Thursday 10 September 2009

Holiday in French Alps - Day 3

Tuesday morning was when we were booked in to go paragliding (not cheap! 75 Euros for Joe and I and 65 for the boy!!)

So, after another breakfast consisting of muesli, eggs, white bread, white bread, and more white bread (honestly, I ate so much while I was away, it was hideous!!) we met our instructors (is that the right term?!) at the foot of the gondola and took that to about half way up, then had to catch the chair lift to the very top of Mont Chery. It was so weird to be on a ski-lift ascending slopes that weren't covered in snow!!

Here's a pic from the top, if you look you can see Mont Blanc in the background. I really love the juxtaposition of the stark clinical white peaks against the lush green mountains directly in front!

And here are two of our instructors, Manut and Raphael, with their parachutes on their backs.

It was really blowy so the guys said we should wait for it to calm down and we had a picture taken.

All of us, not sure the name of the mountain(s) in the background

For the record, I'd just like to point out that

a) I'm perfectly aware of just how startlingly white I look in this picture but hey, I'm not a sun worshiper!

b) I know now that those shorts do absolutely nothing for me; and

c) my son is NOT THAT TALL!!! haha, he's standing on a stump (I promise you!) and Joe and I are on a slope... I'm 5'8", my son's 5'4"/5" max - just look where his feet are!

saying that, I'm pretty sure by this time next year he will have outgrown me - not bad going for someone whose biological father is a mere 5'7" (as was I when we met at age 15... I grew another inch, he didn't, shit happens ;-) )!

Hmmm we seem to be waiting a looooong time, nice day for it though!

hanging around... although unfortunately not quite literally yet!

Unfortunately, after waiting around for an hour the wind didn't die down. It was blowing the wrong way and, if we'd have taken off, we'd have been blown backwards away from Les Gets and probably into the face of the nice mountains we were pictured in front of!

uh oh, not good :-(

So we decided to call it a day. My son wanted to get the chair-lift and gondola back down but - and I think it's a psychological thing from snowbarding - I just can't go down in a gondola, only up!!

So, with much protestation from the teenager we set off down Mont Chery.

Off back down we go :-)

...admittedly quite underprepared... although we were sunblocked up (I saw to that before we left the chalet!) and had perhaps enough water as we had 1 1/2 litres, but I was wearing sandals and had no head protection and my hair is quite fine and parts easily to reveal nice bare white scalp (the reason for buying this hat at V Festival a few weeks ago!)

The boys and some scenery:

Cute wood carvings!

another gratuitous shot of Mont Blanc ;-)

Sorry about the smudge on the lens!

and here you are, a happy leaf...

use your imagination! ;-)

I saw this bijou chalet on the way down, I really want it, it's tiny and essentially useless if there are more than 2 of you but oh-so cute!!

The going was pretty steep underfoot and quite loose and gravelly at times. But there was way more grass and earth than on the route taken the other day so we... well Joe... decided we should revisit the mountain, complete with bikes, after lunch.

Lunch was something else. Look at this pizza, does it not make your mouth water?

yumtastic pizza mmm drooool

The café was lovely and we sat outside, but it was so hot that our cutlery was hand-scorchingly hot!

Still, had a lovely lunch and even the bill-holder was cute, look at this:

So, with a belly full of pizza we all set off with our bikes to the gondola and took them to the halfway point. We then began the not-insignificant task of cycling up the mountain... it was bloody hard work and there were times when both Ryan and I had to get off and push our bikes.

Fortunately Joe - who does actually have the patience of a saint with the boy (if and when he's actually putting some effort in!) - stayed behind with Ryan while I ploughed on ahead - basically, if I stopped cycling I couldn't get started again because it was so steep!!

It went on like this for what felt like an eternity before we finally got to the bottom of the mother of all climbs - just at the final ascent of Mont Chery. It was basically vertical, I didn't even attempt the first bit, just watched amazed as Joe somehow got up, although I was worried at some places when he kept falling off and apparently the gradient was so high that his front wheel kept coming up!!

I cycled the last bit, which was the hardest climb ever but I managed it and was very happy, if knackered! Then came my boy, pushing his bike up... but then, he actually got on it and cycled some of the last bit too! wow what a star!

Here's him reaching us, and just about to fall down with exhaustion! You can't really see the path behind him after a point as it's so steep!

I was very proud of him, we both were :-)

The plan was that we'd cycle up to the top and get the chair lift down with our bikes to the gondola. Nuh uh. We weren't allowed to take the bikes on the chair lift as there was nowhere for them to go. Felt a bit stupid that we'd not worked that out, although I'd had a sneaking suspicion given that I'd seen nobody at all with bikes travelling on them at any point... hmmm rocket science it was not!

The problem too was that the weather was closing in as well and it actually started to rain a little - complete contrast to the scorching weather earlier!

Anyway, there was nothing to it, we had to set back down.

This proved infinitely more difficult than the way up in terms of the technical skill required - which neither my son nor I possessed!

However, as I rode on a bit I started to get the hang of it, knowing to keep basically a constant light pressure on the back break and then lightly pumping the front brake when needed... and not breaking when going over large rocks/humps also helped!

Unfortunately my poor son was a little further behind me in the competence stakes and, after informing me that he was okay to go ahead of me, I watched helpless as he froze when going over a bumpy bit and totally lost it! He didn't break at all and even took both feet off the pedals! His body had obviously decided it wanted to evacuate the vehicle, which it then did... with a plonk and a loud cry!

Panic!! We were halfway up a fucking mountain. Luckily the boy decided to ditch on the path and not over the edge. No broken bones, just some scraped skin and hurt pride.

We then basically nursed him down the rest of the mountain to the gondola. I went ahead very slowly and actually started to really love the bumps and dips - maybe there's a mountain biker in my after all?? And Joe stayed behind with the boy to make sure he was okay.

When we got to the gondola it was a bit of a relief to find it still working but I did feel like it was a bit of a loss as we'd just finally managed to persuade my son to get on and cycle a bit as it was flat - and then he was getting off again!

Anyway, Joe went on ahead because he said he'd seen a 'green' track down the mountain so was going to try it out. If it was okay for us we'd do it together the next day.

So that was that and off he went. When my son and I got to the bottom we rode back on the roads which was fine - phew!

Here's my son's war wounds - pretty impressive huh?

While we were there there were two injuries I learnt of. One of the guys who worked at the hotel broke his collarbone and another woman fractured her wrist - ouch!

When Joe got back he told us that he was very glad we didn't attempt the green route as apparently pretty much the entire route was through a forest full of trees! the trees were padded but it was still scary, steep and rocky at times - green? really??!

Anyway, that was the end of our adventures for the day and we went down for dinner, which was very nice actually! It was chicken breast with a nondescript creamy sauce plus potatoes and veg. I can't remember what the pudding was as I've left my food diary at work (I started typing this in the afternoon at my desk and now it's nearly midnight!!), I think it was apple tartlett, we had that one day, very tasty it was too :-)

More tomorrow about Wednesday - though with less pics, I calmed down a bit on the snapping as the holiday went on! :-D

As a taster... Wednesday was our epic mountain ascents by bike. Thursday was white water rafting, Friday was our walk to Morzine and Saturday we finally managed to do paragliding...



  1. Gorgeous pics mate, really lovely. Looks like you all had a fab time and you are looking really good!


  2. Thank you so much :-)

    I had a whale of a time, just wish I could find time to upload all the pics from it!

    hopefully this week :-) xx