Jun 10, 2017—After four months of driving on the left side of the road, it was refreshing to get back on the right side where things felt more familiar. Europe!
From the White Cliffs of Dover in England we took the ferry to Calais, France and made a beeline for the Alps.
I have a friend, Karen, who I know from Revelstoke, staying with her friends, Judy and Serge, in a small village named Montmin, situated between the busy city of Annecy and the dramatic landscapes of Chamonix. Originally we planned only a few days in Montmin but once we’d ridden away from the traffic jams in Annecy and rode the twisty corners high into the beautiful village, found Karen and saw the true Alp-style chalet where we’d be staying, we couldn’t leave so quickly, especially after we saw the view.
During our week in Montmin, we did Pilates on the beach, swam in Annecy Lake, toured old town Annecy and volunteered for the MAXI Race that Karen and Judy had helped to organize. The MAXI is a running race up to 110 km (68 mi) long that some people attempted in one go as an overnight marathon. Over 7,000 people had registered from all over the world. The race goes up and down some very steep valleys and mountains, gaining and descending thousands of feet in elevation. Not at chance in hell I’d ever do this.
While sitting on the deck at Judy and Serge’s house one night, we saw some paragliders. I mentioned always wanting to try this and the next thing we knew, we’d booked a 40-min tour for the following evening. Karen hiked to the top to get photos of us taking off.
From here the guys we flew with had Go-Pros that captured this great experience, which was pretty much all I’d hoped for except the part where I threw up. Yeah. After coasting seemingly inches from cliffs and catching updrafts to get above the mountains, my (flyer guy? Guide?) asked first if I wanted to fly the paraglider, which hell yes I did, and then if I wanted to do some tricks, which hell yes I did (after handing back the reins).
As we came in for a landing, we spun corkscrew-like down into the valley. Although it was heartstoppingly fun, it also brought the contents of my stomach up my throat rather quickly. My flyer guy seemed to deal with this regularly and sort of yanked me over to the side, twisting himself in the opposite direction. Despite going from feeling elated to quite terrible in an instant, I couldn’t stop myself from an evil smile thinking of how many windshields I might have targeted on the freeway below.
Dave laughed a little too hard when I told him. He faired better during the spins.
After we pried ourselves away from Judy and Serge’s hugging Karen ‘bye for now, Dave and I rode onto Chamonix. Dave had been there before and was looking forward to going back. It’s a beautiful village and much less crowded than I thought. We spent the afternoon walking the streets and I tried escargots, which were delicious but tough to eat while still in their shells. I should have known when the waiter brought tools to the table. We had to ask him to show us how to break into the puppies, which involves cupping them with one tool and scooping with another sharp tool. And they’re slippery.
Ten days in France is certainly not enough but we were excited to move on and meet my seven-month old godson, Eliot.
Next stop, Switzerland!
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