quiet little pebble beach – we called it our mini Budleigh – perfect for paddleboarding and swimming.

We took another road trip to Lac des Plagnes in the Abondance Valley. It’s hard to put into words what a special place this is. So calming and tranquil. Except for the local cow herd making their way past the van twice a day (cow bells at 5am are REALLY loud).

We spent a couple of nights in Châtel, at the bottom of the Pré-la-Joux ski lift and did more hiking and trail running around that area.

Finally we made it to Saint-Gervais-les-Bains, a ski resort close to Chamonix, where good friends of ours have recently moved. We had hoped to spend time with them during the winter season – but then Covid happened – so it was a long overdue visit. We had a great few days catching up, exploring and eating… yes, more cheese.

By mid June, the 100km travel restriction had been lifted and French beaches had reopened. After almost six months in one place, we were starting to get itchy feet. We felt that we’d done everything we wanted to do in Morzine and the surrounding area for now. It was time to say au revoir.

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