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School was off, and we were ready to leave! But then my husband got the Covid bug, so we needed to postpone… Bummer! But it was the weekend of chaos at the Port of Dover and Eurotunnel- maybe it was a blessing in disguise….. Our summer in the mountains was going to be postponed for five days.
Five days later, we left early to get in the road- thinking it could be difficult to get to the Eurotunnel on the M20. Plus, when I’ve changed the ticket for the Tuesday, it was so late, that all was sold out. I have to conform myself with a 2.20 PM departure. Not the best, as if there are any problems, they tend to accumulate during the day!
As we were leaving a bit late, and estimating that we could take for ever to cross the Channel, we aimed to make it to Troyes. Normally, we go to Chaumont, which we are doing in a good time, have a nap and a lovely afternoon and evening in this lovely city.
Troyes- Summer in the Mountains? Yes, please!
Troyes is really nice- I’ve thought before that it was a bit rough at the edges – (but I think we’ve stayed at the edges before!) Now we were bang in the middle of the old medieval town. We’ve stayed at the Brit Hotel Comtes de Champagne in the historical Centre. The hotel is old and lovely. The rooms have portable fans, and they were needed– it was more a night for air conditioning, but the fans helped!
We went into town for dinner- we were kind of late so we have to content with some KFC for the boys (which they were happy about), and some Kebab place for us! Troyes has a beautiful medieval historic centre full of good restaurants- pity we were a bit late!
The next morning, breakfast in the hotel was good, and we were ready to leave. More so, after buying some baguettes and sandwiches for the trip!
We’ve stopped again at the Aire du Lac on the A40, with lovely views of the Lac de Sylans. Then we made it in good time to the Mont Blanc Tunnel. We had like an hour wait at the tunnel- looks like there were three hours to come back! The queues when we’ve entered Italy where upto the roundabout with the C of Courmayeur! Never seen something like that!
Morgex & Valdigne- Aosta Valley – Summer in the Mountains? Yes, please!
This was pretty common scenes now in the summer by the Mont Blanc Tunnel. There were always queues, and we were always choosing to come into Courmayeur via the old road. If coming from Aosta towards Courmayeur, this comes after the entrance to Courmaison.
We’ve stayed five weeks in our home in Morgex. Loved every day of it. It was a hot summer, but it was not that bad in the mountains. I love the mountains for that, the fresh air, the endless possibilities of activities, and the views!
From going to the piscina alpina of Courmayeur, to hiking, to visiting different valleys. From aperitivos and dinners al fresco! From exhibiting my art at the Caffè della Posta for all August, to painting in my balcony. The quantities of sentieros (pathways) is incredible. We are a bit out of shape, so we have not done anything too strenous. But even for us, there are amazing sentieri, with jaw-dropping views! We went to Rhêmes-Notre Dame, also to Valsavarenche. Before we went also to Cogne an Valgrisenche and the Ollomont Valley. We’ve walked on the side of Morgex and on the side of La Salle, both have tons an tons of sentieri that go way up! And we did our daily walks on Pautex and the sentiero 8 with our dog Ozzy. He got very well exercised!
The boys were going out and about. As teenagers they are not too interested in hiking. I hope this phase passes soon. But they were taking the bus in Morgex to Courmayeur. They were coming with us if we were going to Aosta, or Courmayeur, or the pool. And out for dinner. And they know some of the boys there- they communicate- a bit in Spanish, Italian and English!
We had many times dinner at the Ristorante del Green Park Camping. It is pretty big, and has a massive BBQ with lovely meat cuts. And all kinds of foods. It is a local’s favourite with great prices and service.
Torino/Turin- Summer in the Mountains? Yes, please!
We went for three days to Torino and three days to Lago di Como. In Torino it was über hot, a bit too much. We’ve stayed at the NH Lingotto, that is within the old FIAT factory on the Lingotto neighbourhood. This is a great building, with a car track on the roof. There is a circular ramp to take the cars up an down from the roof. The production was done from bottom to the last floor. On the terrace they’ve tried the cars. Now the terrace still houses the track, some lovely garden and the Pinacoteca Agnelli. We have to come and check the Pinacoteca with more time, as we’ve seen it just before leaving back to Morgex.
The hotel is a 15′ tube distance to Porta Nuova in the historic centre of Torino. I liked Torino, it is more burgeois than Milano. You can see they have lots of history with kings a queens. The historic centre is not that big, and we’ve walked it back and forth a lot in two days. I’ve asked my little one what he liked most, and he told me the tube!!! But I am sure also the meals- we had sushi (and first time both eaten, plus pokés and lots and lots of gelato!)
Lago di Como- Summer in the Mountains? Yes, please!
We went the following week for two nights to Lago di Como. We’ve stayed at the Hotel Centrale in Cernobbio. The hotel is very well located and it is much more expensive than Torino, but not as much as other hotels in Lago di Como. The fact is that the rooms have no view. (not sure the front of the hotel, still it is one block up from the port).
In Lago di Como, there is not too much you can walk on the pavements, as they are very thin, or inexistent. Cernobbio has a bit of walking around, same as Tremezzo, Lenno and sure other parts around the lake. Obviously, Bellaggio has more little streets to walk, but that is über expensive. And when I decided we were going, there were almost no hotels at all!
Back to the Aosta Valley. Summer in the Mountains? Yes, please!
What I’ve noticed this year, was that Lago di Como was orange- the trees were kind of dead already- a bit too early! Coming back to the beginning of the Aosta Valley, on Port di San Martin, folliage was a bit orange, but were we are, in the Valdigne, it was still green. Still, there is a big draught and the water in the fountains have stopped. Not in Courmayeur or La Salle, but yes in Morgex. This was a pain, as I love filling up my water pouch on these fountains, and Ozzy likes to take a bath there after being on the mud! Now I had to borrow my neighbours’ hose and wash him before coming back home. He hates it!
Travelling back- Summer in the Mountains? Yes, please!
For coming back, as it was my eldest boy’s birthday the day we have to drive the most- we’ve decided to take an extra day and come back through another way. We went through the Grand St Bernard tunnel, much cheaper and with no people at all than the Mont Blanc Tunnel! And we drove through Switzerland and arrive in Strasbourg.
Strasbourg- Summer in the Mountains? Yes, please!
There we’ve stayed at the Citadines Eurometropole Strasbourg. This is a new hotel, a bit out of the city (like 20′) and it is pretty nice- our room was a suite with two rooms, a complete kitchen and balcony. We dine at the hotel and had our breakfast there- breakfast is a bit pricey but it was nice. We went that morning to go around Strasbourg. It is a lovely city with a medieval downtown. We had time to go all around an have a quick bite before hitting the road again.
Another thing we came into account, that driving through Switzerland and Belgium is cheaper. You pay like 40CHF for the Swiss sticker you need for driving in motorways- but it lasts for one year. One trip on French autoroutes is more expensive! BUT, I do prefer the French autoroutes as they tend to be emptier. Belgian routes were very full and people drive a bit like maniacs… that is my humble opinion…. but it is way cheaper!
Brussels. Summer in the Mountains? Yes, please!
We went that night to Brussels and stayed at the Novotel Brussels City Centre. It is very well located bang in the middle. We had dinner around the corner by a church- in an area full of restaurants. I had my moules-frites that were very nice! Then we went to see the Manneken Pis- that is a really small statue of a boy peeing.. it is a landmark there. To get there, we’ve passed by the incredible Grand Palace plaza. This is a whole big plaza with very important buildings all full of light. It makes an incredible spectacle! I have never been in Brussels, and I’ve thought it is a great place!
Our trip continued the next day to the Eurotunnel in Cocquelles. The trip was smooth, even the Eurotunnel was pretty good again! I was expecting it, being August 30th, being a mess. But it was all good and we went very fast to board the train and back home.
If you ask me again, summer in the mountains, I would say again, yes please! More having so many beautiful places nearby to visit, if you want to combine a bit of mountains and cities and lake!
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